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What Is A Musical Staff And A Grand Staff

Aug 5, 2008
The staff is basically a set of five horizontal lines that appear vertically thus creating four spaces and on these lines and spaces as they are called, musical notes are written. The lower down the notes are written on the staff the lower the pitch and the higher up the higher the pitch. Of course, there a little bit more to it than that, so let's go in to a bit more detail.

The Staff

The staff is a very generic term, and would be used in a musical environment such as a music teacher and pupil. A more accurate term would be musical staff. Of course even this to a non-musical person could mean a companies workforce or staff that sing every day (get it, staff that are musical). Just to confuse things even more the staff is also known as a stave or a musical stave. Depending on where in the world you learn music will determine which word you use, but they are both correct. (All this for five horizontal lines.)

Make sense of the staff

The staff on it own is quite unremarkable as you can probably imagine, just five lines, but it can be like a canvas for great works of art or simple melodies. To start creating music on these lines we first need to add a clef, which for a single musical staff is normally a treble clef, a time signature so we know how many beats to the bar the music will have. Then we need to add bar lines, which in turn create bars, and within those bars we will add musical notes and suddenly our five horizontal lines have turned in to a music composition, albeit simple, but music never the less.

The Grand Staff

This is a bit more complex than the staff and includes two sets of five lines connected together with a symbol known as a brace and also includes a treble clef on the top set of lines and a bass cleff on the bottom set of lines. Both clefs are always written on the left hand side of the Grand Staff. Again, time signature and bar lines will be added to the Grand Staff and finally musical notes added to the top set of lines, now known as the treble clef and the bottom set now called the bass clef.

From this simple canvas or manuscript as it is called, music is written for electronic keyboard and piano. The electronic keyboard normally uses the staff (one set of five lines) using the treble clef and you will often see chord symbols above it to indicate which chord should be played with the left hand. The piano will normally use a Grand Staff. The treble clef is used for the right hand and the bass clef used for the left hand.

To get a better understanding of the staff and the Grand Staff look at a piece of sheet music and you can see what has been added to those simple five horizontal lines.
About the Author
Visit Mikes websites for Beginners Piano Lessons and Video and Audio Piano Lessons. You can also view our selection of used Pianos and Keyboards
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