What Are the Musical Notes for the Bass Clef Staff?

By Steven J. Miller
The bass clef is commonly used for low-pitched instruments.

The bass clef is a remarkable development in music history. The development of music notation has steadily developed to its modern day peak of refinement. There are now several clefs that all serve different purposes depending on the instrument range and characteristics. The bass clef is one of the oldest key signatures that look like a backwards "C: with two dots that curl around the "F" line.

The Staff

The musical staff is a system of lines and spaces that act as a grid in which notes and rhythms exist. The vertical axis on the staff represents pitch with notes placed high or low depending on how high or low the pitch should sound. The horizontal axis deals with rhythm and acts as timelines for a composition. Each staff has a total of five lines and four spaces. Notes exist in the spaces, or directly on the lines. There will only be one note per line or space.

The Lines

The five lines in a bass clef differ from the treble clef and should be learned independently of the treble clef. The lines spell out an acronym "Good Boys Do Fine Always," where the first letter of each word represents a note name. The lines from bottom to top therefore spell out G-B-D-F-A.

The Spaces

There are four spaces in a bass clef staff system. Each space houses a separate pitch that creates the acronym "All Cows Eat Grass" when moving from the bottom space to the top space. When combined with the lines, the notes of the bass are G-A-B-C-D-E-F-G-A starting from the first line and working up to the top line.

Ledger Lines

Sometimes notes have to go outside the system of five lines and four spaces. When this happens, the composer will use ledger lines. If there were more than five lines, the staff would start to get confusing and it would be hard to see on which line or space the note sits. To compensate for this, lines are placed where the staff lines would be if the notes continued upwards.

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.