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Thread: Note naming conventions

  1. Note naming conventions

    Hello, I wanted to ask a question about certain names of notes. I’m a beginner and I can read Bass clef well, but I often hear others saying things about “high F” “High C”, and I was wondering what these all meant. Or sometimes I see something like “start playing or tuning to C#”. And whenever these names are mentioned I just get confused. It seems to be something that is just learned, the names of specific notes, as I’ve never had these names explicitly explained to me. If someone could explain what all these notes are on the bass clef I’d appreciate it!

  2. Common question in other forums. Also one to likely get you into treble.

    1935 Conn 64I Baritone
    Mouthpieces: Too many to list and growing

  3. #3
    That's a good question, actually, and we DO get confusing in how we talk. I'm especially guilty because I can never remember what a C2 is vs a C3 for example.

    So in concert-pitch bass clef, this is how *I* talk about it:

    I use the "absolute" word "low" to cover notes starting at 2nd line Bb and going down nearly an octave. When I say "low F" I mean the F just under the bass clef staff.

    The next Bb (below the 2nd ledger line under that staff) begins the "pedal" range.

    I use the "absolute" word "high" to cover the Bb an octave above the bass clef and the notes above it. So I would say a "high F" to mean the one above "high Bb."

    I use the "relative" word "upper" as a convenience. For example, we have 2 F's between the range I designate as low and high, one on the 4th line and one on top of the 2nd ledger line above the staff. So I might refer to the latter as your "upper F".

    That may not be a comprehensive list of my personal terms!

    The last variation of Arban's Carnival of Venice, in my words, goes down to a low F, and concludes on the upper Eb. The flashy ending note many people play I call high Eb.
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams Artist (Adams E3)
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  4. Thanks for the explanation! It seems like one of those things I’ll just have to get a feeling for over time depending on who I’m playing with

  5. #5
    Treble clef brits are even more fun.

    Double pedals are the ones where there is a bottom note above - Double pedal D / E
    Pedal E to F below
    Bottom E to F below (bottom C being the note described as middle C on a piano score)
    Middle E to F below
    Top E to F below

    Notes above top E deemed “super notes”. Like so many things, needlessly overused in order to impress the hard of thinking or bereft of taste.

    Opinion is bitterly divided over whether top E should be renamed super E.
    1983 Boosey & Hawkes Globe Sovereign
    Vincent Bach 4GB

  6. I live in a treble world. Everything relates to the staff. Above the staff is high whatever and then doubles etc. Below the staff is the named note. Anything below F# is a pedal. Simple but even with that trumpet players so like to brag that it all get's screwy when talking about double and triple this or that.

    1935 Conn 64I Baritone
    Mouthpieces: Too many to list and growing

  7. #7
    If there were a “lingua franca” for note naming, it would have to be the naming convention for the 88 key piano keyboard. One need only remember that C on the ledger line between the bass and treble staff, also known as “middle C”, is C4. Well, there is one other thing to remember... the order of names starts with C, not A. The order is: “C D E F G A B”.

    Alternatively, most players can play a 4 octave set of B flats. Those notes are Bb1 to Bb4; not too hard to remember as a reference, and still only two things to remember.

    I see this notation frequently because I work with a tuner and tone generator as part of my daily routine and it uses this convention.


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