clef

noun
\ ˈklef How to pronounce clef (audio) \

Definition of clef

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

Illustration of clef

Illustration of clef

clef: 1 treble clef, 2 bass clef

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.

First Known Use of clef

circa 1577, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for clef

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

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Time Traveler for clef

Time Traveler

The first known use of clef was circa 1577

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Cite this Entry

“Clef.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/clef. Accessed 29 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for clef

clef

noun
How to pronounce clef (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of clef

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

clef

noun
\ ˈklef How to pronounce clef (audio) \

Kids Definition of clef

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on clef

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with clef

Spanish Central: Translation of clef

Nglish: Translation of clef for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about clef

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