If you’ve ever stumbled across any band’s live performance or practice or took a class for a musical instrument, you’ve probably heard of something called – sheet music that contains weird characters called – Treble Clef Notes.
It can seem extremely daunting when you first take a look at it, but believe it or not it is actually very easy to use!
To read Treble Clef notes, look at the height of them in regards to the lines. There are 7 options in each sheet, one for each note of the scale. The lowest option is the root note and the highest one is the root note an octave up. Sometimes you may see two signs: # means sharp and ♭ means flat.
Throughout this guide, I’m going to be teaching you a little bit more about western notation, and most importantly how to read and write treble clef notes in seconds. If you don’t know what that means, this is the article for you – read on to find out more!
I’m going to go through all the things you have to know in order to use Treble Clef notes while keeping everything as short and as simple as possible so you don’t waste any time more than you have to.
What Is A ‘Treble Clef’ And Why Should I Learn To Read It?
Even if you’ve never heard of it, you have probably seen a treble clef a million times. It’s that curly and fancy-looking symbol used to represent music all across the world. It looks exactly like this:
Whilst the treble clef has certainly become synonymous with music, it serves a much more specific purpose. It is often found on the staff of a western notation document, and can be used to aid you in reading and writing musical notation.
You might be wondering, ‘why should I bother even learning this?’ Well, whilst you may use a DAW in order to make your music, many professional musicians will require their clients to either read or write western notation.
Imagine you are asked to convert your composition to western notation for the orchestra of a movie soundtrack, or perhaps someone asks you to remix their orchestral composition! It’s a skill that could put you ahead of the rest of the competition!
So, how exactly does this work? Well, let’s first take a look at how to read notation from a treble clef, it’s going to clear a lot of information up for you.
Explaining Treble Clef Notes Through MIDI
You’ve probably heard of the word ‘treble’ before, usually associated with high frequencies on an equalizer or describing high pitched sounds.
In western notation, treble clef means exactly the same thing – it deals with high pitched musical notes. To be specific, it deals with notes that fall within the range of C4 to C6.
If you’ve ever produced music in a DAW such as Ableton or Logic, you will likely have come across these ‘C’ values before.
It’s essentially a way to describe a note within a specific octave, and it works directly with MIDI. There are 127 notes that can be expressed within any DAW, and each note has its own number.
The lowest note is given the name ‘C-2’ and the highest note has the name ‘G8’. The alphabetical value at the beginning represents the name of the note, i.e. C or C#, and the number represents the octave that the note is being played on.
To illustrate how these octaves work, the middle note on a piano or MIDI keyboard is called C3. Play this note on your MIDI keyboard on any DAW, and the note value should be visualized on the screen.
Just take a look at this below example on Ableton, it should help explain things better.
How To Read Treble Clef Notes
Hopefully, you should now understand how note values work within the MIDI framework of DAWS (Digital Audio Workstations), but what does this have to do with the treble clef?
Well, remember that we mentioned that the treble clef concerns notes between C4 and C6?
This means that the values on a treble clef represent notes between the two-octave above your keyboards middle C. To illustrate this, just take a look at this treble clef staff containing every white note that can be expressed between C4 and C6.
Notice how there are five lines on the staff, and each note is given its own specific spot on the staff. Some are found under the bottom line such as C4 and D4, whereas others are found on the lines such as E4 and G4.
Notes can either be under the bottom line, on a line, between two lines, or above the top line – nowhere else. This is a really useful way to memorize which notes go where, as unfortunately the names of the notes will not be shown on a staff.
So, when you look at western notation, you simply have to look at where the notes are in accordance with the lines in order to figure out which note values they are.
Whilst you will occasionally get notes that appear even lower than C4 and higher than C6 on a treble clef staff, this is pretty rare. If you do encounter them, you simply have to count up or down in steps – it’s easy really.
So, is that everything? Well, not quite – there’s one last thing worth mentioning, but it’s really easy to wrap your head around.
As you probably already know, on a keyboard there are ‘white keys’ and ‘black keys’. White keys represent regular note values such as C4, D4, and E4, but black keys represent ‘sharps’ or C#4, D#4, etc.
In the staff shown above we only used white keys, so how are you supposed to know whether a key is white or black?
That’s really simple – a ‘#’ symbol will always appear before a note on a staff if it is sharp. Take a look at the below example where every note on the staff is sharp.
How To Write Treble Clef Notes
Now that you have seen how easy it is to read treble clef notes, let’s quickly take a look at how to write them. Back in the old days, you would have to do this by hand with pencil and pen, even having to manually draw the treble clef and staff yourself!
Trust us, it was really hard work, but thankfully we have digital tools to help us these days. The actual process of creating them is really easy – you simply reverse the process that we showed you earlier. Once you learn the note positions, this will become really easy.
In order to write treble clef notes in your software, you will have to use a ‘Score’ function. Some DAWs such as Logic Pro X have this capability built into it which is really useful, as it literally handles it automatically as shown in the image below.
Pretty much every software has a solution for writing treble clef notation, but using a classical music DAW such as Sibelius is probably your best solution.
This way you can export the MIDI files from your production in Ableton, Logic, etc., and import them directly into Sibelius. How easy is that – it is so much more convenient than having to draw all of the note values manually with pen and paper.
Overall, the hard part all comes down to understanding the step process when reading treble clef notation.
Once you’ve got that down, writing them is really easy. It’s made even easier thanks to digital western notation software, plugins, and in-built features within DAWs. Easy!
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