Staff (music)

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Grading system
Piano System: Accolade from two fünflinigen grading systems in treble and bass key

A touch system (also note lines or score line ) is a group of horizontal evenly spaced, and parallel lines in the Western notation of the music a grid for the notation of the pitch provides. The notes are placed on a line or in a line space. By a clef each line and each gap in the note system, a certain tone assigned. Outside the lines, notes can be noted using auxiliary lines .

The staff line and the spaces in between are numbered from bottom to top. So the first line is the bottom.

Historical development

Choral notation in four-line staves

Historical and non-European musical cultures used or sometimes use notation systems that manage without staves (cf. antiquity and non-European musical notation ). Staves have been used in the notation of Western music since the 10th century. With their help, the pitch of the ( adiastematic ) neumes, previously used without a clearly identifiable pitch, could be precisely recorded ( diastematic neumes). Initially only one or two lines were in use, but since Guido von Arezzo's extension to three and four lines in a third interval around 1025, the five-line system that is in use today gradually established itself . The four-line chorale notation used since the 12th century for unison melodies is still used occasionally today.

Six-line tablature for vihuela

For string instruments , tabulatures (fingerings) have also been in use since the 14th century, in which the number of lines on a notation system corresponds to the number of strings and the location for the gripping hand is noted on the lines.

Recent developments

In the middle of the 20th century, further line systems emerged which were either based on the position of the black and white keys on the piano ( Klavarskribo ) or attempted to represent a continuous pitch system. However, these line systems could not establish themselves as a general standard. Contemporary scores occasionally use systems that differ from the five-line system as required.

One- to four-line systems are also used for the notation of percussion or rhythm instruments. Even with the single line you can note above and below the line, together with different noteheads this is sufficient for some purposes.


Several simultaneously sounding staves are notated on top of each other in such a way that all notes sounding at the same time are perpendicular to each other. Such a group of staves is also called a system or, after the French name for the curly bracket, the accolade . The individual five-line systems in this system are then called lines.

Occasionally the term accolade does not designate the entirety of systems sounding simultaneously, but only certain groups of instruments in a score connected by brackets (accolade brackets).

The square bracket

square bracket

The staves of an instrument group (such as strings , brass , woodwinds and percussion ) are connected to one another with square brackets (  [  ). The instruments connected in this way have solid bar lines from the top to the bottom staff of the group. Choir parts are also connected with square brackets. Since text is notated below or between the staves, they do not have continuous barlines.

The bracket is also choir clamp or bar clamp called because engravers them with the also beams stabbed used graver. It therefore traditionally has the same line width as bars.

The curly bracket

A curly bracket (  {  , the accolade in the strict sense) summarizes several staves that can be played by a single instrument (e.g. piano , harp, or accordion ). With the organ , too, the two systems for the keyboard (manuals) are connected, but often not the system for the pedal as well . A group of identical instruments (e.g. horns I to IV in an orchestral score ) are also connected by a curly bracket. This is then to the left of the square brackets that summarize the entire group of instruments. Systems connected by a bracket have continuous bar lines.

See also


  • Ted Ross: The Art of Music Engraving and Processing. Hansen Books, Miami 1970, pp. 151-157.
  • Herbert Chlapik: The practice of the note graphic. Doblinger, Vienna 1987, ISBN 3-900035-96-2 .

Web links

Commons : Musical notation  - collection of images, videos, and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Cf. for example Gustav Nottebohm: A sketch book by Beethoven . Leipzig 1865, p. 3, or the Sibelius 6 manual . London 2009, p. 162.
  2. Carsten Gundermann / Dietmar George (Landesmusikrat Sachsen-Anhalt): Information sheet for composers  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , P. 1: "1st accolade: woodwind instruments." etc. (PDF)@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /  
  3. Herbert Chlapík: The practice of Notengraphikers Doblinger, Vienna 1987, ISBN 3-900035-96-2 , p 80th