So, I am rereading the past things I did in a book that is for learning piano, it gives you an explanation for something or just something new and then it applies it with some sheet music for some song that you probably don't know. I want to focus on learning how to play by ear and am working on my pitch so I just went through out of boredom and for recapping purposes to give me some pointers I may have forgotten.

Anyway, it used 8va and 15ma at one point (I forgot what the song is called) and I assume that I did as it said and used the breaks to move an octave or two up or down. This made me realise that I always went to the fourth octave for my right hand and a bit of the third and fourth octaves to play at the start of most pieces if I wasn't given a direction to move or start elsewhere. This is probably because of middle c, but still, is this necessary? I get it if you're trying to play a specific song but what if I'm not? What if it's an unknown tune and I'm told to just play it on the spot? My teacher sometimes does this to give me an idea of what my homework is and give me tips on how to work on that piece.

If someone were to play piano using piano sheet music to play, which octave would they start playing the beginning on if the sheet music didn't specify? Would it be up to them if they wanted or would it always have to be the fourth and third octave?

  • 1
    Not sure what you're asking. Sheet music is explicit in terms of octave(s) to use. That's the purpose of the clefs — they fix the staff to specific notes in specific octaves.
    – Aaron
    Jul 25 at 0:23
  • Seems clear enough to stay open to me: OP just needs to know how to find the right octave to play in given sheet music.
    – user45266
    Jul 25 at 3:09
  • @Aaron I know this now thank you Jul 25 at 4:23
  • @user45266 I didn't realise before thank you, now I know Jul 25 at 4:24
  • OP has created a problem that doesn't exist.
    – Tim
    Jul 25 at 10:16

But the sheet music DOES specify! This is middle C. The one above the keyhole on a real piano, just about centre on an electric one. Frequency about 262Hz. This is the reference point from which 8va and 15ma are calculated.

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  • I kinda knew this in my head but it was just that for some reason I doubted it, I tend to do that. My biggest apologies, I'll follow my gut next time. Jul 25 at 4:30

If someone were to play piano using piano sheet music to play, which octave would they start playing the beginning on if the sheet music didn't specify?

The sheet music would specify; by using staff notation (with resultant clefs), it's impossible to have piano sheet music that doesn't explicitly make clear what octave you are to play in.

There are other notational systems that don't specify octave designation, but they're far less commonly used than standard staff notation. If you ever encounter notation like that, you either a) choose the octave(s) that fit best for your goals, or b) choose the octave(s) that you hear in the music you're mimicking.

  • 1
    This could be improved greatly with a mention of how to actually find the right octave, I wager.
    – user45266
    Jul 25 at 2:58
  • Oh I realise this now, sorry. I just got a little confused over nothing. I kinda thought this in my head but I doubted it for whatever reason. Jul 25 at 4:25

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