Back to ba­sics this month – just what are those squig­gly things you find at the be­gin­ning of a mu­si­cal stave?

Computer Music - - Contents -

Sharpen your stave skills with Dave’s guide to the clef

Take a look at any page of printed sheet mu­sic, and the first thing you’ll see at the start of each set of five lines (or ‘stave’) is a weird-look­ing squig­gle that could be one of sev­eral pos­si­ble shapes. These are called clefs, and the rea­son they ex­ist is to let the player know which of the five hor­i­zon­tal lines on the stave cor­re­sponds to which notes when play­ing the mu­sic. Each clef rep­re­sents a dif­fer­ent range of notes, and al­lows all notes on the stave to be in­ter­preted more eas­ily at a glance.

You may won­der what rel­e­vance, if any, the clef sym­bols used in tra­di­tional no­ta­tion have in re­la­tion to the mu­sic we make on our com­put­ers. It’s a fair point. If you’re mak­ing a dance track in Able­ton or record­ing a mul­ti­track in Logic, why would you need to know about clefs? Well, although the chances are that you could the­o­ret­i­cally go through your en­tire mu­sic-mak­ing life with­out ever en­coun­ter­ing one, clefs are pretty im­por­tant things to know about if you ever in­tend to print out a score for a string or brass sec­tion when re­plac­ing com­puter-gen­er­ated parts with real play­ers. Or maybe you have some sheet mu­sic that you want to en­ter into your DAW in step time. What­ever the rea­son, if you want to im­prove your over­all clef­fer­ness, read on…

DOWN­LOAD Down­load the ac­com­pa­ny­ing video and the MIDI/au­dio files at vault.com­put­er­mu­sic.co.uk

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