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Grand Staff

reading music

The grand staff (also called “great stave” in British English) is a pair of clefs connected by a brace and used in particular for keyboard music:

Most often, the upper staff has a treble clef, while the lower staff has a bass clef.

A common misconception is that the treble clef indicates the right hand and the bass clef the left hand, but this is not at all the case. Clefs do nothing more than indicate the relative range of notes played. Since lower pitches are to the left and higher pitches to the right of the piano keyboard (and your left hand is to your left and right hand to your right…), the right hand most often plays the treble range and the left hand the bass range – hence the most common arrangement of treble clef on top and bass clef on the bottom.

Other combinations are also possible, such as two treble clefs:

… or two bass clefs:

… or even bass clef on top and treble clef on the bottom. Everything depends on which hand plays which notes – and even this is variable. In more complex piano music (such as fugues, the right hand will often play notes notated on the lower staff and vice versa.

Organ music includes an additional bass clef staff for the pedal; together with the two staves for the manuals (the organ keyboard), the set of three staves is also called a grand staff:

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