treble, highest part in choral music, thus corresponding in pitch to soprano, but associated with the voice of a boy or a girl. The term appeared in 15th-century English polyphony, probably as an anglicization of the Latin triplum, the name given in medieval polyphony to the part that was often the highest (see motet). The treble clef, however, is the G clef, one of the two clefs commonly used today for vocal music and for most instrumental music. The soprano clef is a C clef placing middle C on the bottom line of the staff; it was used in vocal music as late as Bach's time but is now nearly obsolete for voice. See musical notation.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.