Getting to know the stave

A stave consists of 5 horizontal lines, forming 4 spaces between them. The musical notes (C, D, E, F, G, A, B) and the different music symbols can be positioned either on the lines or in the spaces or near them.

The function of the stave is to contain all the symbols, notes, sounds and silences. It should be remembered that the lines and spaces define the degree of highness of the sounds: i.e., the pitch.

At the start of the stave is the clef. Thanks to this, we know how to read a score. The most used is the treble clef (or G-clef), which is positioned on the second line up from the bottom. It is on this line that the G note is positioned, and from there the other notes are positioned.

If the notes C, D, E, F, G, A, B are placed in the spaces or on the lines consecutively, when B is reached, the sequence begins once again, depending on the range of the instrument.

The treble clef is that which is most commonly used by guitarists, whilst pianists generally use the bass clef (or F-clef). In this case, its start point begins on the fourth line counting from the bottom of the stave. The F note will always go on this line and the other notes in their usual musical order


As well as knowing each of the music notes, it is necessary to know what the rhythm of each of them is. The rhythm is indicated by the semibreve, minim, crotchet, quaver, etc. 

These figures are formed with a black or white head and a stick known as a stem. Let’s look at the lengths of duration according to their characteristics.

Crotchet: one beat

Minim: two beats

Quaver: lasts half a crotchet. These can be drawn joined together to facilitate reading.

These three are the most common, but we can also find:

Semibreve: four beats (without a stem)

Semiquaver: lasts half a quaver

Demisemiquaver: lasts half as long as a semiquaver

Hemidemisemiquaver: lasts half as long as a demisemiquaver


When drawing the stem, if the head is below the third line, the stem is drawn pointing downwards. If, on the other hand, the head is above the third line, the stem is drawn pointing upwards.

There are many elements that can be found on a stave. They are all interrelated and, apart from those we have already mentioned, there are bars, silences, ties, dotted notes, etc. which we will return to in another article. They are all interrelated to code the qualities of the sound, the raw material of a musical work.

It is most important to do stave reading exercises, to achieve the necessary fluidity and progressively internalise these concepts.

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