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Piano Bass Clef and Bass Staff


Piano Bass Clef and Bass Staff is part 3 of a 31 part series on musical notation and basic music theory. This clef is another type of clef. This is a bass staff. No matter what clef exists or what staff you're on, there are always only 7 letters in the language of music (ABCDEFG) and they repeat as you go up or down the scale.

Again, all staves (plural for staff) are made up of 5 lines and 4 spaces. A clef is the funny shaped symbol at the far left sitting on those lines and spaces. A different clef changes where the notes are on these lines and spaces.

In this case, we are looking at a piano bass clef, which makes this a bass staff. Notice that the letters move up alphabetically alternating between 5 lines and 4 spaces (GABCDEFGA). After G is always A going up and vice versa coming down.

This clef is often referred to as an F clef because the line between the two dots is an F note. You'll also notice that as the clef swirls up and around to the left, it is rounded and stops right on the F note as well.

Piano Bass Clef

Just when we were getting the treble staff together, we are thrown a curve ball and have to learn a whole new set of notes. You will understand why the bass staff is different than the treble staff in part 4, the grand staff.

This clef is what a bass player or bass voice reads. This staff and its notes are below and to the left of middle C on the piano. A piano player usually reads the bass staff with their left hand.

Again, you don't have to know or even read the bass staff if you play melodic instruments or just want to sing. However, understanding the F clef and the bass staff allows you to write for this instrument and to arrange music in your songwriting.

Bass notes hold music together. They are the foundation on where all music is built. You can't have a band without a bass. It rounds out the sound. It fills in the space. Have you ever turned the bass knob all the way off on your stereo? Pretty hollow sounding right?

Even when a solo performer is singing and playing with just an acoustic guitar, the bottom notes of the chords on the guitar are creating a bass sound that allows the rest of the harmony of the chords to exist. They also make the vocal melody much richer sounding.

Continue to Parts 4 & 5, The Grand Staff and Ledger Lines

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