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I have a sheet with 2 lines between the treble clef and the bass clef, with a note shown on either one. What does it mean? It looks like competing middle Cs.

Returning after many years to piano.

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    I assume you know what ledger lines are, but the confusion is whether the ledger lines belong to the bass or treble staff? Jun 29, 2021 at 14:31
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    I can see the source of the confusion — the two staves are close enough together that it's easy to see the note as a bass-clef middle C even though the intention is a treble-clef A-below-middle-C. If possible, you might look for some better designed flash cards that show the notes more distinctly.
    – Aaron
    Jun 29, 2021 at 17:15
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    Key observation is that there will never be more ledger lines than are necessary to place the note. That is to say, if the note is above the staff, there won't be any ledger lines above the note. If it's below the staff, there won't be any lines below the note. Since there is one ledger line above the note here, you can infer that the note must be below the top staff, not above the bottom one. Jun 30, 2021 at 20:07

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"I have a sheet with 2 lines between the treble clef and the bass clef, with a note shown on either one. What does it mean? It looks like competing middle Cs."

If it wasn't for the second ledger line, above the note, it could indeed have been a middle C, belonging to either stave.

But that line fixes it as an A below the treble stave. If it was C in the bass stave there would be no need for the extra ledger line.

Why write it that way? Well, as a single note (A in my example below) there's not much point. But B could be useful. C is another possibility, when the RH needs to take an even lower note. Or when writing out a scale (D).

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  • Exactly... "If it was C in the bass stave there would be no need for the extra ledger line." Jun 29, 2021 at 14:30
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I think the answer's going to be partly A. Because I think the question's going to be 'how do we identify this note?' Since there are two ledger lines under the treble clef, rather than above the bass clef, so the note relates to the treble clef. The ledger line above is where C lives, so the note shown will be A, two tones lower.

Note that there is one special ledger line for C. That's kind of the 11th line - a temporary one in between the two staves, only coming into sight when needed, as in when middle C is shown, for example..

The second ledger line down (treble clef) is the same as the top bass line, and likewise, the second ledger line up in the bass clef is the same as the bottom line, treble clef. And so on.

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As we can see in this picture:

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the notes around the middle C can be notated with ledger lines for the r.h. and l.h. The note requested (2nd ledger line = A) is identical with the note on the 5th line of the left hand staff.

source: https://www.keytarhq.com/grand-staff-notes.html

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The lines below the treble clef are called ledger lines. They are used to extend the staff upward or downward past the normal 5 lines.

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In your example, the note would be an A.

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