Musical Dictionary – S

Staff (a.k.a. stave)

Pitches in music are written on five horizontal lines called the staff or stave.

Staff or Stave

Piano music is typically written with two staffs(staves), also known as the Grand Staff – one for the treble clef (higher pitches) and one for the bass clef (lower pitches).

Piano Grand Staff

Standard Tuning

In music, standard tuning refers to the typical tuning of a string instrument. This notion is contrary to that of alternate tunings designed to modify either the timbre or technical capabilities of the desired instrument.

Bowed strings

The most popular bowed strings used nowadays belong to the violin family; together with their respective standard tunings, they are:
Violin – G3 D4 A4 E5 (ascending perfect fifths, starting from G below middle C)
Viola – C3 G3 D4 A4 (strings are tuned a perfect fifth below a violin’s standard tuning)
Cello – C2 G2 D3 A3 (an octave lower than the viola)
Double bass – E1 A1 D2 G2 (ascending perfect fourths, where the highest sounding open string coincides with the G on a cello).

Guitar standard tuning.

6-stringed guitar (most popular) – E2 A2 D3 G3 B3 E4 (ascending perfect fourths, with an exception between G and B, which is a major third. Low E falls a major third above the C on a standard tuned cello. Some common mnemonics for standard tuning are “Eat Apples Daily, Grow Big Ears”, “Every animal deserves good breakfast everyday” and “Every American Dog Gets Bones Easily”, which aid beginners in remembering the string tuning sequence from low to high.