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Ledger Lines

reading music

Question: I know the notes are E, F, G, A, B, C, D, E, F, but how do I tell what the note is when it goes over or under the lines?

– Suvannah Nicole (Columbia, Tennessee, USA)

Albert’s reply: You’re referring to the notes that fit on the treble clef staff. The musical alphabet is simply A, B, C, D, E, F, G, and that pattern repeats itself.

The same holds for ledger lines: once you run out of lines on the staff, you simply add lines where necessary to continue the pattern. These lines are called “ledger lines,” and they are temporary staff lines:

Notice how the pattern simply continues? The eyes would be confused if the musical staff had more than five lines, and ledger lines are a convenient way to notate more on the staff than would otherwise fit.

Here is a bass clef staff with the first two ledger lines above and below:

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