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#1673070 05/07/11 01:22 PM
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It's me again, the old buy beginner. I want to thank everyone who responded to my earlier question and all the information was very helpful. But, I have another question, which, may seem silly to all you pros out there, but has been nagging at me ever since I first began to read music.

Why did the people who invented printed music with the scales, notes, and all that decide to make the Bass, or left hand scale read differently as far as what note is on what space or line? Was it just done as a mean joke or to separate the wheat from the chaff?? Why make them different? Why can't a B always be found in the "B spot", regardless of scale? Why couldn't both scales read the same and make things so much easier for us mere mortals? To me, it makes no sense. Anyone know the actual reason?


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i think its because middle c is in between them, so the right hand goes from middle c upwards and the left middle c, downwards.

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This may not be the best legal answer, but here goes:

The white keys on the piano are represented on the staff (either staff, bass or treble) as line - space - line - space, etc.

So, with the treble, if you start with middle C, that is on a line. The space above it is D, the line above is E, and so forth.

Keep going and the C above middle is is on a Space, not a Line.

Keep that in mind, because it is on the Third Space up.

Now, go back to Middle C on the Bass Clef and go down. Once again, you are starting on Middle C which is on a line, and if you go down to the first C that is below Middle C, it is on a space. It is on the 3rd space down, just as the C above middle C is the 3rd space up.

So, what you are saying is not accurate:

Quote
the Bass, or left hand scale read differently as far as what note is on what space or line?


The Bass is not different, what is different is that in both the Bass clef and the Treble clef the same note alternates from Line to Space as you go up or down an octave.

I too wish that it were different. Literally hundreds of attempts have been made to change or come up with something that does not do as you noticed, but none have stuck.

I suggest that you find what are called "Landmark" notes. Middle C is probably the most obvious one. Try learning the location of the C above it and the C below...they are on the 3rd space up, and 3rd space down.

Middle C is where most people start learning piano, and thus is a very familiar place on the staff, as are the neighboring notes. So learning where the C above and the C below are on the staff gives you another familiar landing place.

With Landmark notes, you can use them as reference points to find nearby ones. And eventually it will sink in, just like when you become familiar with a new city or building layout or computer program, it sinks in where things are.

Best wishes!


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I like that explanation, Rocket88 - a mirror image centered on middle C - that helps! thanks


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I don't know the history, but will take an educated guess as to the reason.

One thing I do know, based on what I was told by my piano teacher, was the the bass and treble clefs were not always separated. Long ago, music was written as written with one staff. Imagine inserting one(1) more line in between the treble and bass clefs, then squishing them together. Looks pretty complicated, huh? I suspect, that was 'very' difficult to read, and worse, how to decide which notes to play with the left versus the right hand.

Now, lets start with middle C and go down the "C Major" (yes, the pun was intended) scale and count how many notes there are. I count eight.

So if middle C falls on a line (in the treble clef), the C an octave lower must fall on a --- space (in the bass clef).

C-B-A-G-F-E-D-C (descending)
Line-space-line-space-line-space-line-space

That is the reason the base and treble clefs can never look identical to each other.

That's my guess anyway. smile

(1) [edited: change two to one]

Last edited by Akira; 05/07/11 02:23 PM.
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Originally Posted by Akira
Long ago, music was written as written with one staff. Imagine inserting one (1) line in between the treble and bass clefs, then squishing them together. Looks pretty complicated, huh? I suspect, that was 'very' difficult to read, and worse, how to decide which notes to play with the left versus the right hand.



Thats a good picture.

Imagine this. If you take the middle C ledger line that is just below the Treble clef, it is the exact same line that is the middle C ledger line just above the Bass clef. It represents the same note, Middle C, but played with different hands.

(A ledger line is the tiny line used for line notes not on the staff.)

Now, take that Middle C ledger line, and make it a long line like the rest of the staff lines. Then compress the two clefs together...that is where they started, five lines for the Treble clef, five for the Bass, and middle C in the middle.

Eleven lines in a row, and it is basically unreadable.

So they eliminated a continuous line for Middle C, substituted small ledger lines at both Clefs to represent Middle C, and took the middle space and expanded it apart so we can read it easier.

And, as Akira correctly noted, so we know which hand to play what note.

Last edited by rocket88; 05/07/11 02:32 PM. Reason: clarity

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Originally Posted by rocket88
So they eliminated a continuous line for Middle C, substituted ledger lines at both Clefs to represent Middle C, and took the middle space and expanded it apart so we can read it easier. And, as Akira said, so we know which hand to play what note.


That's exactly how I see it, rocket88... it's one big staff that's been pulled apart to separate the hands (and it doesn't make sense to write in the center line, because it would be incongruously far away from its neighbors in either clef if it were in the center of the separation).


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Hope this wiki entry doesn't make it more confusing (since previous posts do have good practical advice), but it does have a bit on the historical development:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clef

The one that I'm not used to is the alto clef; good thing we don't see it in piano scores.

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Last edited by Akira; 05/08/11 01:40 PM.
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Originally Posted by Legal Beagle


That's exactly how I see it, rocket88... it's one big staff that's been pulled apart to separate the hands...



Originally Posted by rocket88

Yes. The space between the clefs is imaginary. That is why it varies. With some music it is closer together than others. That is because that space does not exist.


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Akira,

I changed your post within mine to reflect that.


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What you say makes perfect sense and now that I take another look I can see why it is as it is... thanks for clearing this up and making the obvious obvious... I shall sleep better tonight!

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Yep, that's it! thanks

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You are very welcome. It is great when people "get it"!


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I think that middle line is irrelevant

I suppose the reason is as follows

THey could use the same clef for the bass. But the typical bass notes on a piano would fall down way beneath the staff and stuff would become unreadable.

The f clef (which is the bass clef when placed in its usual position on the bars) is the best replacement as it points to a lower note (f3 instead of g4), and also it was already in use as bas clef (for the singers). Even better would have been to use the subbass clef but maybe that clef was introduced later.

Last edited by wouter79; 05/08/11 01:07 PM.

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