Terms: Bb3, C5, G4 ?

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PaulT
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Terms: Bb3, C5, G4 ?

Post by PaulT » Wed Aug 07, 2019 12:28 pm

Question concerning note terms such as Bb3, Bb4, G4 and so forth. What (where) are these notes, what does the notation mean?

When I play a C above the Bass Clef staff, what note (C1,2,3, 4, etc) is that?

When I play a G above the Bass Clef staff, what note is that?

When I play the second Bb above the Bass Clef staff, (which is a high as I can usefully go) what note is that?

What is a C5? If it is what I think it might be, Leaping Lizards!
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BGuttman
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Re: Terms: Bb3, C5, G4 ?

Post by BGuttman » Wed Aug 07, 2019 12:37 pm

There are a number of different ways of describing notes with letters and numbers.

Most change number on C. And the number goes up the higher you go. Some systems don't use numbers but instead use Capital letters as you go down and lower case letters as you go up, adding ' marks above c, so the notes are CC, C, c, c', c'', c''', etc.

A very common system has Middle C as C4 (middle C is the note above the bass staff). The note below is B3 and the note above is C#4. Conveniently for the trombone this makes pedal Bb as Bb1, and "tuning" Bb as Bb3.

This should help you figure out what note is what, I hope.
Bruce Guttman
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PaulT
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Re: Terms: Bb3, C5, G4 ?

Post by PaulT » Wed Aug 07, 2019 1:09 pm

Thanks!

This is a bit of a relief, actually. I had C4 pegged as C1, which made C5 seem like an impossibly ridiculous note for a trombone. (so, I can squeak out a C5. It isn't a bankable note, but now its at least one I can imagine.)

So, the nomenclature is based on the piano keyboard. (piano lessons would have been very useful)
timothy42b
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Re: Terms: Bb3, C5, G4 ?

Post by timothy42b » Wed Aug 07, 2019 1:22 pm

That change in number on the next C can be confusing. And A4 is higher than G4, which is not intuitive. But that's what we live with.

One of my handbell ringers holds her bells alphabetically rather than chromatically. If I have her on D5 E5, she'll hold D5 in her left hand, and that's standard. Beginning bell choirs generally stand and hold bells from left to right, low to high. (Advanced ones sometimes assign bells nonchromatically to make difficult music easier.) But if I have her on G5 A5, she'll hold the higher bell, the A, in her lower hand, the left. So as the director facing the choir, I'll see her ring the "wrong" bell but hear the right bell ringing. It's a bit disconcerting but directors do a lot to keep ringers happy and coming back to rehearsal, so I don't nag now that I've figured her out.
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LeTromboniste
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Re: Terms: Bb3, C5, G4 ?

Post by LeTromboniste » Wed Aug 07, 2019 4:22 pm

PaulT wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 1:09 pm
So, the nomenclature is based on the piano keyboard. (piano lessons would have been very useful)
Yes and no. The piano keyboard doesn't start on C, but rather on A, so the piano keyboard goes a third below C1 (A0). C0 is not on a usual piano keyboard, and is the lowest C (and arguably lowest note) that is in the range of frequencies audible to human ears (around 16 Hz). Organ keyboards and pedals however typically start on C, with C1 being the lowest note of a 16' stop and C0 being the lowest note of a 32' stop.
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Re: Terms: Bb3, C5, G4 ?

Post by timothy42b » Thu Aug 08, 2019 10:45 am

LeTromboniste wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 4:22 pm
PaulT wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 1:09 pm
So, the nomenclature is based on the piano keyboard. (piano lessons would have been very useful)
Yes and no. The piano keyboard doesn't start on C, but rather on A, so the piano keyboard goes a third below C1 (A0). C0 is not on a usual piano keyboard, and is the lowest C (and arguably lowest note) that is in the range of frequencies audible to human ears (around 16 Hz).
That doesn't explain why we change the numbers on C instead of the more logical A.

I have been told but don't know how to confirm that the original piano keyboard started on C and the notes below were added later, and this is the reason for that convention. (I don't have google here, sorry.)

Now I need to go test my low hearing. I've lost much of my upper frequencies to the aging process, but haven't thought to check those low notes. The first time I took one of those internet hearing tests I had 16kHz. A few years later I still has 12kHZ. Last time I was down to 8k, and sensitivity was about half.
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LeTromboniste
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Re: Terms: Bb3, C5, G4 ?

Post by LeTromboniste » Thu Aug 08, 2019 1:23 pm

timothy42b wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 10:45 am
LeTromboniste wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 4:22 pm


Yes and no. The piano keyboard doesn't start on C, but rather on A, so the piano keyboard goes a third below C1 (A0). C0 is not on a usual piano keyboard, and is the lowest C (and arguably lowest note) that is in the range of frequencies audible to human ears (around 16 Hz).
That doesn't explain why we change the numbers on C instead of the more logical A.

I have been told but don't know how to confirm that the original piano keyboard started on C and the notes below were added later, and this is the reason for that convention. (I don't have google here, sorry.)

Now I need to go test my low hearing. I've lost much of my upper frequencies to the aging process, but haven't thought to check those low notes. The first time I took one of those internet hearing tests I had 16kHz. A few years later I still has 12kHZ. Last time I was down to 8k, and sensitivity was about half.
Yes early piano keyboards started on C but it was a marginal instrument. By the time it was mainstream there was no standard with regards to where the keyboard started and how wide its span was, and it was evolving quite quickly.

In any case as far as I know, this notation was derived from the Helmholtz pitch notation (which also changes octaves on C), and Helmholtz based his system on organ nomenclature. Organs have had the octaves start on C for a long time and the whole system of organ stops nomenclature is based on the length of pipes for C.

Scientific pitch notation is also associated with Scientific pitch, although I'm really not sure it was invented at the same time, I think the notation system is a much later invention. Scientific pitch is a tuning system that is based on assigning to each octave of C pitches that are exact powers of 2, so a C-based notation system does work well to describe it.

There are also pitch notation systems that change octaves on A. For example the medieval Gamut, which covers the entire range of male voices, starts on the G at the bottom of the bass clef but calls it Γ (Gamma) rather than G. It then goes A to G, a to g and aa to ee
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jazztonight
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Re: Terms: Bb3, C5, G4 ?

Post by jazztonight » Tue Aug 13, 2019 10:32 am

There are still some pianos that start with C0 in the bass:

The Bösendorfer Model 290 Imperial is the largest model and flagship piano manufactured by Bösendorfer... It has an eight-octave range from C0 to C8. (from Wikipedia)
"What does not destroy me, makes me stronger." Nietzsche
timothy42b
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Re: Terms: Bb3, C5, G4 ?

Post by timothy42b » Tue Aug 13, 2019 11:18 am

LeTromboniste wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 1:23 pm
Scientific pitch notation is also associated with Scientific pitch, although I'm really not sure it was invented at the same time, I think the notation system is a much later invention. Scientific pitch is a tuning system that is based on assigning to each octave of C pitches that are exact powers of 2, so a C-based notation system does work well to describe it.
I had not run into scientific pitch until I happened to notice a tuning fork in my doctor's office that was engraved C 256 Hz.

No, to me C is 262 and change. So I looked it up and sure enough, scientific pitch goes by powers of 2. Some physicists and doctors use 256 for C. It makes the math easier.
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LeTromboniste
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Re: Terms: Bb3, C5, G4 ?

Post by LeTromboniste » Tue Aug 13, 2019 1:47 pm

jazztonight wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 10:32 am
There are still some pianos that start with C0 in the bass:

The Bösendorfer Model 290 Imperial is the largest model and flagship piano manufactured by Bösendorfer... It has an eight-octave range from C0 to C8. (from Wikipedia)
I wouldn't say "still" as that model is one of the only ones that ever have. Pianos used to start an octave above that and were expanded down a third from that relatively early on. The Bosendorfer imperial was developped, among other things, to allow Bach's organ works to be played on piano without sacrificing the lowest 32' notes.
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Basbasun
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Re: Terms: Bb3, C5, G4 ?

Post by Basbasun » Wed Aug 14, 2019 3:42 am

When you go to an audiolog you will listen to sinus tone with earphones. Since sinus tones do not have overtones you may hear down to 20 Hz if you have good ears (most of us don´t) but in the open air, in the room, you can hear much lower, the ears pick up the overtones, and your brain makes you think you hear much lower tones.
On a big orga the C 8 Hz is a useful tone.
timothy42b
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Re: Terms: Bb3, C5, G4 ?

Post by timothy42b » Wed Aug 14, 2019 6:00 am

When I started with this employer I was required to take annual hearing tests. A few promotions later that requirement disappeared, and many years later I took that internet hearing test that showed how much high frequency I'd lost.

So I asked if they still had my old files at work, and if I could compare them.

Alas, while the files existed, they didn't include higher frequencies. I disremember exactly, but for sure they didn't go above 4k Hz and it may have been 2k.

For speech intelligibility 300 Hz to 3000 Hz is plenty. But I was interested in the 8000 to 16000 range, which I've mostly lost.
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