All About Clefs

 

When my students are first working with the Grand Staff, they are often confused about the placement of the various clefs.

In piano music, we generally use only the G-clef (Treble clef – not “trouble clef” as some think!) and the F-clef (Bass clef)  I try to show students how the curvy part of the G-clef wraps around the G above middle C and the F-clef looks sort of like an F marking the F below middle C.  I draw out G and F on the staff to show how these could have looked.

Originally, instead of a special clef symbol, the reference line of the staff was simply labeled with the name of the note it was intended to bear: F and C and, more rarely, G. These were the most often-used ‘clefs’ in Gregorian chant notation.  Gregorian chant developed mainly in western and central Europe during the 9th and 10th centuries, with later additions and redactions.

Over time the shapes of these letters became stylized, leading to their current versions.

 

 

All About Ornaments

The following ornament table is a transcription of the one appearing in the Clavier-Büchlein vor Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, written by Johann Sebastian Bach for the keyboard instruction of his eldest son.

A scan of the original manuscript appears at Dave’s J.S. Bach Page.

The German title translates as “Explanation of various signs, showing how to play certain ornaments correctly.”{1} Bach gives the sign for each ornament on the upper of the paired staves, while the lower shows its execution directly beneath.

(This blog has) simply modernized the clefs in my transcription, since Bach’s manuscript uses soprano clefs, as several composers continued to do throughout the 18th century in place of the treble clef now used in all keyboard music.

After the transcription graphic showing the table, there appear clickable buttons which are keyed to AU sound files; you can click on any of the ornaments and hear a sound file play its execution.

ornaments

Read the original blog post with the ornament table and listening files at J.S. Bach’s Ornament Table.

How the Clefs Came to Be

When my students are first working with the Grand Staff, they are often confused about the placement of the various clefs.

In piano music, we generally use only the G-clef (Treble clef – not “trouble clef” as some think!) and the F-clef (Bass clef)  I try to show students how the curvy part of the G-clef wraps around the G above middle C and the F-clef looks sort of like an F marking the F below middle C.  I draw out G and F on the staff to show how these could have looked.

Originally, instead of a special clef symbol, the reference line of the staff was simply labeled with the name of the note it was intended to bear: F and C and, more rarely, G. These were the most often-used ‘clefs’ in Gregorian chant notation.  Gregorian chant developed mainly in western and central Europe during the 9th and 10th centuries, with later additions and redactions.

Over time the shapes of these letters became stylized, leading to their current versions.

 

Bach’s Ornament Table

The following ornament table is a transcription of the one appearing in the Clavier-Büchlein vor Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, written by Johann Sebastian Bach for the keyboard instruction of his eldest son.

A scan of the original manuscript appears at Dave’s J.S. Bach Page.

The German title translates as “Explanation of various signs, showing how to play certain ornaments correctly.”{1} Bach gives the sign for each ornament on the upper of the paired staves, while the lower shows its execution directly beneath.

(This blog has) simply modernized the clefs in my transcription, since Bach’s manuscript uses soprano clefs, as several composers continued to do throughout the 18th century in place of the treble clef now used in all keyboard music.

After the transcription graphic showing the table, there appear clickable buttons which are keyed to AU sound files; you can click on any of the ornaments and hear a sound file play its execution.

ornaments

Read the original blog post with the ornament table and listening files at J.S. Bach’s Ornament Table.

The Evolution of Music Clefs

When my students are first working with the Grand Staff, they are often confused about the placement of the various clefs.

In piano music, we generally use only the G-clef (Treble clef – not “trouble clef” as some think!) and the F-clef (Bass clef)  I try to show students how the curvy part of the G-clef wraps around the G above middle C and the F-clef looks sort of like an F marking the F below middle C.  I draw out G and F on the staff to show how these could have looked.

Originally, instead of a special clef symbol, the reference line of the staff was simply labeled with the name of the note it was intended to bear: F and C and, more rarely, G. These were the most often-used ‘clefs’ in Gregorian chant notation.  Gregorian chant developed mainly in western and central Europe during the 9th and 10th centuries, with later additions and redactions.

Over time the shapes of these letters became stylized, leading to their current versions.

 

J.S. Bach’s Ornament Table

The following ornament table is a transcription of the one appearing in the Clavier-Büchlein vor Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, written by Johann Sebastian Bach for the keyboard instruction of his eldest son.

A scan of the original manuscript appears at Dave’s J.S. Bach Page.

The German title translates as “Explanation of various signs, showing how to play certain ornaments correctly.”{1} Bach gives the sign for each ornament on the upper of the paired staves, while the lower shows its execution directly beneath.

(This blog has) simply modernized the clefs in my transcription, since Bach’s manuscript uses soprano clefs, as several composers continued to do throughout the 18th century in place of the treble clef now used in all keyboard music.

After the transcription graphic showing the table, there appear clickable buttons which are keyed to AU sound files; you can click on any of the ornaments and hear a sound file play its execution.

 

ornaments

Read the original blog post with the ornament table and listening files at J.S. Bach’s Ornament Table.

The Evolution of Music Clefs

When my students are first working with the Grand Staff, they are often confused about the placement of the various clefs.

In piano music, we generally use only the G-clef (Treble clef – not “trouble clef” as some think!) and the F-clef (Bass clef)  I try to show students how the curvy part of the G-clef wraps around the G above middle C and the F-clef looks sort of like an F marking the F below middle C.  I draw out G and F on the staff to show how these could have looked.

Originally, instead of a special clef symbol, the reference line of the staff was simply labeled with the name of the note it was intended to bear: F and C and, more rarely, G. These were the most often-used ‘clefs’ in Gregorian chant notation.  Gregorian chant developed mainly in western and central Europe during the 9th and 10th centuries, with later additions and redactions.

Over time the shapes of these letters became stylized, leading to their current versions.