What is this clef in Vivaldi RV281? This is the only source of the concerto is available ( at least without buying it, which is the manuscript). The piece did have a few weird clefs like an octave bass clef once for one of the violin sections, but nothing too unusual. His handwriting is pretty hard to read sometimes, and I am just plain confused about what it is. The section that played the stave was the viola section originally, and it switched to this clef later on. I remember seeing something like it before, but I forgot what it was, looks kind of like the French 18th-century clefs, but neither that nor alto clef sounded right or true at least to the recording I am using, which is essentially the same all the other ones, just a semitone lower (for baroque-interpretation, although I don't really care), here is the section in the youtube video I'm using and below it the picture of the clef in question,

. The clef in question.

  • There was a small missing sharp causing this problem, I apologize for asking the question, but I would still like to know is this some sort of this old french alto clefs because it seems so, or is another form of alto clef? Aug 6, 2020 at 19:10
  • It's just a regular alto clef.
    – Jomiddnz
    Aug 6, 2020 at 22:32
  • I agree that Vivaldi is hard to read from the manuscript. With Vivaldi manuscripts, I know which notes are where, but the note value is hard to make out because sometimes the sixteenths look like eighths and vice versa.
    – Caters
    Feb 8, 2021 at 23:50

3 Answers 3


It might be drawn a bit scribbly but it certainly looks like a K-clef, (a stylistic variant of the C-clef). In particular it's an alto clef (which makes sense for viola).

K-Clef with quavers

So those first few notes in the image are at the pitch of E above middle C. (With the two treble G-clefs directly above, the chord made (E, G, B) is an E minor chord in close position.

  • It doesn't even look like a K-clef, just a regular C-clef with the top loop faint or missing. The bottom loop is quite clear. Aug 7, 2020 at 6:41

It looks a bit like a hand-written C-clef. Reading as such seems to make sense harmonically.


It looks like an Ut3 clef: C (Do) e.g Ut is on the 3rd line.

So I read 4xE 8th twice and 4xB 8th twice. As ttw points out this makes sense harmonically: first chord is B G E (from top to bottom): G major chord G-B-E.

  • 1
    'G major chord G-B-E'?
    – Tim
    Aug 7, 2020 at 6:52

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.