# Are repeated octaves permissable in four-part SATB?

I am writing a four-part SATB (soprano, alto, tenor, bass) and wanted to know if repeated (that is, successive) octaves are permissible?

I know that parallel fifths/octaves are not allowed, but what about successive fifths and octaves?

• Do you mean repeating the same octave? Yes that's fine. May 3, 2013 at 14:13
• Great question -- my students got confused by this every year until I started putting it in bold type on the assignments. Use the term "oblique octaves" instead of successive, since that's a term others use to mean parallel. May 3, 2013 at 14:42
• @MichaelScottCuthbert I’ve started saying in class that we’re only concerned with parallel motion. If there’s no motion then there can’t be any errors. The only problem with the term “oblique octaves” is that, on its face, it isn’t possible. Oblique motion involves one voice holding or repeating while the other voice moves, so it always involves a change of interval. Maybe “repeated octaves” would underline the difference? I don’t know, no matter how I try to cover it, this is a perennial source of confusion for students. Jan 26, 2018 at 12:17
• "repeated octaves on the same pitch"? a mouthful, but I'm afraid that repeated octaves alone might mean "C-C to D-D" ("I repeated the use of octaves! Prof. Muchmore said it was okay!") you're totally right that oblique isn't the right work either. In my computer programming of music theory I use SIMILAR, CONTRARY, OBLIQUE, and NO_MOTION to distinguish the four kinds (with parallel a subset of similar). Jan 26, 2018 at 16:21