Scaling the heights

Soprano instruments lend themselves to melody, light harmony and colour. Tenor instruments too play melody. Bass sometimes plays melody.

It takes a skillful arranger to write an effective and appropriate bass melody. Bass is the band’s tonal foundation. If an inappropriate move is made the building comes tumbling down.

To study bass we must be able to talk about it in quantifiable terms. Bass C is an octave under Middle C. Pedal C is an octave under Bass C. Bass notes are between Bass C and Pedal C. Pedal notes are all notes under Pedal C.

We must also talk about very high notes in quantifiable terms. The higher the note the thinner it is. Above the treble clef notes noticeably thin out. Very thin notes are used for colour and effect, rarely melody.

Some instruments play as high as C above the treble clef (Top C). Very few instruments play as high as C above Top C (double top C). Notes between top C and double top C are top notes. Notes above double top C are double top notes.

>>> rising pitch

pedal notesbass notesbelow
Middle C
Middle Cabove
Middle C
 top notesdouble
top notes
 Bass Clef Treble Clef  
range in pitch on the stave