A Clef is one of many symbols that gives the pitch
of any one of the five lines in the musical staff. For instance, the treble clef marks the
second line of the musical staff as G. All the other pitches fall into place according to
The treble clef is also
known as a G clef because it looks like a fancy G. The treble clef circles the second line of the musical
staff to tell you that it is G. All other notes fall on the other lines and spaces
The bass clef handles the lower range of notes. It is also called an F clef because it came from an old fashion F symbol that looks like an F. The bass clef marks the fourth line of the musical staff as F. All other notes fall on the other lines and spaces accordingly.
The percussion clef is often
used for percussive instruments of indeterminate pitch. Normally
instructions are provided to the performer on what instrument to play when a note is seen
on a particular line of the musical staff.
Before music notation began (around 900 a.d.), singers required a reference pitch to start a song. Some musical instruments provided this, but the pitch was often hummed by one singer relative to the abilities of each singer's vocal range. Soon after, as songs became difficult to remember, dots were placed above the text to inform the singer what pitches to sing. Songs were written in one of two clefs: The C clef or the F clef. As time went on, the G clef was introduced to accomodate the treble range. The C clef, F clef and G clef had a special purpose for accomodating different voice ranges. As a result, the F clef was lower than the C clef and the C clef lower than the G clef. The F clef eventually transformed into the symbol we now know as the bass clef symbol and the C clef became the modern C clef symbol and the G clef was transformed into what we now know as the treble clef symbol.