In piano music sometimes there is a section that is repeated, and on the repeat one (or both) hands are to play an octave up (or down).

I've seen this notated in English in the following form:

2nd time RH 8va

  • But is there similar notation in the common music language Italian?

I imagine it might be rendered as something like:

V2 m.d. 8va (Volta seconda mano destra all'ottava)

But this is just a guess, is this good music-Italian?

When it's for both hands, such as:

2nd time play both hands 8va

I'm tempted to write something like:

V2 e.m. 8va (Volta seconda entrambe le mani all'ottava)

Again this is just a guess, as I don't speak Italian.

  • Are there examples of this sort of notation in the repertoire?

  • Is there another way to notate that on the repeat, the notes for one (or both) hands are to be played an octave up (or down)?


I've found a similar notation in Bartók's Mikrokosmos, No. 113:

Bartók's Mikrokosmos No. 113 m. 4, showing "la IIa volta ..." notation

Here, the following is used to show a change of dynamic on the repeat:

la IIa volta meno f

This seems to generally agree with both both @AakashM's and @Old_Brixtonian's answers (below). Though notably it uses a capital roman numeral to abbreviate seconda.

The Dolmetsch dictionary entry for IIda agrees with @AakashM's ordinal abbreviation of IIda rather than Bartók's IIa.

However, I am still not sure how best to indicate which hand/hands the notation is applying to.

  • Should I put the marking over each staff that it applies to?
    This would make hand indication superfluous, but an 8va over a bass clef seems kinda yuk.

  • Or should I use m.d/m.s. and possibly e.m. or d.m.?
    This would make it unambiguous as to whether it applies to one hand or both. But perhaps I shouldn't abbreviate entrambe le mani / le due mani?

I would find it helpful to see a score that uses this (or similar notation) for a change of octave on a repeat.

  • Some adjectives (usually) precede the noun, including prima, seconda, etc. We don't speak after all of a donna prima. For both hands, the traditional approach in the absence of repeats is to indicate 8va separately on each staff. I'm not sure how helpful that is here.
    – phoog
    Commented Jun 22, 2022 at 13:26
  • @phoog Okay, good point about the word order (I don't know why I messed that up). Placing an 8va above a bass clef staff seem ugly though. Commented Jun 22, 2022 at 14:01
  • 1
    I most commonly see this kind of "2nd time 8va" notation in ragtime music. ...Guess that's why we don't tend to see this instruction in Italian.
    – Dekkadeci
    Commented Jun 22, 2022 at 16:08
  • @phoog I think I got the word order the wrong way around because I was following the pattern of "Tempo primo". Commented Jun 23, 2022 at 5:40
  • Related: Octave changes on 2nd time Commented Aug 7, 2022 at 14:19

2 Answers 2


If your score strictly separates the hand's activities between the staves, as piano music tends to, then a simple 2da volta 8va above the top staff should suffice, to my mind.

2da being short for seconda, since volta is feminine; also note that second- goes before the noun, to mean 'second'

  • I don't really understand the first half of your sentence, can you reword it to make it more clear please? Also, are you saying that 2da volta 8va above the top staff would/should be interpreted as applying to both staves? Commented Jun 27, 2022 at 21:14
  • I meant that usually in piano music the right hand plays the notes on the top staff and the left hand plays the notes on the bottom staff. Given that you want to raise both hands the second time, I'd say you also want some wording for 'both hands', as in Old Brixtonian's answer, as normally 8va would only apply to the staff it's written for.
    – AakashM
    Commented Jun 28, 2022 at 7:51
  • Ah right, yeah the right hand is in the top staff and the left hand is in the bottom staff. Commented Jun 28, 2022 at 8:00

In proper Italian it would be

la seconda volta entrambe le mani un'ottava più alta

But entrambe -"both" - might confuse people: it's rarely seen in music. So

la seconda volta le due mani un'ottava più alta

might be safer.

Do you need to bother with that verbiage though? It would be much simpler to say,

2nd x both hands 8va.

  • I'll definitely be abbreviating it as much as possible: la IIda volta e.m. 8va or la IIda volta d.m. 8va both seems reasonable, but I was hoping there would be a standard. Commented Jun 26, 2022 at 16:18

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