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
The walkway is designed to look like a treble clef.
The fifty-seven-year-old Haukur Tómasson employed a brighter palette in his Second Piano Concerto, with much of the solo part—virtuosically executed in L.A. by Víkingur Ólafsson—given over to crystalline scampering in the treble clef.
Don’t let that deceive you, however: This is not a roman à clef.
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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.
CLEF Defined for English Language Learners
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
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
Seen and Heard
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