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EMT Lesson One  How to read music

Lower notes – the bass clef

On some instruments, such as a bass guitar or a double bass, very low notes are played. These same notes are often played at the bottom end of the piano/ keyboard with the left hand. These low notes would have a great number of ledger lines making them difficult to read. To avoid this problem another clef is used: the bass clef.

You will see that the bass clef is a continuation of the notes as they go down in pitch. When reading bass clef the notes are as follows:

Figure 7. The notes on the lines in the bass clef   (Enlarge)

Figure 7. The notes on the lines in the bass clef

Figure 8. The notes in the spaces in the bass clef   (Enlarge)

Figure 8. The notes in the spaces in the bass clef

Figure 9. The notes above the stave in the bass clef   (Enlarge)

Figure 9. The notes above the stave in the bass clef

Music written for piano and keyboard will often use both the treble and bass clefs. The clefs not only lay out the notes neatly, but also indicate which hand should be used to play the written music. You will have noticed that you find middle C below the treble clef and above the bass clef. Middle C is found directly between both clefs and when music is written for the piano, middle C neatly joins the two clefs together. The general rule is that notes are written in the bass clef if those notes are to be played in the left hand. Notes are written in the treble clef if those notes are to be played using the right hand.

Figure 10. The treble and bass clef connection   (Enlarge)

Figure 10. The treble and bass clef connection

Figure 11. Natural notes on a 5 octave keyboard (‘middle C’ is highlighted).   (Enlarge)

Figure 11. Natural notes on a 5 octave keyboard. Middle C is highlighted.

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