Learning Music Theory Part 4 (Leger And Clefs)

What about leger or ledger lines?  Have you ever wondered about the strange notes — with lines that sit above or below or strike through them — that sit outside the five line staff?  These notes are there to indicate extra notes that the staff isn’t capable of fitting.  When extra notes require, people use leger or ledger lines to indicate the notes’ positions.  For an example, next higher line that sits above the 5th line of a five staff can be represented by a note that sits above or below a line (or a note gets a line which strikes through the middle of the note).  Hint:  five line staff can only have five main lines, thus leger or ledger lines are there to extend the five line staff.  Leger can also be called as ledger line.

What about Clefs?  In theory, a five line staff can represent any group of line names, but this would be confusing isn’t it?  Thus, people name common group of lines in a five line staff to certain clefs.  There are couple common clefs, but there are other uncommon clefs, also.  I won’t mention uncommon clefs here, but you can look them up on the Internet.  The common clefs are Treble, Bass, and Rhythm clefs.  You can search the Internet to see how these clefs look like.  Nonetheless, a clef usually gets drawn to the very left of a staff.  These clefs do look fanciful!

Treble clef indicates that a staff starts out with line G on the second line, and people usually use Treble clef for musical instruments that can do high pitches (e.g., piano, flute, guitar).

Bass clef indicates that a staff starts out with line F on the fourth line, and people usually use the Bass clef for musical instruments that can do lower pitches (e.g., drum, piano, etc…).

Rhythm clef got no line name, because Rhythm clef is for a staff that represents musical instruments with no pitch such as percussion instruments.  Usually, one line staff with a Rhythm clef is good enough for a single non-pitched musical instrument, but five line staff with Rhythm clef can be used to represent a set of non-pitched musical instruments in a song or a piece.  There is no standard of how to name which line on a staff for which non-pitched instrument when it comes to a staff with Rhythm clef.  Nonetheless, once you know a specific instrument position in a staff with Rhythm clef for a song or a piece, usually it means the line position of such an instrument on a five line staff won’t ever change (of course it may change on a new song or a new piece).  When you see x marks on five line staff with Rhythm clef, it means the x marks are there to represent the small percussion instruments such as cymbals.

Leger and Clefs JPG

To name the lines on a five line staff, you can use alphabetical letters of A to G (i.e., ABCDEFG).  You name the lines on the five line staff in alphabetical order from bottom up.  No other letter besides ABCDEFG can be used to name the lines on the five line staff.

You can use mnemonic method to allow you to remember the line names of five line staffs that have common clefs.  For an example, I use Empty Garbage Before Dad Flip mnemonic for lines on five line staff that uses Treble clef.  In a five line staff with Treble clef, Empty represents name E for the 1st line of the five line staff, Garbage represents name G for the 2nd line of the five line staff, and so forth.  I use Farting Always Causes Enemies or FACE mnemonic for remembering space names in five line staff with Treble clef.  I use Goofy Babies Do Funny Acts mnemonic to remember the lines on five line staff with Bass clef.  I use All Cows Eat Grass mnemonic to remember the spaces on five line staff with Bass clef.

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