Basic Music Theory.  Copyright Neil V. Hawes 2002
Note pitch

There are three basic ways of indicating the frequency or pitch of a note:
  1. Specifying the frequency in terms of the number of vibrations per second is the most precise method of the three, but it is not used in music notation. This possible method is a "modern" innovation (i.e. the last 100 years or so!).

  2. Notes are named using the letters of the alphabet from "A" to "G", with the cycle of seven names repeating. This method, on the face of it, does not give any real information, except relative pitches.

  3. The position in which a note is written on a stave is a guide to its pitch: Notes on a stave
    In this example, each note has a higher frequency or pitch than the previous one (reading from left to right). But this only indicates relative pitches, not exact ones. A method is required to indicate where the stave lies, and a clef is the thing that does this.

There are a number of features which apply to both note names and use of a stave, which means that the two methods are very closely linked:

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