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#3162267 10/06/21 11:52 AM
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I keep coming across different interpretations of this.
Some say if it’s below the music it’s an octave higher and some say lower. So wondering which is correct

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Wayne2467 #3162269 10/06/21 12:03 PM
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You may be able to figure it out by trying it both ways and hearing which way sounds best to you.


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Wayne2467 #3162274 10/06/21 12:17 PM
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Wayne2467 #3162279 10/06/21 12:31 PM
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Well a couple of pieces I play have 8VA under the bass clef and it’s being played an octave lower but it should be higher shouldn’t it

Wayne2467 #3162283 10/06/21 12:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Wayne2467
Well a couple of pieces I play have 8VA under the bass clef and it’s being played an octave lower but it should be higher shouldn’t it

If the 8va indication is under the bass clef, then the passage should be played an octave lower. I can't think of an instance where such an indication would indicate an octave higher. Depending on the piece and the notation, the left hand played an octave higher might well interfere with what the right hand is meant to play.

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Wayne2467 #3162290 10/06/21 01:22 PM
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You may be confused by notation.

8va stands for "ottava" from the Italian "octave". It can be shortened simply to 8 without the 'va' and that's how it appears in most sheet music. That notation means an octave shift either up when written above the treble clef or an octave lower when written below the treble clef.

There is another notation adopted by some sheet music where 8va stands for "ottava alta" (upper octave) and 8vb stands for "ottava bassa" (lower octave) but this meaning is a backwards adaptation based on a false etymology of the shorthand 8va, which simply stands for "ottava" (originally it was "coll'ottava" or "with the octave"). In any case, even if we adopt this meaning 8vb always appears below the bass clef and is equivalent to 8va or simply 8.

Qazsedcft #3162294 10/06/21 01:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
... or an octave lower when written below the treble clef.
I meant the bass clef of course.

Wayne2467 #3162312 10/06/21 03:05 PM
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The way I learned it there is 8VA and 8VB. 8VA mean play up and octave and 8VB mean play down an octave. Never heard of position above or below staff meaning anything other than to make a chart easier to read.

MrShed #3162364 10/06/21 07:02 PM
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Originally Posted by MrShed
The way I learned it there is 8VA and 8VB. 8VA mean play up and octave and 8VB mean play down an octave. Never heard of position above or below staff meaning anything other than to make a chart easier to read.

8va can mean an octave higher or lower depending whether it is placed above or below the staff. In modern notation very often 8va is notated simply 8 and when placed below the clef it mean to be played an octave lower.

Wayne2467 #3162381 10/06/21 07:45 PM
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The Hal Leonard method books consistently use 8va above the treble clef and 8vb below the bass.

If the bass clef ever needs to be played an octave higher then they tend to put a treble clef symbol in rather than 8va. So if I see 8 anywhere around the bass I’m thinking lower not higher.


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Wayne2467 #3162436 10/07/21 03:02 AM
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MrShed #3162437 10/07/21 03:13 AM
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Originally Posted by MrShed
The way I learned it there is 8VA and 8VB. 8VA mean play up and octave and 8VB mean play down an octave. Never heard of position above or below staff meaning anything other than to make a chart easier to read.
You have that backwards. The position of the octave sign is what determines whether to play higher or lower. The 'va' or 'vb' is optional and only a courtesy, just like courtesy accidentals, and doesn't change the meaning of the octave sign.


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