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Naming the C’s

Posted on December 10, 2015 by 

The piano is the instrument that most naming schemes come from.

They all stem from middle C.

Because of that the name of the register changes at the Cs.

We have approached this a little differently. We tried to name them Low middle and High. We all under stand Low G or Low C.(Even though it does not follow the other naming schemes.)

We all also understand High C (above the staff).

That leaves us with the notes starting on 2nd line G up to B below High C. Unfortunately the notes from G on the second line up to B below High C have NO common name. Middle C or 3rd space C is the exception.

The register normally changes at the Cs. But since we already call the G below the staff Low G that leaves no name for the 2nd line G. (People often refer to middle C but not middle D, E, F, G, A or B. That is because we broke a rule in naming Low G.

Therefore we say 2nd line G, G on top of the staff, 4th space E ect.

The Highs go from High C 2nd ledger line above the staff up to B 5th ledger line above the staff.

The Double register starts with Double High C on top of the 5th ledger line above the staff.

This isn’t how other musicians name notes.

Registers for every instrument start and change on the Cs.

In Composition, Theory, Arranging… the same rules apply for every instrument. The reason is so that they can call a note E4, F4, G4… or E’, F’, G’… and know what register they are talking about.

If we changed based on the lowest note then Clarinets, Sax, Trumpet… would change registers on different notes.

Clarinet has Low E and Trumpet Low F# as the lowest notes. So the 5th line F at the top of the staff would have been considered an octave displaced from the same note with the same sound on trumpet and clarinet. They simply couldn’t have willy-nilly naming conventions. This wasn’t usable for music nomenclature and so it was universally agreed to change at the Cs.

The ITG (International Trumpet Guild) adopted the system of changing at Cs back in the 70s. If you read many Journals you will see notes named C5, C6 or sometimes C” or C ”’.

Sadly even adopting C as the point of change we still have several methods of naming those Cs. A several hundred year old piano naming system and the tuner system are the leading systems.

The piano standard is VERY OLD. On an 88 key piano the lowest note is A. Yet the Registers were considered to change at C for hundreds of years.

Music printed in Braille use C1 – C8 to designated octaves just like tuners do.

Everyone world wide designates middle C on the piano as where the clefs change. This forever made C the starting point for registers.

The C1, C2, C3, C4, C5 labeling is a way of naming these notes.

C1 is the lowest C and C8 is the highest note on an 88-key piano.

This is the system Korg tuners use.

Piano talk – starting with lowest C on the piano…

Contra C (C1; CCC)

Great C (C2; CC)

Small C (C3; C) 2nd space C in bass staff

One-line C (C4; c’) Middle C on piano (low C on trumpet)

Two-line C (C5; c”) 3rd space in treble staff (middle C on Trumpet)

Three-line C (C6; c”’) (High C on trumpet)

Four-line C (C7; c””) (Double High C on trumpet)

Five-line C (C8; c””’) (Triple High C on trumpet)

Trumpets Low C is 1 ledger line below the staff.

Middle C is in the third space of the staff.

High C is 2 ledger lines above the staff.

Double High C is on top of the 5th ledger line above the staff.

Triple High C is 9 ledger lines above the staff.

Quadruple High C is on top of the 12th ledger line above the staff.

These are the names that trumpet players and groups like the International Trumpet Guild have given these notes.

So for trumpet

Low C is C4 or C’

Middle C is C5 or C”

High C is C6 or C”’

Double high C is C7 or C””

Triple high C is C8 or C””’

There is NO highest note on trumpet. The ranges is only limited by the players embouchure and air control.

Super c sometimes also called double high c. That is 1 octave over high c.

The G above double c is the highest note recorded (so far) that has enough harmonics present to claim to be a real note. It is 2 octaves above the g on top of the staff.

Triple high c is 2 octaves over high c. (Never recorded as a clean and resonant note.)

Quadruple High c is 3 octaves over high c it is never a resonant note.

For 99% of the high note players the highest NOTE (these have fullness, resonance and tone quality) is A under double high c. There are some that can play double high c as a note. There are of course recordings of e’s, f’s & g’s above that. The problem here is that I heard the same player hit pitches at some times and play notes at other times.

So to say that g over double high c is a note is clearly stretching. It is sometimes a note.

I judge them against the true trumpet range.