What is a treble clef with 8 in parentheses used for?

Treble with 8 written under

My software (MuseScore 3.x) ignores it (as if it were a treble without any 8). What is the point of this clef? Is it for transposing instruments? Or for repetitions (once with, once without)?
I haven't found any information by searching on engines or this site.


2 Answers 2


This notation is used when a part can be played both in the notated octave and an octave lower. Typical use cases are vocal scores, or scores where a melody can be played both with a soprano as well with a tenor instrument. It is still a rather uncommon notation, similar to how the regular ottava markings for clefs are often omitted, simply for the fact that they are expected to be there on tenor instruments anyway, so there is no real reason to write them (similar to how double bass instruments tend not to have an octavation marking.

  • So, transposing instruments? And I got it that, perhaps, it is best to notate using this clef when TWO instruments playing same notes at different octaves.
    – Feliks_WR
    Nov 24, 2021 at 10:52
  • which instruments are you thinking of specifically? Nov 26, 2021 at 0:28
  • @Feliks_WR Possible example: You could have an opera where a part can be played by a Heckelphone, or (if not available) by a regular oboe an octave higher.
    – Lazy
    Nov 26, 2021 at 13:34
  • @Lazy you are right! I think that at a large concert, a heckelphone might be availsble, but otherwise, I haven't even heard of it!
    – Feliks_WR
    Nov 28, 2021 at 8:19
  • @Feliks_WR This is something you get in Strauss operas. He used the Heckelphone quite often, but then not every orchestra has access to heckelphones.
    – Lazy
    Nov 28, 2021 at 9:14

This is used in vocal music where the line can be sung either at normal treble-clef pitch (usually by a soprano), or at a pitch an octave below that (usually by a tenor or baritone).

It's very often used in vocal music with a single melody line to indicate that everyone sings that line, whether their voice has broken or not, at the pitch appropriate for them.

  • couldn't understand the exact meaning of "Broken"; plus do you mean by "pitch appropriate", that it is possible to sing, for e. g. C#3 instead of E4? Or just E3 instead of E4 (octave down)?
    – Feliks_WR
    Nov 24, 2021 at 10:48
  • 1
    It is an answer. Breaking voices is a physiological effect of puberty in males. Perhaps "at the pitch appropriate for them" could have been "at the pitch which is appropriate for them", and of course it doesn't mean substituting a different note than the one written; merely a different pitch of that note, like E3 and E4. Nov 24, 2021 at 12:40

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.