C Clef – Reading Music Lesson #16

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reading musicThe C Clef is a symbol on the music staff that looks like the letter “C”.

In fact, that is exactly what it used to be before it turned into a more elaborate design.

The center where the two C’s meet indicates the location of the note middle C on the staff.

C Clef

This “C” can appear in any line or space of the music staff.

C Clef

Moveable Clef

That is why the C Clef is considered a moveable clef.  The center of the two C’s can move around to any line or space.

While this was handy in the very early stages of written music to keep all notes on the staff and avoid ledger lines (something we’ll talk about later), it can be a little bit confusing.

Fixed Clef

Now you know why later on in history, the treble clef and bass clef (which were also moveable at first) were established in standard notation “fixing” the “G” or “F” to the same line every time.

For this reason, the treble clef and bass clef are considered to be a fixed clef.  Those 2 clef signs will not move around on the staff any more like the C Clef can.

More Than 1 C Clef

There are many different types of C Clefs, but most of them are not in use today.

For our purposes here, we are going to concentrate on the Alto Clef.  This is the kind of a C Clef viola players still use today.

We’ll talk about this more in our next lesson.

One Reply to “C Clef – Reading Music Lesson #16”

Blessing Mupeta

I am a taxi driver in Lusaka. But i intend to attempt music theory grade 5 ABRSM exams in March 2018. Look towards being assisted in learning material.


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