How to Remember Note Names in Bass Clef

By Steven J. Miller
The bass clef looks like a backwards C with two dots that surround the F line.

The bass clef is a system of lines and spaces. Each line and space in the bass clef has a corresponding letter name making it easier to identify pitch. Learning the names of the notes in the bass clef will provide a greater appreciation of music and enable students of music a better understanding of their instruments. Pianos, cellos, basses, tubas and other low instruments read from the bass clef.

Memorize the names of the spaces in the bass clef by using an acronym. The acronym 'All Cows Eat Grass' is a commonly used acronym that students can memorize and use to remember the names of the notes on the staff. The first letter of each word in the phrase is the letter of a note name from bottom to top. Using this acronym, the first space would be A, the second space C, the third E and the top space would be G.

Memorize the acronym for the names of the lines on the staff. 'Good Boys Do Fine Always' is the phrase that most beginning musicians will use to memorize the names of the notes on the lines in the bass clef. Using the first letter of each word in the phrase, the student remembers that G is the bottom line, followed by B, D, F and A moving up the staff.

Learn about how music works. The musical alphabet begins with A and ends with G. Once G is reached, the scale then wraps around and starts over at A. Using this knowledge, students can determine any note on the staff as long as they know at least one pitch. By remembering that the middle line is a D, it is possible to determine the rest of the notes by counting up and down alphabetically. For instance, the space directly above the D line is an E.

Create flash cards to help you memorize the names of the notes. The flash card should have 5 staff lines, a bass clef, and a note that should be identified on one side. On the other side, write the name of the note. Have a friend help you and quiz each other to make this more enjoyable.

Tip

Use acronyms only as an aid in learning the notes initially. Don't depend on them as a substitute for memorization. Work the flash cards daily and in a week you should have the notes memorized. The two dots on the bass clef mark will always be on either side of the F line. This can help you determine the rest of the notes.

Warning

Don't confuse the treble clef with the bass clef. They are two different systems with different notes.

About the Author

Steven Miller graduated with a master's degree in 2010. He writes for several companies including Lowe's and IBM. He also works with local schools to create community gardens and learn environmentally responsible gardening. An avid gardener for 15 years, his experience includes organic gardening, ornamental plants and do-it-yourself home projects.