Dorico middle C


It seems like the middle C in Dorico is C4.

The point is, in Cubase, the middle C is C3.

When you go from one platform to the other it makes things quite complicate when you want to check the octaves of a peculiar note.

C4 is certainly good, but since it doesn’t seem like there is a way of changing the middle C in Cubase to make it C4, is there a way to change the middle C in Dorico for it is called C3? Just to have the same scale between both platforms?



C4 is the standard middle C if I recall correctly. Maybe this is a bug in Cubase? I’d bring it up to the team.

There is no convention for middle C, it’s true. I think C4 should be the universal, personally…


I used to think C4 was the standard middle C too. But not in Cubase. .

DAWs usually use C3 as it avoids the lowest MIDI note being C-1 (a negative number).

May I ask how this prevents it?

Surely the other way round? C4 is a higher number for the same pitch, so what was C-1 will now be C0.

1 Like

I think it’s a typo and he meant C5…
This middle C note is really a messy thing.

1 Like

Sorry, too early in the morning. The original MIDI spec has C0 as 128’ C. Which would make middle C as C5, not C3. So, not sure where the C3 comes in.

What @benwiggy said.

That’s putting it mildly!

Yamaha DX7 was the first successful synth that used MIDI and of course popularized it.

It counted its keys in the “normal people” way, starting with 1 (and not with 2, or 0 or -1). This way the complete keyboard range was a very neat and easy C1 to C6, and it made C3 the middle C. And I guess it stuck, at least for a while.

Yes, and that’s exactly why programmers often choose it: because we’re used to thinking in zero-base.

Yah, we are probably doomed.

“Professor Smarts, what caused the fall of human civilization in the 21st century?” “Well, my students, they couldn’t even agree on how to count the notes on a piano…” "Until finally the ancient kings ‘Google’ and ‘Facebook’ took it upon themselves to rewrite all content in the way they saw fit, finally settling on ‘C4’. Some question whether the Google really existed or if the tale is a later addition by the “Monks of the Half-eaten Fruit.”

1 Like

C4 was the convention until Yamaha screwed things up. I’ve lost a few hours to frustration over this since starting to record in the box in 1998, just a few. But the cat’s out of the bag now…although C4 is the standard in my studio, every once in awhile I’ll come across a developer who obviously bought a DX-7 in high school and can’t let go of C3. Hey, our differences are what makes life interesting.

I keep telling myself…


No. Dorico is ambivalent. Dorico acknowledges the issue and allows you to specify what middle C is in each and every expression map to suit whatever VSt you are using (and their choice of middle C)

1 Like

Logic Pro defaults to middle C as C3 (Yamaha) [Logic’s parenthesis], with an option for C4 (Roland). C3 drives me mad so I change Logic to C4. I’m surprised Cubase doesn’t have an option for that. In any case, middle C is always MIDI note No. 60 whether it’s C3 or C4.


This is the best way to think it, no more issues… :joy:

1 Like

1 Like

Hmm I actually thought it was the other way around, perhaps wrongly… Before MIDI, middle C literally meant the middle C of a given keyboard size or instrument range. That’s how I personally was taught to find it as a kid. And comparing the ranges of some instruments it probably makes more sense like that for both players and teachers. It’s more likely Yamaha simply continued in that vein.

I speculate it was the discrepancy between this tradition and MIDI numbering based on a huge theoretical keyboard length that led to the standard for C4.

There is no middle ground here.
It all dates back to Yamaha and Roland. Luckily Dorico is smart enough and let you pick your middle C.

1 Like

Yamaha, of course, is the parent company of Steinberg, so one can expect Cubase to tow the line.

Just to answer the original question:
Middle C shows as C4 in Dorico’s piano roll.

I can’t find a way to change that.

You can change the C reference in the Expression Map editor:

But that only applies to key switches.