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.

NoteWorks App

 

There’s a new app in the studio! It’s called NoteWorks and it looks like it will be fun for the students.  NoteWorks is an engaging, fun game, designed to teach note reading.

Beginners use NoteWorks as a terrific alternative to flash cards. More advanced students use the full version to practice key signatures with up to seven sharps and flats in multiple clefs.

Kids love the app because it’s fun and addictive. Teachers and parents love how the game improves students’ note recognition and sight reading skills.

If you want this for home use, it’s available for iPhone, iPad and Android.  The cost for the full version for home use is a one time fee $4.99, directly in the app.  More info at https://doremiworld.com/Games/NoteWorks

I already have my students set up so we can use this during lessons, but let me know if you plan to use this at home and I’ll give you the code to connect to the studio account.

The objective of this game is to teach note recognition and improve sight reading skills. Game options include treble and bass clefs (with the grand staff option) as well as tenor and alto clefs.

Students may identify notes using the piano keyboard and practice using the Do, Re, Mi or the A, B, C note naming. The game starts by teaching a limited range of notes, with the range gradually increasing. As the players acquire basic note reading skills, the game becomes more challenging, with the introduction of accidentals, and subsequently key signatures.

 

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.