clef

noun \ ˈklef \
Updated on: 10 Nov 2017

Definition of clef

:a sign placed at the beginning of a musical staff to determine the pitch of the notes

Recent Examples of clef from the Web

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Did You Know?

A musical-notation symbol at the beginning of a music staff, a clef indicates the pitch of the notes on the staff. Clefs were originally letters, identifying letter-named pitches, that were added to one or more of the staff's lines (thus providing a "key" to their identity). Knowing the identity of a single line permitted the musician to identify all the other lines and spaces above and below. Clefs were first regularly used in the 12th century. The Gothic letter forms of G and F evolved into the modern treble and bass clefs, respectively; the letter C evolved into the rarer alto, tenor, baritone, and soprano clefs.

Illustration of clef

Origin and Etymology of clef

French, literally, key, from Old French, from Latin clavis — more at clavicle


CLEF Defined for English Language Learners

clef

noun

Definition of clef for English Language Learners

  • music : a sign that is placed at the beginning of a line of written music to show the pitch of the notes


CLEF Defined for Kids

clef

noun \ ˈklef \

Definition of clef for Students

:a sign placed on the staff in writing music to show what pitch is represented by each line and space


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