standard names for bass cleff octaves?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by DannyShem, Jan 11, 2015.

  1. DannyShem


    Jan 31, 2013
    So the 4 string bass has almost 3 octaves. I understand that among musicians in general there are several standard ways of designating octaves. For the bass I like "low, middle, high", but since the bass is transposed (1 octave lower than what appears in the bass clef) I doubt this works for anyone but other bass players.

    When you talk to another bass player, or another member of a band, how do you refer to the octaves?
  2. zontar


    Feb 19, 2014
    How about Moe, Larry & Curly?

    Actually I've never had the need to do this other than relate octaves below or above another instrument's part
    INTP likes this.
  3. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny Inactive

    Nov 20, 2000
    Harrison Mills
    It's common to refer to a note by its octave in relation to middle C. C on the 3rd fret of the A string is two octaves below middle C and would be the second octave low C and the open E would be the second octave low E. Add to the description what string the note is on and you can only be talking about one note in one place on the instrument.
  4. Ditto the never have felt the need to name the octave. Most band members in my neck of the woods want the bass to be as low as possible, i.e. F at the 1st fret instead of the 8th or 13th.

    That said; I've never had the band ask that I not use the 8th or 13th, it's just something that does not come up, in my World. If it did I think I'd refer to the fret area, however, I doubt the other members of the band knowing what fret area could be used. So can you play it a little lower or higher probably would be the words used.
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2015
  5. zontar


    Feb 19, 2014
    I did that in my old piano lessons days
    But while a piano has a visual that helps that use & bass music is written an octave different than its actual pitch it doesn't come as naturally to most of us
  6. Bob_Ross

    Bob_Ross Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2012
    I was gonna suggest Booty, Oomph, Konk, and Shizzle, but yours work too.

    One of the things I like to remind music students is that notation was developed as a way to communicate ideas to the musicians playing a piece. If you're hoping to have your music played by hundreds or thousands of musicians all over the world and through the ages, you probably want to stick to standardized notation. But as soon as you decide that the immediate goal is simply to get the five guys in your garage to play a song together, you don't need to be quite so dogmatic about what things get just need to find a way to communicate the ideas to those five guys.

    I played in a band for years that would often use people's names -- like Moe, Larry & Curly -- rather than letters of the alphabet and/or complex nested repeat signs coupled with arcane Italian expressions to describe convoluted song forms and structures. Sometimes it's a lot easier to remember "Moe, Moe, Curly, Moe, Curly, Larry, Moe" than to think Play the A section twice, but use the A prime variant during the piano solo, DS al Coda, segue to the alternate chorus then take the second ending after the sax solo, blah blah blah...
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  7. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny Inactive

    Nov 20, 2000
    Harrison Mills
    There are lots of ways to communicate this depending on who you're communicating with. If I'm talking to a guitar player I'll probably say what string and fret. Talking to a horn or keyboard player I'll describe the note in relation to middle C. It doesn't need to "come naturally" it needs to convey the information clearly and accurately.
  8. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    Numbered octaves with C4 = middle C
    is the closest to a standard I have seen

  9. In this book, middle C as it is written in standard notation with no indicated octave shift is shown thusly.

  10. Real Soon

    Real Soon

    Aug 15, 2013
    Atlanta, GA
    The bottom E is notated, in classical numeration, as E2.

    Middle C is C4, and fun fact: A4 is the 440Hz tuning standard note.

    But since we sound an octave below notation, if it's clear you're discussing sounding pitch, not written, then just subtract 1 from the number.

    That said, if I'm talking to bandmates, I pretty much go "I'm playing that down here" *plays* "Or I could put it up here" *plays*
  11. zontar


    Feb 19, 2014
    Moe, Larry & Curly are my default when I need three names-if I need a fourth I often add Shemp

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