Anoteindicates both pitch and rhythm.Notes space written on a staff. Higher frequency (shorter wavelength) notes room written over lower frequency (longer wavelength) notes (i.e. Greater notes space placed over lower ones).A notehead need to be written closely on a staff. A notehead is oval (not round); additionally, it must be no too big nor too small, and also is tilted contempt upwards towards the right.A clef suggests which pitches are assigned to the lines and also spaces on a staff.Extra lines dubbed ledger lines expand a staff greater or lower.

You are watching: Successive lines and spaces from top to bottom of the staff represent successively lower pitches.

Western music notation privileges 2 musical features: pitch and also rhythm. Pitches are notated vertically (on the y-axis), when rhythms room notated horizontally (on the x-axis). Western music notation is check out left-to-right and also top-to-bottom, favor the web page of a publication in created English.

Notation that Notes

A note shows both pitch and rhythm. A composed note consists of a notehead (either north or fill in), and also optionally can incorporate a stem, beam, or flag (see Rhythmic and Rest Values). Instance 1 shows an illustration of noteheads, stems, beams, and flags:

Example 1. Noteheads, stems, beams, and flags.Staff Notation

A employee (plural staves) is essential for conveying pitch. A staff is composed of five horizontal lines, same spaced. Instance 2 depicts a staff:

Example 2. A staff.Placing notes on a Staff

Noteheads on a line must fill in fifty percent of each an are above and also below. Noteheads in a space should simply touch the lines above and below. Example 3 shows instances of correct noteheads, both open and also filled in, both ~ above lines and also in spaces:

Example 3. Exactly noteheads, open up (white) and filled in (black) both ~ above lines and in spaces.

Example 4 mirrors incorrect noteheads. As you can see, noteheads can be drawn too small, also big, or the wrong shape.

Example 4. Incorrect instances of noteheads.

Noteheads need to be oval (not round), and also they are tilted slightly upwards in the direction of the right.


When note are attracted on the lines and spaces the a staff, those notes represent pitches. Musicians usage spatial metaphors to explain notes put on a staff. For example, notes appearing towards the top of a employee are stated to be “higher” than those appearing towards the bottom the a staff (which are claimed to it is in “lower”). Higher notes have a shorter wavelength (and subsequently a greater frequency); lower notes have a much longer wavelength (and in turn a reduced frequency). Together spatial metaphors vary v milieu—i.e. Throughout cultures and also time periods. For example, for part music theorists in ancient Greece greater sounding notes were visually placed below lower sounding notes.<1> This is due to the fact that some old Greek music philosophers were likely most familiar with wire instruments, which encompass violins, guitars, and also harps. Instance 5 demonstrates why this to be the situation for some authors in ancient Greece:

Example 5. Dr. Jacob Tews (Christopher Newport University) explains much more about old Greek music notation.

Notes can not convey pitch information if the employee on which they show up does not include a clef. A clef suggests which pitches space assigned come the lines and also spaces top top a staff (also see analysis Clefs). The 2 most generally used clefs today room the treble clef and bass clef. Two various other clefs that you might encounter room the alto clef and also the tenor clef. Instance 6 shows 4 notes, each placed after a treble, bass, alto, and tenor clef:

Example 6. Notes put after a treble, bass, alto, and also tenor clef.

Higher notes, such as those play by a flute or sung by a soprano, space usually written in treble clef, and also lower notes, such as those played by a trombone or sung by a bass, room usually written in base clef. Alto and also tenor clefs are reasonably rare compared to treble and also bass. Yet in some cases, alto clef is offered for medium-high notes, and also tenor clef is supplied for medium-low notes.

Drawing Clefs

One can draw a treble clef in three an easy steps, together demonstrated in example 7:

Example 7. Drawing a treble clef in 3 steps.

First, attract a slanted upright line the extends slightly over and below the staff. Next, attract a half circle that intersects v your slanted heat at the second from top line of the staff. Finally, circle roughly the second from bottom heat of the staff. Likewise, one can additionally draw a bass clef in three steps, as displayed in example 8:

Example 8. Drawing a bass clef in three steps.

First, attract a dot on the 2nd from height line of the staff. Next, draw a backwards ‘C’ the ends in the bottom an are of the staff, making sure that the top component of the ‘C’ does not extend over the staff. Finally, ar two dots come the appropriate of the backwards ‘C’, in the optimal two spaces the the staff. One can attract an alto clef in 4 steps, as instance 9 shows:

Example 9. Drawing an alto clef in four steps.

First, draw a thick vertical line that spans the staff. Next, attract a thinner vertical line alongside the thicker upright line. Third, attract two backwards ‘C’s, the an initial taking up slightly less than the top half of the staff and also the second taking up slightly less than the bottom fifty percent of the staff. Finally, attach these backwards ‘C’s through a suggest that rests ~ above the middle line ofthe staff.

A tenor clef is likewise drawn in 4 steps, as seen in instance 10:

Example 10. Illustration a tenor clef in four steps.

A tenor clef and an alto clef are attracted the same; however, the tenor clef is shifted up one line of the staff higher than an alto clef. First, attract a thick vertical heat that starts on the 2nd from bottom line of the staff and also extends slightly above the staff. Next, draw a diluent vertical line alongside the thicker upright line. Third, attract two backwards ‘C’s, the an initial extending slightly above the top fifty percent of the staff and also the second taking increase slightly less than the center two spaces the the staff. Finally, connect these backwards ‘C’s through a point that rests ~ above the second from top line of the staff.

Writing Ledger Lines

When notes room too high or short to be created on a staff, tiny lines are attracted to prolong the staff. This extra currently are called ledger lines. Instance 11 shows ledger currently written over and below a staff:

Example 11. Ledger lines, both above and below a staff through a base clef.

Example 12 shows notes (with stems and beams) drawn on ledger lines, above and below a staff.

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Example 12. Note (with stems and beams) ~ above ledger lines, above and listed below a staff v a treble clef.

When writing ledger lines, be sure not to put in an extra ledger line over or below the note you room writing. Example 13 an initial shows the correct method of composing notes ~ above ledger lines, and also the not correct way, v extra ledger lines over and listed below the notes: