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Musical Alphabet

Musicians assign letters of the alphabet to different pitches so that we can talk about pitch easily. The musical alphabet consists of 7 letters – A, B, C, D, E, F and G. The musical alphabet repeats to indicate higher and lower pitches.

Staff

The musical staff is used to write, or notate, pitch. The staff consists of 5 lines and 4 spaces.

Staff

Each line and space on the staff represents a specific letter of the musical alphabet. The staff is flexible and is used by high instruments (like the flute) and low instruments (like the tuba), so we need a way to indicate exactly which pitches (high or low) the staff should represent.

Musicians use a clef to assign specific pitches, or letter names, to the lines and spaces of the staff.

Treble Clef

The flute reads music using the treble clef, which appears at the left side of every staff.

Treble Clef

The treble clef assigns the following letter names to the lines and spaces of the staff. Notice that the lowest line of the staff is E (not A) and that the E and F are repeated at the top of the staff.

Letter Names Assigned to the Staff by the Treble Clef

An easy way to remember the names of the lines and spaces in treble clef is illustrated below. Each word in the sentence Empty Garbage Before Dad Flips starts with the letter name of each line of the treble clef staff, starting with the lowest line. The letter names of the spaces starting at the lowest space spell the word FACE.

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