It is known as staff (or staff, according to what is indicated in the dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy) to a music notation mode It is based on a structure composed of five lines located in parallel and at the same distance apart.

The staves are intended for the writing of music, that is, to have a record on a written support of the notes and other musical signs necessary to interpret a melody. All lines on the staff, as well as its four spaces, are numbered in the bottom-up direction.


A staff allows the writing of musical notes and signs.

The key

At the beginning of the staff the clef is placed, which is the symbol that allows to relate each musical note with the location or space it occupies on the staff. This clef connects a note to a specific location on the staff, making the other notes correspond to certain adjacent locations and lines.

The treble clef It is the most popular outside the field of music, although it is very rare to find a score that does not include a staff in the bass clef, unless it speaks of a “part” of an orchestrated piece, that is, the line that should play a particular instrument. However, an experienced musician fluently reads the different keys, in their possible positions. It is worth mentioning that it is possible to alter the key code initial throughout a composition as many times as desired, either accidentally (temporarily) or permanently (until the next change).

Writing a staff

Basically a bare staff is useless as it is impossible to associate a line or space with a note. After assigning a password, everything changes. However, this is not enough, since if no further clarification is made, it will only be possible to write melodies in C major or A minor (which are relative keys).

To understand it graphically, it is very useful to think of a piano; A staff with an F clef on the fourth line gives us the possibility to use the notes do, re, mi, fa, sol, la and si, unless an accident is indicated throughout the piece. Forget the redundancy, these are the notes belonging to C major and its relative minor, with which many others are excluded. tonalities.

Musical composition

Knowing how to read a staff is very important for any musician.

Key signature

This is where the key signature, which plays a fundamental role when it comes to to compose a musical work. It consists of one or more flats or sharps (cannot be mixed) that indicate permanent accidentals to the seven notes listed in the previous paragraph. To build a key signature, it is mandatory to follow one order with flats, and the opposite for sharps. In the first case, the sequence is yes mi la re sol do fa, and to understand its function, we will take as an example the simplest key signature of this group, which has only B flat: with this configuration, the two keys that can be reproduced are F major and its relative minor, Re.

After the key signature, the figures representing the musical notes appear. Each figure indicates the duration of the sound and, according to its location on a line or a space, the musical tone. In case a tone is needed that is not covered by the staff (higher than the one corresponding to the space above the fifth line, or lower than that of the space below the first line), additional lines and spaces can be drawn .

In addition, there are several signs that make musical writing a system very rich and complex; some of them allow to indicate intensity, way of attacking the notes (chopped, sustained, tied), dynamics (make the intensity increase or decrease in a certain portion of the melody).