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It looks like my questions is largely answered by Why not use only octave clefs?. I'm going to leave this here anyways in case it's useful for others.

Hello!

I've got a genuine question, although I'm new to music and so I'm sure that "it's me, not the music" :)

I'm learning how to sight read Western music notation, and after learning the treble clef I moved and started learning the bass clef. Each line of of the bass clef represents a different note than the treble clef, of course.

My question: Instead of having 5 line clefs, why not have 4 line octaves (or octave-clef? I don't even know what to call this :) ). The idea is that a given line in notation would always represent the same note (A, B, C, etc) and the octave would tell you how high or low to play it.

I understand that right now a big part of the answer is "People have been using clefs for a while and hoo-boy is there a lot of music written this way, and a lot of people who are skilled at reading and writing music this way" and that's fine.

I'm curious what technical reasons might preclude notation like this.

I'm guessing one might be "many instruments don't comfortably play with a single octave so you'd need multiple octave-clefs, while the existing clefs were picked precisely because they 'line up' with common Western instruments", but that's just a guess.

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  • It looks like my questions is largely answered by music.stackexchange.com/questions/128952/…. I'm going to leave this here anyways in case it's useful for others. Commented Nov 12, 2023 at 20:02
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    FWIW the standard staff did have four lines for several centuries (although the standard was fairly weak in that the number of lines was somewhat variable).
    – phoog
    Commented Nov 12, 2023 at 20:17
  • Did the staffs still have different notes assigned to each line (like they currently do)? Commented Nov 13, 2023 at 4:57

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