Sheet music or music scores are hand-written or printed form of music notation that uses modern musical symbols. There are many different musical symbols. I will go into some of them in the next few lessons. Sheet music can be used as a record of, a guide to, or a means to perform, a piece of music. Comprehending sheet music requires a special form of literacy that is the ability to read musical notation. Below is a picture of the basic layout of sheet music. This layout is where the different musical symbols are placed on to tell you what notes to play, for how long and more.
Blank Music Sheet
I will now go into detail about the different musical symbols shown in the above image. There are staffs (also called staves) and clefs shown on the picture.
The staff is the foundation on which the music notes are placed. They consist of 5 lines and four spaces as shown below. Each line and space stands for a certain pitch or note, and is given a letter A, B, C, D, E, F, or G. You will notice that these are the same 7 letters that correspond to certain white keys on the piano's keyboard (refer to the lesson 'Layout of the Piano' for this.).
a Staff or Stave
When two staves are joined by a brace or is intended to be played at once by a single performer, a great stave or grand staff (as shown below) is created. For the piano, the upper staff is played with the right hand and the lower staff with the left hand.
Grand staff or great stave
You can see at the start of the grand staff is 3 symbols. These symbols are the brace and the clefs. The clefs will tell you which hand to use to play the music as well as assign individual notes to certain lines and spaces. The upper staff uses a treble clef and the lower staff has a bass clef. The image below is that of a brace that joins 2 staffs together.
2 staffs joined by a brace
The treble clef (shown below) can also be called the G-clef. This is because the staff line which the clef wraps around (shown in red) is known as G. Any note placed on this line becomes G.
The image below shows all the notes on the treble clef. A good way to remember which notes are where is to think of the word FACE.These are the notes on the four spaces on the treble staff (shown in the image below). The notes on the lines forms the sentence: Every Good Boy Does Fine or Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge. The first letter of each word corresponds to the notes on each line or space, starting from the bottom going up. Memorize these two tips as you will be referring to them quite often.
The bass clef (shown below) can also be called the F-clef. The reason it can be called the F-clef is because the start of the clef is placed on the 4th staff line (the lines are counted from the bottom to the top). This line (shown in red), which runs between the 2 dots of the clef, is known as F. Any note placed on this line becomes F.
For the bass staff, it is similar to that for the treble clef in that the four spaces can also be remembered by the sentence: All Cows Eat Grass, and the five lines can be remembered using the sentence: Good Boys Do Fine Always or Good Boys Deserve Fudge Always. The first letter of each word corresponds to the notes on that line or space. This can be seen below.
Now that we know which letter corresponds to which line or space on both the treble and bassstaffs, the next thing to do is to find the middle C on the grand staff. The middle C is located on a ledger line below the treble clef and above the bass clef. A ledger line is a small line that extends above and below the staff when we run out of room. The image below shows us where middle C is located on a ledger line on the treble and bassstaffs.
The image below shows how the notes on the lines and spaces of the grand staff corresponds to the white keys on the piano's keyboard. You will now be able to look at music pieces and be able to tell the white key you should play by looking at where the note is placed on the grand staff. Remember the treble clef indicates that you should play the notes with your right hand while the bass clef indicates the notes should be played with your left hand. This is the rule unless stated otherwise on the music piece.
There are 2 music pieces you can practice below so that you can familiarize yourself with the piano and the note placement on the grand staff.
There is also a quiz below that you should attempt after going through this lesson. Please try to answer all the questions on the quiz and let me know how you went on it. Good Luck!
In the next post, I will talk about music bar lines, bar or measure and time signatures.