I am trying to learn Chopin's Op10 no5 ("black keys") [I know it is too advanced for me, but I just enjoy the piece].

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  • The 8--- notation in the first measure of the attached, I believe means play the relevant notes an octave higher? If so, does it only apply to the final b?
  • The second measure, do I actually play those notes as written on the staff? I ask this because when I see any performances of this piece e.g. on YouTube, they are playing the notes an octave lower??

I usually just play the first measure as written and have been putting the final b in measure one an octave higher and then playing the second measure as written, but am not sure if that is correct, looking at YouTube performances.


  • haha 6 flats -- just detune the piano and use the white keys :-) . //this is purely a joke; all performers on transposed instruments will understand. Aug 24, 2020 at 12:53
  • piano scores makes my eyes hurt, golly look at all those NOTES )-;;
    – Neil Meyer
    Aug 24, 2020 at 20:01
  • @NeilMeyer you should look at the parts for any instrument in Paganninni, Stravinsky, Zappa, Miles Davis, ... . Aug 25, 2020 at 15:24
  • Are you sure the YouTube performances of this etude play the second measure one octave lower than written, left hand and all? I find this dubious given my memory of the recordings of this piece I recall, which play the second measure as written.
    – Dekkadeci
    Feb 4, 2021 at 13:45

1 Answer 1


8, or 8va means, as you say, play one octave higher than written. It saves all those ledger lines. It starts its effect on the first note and goes for all twelve. The 2nd note in the 2nd bar is exactly the same B♭ as the last note in the first bar.

All the notes in bar 2 are played as is. No octave move for any. And - it's only the right hand notes that are affected by the 8.

As pointed out by Aaron, the effect starts at the figure 8, and continues through until the end of the dotted line, in all music - for this section, bar 1.

  • 5
    More specifically, the marking remains in effect for the duration of the dotted line.
    – Aaron
    Aug 23, 2020 at 7:39

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