Bass clef

The bass clef is one of the most used clef, it determines the position of the F note on the staff united states of america (stave united kingdom):

F note position in bass clef

From this reference, all others music notes will be placed before and after the F note:

Note positions in bass clef

Below are more music notes in bass clef and some music notes with ledger lines:

Note positions in bass clef with ledger lines

What instruments use the bass clef?

Here are some instruments using the bass clef (F-clef):

String instruments:

  • Cello
  • Double bass
  • Bass guitar

Woodwind instruments :

  • Bassoon, fagot, contrabassoon

Brass instruments :

  • Trombone
  • Tuba
  • Euphonium
  • Saxhorn

Keyboard instruments:

  • Piano (right hand)
  • Harp (right hand)
  • Harpsichord (right hand)
  • Organ (right hand and foot)
  • Accordion

Percussion instruments:

  • Timpani

Voices:

  • Bass voices and baritone voices (low men pitched voices)

How to draw a bass clef

How to draww a bass clef

Draw a dot on the fourth line.

How to draww a bass clef

Draw a curve clockwise.

How to draww a bass clef

Draw two dots around the fourth line.

Key signatures in bass clef

Here are positions of flats and sharps in the key signature on the staff with a bass clef:

Key signatures in bass clef

Bass clef in the grand staff united states of america (great stave united kingdom)

The bass clef in use in the grand staff, like for the piano all most of keyboard instruments. The grand staff is a combination of one treble clef staff and one bass clef staff. Most of the time, the treble clef staff is played by the right hand, and the bass clef staff is played by the left hand.

Example of a bass clef in a grand staff in a famous work: Frédéric Chopin's Nocturne opus 9 n°2 in E flat Major.

Chopin, Nocturne opus 9 n°2

(Royalty free soun sample performed by pianist Samson François in 1964, Creative Commons Zero 1.0 license, source)

Example of a bass clef for strings instruments

Here is an example of the usage of a bass clef for double basses (Kontrabaß) in the movement Poco allegretto from the Symphony n°3 opus 90 by Brahms:

Brahms, Symphony n°3 opus 90

This royalty-free sound sample was recorded in 1936 by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Bruno Walter (source, Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0)
You will notice that the cellos use a tenor clef in the upper register and not a bass clef as usual. You will also notice the use of quintuplets.

F-clef or bass clef?

Even if the F-clef term designates the F-clefs family (Bass clef and baritone clef), we use F-clef as a synonym to designate the bass clef.

Relation between treble clef and bass clef


The relation between treble clef and bass clef is very simple: The C note below the staff in treble clef is the same music note that the C note above the staff in bass clef.

Relation between the treble clef and the bass clef

Funny tricks to recognize music note positions with a bass clef

With a bass clef staff, the music notes on lines are G B D F A and you can remember them with the phrase Good Boys Do Fine Always

Good Boys Do Fine Always

With a bass clef, the music notes in space are A C G E and you can remember them with the phrase All Cars Eat Gas

All Cars Eat Gas

Evolution of the bass clef symbol

In the book A history of music by Charles Villiers Stanford and Cecil Forsyth, a representation of the evolution of the bass clef symbol is exposed (source):

Evolution of the F-clef symbol

Learn to read bass clef

Here is a game to learn bass clef notes:

Find all my music theory games by clicking this link music theory games
music theory games

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