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The first thing a brand-new piano student learns is the name, and location on the keyboard, of "middle C". I've always wondered, why is that note called "middle C" rather than, say, "middle A"?

To put it another way, why were the notes assigned letters in such a way that a complete natural scale (no sharps or flats) beginning with "A" is the minor scale (modern Aolian mode) rather than the major scale (modern Ionian mode)?

marked as duplicate by Dom, Tim, piofusco, Bob Broadley, Dave Feb 9 '15 at 1:47

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  • Are you asking something similar to this? Why is music theory built so tightly around the C Major scale? – Shevliaskovic Feb 8 '15 at 9:01
  • An 88 key keyboard actually starts with A. The tuning system is designed to include the octaves most useful for creating music we can sing. If the keyboard was 100 keys, not only would it be too big, but would contain notes way too high or too low or both. Middle C is the beginning of the C octave that is in the middle of the keyboard - the one most folks can come close to singing. – Rockin Cowboy Feb 9 '15 at 1:24

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