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I come across the following stave kind of formation many times:

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How does one go about playing this on a keyboard instrument? or Does one need to use two different instruments to play the first stave and the other two separately?

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This is written for piano and voice. The two lower staves are for the piano (they are connected with the bracket at the left) and the the top staff is for the voice. That's why it has the lyrics written underneath.

But, if you don't care about the lyrics and want just the melody, you can play the top staff with a different instrument. In this case though, it seems possible to add the notes to your left hand (the voice is in the bass clef). It will make the whole song a bit more advanced, and it will be hard to distinguish between the voices, but you can try it out to see what it sounds like.

There some overlaps, like the first low E on the voice that is the same on the left hand of the piano, so you'll play it only once.

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Just for general clarification, though it does not pertain to this piece: There are cases, especially in Ravel and later composers, where piano music intended for one player IS written on three staves rather than two. This is for clarity however, and not done to imply that anyone has three hands or should try to use a foot.

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  • I would be curious to see an example of three staves adding clarity. – Steve Stilson Feb 14 at 0:27

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