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I am looking at the intro for the "Piano collections" of Nobuo Uematsu's Final Fantasy VI Terra's theme, which starts like this enter image description here.

The right hand is pretty straight forward, but the first bar of the left hand has got me confused, as it first shows the bass cleff with a flat on the E and B key, but after that immediately shows a treble clef with no flats. Is there a reason (and name) to do this? I have not seen it anywhere else (granted I am still quite new to piano). I'm having a hard time figuring out how the first two chords need to be played, thinking it can be either:

  • Using the bass clef as reference with the flats, making C D F into B-flat D F,
  • Using the treble clef without the flats, making A B D, into G B D
  • Using the treble clef with the flats as they appear on the staff with the bass clef, remaining A B D but into G-flat B D
  • Using the treble clef, but keeping (inheriting?) the flats on E and B, making A B-flat D into G B-flat D

Trying out these combination it "feels" like the last option sounds correct, but doesn't really make sense to me looking at the sheet. But is also supported by looking at the next bars enter image description here That do show a treble clef with flats on B and E. If it is shown like this here, why could this not be done at the start of the piece?

I tried searching for similar questions but turned up empty (possibly due to a lack of knowledge on the terminalogy), the closest I came up with was this Piano: grand staff with two treble clefs. Where to place hands? which isn't the same. And I've seen it quite commonly that the clef changes a bar in. But never right at the very start.

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  • Similar question.
    – guidot
    Mar 5 at 12:39
  • 2
    Related question - the questions we were thinking it's a duplicate of would also be related, if not dupes: music.stackexchange.com/questions/77681/…
    – Dekkadeci
    Mar 5 at 13:07
  • @Dekkadeci I had not seen that question before, thanks for sharing! If I had I likely wouldn't have asked this question, as the answer to that also applies here, so in that regard I would say it is probably a dupe of that one. The only difference being that this is at the start of the piece, and that question is just the start of a particular bar, not on the first. I'm not versed enough with this particular exchange's way of things to say if that would be enough to not be seen as a dupe or not. I'll leave that to the powers that be :)
    – Remy
    Mar 5 at 13:53
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This is quite a common practice.

The piece is written for two hands so it starts with the rh having a treble clef and the lh a bass clef. But the lh needs to have a treble clef in this piece so they change it. That's all it is - a change of clef from bass to treble right at the start of the piece.

It isn't always done like that nowadays - many pieces just start with two treble clefs (or two bass clefs) as required - but this is a slightly more formal convention.

As to the key signature: It has two flats and that remains the case. It is not normal to repeat the key signature after a change of clef unless the key signature itself is changing.

So what you have is both hands playing in treble clef and a key signature of two flats (G minor in this case by the look of it).

Hope that helps

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  • Ah I see, so it actually is just like any other change of clef. So far whenever that is required right from the very start i've just seen the sheet start with two treble clefs as you pointed out. Good to know that the key signature isnt repeated as long as they stay the same.
    – Remy
    Mar 5 at 9:52
  • To me, although your answer is correct, the example is pretty stupid. The music starts at the beginning of a line - in fact the whole of the l.h. stays in treble clef for the line. Cannot see any reason at all for even putting a bass clef. What's wrong with twi treble clefs - which is what I see far more often. The example is just plain stupid!
    – Tim
    Mar 5 at 9:53
  • For a more formal convention, this immediate clef change looks pretty sloppy.
    – Dekkadeci
    Mar 5 at 13:03
  • "It is not normal to repeat the key signature after a change of clef unless the key signature itself is changing." is interesting. How would one distinguish "two flats and that remains the case" vs a change to C major? (with a ♮?) Mar 5 at 20:30
  • 1
    @chux - Yes, exactly that.
    – JimM
    Mar 5 at 22:40

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