Ledger line

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A ledger line or leger line is musical notation to notate pitches above or below the lines and spaces of the regular musical staff. A line slightly longer than the note head is drawn parallel to the staff, above or below, spaced at the same distance as the lines within the staff (see Figure 1).

Notes more than three or four ledger lines above or below the staff are usually considered hard to read. When there are many notes in a passage requiring more than three ledger lines, it is often preferable to switch clef or use 8va notation. Some transposing instruments, such as the piccolo, double bass, guitar, and the tenor voice, transpose at the octave to avoid ledger lines.

Players of certain instruments prefer ledger lines to clef changes or 8va notation. Clarinetists, for example, would rather read ledger lines in the chalumeau register than read bass clef notes. Flute players would rather read ledger lines for notes in the third octave than read 8va notation because higher flute notes require different fingerings. Tuba, trombone, and euphonium players in the instruments' lower register generally prefer ledger lines below the bass staff to 8vb notation or an octave-lowered bass clef for similar reasons.

When music for bass clef instruments, such as the cello or trombone, goes several ledger lines above the bass clef, the tenor clef is used; if it were to go even higher than practical in tenor clef, the notes may be notated in treble clef. Notice, the alto clef is not used in these situations.

Bar & Bar line · Clef · Da capo · Dal segno · Key signature · Ledger line · Musical mode · Musical scale · Rehearsal letter · Repeat sign · Time signature · Transposition · Transposing instrument

Accidental (Flat · Natural · Sharp· Dotted note · Grace note · Note value (Beam · Note head · Stem· Pitch · Rest · Tuplet · Interval · Helmholtz pitch notation · Letter notation · Scientific pitch notation

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