In modern typesetting, tenors usually have an F clef (or an octaving C clef, with the 8 indicated or omitted).

Consider following clef from Bellini's Norma (p. 125):

treble clef with brackets at

It looks like an (octaving) G clef with a C clef superimposed (as shown in this question, but that seems to be misaligned?

  • This may be the better answer
    – nuggethead
    Commented Jan 11, 2022 at 12:49

2 Answers 2


This is some sort of old style tenor clef. Basically you have a G-clef with a tenor-C-clef superimposed, just to indicate that this is for tenor voice and thus transposed an octave down.

So this is bascially the same as an octavated G clef. It would be much more plausible if the C-clef actually were one note lower at the actual middle C, but I suppose this would clash with the G clef too much.


I'd say trust the position of the flat and call it a G-clef. You can tell this is correct because the C instruments in the score are also in F.

A quick perusal through the score also shows that...

  • The tenors sing the same lines as the sopranos an octave lower on pages 125-126.

  • The tenors sing pitches that make sense with the orchestration (see tenors and bassoon 1 on the Db on page 127)

    ...but this is only true if you interpret this staff as a G clef.

I can't see how any argument about any other clef being valid could be made given this. I was surprised to see that it happens on multiple pages, though, and would be very curious to know how the score was engraved and using which technology. I'm not familiar enough with Norma to know the year, not whether this is the original published edition.

  • 4
    I would guess that this is an indication that it was originally written in tenor clef but this printing of the score has rewritten it in octaving G clef. Commented Jan 11, 2022 at 2:46
  • 1
    That could be, but aren't those usually smaller and don't they tend not to collide with the actual clef in use?
    – nuggethead
    Commented Jan 11, 2022 at 2:56
  • "would be very curious to know how the score was engraved and using which technology": it was engraved in a copper plate with iron tools. In other words, it was actually engraved, as opposed to modern editions, which are only "engraved." Basically it's an accommodation of people's discomfort using the G clef in the "wrong" octave. There was a bit of experimentation in the 19th century, then people stopped being bothered by it, then they started being bothered by it again in the late 20th century and started writing 8 below the clef.
    – phoog
    Commented Jan 11, 2022 at 15:49
  • @AlexanderWoo 19th century editors were not largely known for their concern about representing the source faithfully. I would expect that this was just the house style of the publisher, which one could confirm by looking at other editions from the same period.
    – phoog
    Commented Jan 11, 2022 at 16:13

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