Bass Clef Symbol

What is the Bass Clef Symbol?

Base-ClefThe bass clef is one of the two most common clefs found in music today. Located at the beginning of a line of music this clef determines the pitch of the notes found on the lines and spaces of the bar staff. It designates the position of the “F” note below middle “C.” that has a frequency of approximately 175 Hz.

The bass clef is used to designate the lower pitches of songs. Much like the popular treble clef, the bass clef revolves around middle “c” and often shows the relationship to middle “C” and the notes below middle “C”. This clef is also known as the F-clef because it designates the upper F for the staff.

This clef originally looked like an upper case “F” which during the early 16th century, was written backwards from the way the F is written today. The bass clef symbol is a half heart shape, with two dots. The beginning point of the shape starts on the “F” line and curls around. The two dots, which would designate the tines of the “F” are located on either side of this line behind the curve but not touching it.



Once the is “F” located on the staff, a musician can easily read the notes on the lines and spaces going up and down from the “F”, with middle “C” being the first ledger line above the staff. Going from bottom to top the lines of the bass clef staff are G, B, D, F, and A. A simple pneumonic that new musicians learn to remember these lines is “Good Boys Don’t Fight Anyone.” The spaces in between the lines, again from bottom to top, are A, C, E, and G with the pneumonic of “All Cows Eat Grass.”

While the bass clef is seldom seen in vocal music, it can be used. Typically this clef will come into use for baritones and basses with all other ranges using the more common treble clef. As for instrumental music the bass clef is typically used for lower brass instruments and occasionally bass woodwinds, such as the bass clarinet, will use this clef.

Typically woodwinds will use the treble clef. The bass clef is also used to designate the left hand on the piano when a grand staff is used. The bass clef is often coupled with the treble clef. When the two appear together this is on a grand staff. Usually this coupling where both ranges are together is found on piano music, but it can also be seen in choral music. When found together on piano music the bass notes are played by the left hand, while the treble notes are played in tandem with the right hand.