If you are new to guitar you are probably wondering how the strings of your guitar relate to sheet music.
A lot of musicians play by ear, which means they don't necessarily read the notes that they are playing but they listen and then find the notes on their guitar by experimentation.
The top staff is called a treble clef and most instruments will play the notes on the treble clef. If you are playing the guitar or piano you will want to play more than one note at a time to make a chord.
If you want to make beautiful music on your guitar then it is important to learn the rules of music. Your guitar has six strings and starting from the bottom string the open notes (where you do not placed your fingers on the fret) are E A D G B E.
The major scale starts with a whole step (c to c# is a half step, c# to d is a half step, and so c to d is called a whole step. C C# D = 1 whole step, D D# E = 1 whole step, E F = a half step (note there is no black key between E and F), F F# G = 1 whole step, G G# A = 1 whole step, A A #B = 1 whole step, B C = a half step (note there is no black key between B C.
I often get asked what the point of the Bass Clef is because its existence just seems to make life harder for no good reason!! Well, the reason we have the Bass Clef is simple – to make music easier to read by avoiding the use of too many ledger lines. However, Middle C in the Bass Clef goes on a ledger line above the stave so there are loads of notes we can write below Middle C without having to use any ledger lines. If you can learn how to read Treble and Bass Clef then you will make a huge leap forward as a musician. Imagine you did not know the alphabet and could not read a book, a newspaper, or the words on this web page. If you can not read music notation you are really in the same situation with regards to music.
It was not until my forties, when I took up serious music study, that I had to face my deficiency and develop music reading skills. In this lesson and the next one I will get you started with the basics, the rest is up to you. Our present notation system developed from this plainsong staff and the old letter name system introduced by the Greeks. The distance between one letter and the same letter up or down the keyboard is called an octave. Notes with these seven letter names are placed on and in between the lines of our present Great Staff.
Reading pitches from an 11 line staff can be confusing, and all 11 lines of the Great staff are usually not required for the notation of a given part of music.

Notes that occur outside the pitch range of the staff are placed on ledger lines.The Middle C on the Keyboard for example is located on the first ledger line below the Treble Clef Staff.
The Middle C above represents the Low C on a wind instrument.On some instruments (flute, recorder) this Low C has the same pitch as Middle C on the keyboard.
If you don't play the keyboard or a bass instrument you do not need to read notation on the Bass Clef Staff fluently. The Bass Clef identifies the F line (below Middle C on the keyboard), by the placement of a small dot above and below this line. Notes outside the pitch range of the staff are placed on ledger lines.The Middle C on the Keyboard for example is located on the first ledger line above the Bass Clef Staff. Music for the keyboard is usually written on a Piano staff, which is a combination of two staffs.
In written music, the length of a note is shown by its shape.When there is no note sounding, a rest is written and the length of the rest is also shown by its shape.
When notes are above the middle line of a staff the stems are written downwards from the left hand side of the note. When notes are below the middle line of a staff the stems are written upwards from the right hand side of the note. Knowing how to read sheet music isn’t exactly essential for playing guitar, but it can do wonders to expanding your musicality and giving you an understanding of the music realm in general. Everyone likes to play popular music and wouldn't it be nice if you could read the musical notes that you hear?
The bottom staf is called the bass staf and if you were playing the bass then you would play the notes on the second staf. It is said that mathmatics is the basis of all music and you will learn how notes are placed together to create musical harmonies. So a Major scale starting on any note consists of 2 whole steps, a half step, 3 whole steps and a half step. If we were to use a Treble Clef (remember, Middle C in the Treble Clef goes on a ledger line below the stave as shown below) then we would have to use loads of ledger lines – this would make the music really difficult to read.
You miss out on an incredible amount of what music has to offer and of potential for yourself. I am now by no means a champion reader, but I get by and it has made a world of difference. The ancient Greeks, and later the Romans, used letters of the alphabet to indicate different pitches.
470-525, an adviser to the court at the end of the Roman Empire), wrote five text books describing the music theory of that ancient era.
The Neums consisted of grave ( ` ) and acute ( ´ ) accents and horizontal lines, placed over the lyrics to indicate where the melody line was going up or down.

The Treble Clef staff for the right hand and the Bass Clef staff for the left hand.The two staffs are joined together by a brace at the left side and by connecting bar lines (see next Lesson). If you were to play the piano, the left hand would play the bass staf and the right hand would play the treble staf. We will continue our discussion on learning the guitar and learning the music theory that goes along with it in the next article. Look at the diagram above – this shows what is often referred to as the Grand Staff (the combination of Treble Clef and Bass Clef). Every time my teacher gave me a new song I would struggle through it a couple of times, reading it slowly note by note, then I would have it memorised.It is great to have a good memory and a good ear for music, but it can set you back with reading music. It enabled me to play in Concert Bands, Stage Bands, Classical Ensembles and small groups - and my enjoyment, understanding and knowledge of music have increased a hundredfold.
The first 15 letters of the alphabet were used for the pitches of two octaves, which was the official working range of sounds in those days.
This began as a single horizontal line, then more where added until a four line staff was standardised for the plainsong (= simple melody line without chords or harmony).
Note that the Middle C on the keyboard is on the line exactly in the middle of the Great Staff.
It is used for the piano left hand music, the baritone vocalist and for several bass instruments, such as the contra bass, tuba and trombone. Middle C can occur either on the first ledger line below the Treble Clef staff, or on the first ledger line above the Bass Clef staff.
Conducted by guitar instructor Nate Savage, the lesson focuses on a set of six basic concepts: elements of notation, names of the lines and spaces, key signatures, time signatures, rhythm, and string and finger indicators.
By learning Treble and Bass Clef you can see the huge range of notes that you will be able to read. Boethius' books remained standard texts throughout Europe during the Middle Ages and beyond. This staff was probably introduced for the first time by Guido d'Arrezo, a famous music expert around 1000-1050. The notes were written on (and in between) the lines of this staff which defined their exact pitch.In the late 13th Century a classifcation of note head shapes also defined the note duration. Many guitar players start trying to learn how to read sheet music only to get frustrated and quit.

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