Music Theory - Note Reading


A staff is made up of five horizontal lines and four spaces.


Pitches are named after the first seven letters of the alphabet (A B C D E F G).


A clef is a musical symbol placed at the beginning of the staff that determines the letter names of the lines and spaces.

The two main clefs are the treble and the bass:
treble clef bass clef

A grand staff is a combination of both the treble and bass clefs connected by a vertical line on the left side of the staves (plural staffs).


Ledger Lines are an extension of the staff. They are additional lines both above and below which are parallel to the staff. Each ledger line contains one note.

ledger lines bass ledger lines

Note Values

Each note has a specific duration.

note values


    Meter is the regular recurring pattern of strong and weak beats of equal duration; also known as time. The meter or time signature in a musical composition is indicated by a fraction, and located at the beginning of a piece of music. The lower number of the fraction tells what kind of note receives one beat. The upper number tells how many beats are in a measure.

In Western music there are two types of meter, simple and compoud. In simple meter the upper number is either 2, 3, or 4. Each beat is subdivided by two. Simple Meter

In compound meter the upper number is either 6,9, or 12. Each beat is a dotted note and subdivided into groups of three beats.

Compound Meter