#1
I made a post in a thread explaining pitches and I realized I had never thought of this.

As everyone knows; our musical alphabet is A, B, C, D, E, F, G - repeat. It makes sense.
When I was a kid and learned music theory on the organ, I learned to "count" it as C, D, E, F, G, A, B (well, the B was called H for very strange reasons but let's not get into that)
When for example referencing pitch, the next octave starts on the C.
So - why isn't the C note called A?



Why is it not like this? Where is the logic?
#2
Perhaps it's something churchie like the minor came before the major...

No hang-on.. Wait!! now i'm just guessing so i'll just shut up now...

I've got 'A' as in Amen to that brother!
#3
Because the piano was built round the notes, they weren't simply "invented" for that particular instrument.

Besides, if you really want the "first" note to be A it can be, you just need to look at a different part of the keyboard.
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#4
^But it's not just that C is the first note on the piano, you do have that ...F2,G2,A2,B2,C3
and that's a general/universal thing - that's what makes it weird. What was it "invented" for anyway?
Last edited by fanapathy at May 11, 2014,
#5
The long answer is the definition of tl;dr; short answer-

It did start on A when they worked out the notes, but then the notes were renamed (around the time when they started thinking about repeating the pattern every octave, a sort of early major scale), and the man who did the renaming used a well known Latin hymn at the time. Because the pattern (modal in nature) they were using fitted the tune if they started on C (it had a major-like sound), the scale started on C. Do-Re-Me-Fa-So-La was born. They added the Ti (B) later, but by then because that was the only natural scale (obviously transposition and equal temperament were WAY in the future), C was seen to be the natural "centre" of music, whereas A was seen to just be the lowest pitch available in the pattern - minor scales/modes were not used as widely - even the ideas of major/minor were not thought of.

Hard to summarise in a paragraph, if you're really interested I can recommend some excellent reading material.
...
#8
Quote by fanapathy
^But it's not just that C is the first note on the piano, you do have that ...F2,G2,A2,B2,C3
and that's a general/universal thing - that's what makes it weird. What was it "invented" for anyway?

The notes were "invented" (or more accurately, "named") to ease communication between musicians.


It is interesting to note that, in certain countries, they call the notes Fa, So, La, Ti, etc. But it all serves the same purpose: ease of communication.
#9
Quote by crazysam23_Atax
It is interesting to note that, in certain countries, they call the notes Fa, So, La, Ti, etc. But it all serves the same purpose: ease of communication.

Yes, that's the way it is in Portuguese (my native language).
Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Si (sometimes spelt Dó, Ré, Mi, Fá, Sol, Lá, Si)

I actually do a hybrid of those. Since I've always been used to looking at chords for songs here on UG and other English language sites, and talking/learning about theory on English language sources (mainly this subforum), and since I find the ABC system more practical, I write C, D, E, ..., and, when I'm talking about the notes in Portuguese, I'll call them Do, Re, Mi, ... For instance, for me, the "word" Do is represented in writing by C.
#10
...
#11
Quote by fanapathy
^But it's not just that C is the first note on the piano, you do have that ...F2,G2,A2,B2,C3
and that's a general/universal thing - that's what makes it weird. What was it "invented" for anyway?

It's one of those things in music where it's just the way it is. The best explanation I can give is that C is the lowest note on a piano, and you just go up from there.
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#12
Quote by fanapathy
the B was called H for very strange reasons but let's not get into that


'Strange reasons' isn't a very nice way to talk about German people
.
#14
Quote by Nietsche
'Strange reasons' isn't a very nice way to talk about German people

Well it was a really stupid decision in my opinion. A B C is logical, A H C isn't.
#15
Quote by Elintasokas
Well it was a really stupid decision in my opinion. A B C is logical, A H C isn't.


In german, B means Bb because B natural was used somewhat rarely. It got the name H because its the next letter in the alphabet after G

It only seems stupid to you because you werent alive when the convention was created.

Also, on the topic of solfege, its still standard French school tradition to do all training in fixed do. French school is the conservatory style used everywhere but the USA.

Anyone who wants to learn about tuning systems or modes would be well served to read the link on the harmonic series which was posted
#16
Quote by SexyBeast810
It's one of those things in music where it's just the way it is. The best explanation I can give is that C is the lowest note on a piano, and you just go up from there.

Since when?



Also, C has been C before piano was even invented. In fact, piano is a fairly new instrument and it wasn't used before the 1700s.

Edit:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Note#History_of_note_names
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Last edited by MaggaraMarine at May 22, 2014,