Sight Reading 101

The Staff




If a sheet of music were compared to a painting, the musical staff could be the thought of as the canvas, on which all the notes of the music would be painted.

The image below shows the common elements that make up the staff.

The Staff
The Staff


Here are descriptions of these elements:


The Treble Clef

The treble clef is also called the "G" clef because it somewhat resembles the letter G and the large round part of the clef always circles the "G" line on the staff.



The Time Signature

The time signature is placed on the staff, usually at the beginning, to indicate what time the music is written in, and helps you know how to count the music. For example, if a song is written in "3/4 time", you will see a the symbol, 3/4 at the beginning of the piece, meaning that there will be three beats per measure. If a song is written in "4/4 time", you will see the symbol 4/4 or C (which stands for common time) at the beginning of the piece, meaning that there will be four beats per measure. This is enough information for now, but don't worry, there will be further explanation of time signatures in the Time Signatures lesson.



Lines

These are the five horizontal lines of the staff on which musical notes, and other musical symbols are placed. Each line has a name, consisting of a single letter, which indicates the name of the notes that occur on that line. Look for further explaination of lines in the next lesson on Lines, Spaces and Ledger Lines.



Spaces

These are the four spaces of the staff on which musical notes, and other musical symbols are placed. Each space has a name, consisting of a single letter, which indicates the name of the notes that occur on that space. Look for further explaination of spaces in the next lesson on Lines, Spaces and Ledger Lines.



Measure

Measures (also referred to as bars) are the blocks of the staff between the bar lines in which the music is organized.



Bar Lines

Bar lines are the vertical lines that separate the measures.









Course Map:

Introduction | Course Directory | The Staff | Lines, Spaces and Ledger Lines | Flash Cards I: Learning the Notes | The Fret Board | Reading Exercises On Each String | Note and Rest Values | Time Signatures | Rhythm Exercises, Part I | Triplets and Dotted Notes & Rests | Rhythm Exercises, Part II | Flash Cards II: Rhythm Values | Ties | Rhythm Exercises, Part III | Simple Melodies | Course Conclusion

Glossary of Terms






Copyright 1999 T.A. Vieira, Jr.