#1
I'm wondering why we developed & use all these different clefs instead of choosing a simpler solution. One of the main reasons we use them is to avoid ledger line insanity when dealing in different octaves, no?

So instead of clef for bass & treble, each with their own sequence of notes why didn't we just do something simple like a single universal clef with a number indicating the desired octave, like:

G-clef -2
G-clef +2
etc

Or am I completely wrong / missing something?
#2
Wouldn't your version be harder? On a standard clef you look at a C note, and it's a C note. But if it was a +2, you'd have to think, "oh actually it's C +2". Same goes for any flats or sharps that would be included in the key signature.
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#3
Cause on a non-fretted instrument like the piano each symbol indicates the same key every time in every song. For something like piano or wind instruments you can't just move up the frets and use the same fingering for different keys/scales. This makes it easier for musicians for other instruments to read.
#4
Ther used to be one clef... Composers thought it would be smarter to break them into 4 for the different types of voices as not every one has the same range of voice
Last edited by amonamarthmetal at Jul 11, 2011,
#5
Quote by AlanHB
Wouldn't your version be harder? On a standard clef you look at a C note, and it's a C note. But if it was a +2, you'd have to think, "oh actually it's C +2". Same goes for any flats or sharps that would be included in the key signature.

Well, I don't mean right a +2 under each note, just a marker that goes beside the clef indicating the octave. I guess there a clearer ways, how about simply writing the range on top of the staff like C2-G3,C3-G4,C4-G5, etc.

To me that seems much clearer than having different staff layouts but I guess if you've already committed this stuff to memory or only deal with one it's not a big deal, and it's not. Just seems it'd be easier sight reading piano stuff, etc. Having to read two different clefs seems like a PITA.

I'm a noob though so I realize I'm probably wrong, just want to understand why.
#6
Quote by ernestoL
Well, I don't mean right a +2 under each note, just a marker that goes beside the clef indicating the octave. I guess there a clearer ways, how about simply writing the range on top of the staff like C2-G3,C3-G4,C4-G5, etc.


It's still not easier. That's the same as having a chord sheet infront of you and instead of playing F where it says F, you play a G where it says F2. Why not just write a G?
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#7
Quote by AlanHB
It's still not easier. That's the same as having a chord sheet infront of you and instead of playing F where it says F, you play a G where it says F2. Why not just write a G?


No, he's notating the octaves, not the intervals. F1 to F2, for example, would be low F, low G, A, etc. to an F that's an octave above the first. It'd be a 12 semi-tone jump from F1 to F2 rather than a 2 semi-tone jump from F to G. It's confusing, but if that's not it, I'm baffled.

The issue with this is that many wind instruments have certain voices that can range several octaves. When I played trombone, it wasn't uncommon to have a range of 2-3 octaves in a piece, particularly in audition music. It also wasn't too rare to have a switch to tenor clef, either, unfortunately, but I digress. The general gist is, when working with a full score, each clef is divided amongst certain instruments' voicing of choice. By dividing it further, to note each instrument's range, it's a pain for both the conductor and the reader, particularly in tricky compositions. They both are a pain, but this pain has been practically universal for well over a hundred years and is studied by everyone. For such a drastic change over something that really doesn't make anything simpler (and arguably just makes it more of a PITA), it's just unnecessary to switch the way EVERYONE thinks.
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#8
Quote by Hail
No, he's notating the octaves, not the intervals. F1 to F2, for example, would be low F, low G, A, etc. to an F that's an octave above the first. It'd be a 12 semi-tone jump from F1 to F2 rather than a 2 semi-tone jump from F to G. It's confusing, but if that's not it, I'm baffled.


Yes, that's exactly what I meant.

Quote by Hail

The issue with this is that many wind instruments have certain voices that can range several octaves. When I played trombone, it wasn't uncommon to have a range of 2-3 octaves in a piece, particularly in audition music. It also wasn't too rare to have a switch to tenor clef, either, unfortunately, but I digress. The general gist is, when working with a full score, each clef is divided amongst certain instruments' voicing of choice. By dividing it further, to note each instrument's range, it's a pain for both the conductor and the reader, particularly in tricky compositions. They both are a pain, but this pain has been practically universal for well over a hundred years and is studied by everyone. For such a drastic change over something that really doesn't make anything simpler (and arguably just makes it more of a PITA), it's just unnecessary to switch the way EVERYONE thinks.


Makes sense, thanks! Also, apparently there is already something close to what I'm talking about, just not used the manner I suggested I think http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Octave#Notation

The notation 8va is sometimes seen in sheet music, meaning "play this an octave higher than written." (all' ottava: "at the octave") 8va stands for ottava, the Italian word for octave (note the 8 and the word 'oct'). Sometimes 8va also tell the musician to play a passage an octave lower, though the similar notation 8vb (ottava bassa) is more common. Similarly, 15ma (quindicesima) means "play two octaves higher than written" and 15mb (quindicesima bassa) means "play two octaves lower than written."


I'll try to explain my (flawed) logic so hopefully people aren't left wondering why I thought this was a good idea / thinking I'm a complete idiot. I was thinking instead of having to learn


EGBDF FACE
GBDFA ACEG
DFACE EGBD ... and all the rest.

There'd only be one and you'd mark it with something like 8va/b when you needed to go higher or lower in-lieu of different clefs (which bring different layouts)

I wasn't suggesting a switch or anything, obviously there's too much inertia. It was more "why didn't we do this in the first place?" but that's been explained.
Last edited by ernestoL at Jul 11, 2011,
#10
Have a really good read through this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clef

The short version is that the clef symbols were once upon a time stylised note indicators: e.g. the treble clef was a fancy letter "g" encircling the g line on the staff; the bass clef was a fancy letter "f" centred on the f line on the staff. There was also a bunch of others, and these could all be placed higher or lower to indicate a different line as that particular note (and then, obviously, the rest of the staff would be relative to that). Over time, the huge variety has been whittled down to the couple of actually practical ones, and the stylisation has settled down to a couple of shapes that don't really look much like the letters they used to be.

What'd happen if you introduced the huge amount of flexibility that your replacement system proposes, is that over time the huge variety would be whittled down and things would settle on the couple of practical ones, and the symbols would probably morph out of recognition into a few specific abstract shapes... ;P
#11
That still doesn't make them any more logical. Cellists have to read treble, tenor and bass clef. That would drive me insane. I almost never bother reading viola parts properly when I look at scores because of their stupid alto clef.

/rant
#12
Quote by Jesse Clarkson
That still doesn't make them any more logical. Cellists have to read treble, tenor and bass clef. That would drive me insane. I almost never bother reading viola parts properly when I look at scores because of their stupid alto clef.

/rant


Try reading examples in counterpoint books that use French treble clef (middle C where A normally is)
#13
I was going to ask you to tell me what books these are so I can make sure to avoid them, but then I realised that's quite practical. Just think bass clef.
#14
Quote by Jesse Clarkson
I was going to ask you to tell me what books these are so I can make sure to avoid them, but then I realised that's quite practical. Just think bass clef.


You just blew my mind

I think it was the Piston book
#15
Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh well I feel a bit sheepish

You're talking about what octave the clef is in. I agree then hahahah.
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