Clefs – Treble, Bass, Alto, Tenor – Interactive Tutorial

The clefs are musical symbols placed at the beginning of the music staff.

There are 3 music clefs : the G clef (treble clef), the F clef (bass clef), the C clef (alto clef, tenor clef)

The clefs are placed very precisely on one of the five lines of the stave. They are setting the name but also the pitch of the music notes.

The G Clef on the Second Line of the Staff (Treble Clef)

The G clef is the most used. It is placed on the second line of the staff. So, the music note placed on the second line of the staff is a G:

The treble clef (G clef) is placed on the second line of the staff. So, the music note on the second line is a G.
The treble clef (G clef) is placed on the second line of the staff. So, the music note on the second line is a G.

You can check it now in a funny and interactive way with our online mini tutorial: Staff and Treble Clef HN (it opens in a new tab).

A mini online interactive tutorial to understand the staff (or stave), the Treble Clef and the music notes.
A mini online interactive tutorial to understand the staff (or stave), the G (Treble) Clef and the music notes.

The Treble clef is used on sheet music for piano (right hand), guitar, violin, flute, oboe, clarinets, saxophones, horn, trumpet… For the singers, the Treble clef is used with the following voices: tenor, contralto, alto, mezzo-soprano, soprano.

The F Clef on the Fourth Line of the Staff (Bass Clef)

The F clef located on the fourth line of the staff is called Bass Clef (the F clef on the third line is now only used for musical transposition). If the F key is placed on the fourth line, the music note on the fourth line of the music staff will be a F and the names of other notes of the scale will change accordingly:

The bass clef (F clef) is placed on the fourth line of the staff. So, the music note on the fourth line is a F.
The bass clef (F clef) is placed on the fourth line of the staff. So, the music note on the fourth line is a F.

The Bass clef is used on sheet music for piano (left hand), cello, double bass, bass guitar, bassoon, trombone, tuba, timpani… Baritone and bass voice use the Bass clef too.


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Read Music Notes HN - G (Treble) Clef
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The C Clef on the First, Second, Third or Fourth Line of the Staff

The C clef can be placed on the 1st, 2nd, 3rd or 4th line of the staff. If it is placed on the first line of the staff, the music note written on the first line will be a C, etc.

If the C clef is placed on the second line of the staff, then the music note placed on the second line will be the C and the names of other notes of the scale will change accordingly.

  • The C clef on the first line is no longer used now, except for orchestral transposition.
  • The C clef on the second line of the staff is only used by horn players (musician playing the French horn).
  • The C clef on the third line is used with viola and viola da gamba.
  • The C clef on the fourth line of the music staff is the most played: it is used for bassoon, cello and trombone scores.

Music Clefs and Music Theory

Music Staff (or Stave)

The music staff (or stave) is made by five parallel horizontal lines.

Music Notes – Name of Notes (A B C or Do Re Mi)

Seven notes of music and two systems to name them.

7 Note Values (Whole Note, Half Note, Quarter Note…)

The type (shape) of musical notes (Quarter Note, Half Note, Whole Note) fixes the note values (duration).

Music Rests (Half Rest, Whole Rest, Quarter Rest…)

There is a rest of different value for each music note of different value.