Staff Systems and Coordinate Geometry

The musical staff system uses an x- and y-axis to create the system of notes on the musical staff. The notes on the y-axis dictate pitch, while the notes on the x-axis dictate rhythm. When pitches are too high to place on the staff, a system of ledger lines is used to indicate the higher pitches. Ledger lines are also used when pitches extend below the staff.

In the treble clef, the names of the lines on the y-axis are E G B D F, moving from the bottom line to the top line. The names of the spaces are F A C E. Rhythm can be determined by its place along the x-axis.

The x-axis determines the moment in time that a note plays. In common time with 4 beats per measure, each quarter note holds for 1 beat, each half note holds for 2 beats and each whole note holds for 4 beats. This timeline is represented on the x-axis by aligning notes horizontally on the staff system. In the image above, there are two chords consisting of whole notes. If the tempo worked out to 60 beats per second, then each whole note would have to hold for4 beats.
Learn the article about Note Values to learn about the different notes.


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