What does the symbol mean that is added to the clef in the Tenor voice in Poulenc’s Mass in G Major? It has a similar shape to an old C clef, but it is added to the existing G clef.

G clef with bracket

  • Given that it is the tenor voice a tenor clef would be the most obvious choice. French scores always have their idiosyncrasies....
    – guidot
    Commented Jul 16, 2019 at 10:06
  • I've heard tenors get to read octave treble clefs with the 8 below. I think this is actually what's happening, but I need evidence.
    – Dekkadeci
    Commented Jul 16, 2019 at 11:16
  • @Dekkadeci: The follow-up accidental should make this evident, but given that the fork has exactly the position for the nose of a c-clef.....
    – guidot
    Commented Jul 16, 2019 at 11:50
  • Does this answer your question? Which clef is used for the tenors here?
    – Aaron
    Commented Jan 11, 2022 at 6:32

2 Answers 2


It is the same as the "standard" notation for tenor voices, written using the G clef and sounding an octave lower than written.

The vestige of a C clef on the 4th line (i.e. a "tenor clef") is an indication that this isn't a standard treble clef. The more common notation is a small 8 below the clef.

Looking at the music in the score makes it clear that is the only reasonable interpretation.

If the comment about a "follow up accidental" actually meant a "key signature" since the title of the piece includes "G major", the published score does not use key signatures even though the music key center is G for most of the time.

The SMuFL music font specification names it as "G clef ottava bassa with C clef" - see Unicode character U+E056 here.


Let me start by suggesting that imslp.org is the Number One place to go for clarifications of score markings.

Here is a clippy from a different publisher which makes the notation clear. In this image the more common "little '8' below Treble Clef" notation is used.

enter image description here

  • 3
    Given that IMSLP offers no PD score for this mass and that your snippet provides not a single note in the tenor voice, the only information to take from the answer is, that one could notate it with octave-transposed treble clef. I add at least from Wikipedia concering tenor clef: Formerly, it was used by the tenor part in vocal music but its use has been largely supplanted [why?] either with an octave version of the treble clef where written alone or the bass clef where combined on one stave with the bass part.
    – guidot
    Commented Jul 16, 2019 at 13:52
  • @guidot My suspicion is that publishers (or composers) found resistance among singers to learning to read yet one more clef. Not like us poor cellists & trombonists :-( Commented Jul 16, 2019 at 17:38
  • 2
    IMSLP has a couple of public domain scores of this. One has the same notation as the OP's illustration: petruccilibrary.ca/files/imglnks/caimg/2/2a/…. The moveable C clef was formerly used for all voices except the bass, and tenors would have the middle C on the fourth line. It was supplanted by the ottava G clef for simplicity - all voices except the bass could use the same clef (and FWIW, that's how the G clef came to be called the treble clef - in an SATB score there are three of them, so it's "trebled")
    – Tom Serb
    Commented Jul 16, 2019 at 21:22
  • @TomSerb's parenthetical == mind blown. Thank you for that little bit!
    – nitsua60
    Commented Jul 16, 2019 at 21:27
  • 3
    Sorry to unblow your mind, but "treble" is an Anglicization of "triplum," the part that goes above the "duplum," the second part, which goes above the "tenor," which is...the tenor. (Of course you can also put a "bassus" below the tenor as a base for it to stand on.) So the top part in a contrapuntal score is usually the triplum, i.e., the "treble." Some people call those who sing the top part -- especially if they are boys and not women -- trebles. Commented Jul 18, 2019 at 2:42

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