Why the bass clef exists in music. Take the piano, why can’t the left hand on all pieces just be in the treble clef like the right?


Why the bass clef exists in music. Take the piano, why can’t the left hand on all pieces just be in the treble clef like the right?

In: 86

If you notated bass clef in trebel, you would have ledger lines that extended just as far, making it illegible. Bass clef exists, like other clefs, to organize the notes for the musician in a way that they are easily read.

[here’s a visual](https://imgur.com/a/DtSkwvk)

There are only so many notes or pitches that can fit into the treble clef. You’ve got the five lines and four spaces of the stave, then of course there are some that go a bit above or below the stave. If you want to write a note that’s quite far below the stave you have to use lots of ledger lines and the more of those there are, the harder it is to read the music. So we have another clef to make space for all those lower down pitches.

Thanks for all these comments! They’ve been really interesting and I’ve learnt something today 100%!

If you put the treble and bass staff together in a grand staff (what you read playing piano), the G marked by the treble clef is the second line up from the bottom of the treble staff. The F marked by the bass clef is the second line from the top of the bass staff.

Middle C sits one ledger line below treble clef (or a fifth – five notes – below the second line G). It also happens to be one ledger line above the bass staff F (or a fifth – five notes – above the second line F). If you put both of your thumbs on middle C, your right pinky lands on the G marked by the treble staff; and your left pinky lands on the F marked by the bass staff.

Basically, it’s like we have one giant staff with 11 lines and the middle line is middle C. To make it easier to read, we took out the middle line, making it looks like we have two separate 5-line staves. It shows a huge range of the notes available to both hands simultaneously.

If you play a monophonic (one note at a time) instrument like in band or orchestra, you only need one staff, which makes the concept of two different clefs seem totally ridiculous. Conceiving of them as two parts of the same whole, connected by middle C, it makes it make a little more sense.

The lines on the bass clef are GBDFA. The lines on the treble clef are EGBDF. You could imagine drawing a treble clef right on top of a bass clef and adding in an extra line between them for C, making a single megaclef with 11 lines.

In fact, this used to be a thing, but 11 is quite a lot for humans to keep track of. So it was split into two smaller groups of 5, with the C slipping onto each as an extra temporary line when needed. 5 is a number we can easily figure out at a glance without having to think, so it makes it much more functional for us to read.