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  • Writer's pictureFractal Admin Team

Notes on the Grand Staff and the Western Musical Alphabet

To continue our series of resources for students looking to learn how to read music, here's a graphic of notes of the western musical alphabet on the staff. For continuity and to keep things concise in the graphic, we've only represented C3 though C5. We'll be posting another graphic that places the note names on every line and space of the grand staff.

We will refer to the line and space numbers from bottom to top, that is to say that the lowest line will be the "first" line, the next line up from the bottom will be the "second", and so on. In the treble clef, the first line is E4, the second line is G4, the third line is B4, the fourth line is D5, and the fifth line is F5. By contrast, in the bass clef the first line is G2, the second is B2, the third is D3, the fourth is F3, and the fifth is A3. C4 ("middle C") lies directly between the staves.

Similarly, we'll discuss the spaces from bottom to top. In the treble clef, the first space is F4, the second space is A4, the third is C5, and the fourth is E5. In the bass clef, the first space is A2, the second is C3, the third is E3, and the fourth is G3.

Reading from the bottom to the top line-space-line-space and without octave numbers, the treble clef is E, F, G, A, B, C, D, E, F. Similarly, the bass clef is G, A, B, C, D, E, F, G, A. There are many ways to remember the lines and spaces on the staff. One of the most common is with the use of mnemonic devices, short sayings that help with memorization. In this case, the first letter of each word stands for each note on the staff. This can be an effective technique because students can come up with mnemonic phrases that work for them - whether they are more memorable through humor, rhyme, or some other personal relevance. Here's a list of some ones we've seen commonly.

Treble clef lines: Every Good Boy Does Fine

Treble clef spaces: FACE

Bass clef lines: Good Boys Do Fine Always or Great Big Dogs Fight Animals

Bass clef spaces: All Cows Eat Grass

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