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Thread: Piano sheet music - clef question

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    Piano sheet music - clef question

    I'm not a piano player, but was looking at this sheet music (for John Lennon's "Imagine") - what does the small F-clef symbol following the time signature on the treble clef indicate?


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    Last edited by walternewton; 10-16-2010 at 12:22 AM.

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    bitter old fool Jed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by walternewton View Post
    I'm not a piano player, but was looking at this sheet music (for John Lennon's "Imagine") - what does the small F-clef symbol following the time signature on the treble clef indicate?


    pic:
    Top clef = Bass clef - played with the right hand
    Bottom clef = Bass clef - played with the left hand

    Writing the top clef in the treble clef would have put the lower notes (in written format) awkwardly close to the left hand part and with too many ledger lines. It would have been harder to read and may have even overlapped the left hand clef.
    Last edited by Jed; 10-16-2010 at 12:46 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jed View Post
    Top clef = Bass clef - played with the right hand
    Bottom clef = Bass clef - played with the left hand

    Writing the top clef in the treble clef would have put the lower notes (in written format) awkwardly close to the left hand part and with too many ledger lines. It would have been harder to read and may have even overlapped the left hand clef.
    OK thanks, makes sense - 2 questions...

    Does it *always* follow that the top line=RH, bottom line=LH?

    Any reason they couldn't have written the staff with 2 bass/F clefs from the beginning, rather than using the extra symbol "overriding" the treble/G clef?

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    bitter old fool Jed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by walternewton View Post
    Does it *always* follow that the top line=RH, bottom line=LH?
    I'm not a pianist, so I can't really speak as to every case but the standard notation for piano is to use the "grand staff" with the right hand playing the stuff on the top stave / treble clef and the left hand playing the lower stave / bass clef.

    Quote Originally Posted by walternewton View Post
    Any reason they couldn't have written the staff with 2 bass/F clefs from the beginning, rather than using the extra symbol "overriding" the treble/G clef?
    I'd expect it's a matter of convention that makes it easier to read to show the clef change after first identifying the grand staff. It certainly could be written with two bass clefs but then it would no longer be the "grand staff" and would confuse the hell out of a pianist.

    As you get used to reading piano music it will make more sense. I know that with fresh eyes some of these notations conventions seem somewhat strange. But try to look at this stuff in context: hundreds and hundreds of years of music study have lead to these conventions. And although they may seem somewhat odd to untrained eyes, once you have developed just a little experience with the challenges involved - the solutions used as conventions in standard music notation start to make a boat-load of sense. I never hear experienced readers comment about standard notation being lacking in any way.

    cheers,

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    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by walternewton View Post
    OK thanks, makes sense - 2 questions...

    Does it *always* follow that the top line=RH, bottom line=LH?
    Yes. I think there can be indications of "RH" or "LH" where there are exceptions.

    There are some related quesitons on this forum
    http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbt...on_a_shee.html
    - with conflicting answers on example #2. One person says it means you play the connected 8ths all with the left hand. Another says the final 2 notes (on treble clef) should be played with the right. I suspect the first is correct - the notation is clearer like this than if a treble clef had been introduced in the lower stave only for those 2 notes.
    Quote Originally Posted by walternewton View Post
    Any reason they couldn't have written the staff with 2 bass/F clefs from the beginning, rather than using the extra symbol "overriding" the treble/G clef?
    I suspect that would confuse pianists, who expect the RH to be treble clef. I would also suspect that the treble clef is used later in the piece, as normal. It would be highly unlikely for a RH part to be in bass clef throughout (that does happen in duets on a single piano, where the player on the left reads two bass clefs, the upper one being for the right hand).
    If the right hand part really was that low throughout (or for most of the piece), I'd have said a better indication would be "8va bassa" on the treble clef - however I just checked my notation book, and it says that should only EVER be used on bass clef! (so that's me told.)

    BTW, it's also quite common for high left hand parts to be written in treble clef on the lower stave - using the same notation of a small G clef within the notation, while the main clef on the line remains the bass F clef.

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    Piano newbie..This song is officially one of my fave..it is also recommended by my teacher..
    check this: play piano
    Last edited by kurtdaniel; 03-20-2011 at 03:30 PM.

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    I'm a pianist: Hey. Nice to meet you!

    As I peruse my vast sheet music collection I notice that the extract you have selected is from bar 5 of Imagine (it probably comes back later too)

    The simple reason is that in bar 1 he needed a treble clef in the right hand because he wants a top G which wouldn't be notated in bass clef. He then switches the left hand to a much lower 'tessatura' (=range of pitches) and so he switches to a bass clef. On my copy the bar where the bass clef starts isn't the start of a new line so it looks more clef-economical, but that doesn't matter anyway - even if it is at the start of a new line (like in your copy) editing software (e.g. Sibelius) would still put the treble clef and switch to the bass clef just because it makes it clearer that the clef has switched.

    Here's my music which makes it more obvious why a small clef is used.
    http://screencast.com/t/sHjg82h8

    However - I have played peices where both hands are in bass clef from the start so only bass clefs are used or boths hands are in treble clef (This happens a lot in four handed pieces.

    E.g. http://www.virtualsheetmusic.com/ima...zFirst_BIG.gif (in this example the composer eventually switches the right hand to treble clef)

    *** *** *** ***

    2nd point: No, the hands do not always take a stave each.

    Have a look at this page of music taken from Muse's Butterflies and Hurricanes (which in turn was taken from a Rachmaninov Piano Concerto, I believe.)
    http://screencast.com/t/5ogaQGRq8I9

    At the top the right and left hand would play about three notes each, alternately, regardless of stave.

    Then later the hands play independantly on their own staves even though the demisemiquavers are beamed together. (The effect is basically both hands are playing semiquavers but the right hand palyed half a semiquaver behind the left - a clever way of making the music sound VERY fast!)

    Hope thats interesting!

    Peter.

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    Quote Originally Posted by singtrombone View Post
    Hope thats interesting!

    Peter.
    Yes it is, thanks for the reply and welcome to the forum!

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    Quote Originally Posted by walternewton View Post
    I'm not a piano player, but was looking at this sheet music (for John Lennon's "Imagine") - what does the small F-clef symbol following the time signature on the treble clef indicate?


    pic:

    I think it is primarily for simplicity's sake that it is done in regards to the range of the piano. Some might not know it among guitarists, but the guitar is actually written, in regards to standard notation, an octave higher than it sound. What would be called "Middle C" on the grand staff is one ledger line below the staff, but in guitar music, it is written on on the second space from the top. In case you're not aware, there is also tenor clef, middle C is on the middle line of that staff.

    Cheers

    Hypnus9

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    Re:

    I love playing the piano. Even though I'm not very good at it. Well, If you already know how to read the music and you know where the notes are on the keyboard then just start out playing simple music and just work your way up from there.
    _______________
    p.s. Check out my stock music

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    hi everyone....actually, I am not good at piano playing...
    so, can't say anything....but I am interested to know that
    how the music reading is possible? I mean, I want to learn it...
    so, if someone could help me.




    Free Online Music
    Last edited by Joaquin; 04-30-2011 at 04:08 PM.
    Freeeezing Fire...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Joaquin View Post
    hi everyone....actually, I am not good at piano playing...
    so, can't say anything....but I am interested to know that
    how the music reading is possible? I mean, I want to learn it...
    so, if someone could help me.
    Standard notation is really designed with the piano in mind, and that's the easiest instrument to learn to read for.
    Every white note is a line or space, and the black notes are altered versions of a line or space - either a sharp version of the one below, or a flat version of the one above.
    "Middle C" is the C nearest the centre of the keyboard (it appears just left of centre on full 88-keyboards). On the notation that note appears on a ledger line (short separate line) below the top (right hand) stave, or above the bottom (left-hand) stave.
    You can simply count up the alphabet from there (D the space above C, E the bottom line of the RH stave, F the next space, etc). Or you can use memory aids, such as FACE for the spaces in RH (treble) clef, and EGBDF for the lines. (There are various mnemonic phrases for EGBDF, such as Every Good Boy Deserves Fun.)
    The bass (LH) clef is ACEG in the spaces and GCDFA on the lines.

    That's the easy part... What can be harder is to learn how to read rhythm and timing. There are several websites with free lessons - mixed quality, of course, so try some different ones, and choose whichever seems clearest.
    Most are aimed at pianists, because that's considered the standard instrument.

    One of the best (with flash animations) is on musictheory.net:
    http://www.musictheory.net/lessons
    (just start at the top and work down)

    here's some others:
    http://readsheetmusic.info/readingmusic.shtml
    http://www.shanemcdonald.org/music/l...ead-music.html
    http://www.tutorials.com/09/0917/0917.asp

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    Quote Originally Posted by JonR View Post
    Every white note is a line or space, and the black notes are altered versions of a line or space - either a sharp version of the one below, or a flat version of the one above.
    But some white notes are altered versions of a line or space, just to confuse matters.

    And sometimes the alteration of line and spaces is done at the start of the piece, in which case the line and/or space may become a black note for the entire piece. Ah. Plus complicée malheureusement.

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    Quote Originally Posted by singtrombone View Post
    But some white notes are altered versions of a line or space, just to confuse matters.
    True - but only in the more remote keys, where you get things like E# and Cb. For anyone learning to read music, there's no need to consider keys like F# or Gb to start with.

    Let's just say that notation is about as simple as it can be in the circumstances, at least in connection with piano keyboard. It gets worse on other instruments...

    Of course, when it comes to atonalism and 20thC music, staff notation starts to creak at the seams... But still, it's pretty good for anything based on keys or modes.

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    I quite like this sort of notation
    http://www.music.mcgill.ca/~stewart/...icastri_01.gif
    :S

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