Need advice on learning theory/ Treble vs Bass Clef

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by vegaas, Dec 23, 2002.

  1. vegaas


    Nov 6, 2001
    Hey guys,
    I am trying to teach myself theory. I bought a book called "The Complete Idiots Guide To Music Theory".
    It started off well enough, early on it would explain and give practice excercises on both the Treble and Bass clefs.
    My problem is now all excercises are only on the Treble clef. Example, I have to write down where the minor third would be on the staff based off of another note. Well its different if its a base or treble clef. They give me what would be an E on a bass clef, and they want to know what a minor third down would be. I know that the minor third down is a C#.
    The problem again is that because its a Treble Clef so the note isnt actually E, its C, so a minor third down is A.
    All the answers in the book are for the Treble Clef.
    Should I continue to learn everything based on the Treble Clef and then try and relearn it on the Bass Clef, or should I just transpose everything to Bass Clef and not have the provided answers?
    So a short version of my long winded question, will learning theory from the Treble Clef make sense, or am I better off trying to transcribe everything to Bass Clef right away.
  2. Secksay

    Secksay Guest

    Sep 6, 2002
    New York, NY
    i'm kind of a little confused by your question, a minor third is still a minor third no matter where you are on the staff.

    in terms of learning theory, the clef you are working in does not make much of a difference, since you are learning the relationships between the notes (such as intervals), rather than the notes themselves. Working in the bass clef would improve your bass clef reading, but for theory purposes you are better off just following along with the book and working in the treble clef.
  3. Well, it sounds like you are figuring out the notes in treble clef. If you're learning chord structures and scales and modes and whatnot, you can transfer that over to your playing just fine (it's just a different octave). If your goal is to become better at reading sheet music, you may still need to read treble at some point, but obviously you'll want to have a grip on bass clef for most bass music. Perhaps you can get a book in bass clef (either for basses, or trombone) or find some bass clef sheet music online to practice.
  4. vegaas


    Nov 6, 2001
    Right, I am new to theory, so I may not be explaining this right.
    They show me a staff, they have a whole note on in the middle of the staff. They then tell me, write down the whole note that would be a minor third down. So if it is a treble cleff I would write the whole note symbol on the staff where an A would go. On a Bass clef I would write the symbol on the staff for a C#. Two completely different notations on the staff.
    Everything the book shows me and gives me answers to now are on a Treble Clef staff. So if look at it all as a Bass Clef staff, my answers dont match theirs.
    So again, should I just learn Treble Clef, and then go back and learn Bass Clef, or should I just try change it all to Bass Clef, even though I will not then have the answers available to me.
  5. Secksay

    Secksay Guest

    Sep 6, 2002
    New York, NY
    ok i see what your problem is. Your answers are not wrong, you are just reading them incorrectly.

    reading music and music theory, although linked, are not necessarily the same thing. When learning intervals such as minor thirds, the values of the notes themselves are less important than their relationship to each other.

    For example, a minor third is still going to be two moves down (one space, one line) from your starting point. Therefore when comparing your answer with the book, your notes will look the same and be in the same places on the staff (they will both be in the second space from the bottom), even though they have different values of A versus C. Your answer then is not wrong, it just has a different value.

    You need to choose what is more important to you, learning to read music first, or learning theory first. If you are more concerned with the theory, then work in the treble clef so you can follow along with the book. Then when you are done with that, you will only need to learn how to read note values in the bass clef, which it seems you already know how to do.

    I would personally learn theory in the treble clef, simply because most people find it easier to hear intervals in a higher octave, and there are more resources available to you written in treble clef.
  6. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    <a href=""><img src="" width="175" height="150" border="0" alt="Learn THEORY and get some CANDY by clicking on BABYFROG!"></a>

    While this doesn't necessarily answer this specific question, it may be helpful.
  7. vegaas


    Nov 6, 2001
    Thanks for the help guys.
    I am going to just go along with the treble clef for now. It is more important to me to learn theory, not just reading music. I think it should be fairly easy to remember that everything on the bass clef would be 2 letters lower than the treble.
    Thanks again,
  8. One of us is somewhat confused...

    Learn the treble-clef as the treble-clef
    Learn the bass-clef as the bass-clef

    ...there really aren't any short cuts... the two are different

    Learn the intervals and the theory, and you will find that it applies in exactly the same way to both the treble and the bass (and the soprano, and the tenor, and the baritone) clefs.

    In your example, I think you mean B to D (in the bass-clef in the key of C) would be a minor third ), whereas the same lines (in the treble-clef, also in the key of C) would be G to B (a major third). Don't confuse lines & spaces with intervals, it usually depends on context (in this case key).

    Hope his helps -

    - Wil
  9. vegaas


    Nov 6, 2001
    Good point Will.
    I am going to just learn the treble clef right now to help me learn theory. After I have a good understanding I will then go back and work with the bass clef.
    It never occured to me that the exact same notation will give different intrevals, depending on the clef.
  10. Gabu


    Jan 2, 2001
    Woodland Hills, CA
    Don't forget to click on Jazzbo's link too... Good stuff in there!
  11. vegaas


    Nov 6, 2001
    Lots and lots of good stuff. I have been reading through alot of the articles posted here. I am finding them to be fantastic supplemental tools to go along with my studying.
    Tremendous work by everyone.
    I for one greatly appreciate the thought and hard work put into the articles.