I've understood that staff is one system of 5 note lines and the term for both systems (l. & r. h. keyboard) is grand staff, is this correct? ... while in a full score would be several staves?

  • I voted to delete 'history', but now understand it's best left in. Can't re-vote!
    – Tim
    Feb 11 '20 at 11:32
  • @Tim If you are referring to the removal of the history tag from the question, you can, of course, edit the question to re-add that tag unilaterally, since you have more than 2,000 reputation.
    – TylerH
    Feb 11 '20 at 21:30

Your understanding of staff and grand staff are correct.

And while full score is a collection of various staves, we often group these several staves of concurrent music together with the name "system." A system is just the collection of all instruments playing at a given time; in an orchestral score, a system may take up an entire page, but on a piano score, there could be several systems of music on a single page.

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  • There seem to be some differences in the meaning of this terms between the British and the USA language. Doesn't this point concern the tag "history" I ask because there is a proposing to edit the history-tag. Feb 11 '20 at 11:01
  • Perhaps bizarrely, on NinSheetMusic, a website of video game music transcriptions that I contribute to, the understanding of the word "system" is that it means a single line of measures (regardless of how many instruments it involves). Sometimes, I read comments there such as "I believe 5 systems on Page 1 is too crowded. Try 4 systems instead."
    – Dekkadeci
    Feb 11 '20 at 11:55
  • @Dekkadeci Yes, I've seen "system" used for single-line instruments, too. I tried to incorporate this in my definition, with "all instruments playing at a given time" also encompassing just one instrument.
    – Richard
    Feb 11 '20 at 12:14
  • :) So we had another question: what is in music notation a "system"? Well, in German "Notensystem" means a staff of 5 lines. Feb 11 '20 at 14:01
  • 4
    @AlbrechtHügli the only difference I'm familiar with between the UK and the US is that the UK prefers the back-formed singular "stave" while the US prefers the original singular "staff." (The f-to-v sound change is analogous to that in life/lives, hoof/hooves, and half/halves.) In the US, at least, we also use "system."
    – phoog
    Feb 11 '20 at 14:21

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