Symbols Of Music Defined
12. A staff is a collection of parallel lines, together with the
spaces belonging to them. The modern staff has five lines and six
spaces, these being ordinarily referred to as first line, second line,
third line, fourth line, and fifth line (beginning with the lowest); and
space below (i.e., space below the first line), first space, second
space, third space, fourth space, and space above.
and discussion above refer more specifically to one of
the portions of the great staff, the latter term being often applied
to the combination of treble and bass staffs (with one leger line
between) so commonly used in piano music, etc.
13. The extent of the staff may be increased either above or below by
the addition of short lines called leger lines, and notes may be
written on either these lines or on the spaces above and below them.
[Footnote 4: The word leger is derived from the French word LEGER,
meaning light, and this use of the word refers to the fact that the
leger lines, being added by hand, are lighter--i.e., less solid in
color--than the printed lines of the staff itself.]
14. The lines and spaces constituting the staff (including leger lines
if any) are often referred to as staff degrees, i.e., each separate
line and space is considered to be a degree of the staff. The tones of
a scale are also sometimes referred to as degrees of the scale.
15. A clef is a sign placed on the staff to designate what pitches
are to be represented by its lines and spaces. Thus, e.g., the G clef
shows us not only that the second line of the staff represents G, but
that the first line represents E, the first space F, etc. The F clef
similarly shows us that the fifth line of the bass staff represents the
first A below middle C, the fourth line the first F below middle C, etc.
[Footnote 5: The word clef is derived from CLAVIS--a key--the
reference being to the fact that the clef unlocks or makes clear the
meaning of the staff, as a key to a puzzle enables us to solve the
The student should note that these clefs are merely modified forms of
the letters G and F, which (among others) were used to designate the
pitches represented by certain lines when staff notation was first
inaugurated. For a fuller discussion of this matter see Appendix A, p.
101. [Transcriber's Note: Corrected error Appendix I in original.]
16. When the G clef is used the staff is usually referred to as the
treble staff, and when the F clef is used, as the bass staff. Such
expressions as singing from the treble clef, or singing in the treble
clef, and singing in the bass clef are still frequently heard, but
are preferably replaced by singing from the treble staff, and singing
from the bass staff. Fig. 6 shows the permanent names of lines and
spaces when the G and F clefs are used.
[Footnote 6: The Germans use the same pitch designations as we do with
two exceptions, viz., our B is called by them H, and our B[flat] is
called B. The scale of C therefore reads: C, D, E, F, G, A, H, C; the
scale of F reads F, G, A, B, C, D, E, F. The signatures are in all cases
written exactly as we write them.
In France and Italy where the fixed DO system is in vogue, pitches are
usually referred to by the syllable names; e.g., C is referred to as
DO (or UT), D as RE, etc.]
17. The movable C clef
formerly in very common use, is now utilized for only two purposes,
viz., (1) in music written for certain orchestral instruments (cello,
viola, etc.) of extended range, in order to avoid having to use too many
leger lines; and (2) for indicating the tenor part in vocal music. This
latter usage seems also to be disappearing however, and the tenor part
is commonly written on the treble staff, it being understood that the
tones are to be sung an octave lower than the notes would indicate.
The C clef as used in its various positions is shown in Figs. 7, 8, and
9. It will be noted that in each case the line on which the clef is
placed represents middle C.
18. A sharp is a character which causes the degree of the staff with
which it is associated to represent a pitch one half-step higher than it
Thus in Fig. 10 (a) the fifth line and first space represent
the pitch F, but in Fig. 10 (b) these same staff degrees
represent an entirely different tone--F[sharp]. The student
should note that the sharp does not then raise anything; it
merely causes a staff degree to represent a higher tone than
it otherwise would. There is just as much difference between F
and F[sharp] as between B and C, and yet one would never think
of referring to C as B raised!
19. A flat is a character that causes the degree of the staff with
which it is associated to represent a tone one half-step lower than it
otherwise would. (See note under Sec. 18 and apply the same discussion
20. A double-sharp causes the staff degree on which it is placed to
represent a pitch one whole-step higher than it would without any sharp.
Similarly, a double-flat causes the staff degree on which it is placed
to represent a pitch one whole-step lower than it would without any
Double-sharps and double-flats are generally used on staff
degrees that have already been sharped or flatted, therefore
their practical effect is to cause staff degrees to represent
pitches respectively a half-step higher and a half-step lower
than would be represented by those same degrees in their
diatonic condition. Thus in Fig. 10 (b) the first space in
its diatonic condition represents F-sharp, and the
double-sharp on this degree would cause it to represent a
pitch one-half step higher than F-sharp, i.e.,
[Footnote 7: The expression diatonic condition as here used refers to
the staff after the signature has been placed upon it, in other words
after the staff has been prepared to represent the pitches of the