Middle C

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Matthew Bryson, Dec 9, 2003.

  1. Matthew Bryson

    Matthew Bryson Guest

    Jul 30, 2001
    Okay, there are a couple of things that made my head spin when I was brand new to bass, so I was never sure if I got them figured out. I’m going to see if I got it right. I’m going to make some statements that I believe to be true. Please correct any statement that is not true as one idea leads into the next.

    Middle C is a specific note - it is a C, but in a specific octave. Middle C has a specific tonality.

    Middle C written for a bass instrument (bass clef) would appear on the first ledger line above the normal staff.

    Middle C written for a higher pitched instrument (treble clef) would appear on first ledger line below the normal staff.

    Middle C is the note played on a bass guitar at the 5th fret on the first string (or the open high C string on a six string EBG)

    Bassists often refer to the 1st string of a six string bass guitar (strung and tuned BEADGC) as a high C string, this is probably reference only to the fact that it is an extension of the normal 4 strings range as well as the fact that this note when written, is above the standard bass staff.

    The note which is sounded by a bass players high C string is known (tonally) as middle C.

    Am I right, wrong or what?
  2. Matthew Bryson

    Matthew Bryson Guest

    Jul 30, 2001
    ...or is it that true middle C is at the 17th fret, 1st string on a standard EBG (written as described above) and everything we play on EBG we play one octave lower than written?
  3. We play everything an octave lower than written. Sounds like you've got it on everything else :) Middle C is also referred to as C4. It's more of a reference thing for pianists and vocalists than it is for string instruments. You could probably call A440 our "middle c".
  4. ?????

    - Wil
  5. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I'm not sure what you mean by this?
  6. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    "Middle C has a specific pitch" would be a better way of phrasing it than to say "specific tonality". It's called "middle C" because of where it sits on a keyboard (kind of in the middle :D ).

  7. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    You've got your octaves mixed up, that's all. Bass guitar music is written an octave higher than it sounds, remember that.
  8. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    That's right! I guess I should have read this post before posting :meh:
  9. Broham


    Oct 19, 2013
    I am not a paid endorser for any product or company. It's just my opinion.
    Good info. Even if it was posted 11 years ago. :D