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Where is middle C?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Pbassred, Sep 20, 2005.


  1. Ok, I'm embarrassed but I had to ask. Where is middle C? Is it 3rd fret 3rd string (A string) or higher up?
     
  2. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    It's probably in the General Instruction forum.

    Written - 5th fret, G string
    Sounding - an octave above that
     
  3. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player

    It depends on what you're looking for. If you're looking for the written middle C on a bass sheet, it's on the G string, 5th fret, for instance, or the D string, 10th fret. But if you're looking for the actual sounding middle C, its on the G string, 17th fret (one octave higher) since the bass is a transpositional instrument and it sounds one octave lower than written.

    Hope this helps.
     
  4. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player

    You beat me to it! :)
     
  5. bluemonk

    bluemonk

    Dec 17, 2002
    Michigan
    I'd say that the term 'middle C' refers to the piano, where the C referred to lands in the middle of the keyboard. To really be middle C, a C on another instrument would have to actually duplicate the pitch of that C. The Cs on the bass are lower than those on the middle of the keyboard, so I wouldn't use 'middle C' to describe them. Is that right?
     
  6. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player

    The C on the G string, 17th fret sounds exactly the same as the C in the middle of the keyboard (I mean, same pitch. Different timbre, of course).
     
  7. The "middle" means that it is the one written between the treble and bass cleffs. I don't own a piano so I didn't know what the pitch sounds like.

    So, by convention, it should be played an octave higher than I thought, but If I wanted to match what a piano would play, then TWO octaves higher than I originally thought.

    Thank you guys
     
  8. From http://www.music.vt.edu/musicdictionary/textm/MiddleC.html

    The name given to the note that has the pitch value of 261.63 Hz. It is the note on the ledger line halfway between the bass and treble clef on the great staff.

    Like everyone says, it's written as though it was fret 5 on the G string, but unison for the actual note is found an octave higher up. You can hear a sample at the link above.