Basic Music Theory Lessons

How To Read Music | Part 1 | Treble & Bass Clefs

Hey guys, welcome to our newest series, where we will be breaking down basic music theory for you in a way that is easy to understand. In part one we will talk about how to actually read sheet music. This will be broken into a few parts as there are different clefs and each clef will change the order of how the notes are laid out on the page. We will include pictures and videos as well as audio segments for those who need them.

What is a clef?

The first question you’re probably asking after reading the introduction is, what is a clef? A basic way to look at it is this:

A clef is a musical symbol used to indicate the pitch of written notes. Placed on a stave, it indicates the name and pitch of the notes on one of the lines. This line serves as a reference point by which the names of the notes on any other line or space of the stave may be determined.

Basically a clef is a symbol that tells you how high, or low, the notes you are playing are going to be, but they also change how the notes are laid out on the sheet music.

Treble Clef

The treble clef is the one that looks like a fancy S. It is the most common of the clefs used. The notes are laid out like this:

On The Line:

The notes directly on the lines are E G B D F. They are always read from the bottom of the lines to the top. The easy way to remember this is:

  • Every
  • Good
  • Boy
  • Deserves
  • Fudge
From left to right E G B D F

Between The Lines

The notes between the lines are F A C E. This is easy to remember because it spells out the word Face.

From left to right: F A C E

Bass Clef

The bass clef is the second most common of the clefs. It is the one that look like a weird 9 with a : beside. Some also say it looks like a backwards C with a : beside it. This clef is used for instruments that are very low in intonation. Instruments like the tuba, bass guitar, cello, bass clarinet, among others, use the bass clef.

On the line:

The notes on the line of the bass clef are G B D F A. A good way to remember this is Good Boys Deserve Fudge Always.

From left to right: G B D F A

Between The Lines

The notes between the lines on the bass clef are A C E G. The best way to remember this is All Cows Eat Grass.

From left to right: A C E G