The sum of two semitones is a tone. On a keyboard the black keys are named relative to their adjacent white keys, using the terms sharp and flat. For example, the black note next to the note F may be called either F sharp or G flat. Two notes that have the same sound but are "spelt" differently, as in the case of F sharp and G flat, are described as being enharmonic. There are two types of semitone:. In printed music notes are represented by small circular symbols on a set of parallel horizontal lines known as a staff.
Notes can be written on either the lines or the spaces. Notes may also be written above or below the staff on ledger lines. At the beginning of each staff, on the left, a clef is written..
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A clef is a symbol that fixes a particular line of the staff to mean a particular note which then becomes the point of reference for all the other notes written on that staff. The names G clef, F clef and C clef derive from the names of the notes that each clef fixes.
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Whichever line the clef is placed on will then be fixed as representing that note. These are the only clefs used in the UK. The G clef, commonly known as the treble clef, is placed on the 2nd line of the staff. When the C clef is placed on the 3rd middle line of the staff it is known as the alto clef.
When the C clef is placed on the 4th line of the staff it is known as the tenor clef. The F clef, commonly known as the bass clef, is placed on the 4th line of the staff. Clefs in braille. Notes may also be written outside the staff, but in this case they must be written on ledger lines which may be though of as fragments of further lines above or below the normal five of the staff. In some cases, in order not to make reading the music too difficult because of multiple ledger lines, the "Octave above" or the "Octave below" signs can be used.
There are conventions for denoting which octave a note is in. The commonest is to number the octaves, starting from the note C, from the lowest on the piano keyboard octave 1 to the highest octave 7.
On an note keyboard the top C would, in fact, be the start of octave 8. The octave number for a note is written as a superscript.
Middle C is the beginning of octave 4 and the A above it Hz is also part of octave 4. The score may be made of one, two, three or more staves. This depends mainly on the instrument being written for. The piano, for example, will normally have two staves, the organ three but a flute would only require a single staff. An orchestral score contains many staves but this will vary during the course of the piece according to which instruments are actually playing at any given point in the score.
It has evolved over time, with input from many different people. The Greeks were the first to assign letter names to notes and they used the terms Phoenician and Ionian to denote instrumental and vocal music respectively. Later, the Romans substituted Latin letters for Greek ones and Odo of Cluny 9th - 10th century championed the use of the modern alphabet.
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