Print this chapterPrint this chapter

Term 1 Theory Lessons & Quiz

1 Ledger Lines

More Than Eleven Notes

The musical staff, in any clef, is limited to only 5 lines and 4 spaces. If you count putting a note on top of the staff or below the staff, that is only 11 possible notes. Musicians needed a way to write down notes that did not fall within the small range, so they created ledger lines.

ledger line is a small line that is added to the staff, above or below, to make it possible to write higher and lower notes. A ledger line is slightly longer than the width of a note and is placed parallel to the existing staff. In addition, it is spaced no wider than a written note. You can also have multiple ledger lines; you just need to ensure that the spacing is correct.

The Treble Staff

On the treble staff, you can have ledger lines above or below the main staff.

The same rules apply for writing ledger lines below the staff. To name the notes, you just follow the musical alphabet: Line - space - line - space.

The Bass Staff

On the bass staff, you can have ledger lines above or below the main staff.

As in treble clef, notes can be named by simply following the musical alphabet.

Here is an exercise to help you practice naming ledger line notes in treble and bass clef.


Content and exercises made available under Creative Commons license from: