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Naming Octaves

22 July, 2019 - 10:18
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The notes in different octaves are so closely related that when musicians talk about a note, a "G" for example, it often doesn't matter which G they are talking about. We can talk about the "F sharp" in a G major scale without mentioning which octave the scale or the F sharp are in, because the scale is the same in every octave. Because of this, many discussions of music theory don't bother naming octaves. Informally, musicians often speak of "the B on the staff" or the "A above the staff", if it's clear which staff they're talking about.

But there are also two formal systems for naming the notes in a particular octave. Many musicians use Helmholtz notation. Others prefer scientific pitch notation, which simply labels the octaves with numbers, starting with C1 for the lowest C on a full-sized keyboard. The following Figure 4.3 shows the names of the octaves most commonly used in music.

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Figure 4.3 Naming Octaves
The octaves are named from one C to the next higher C. For example, all the notes in between "one line c" and "two line c" are "one line" notes. 

The octave below contra can be labelled CCC or Co; higher octaves can be labelled with higher numbers or more lines. Octaves are named from one C to the next higher C. For example, all the notes between "great C" and "small C" are "great". One-line c is also often called "middle C". No other notes are called "middle", only the C.

Example 4.1:

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Figure 4.4 Naming Notes within a Particular Octave
Each note is considered to be in the same octave as the C below it. 

Exercise 4.1:

Give the correct octave name for each note.

Figure 4.5 Exercise 4.1