Author Topic: When to use 8va  (Read 20166 times)

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Ron

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When to use 8va
« on: April 08, 2011, 01:08:47 PM »
I've gotten very used to reading ledger lines, but I know not all musicians are happy with 4 or 5 lines and would rather see 8va or 8ve. I am working on the attached (it is not finished, so ignore the double bar line) and have been getting to extremes on a piano. Where should I use the octave offsets?

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Ron
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Michel.R.E

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Re: When to use 8va
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2011, 01:12:55 PM »
Ron, generally speaking, for this type of part, I would entirely avoid the 8va marking.

Change clefs when you will be going beyond 3 ledger lines for any significant period of time.
Contrabass reads bass clef, tenor clef, and treble clef, so there should be no lack of alternatives.

Keep the 8va notation for piano parts in general, or for piccolo or flute parts (and even there, I would avoid them as much as possible. the performers are used to reading important quantities of ledger lines)
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Ron

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Re: When to use 8va
« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2011, 08:24:00 PM »
I was thinking of the piano part. On one hand we're getting pretty close to the top of the keyboard and the left hand does hit that lowest A. Alan looked at a viola part where I had the A an octave above the open string (4 ledger lines), and he thought that was too many for the average viola player.
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Michel.R.E

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Re: When to use 8va
« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2011, 10:31:44 PM »
let me get back to you on the piano notation a bit later. there are a few conventions of piano notation that would avoid some of the clef changes you have.

as for the viola, yes, if it gets beyond a certain number of ledger lines, just skip to treble clef.
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Michel.R.E

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Re: When to use 8va
« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2011, 06:35:54 AM »
ok, one convention:
measure 27, the piano left hand crosses over the right hand.
don't use a treble clef in the left hand staff.

take that "E" and place it in layer 1 of the upper staff, move what's in layer 1 of that measure to layer 2.

you now have the previous contents of the measure down-stemmed for right hand, and that single "E" up-stemmed. Now add a text expression "m.s." (mano sinistra - left hand) or "l.h." (if you want to use the English expression) immediately next to that left handed note in the upper staff. Any pianist will understand that he is expected to reach over with the left hand and play that note above the right hand.

At measure 29, I don't think I'd bother with the 8va for that low note (besides, Finale erroneously writes "8vb" - it should be either 8bassa or 8b or simply 8va, and the dashed line is defective as well: it should be aligned with the BOTTOM of the text when placed below. The good people at MakeMusic unfortunately did not think to redefine the alignment of the dashed line when going from above a staff to below a staff).

at measure 39, it would be more appropriate to place that high left hand note in layer two of the upper staff, rather than write in a clef change for just a few notes.

There is no obligation to keep all left handed material in the lower staff, and all right handed material in the upper staff.

At measure 53, don't return to treble clef in the piano's right hand. wait until the first full measure of treble clef where there are notes. In this case, the return to treble clef would be at measure 59.

on the question of measures like 50-53 and measure 61, there are two options.
all the music could be placed in the lower staff, divided clearly into two layers, stems up and stems down clearly indicating which hand plays which notes.
or, it can be done as you've done here, with a clef change in the upper staff.

GENERALLY speaking, my personal preference is to move all the material into a single staff. UNLESS there will be too much tweaking needed to avoid collisions of dynamics or hairpins or ties and slurs.

What will decide, most of the time, is the general density of the writing.
The denser the material attributed to each hand, the more inclined I would be to place music in different staves.
The clearer, lighter, the writing is (ie: single note lines) the more I would have a tendency to notate everything in a single staff.

Remember that if you DO move material from one hand into the other staff, you MUST remove the default whole-note rest that appears in the unused staff. This is to clearly indicate that there are two hands actually playing. If you leave the default rest in the upper staff, the implication is that the music is only intended to be played by the left hand.

on the matter of rests: measure 14, you may use a quarter-note rest in the double bass part (also the next two measures in the piano).
RULE: As long as rests start ON the beat, you may consolidate them. You may NOT consolidate rests that start on an off-beat.

Measure 29: you may NOT consolidate those rests in the piano part. you are required, here, to use eighth-note rests.
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Ron

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Re: When to use 8va
« Reply #5 on: April 11, 2011, 08:16:27 AM »
Thanks Michel. Your response works as a guide to anyone writing for piano but not familiar with all its preferred conventions.
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Michel.R.E

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Re: When to use 8va
« Reply #6 on: April 11, 2011, 02:41:47 PM »
considering how HUGE most engraving books are, it would be quite a daunting task to create a notation tutorial.
That being said, I MAY try my hand at covering "the basics" which are often overlooked in notation programs (for example, issues of cross-staff beaming, and rests, which most notation programs leave up to the user).
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Benjamin

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Re: When to use 8va
« Reply #7 on: April 19, 2011, 01:04:11 PM »
Looking over your "DoubleBass Solo" score I would apply the 8va mark

(1) for the RH Piano part over measures 9 (at the last note) thru the first three notes of m. 13

(2) for the LH Piano part over mm. 28 thru the first four notes of m. 29.

(3) for the LH Piano part over m. 31 and the first note of m. 32

(4) for the LH Piano part over m.61.

My guideline is to generally stay within three ledger lines above or below the staff. The reading of m. 61 in particular might be perhaps "traumatic" in a live performance situation with some pianist's with limited rehearsal time!

Michel.R.E

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Re: When to use 8va
« Reply #8 on: April 20, 2011, 07:18:35 AM »
The "3 ledger lines" rule does not apply to piano writing.

It is very much a case-by-case thing in keyboard writing.
I would disagree, for example, with using the 8va at measure 9 in this case. There is no reason for it. It's perfectly readable with ledger lines.

Single notes above the staff in ledger lines are easy to read.
If you had complex accompaniment patterns that were all in ledger lines, then the use of 8va would be strongly recommended.
For example, to avoid having the downward-turned stems/beams of 16th notes rest within the staff. (supposing a multi-layered texture)

I would definitely recommend the use of an 8va sign for measures 13-16.

The issue at measure 28 is actually that single treble clef in the preceding measure. Again, there is no need for 8b there.
I would even say constrain the use of 8va there by ONLY using it beneath 2 notes: the two very lowest of that passage.

Again, measure 31 has no reason for 8va sign. the passage is linear and logical. quite readable as is.

While measure 61 IS readable as is, it would be clearer and take less room with an 8ba___ sign.

All that said, remember that Finale actually has a notationally defective ottava bassa symbol.

The correct symbol is either "8", or "8va" or "8ba", or writing out "8va bassa". However, the makers of Finale, in their obviously finite wisdom, chose to make it "8vb" (not a recognized symbol).

Also, the dashed line is incorrectly placed when you use the default in Finale. It should be aligned with the bottom of the text, and not the top.

I created an "8ba" symbol of my own for my scores. Unfortunately, it does not playback in Finale, so I need to include the default "8vb---" smartshape, make it invisible (alt+ctrl+shift+H), then superimpose my own homemade "8ba_ _ _ " shape.
« Last Edit: April 20, 2011, 07:21:09 AM by Michel.R.E »
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Michel.R.E

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Re: When to use 8va
« Reply #9 on: April 20, 2011, 08:24:21 AM »
think of it this way: will adding an 8va symbol radically change the musical outline of a phrase.

for example, if you have a pattern that is repeated at a large interval, for example an octave or 6th or 7th, then using the 8va symbol would be justified as at first reading, would clearly place the notes that are affected by the 8va as "higher than" the rest of the pattern.

On the other hand, if you were simply to apply it automatically to notes that are more than 3 ledger lines from the staff, then you risk creating the impression of a leap into a lower register and deforming the musical outline.

please examine the attached PDF.

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"Writing music to be revolutionary is like cooking to be famous: Music’s main function is not revolution. – Alan Belkin "

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Ron

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Re: When to use 8va
« Reply #10 on: April 20, 2011, 08:44:01 AM »
Thank you, both, for your helpful comments. Michel, I printed out the example you provided for future reference.

I know my experience isn't nearly as extensive as you two, but, when playing the violin I had no trouble reading up to 5 ledger lines immediately while playing. Above that I might have to stop and think for a moment. I was  no where near professional level.  I think the guidelines are different for different instruments. Violinists are used to playing "away up there," much like tuba players don't seem to be bothered by ledger lines that are "away down there."  It seems more "natural" to use octave offset for keyboards because generally it does not involve a change in fingering--simply a movement of the entire hand.
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flint

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Re: When to use 8va
« Reply #11 on: May 10, 2011, 10:06:48 AM »
For wind instruments, the only time one would possibly use an octave sign would be for the flute/piccolo in a passage with a relentlessly high tessitura... and even then, most flutists prefer leger lines. Tubists also prefer leger lines.
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Mephisto

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Re: When to use 8va
« Reply #12 on: September 06, 2011, 06:44:50 PM »
Hey all, am a new member so i don't want to make my first post/impression sound "wrong", ill post about me later in the introduction section when i have time (have a lot of things happening at the moment). So...this is nothing related to the topic, its more of a notice/question from looking through the double bass - piano piece score. The question is: the 44 measure theme and so on...Paul Dukas The Sorcerer' s Apprentice? :)  I mean i never saw the original score of the piece and don't know if the exact same notes are used in the composition I mentioned, but to me it sounds relatively the same. Like i said just a friendly notice, no offence intended. :)

Ron

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Re: When to use 8va
« Reply #13 on: September 06, 2011, 07:36:35 PM »
It's a "approximation" of a passage from The Sorcerer's Apprentice.  I haven't seen the score that I recall, but, sometimes I do this sort of thing by inner ear so I can't guarantee the accuracy of it. It's just a dumb joke.
Ron
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Mephisto

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Re: When to use 8va
« Reply #14 on: September 07, 2011, 06:53:04 AM »
Well, doesn't really matter even though I'm pretty sure that's it up to a certain moment. Like i said it was just a notice. And i wouldn't call it a dumb joke.  :) Composers took stuff from each other ever since, and i personally think that is ok up to a certain level as long as the composer is aware of it. Also if a respected composer takes a theme from the other respected composer and uses it in his composition of any kind, in my honest opinion the other composer should take that as a compliment. I'm guessing that no explanation is needed for my last statement. :D