I'm struggling to make a simple passage I've written look and feel 'comfortable'. The left hand is 'travelling' across the piano. Which of these are more readable? My instinct says to stick with the first, but the number of ledger lines is quite extreme... I could use some advice.
Also, is there another option I am not considering that would be better?

(I edited the third one following a suggestion from comments)

(Also, sorry that I realize now that this question may be somewhat opinion-based; though a general consensus is also an answer in my opinion)

excerpt with lots of leger lines above bass clef

excerpt with clef change in lower staff

excerpt with voice changing staff

excerpt with 8va above bass clef

In the end, I am going for the following solution, thanks for all answers/comments. They were all insightful.

chosen final solution

  • 2
    Personally, I find the third one easiest to read, but that's just my opinion.
    – user87626
    Commented Aug 8, 2022 at 10:26
  • For the third option: all notes in the upper voice should have their stems pointing upward Commented Aug 8, 2022 at 11:33
  • Indeed @ElementsinSpace. Thank you. I edited it accordingly in the question itself
    – Stevo
    Commented Aug 8, 2022 at 11:45
  • 1
    When you play this are you actually crossing your hands in bar two? Commented Aug 8, 2022 at 13:13
  • Also, what is your right hand doing with the C5 when the left hands gets to the same C5 - second eighth note of beat 4, bar 1? Are you using the sustain pedal anywhere? Commented Aug 8, 2022 at 13:41

3 Answers 3

  • The first option is bad, because 6 leger lines above bass clef is too many.

  • The forth option is also bad, because generally there shouldn't be an 8va above bass clef.

  • The second option is fine, if you really want the hands to cross over.

  • The third option is a bit problematic because the voices cross, and so the stems and rests are colliding. If you swap the voices over in the second bar it's much clearer to read:
    excerpt with voices clearly separated
    However, this looks like the top note is to be played with the right hand. If that isn't your intention you could move the rests out of the way, like this: excerpt with rest moved out of the way
    ... but this is very confusing to read at a glance.
    So it is better to swap the voices over (flip the stems) and mark that top note with LH (or m.s. in Italian):
    excerpt with voices clearly separated and m.s.

In your comment you mention that you want the highest F to be common for both voices, so that will actually look a little different (though it should sound the same):
excerpt with unison note

  • Thank you! Could you please explain what you mean with 'if you really want the hands to crossover like that'. Is putting the treble clef insinuating the hand that should play it? The way I play it myself is visible if you look at which stems point upwards/downwards in my 3rd option. Your notation is very readable, thank you. The highest F is common to both 'left' and 'right hand' voice, so i'm fine either way. I have an objection with the 2 last notes (C-D) however, that for me are clearly part of the 'right hand voice'.
    – Stevo
    Commented Aug 8, 2022 at 12:26
  • @Stevo For the second option in the question, the lower staff (regardless of clef) is played with the left hand, and the upper staff by the right hand. In the second bar, the left hand has to reach over the right hand to reach the top F - it has to cross over. Commented Aug 8, 2022 at 12:36
  • I really like your 'common F' last solution. It conveys that the F is part of both voices. In fact, if you don't make it augmented (as i explained in a comment above, it was my intention to make it last until the C-D) then We could even use the same note, with 2 stems pointing up and down. Possibly the cleanest solution in the end...
    – Stevo
    Commented Aug 8, 2022 at 15:54
  • I edited the question by adding the final result as I explained in my previous comment. One final question: Does this give full freedom to the player regarding which hand they use for the F? I'm fine with that!
    – Stevo
    Commented Aug 8, 2022 at 16:05
  • @Stevo Using the shared notehead in your final result does look nice. I'm sure a pianist will prefer to play the highest F with their right hand though, because it is more comfortable. Commented Aug 8, 2022 at 16:29

After reading your comments I feel like all your examples aren't really conveying what you are doing, including a "unison" for the F5, and if there is only rest for the final C5 D5, then technically there isn't any crossed hands.

This seems to be what you have described...

enter image description here

...and there is no reason to cross hands, not unless the C5 D5 is the beginning of some line that will be above the left hand. But even so, when you say "the left hands lets go of the F for the C-D notes", there actually won't be two hands to cross. It could be something like this...

enter image description here

  • This answer conveys a correct message and I upvoted for its simplicity. Thanks! I however prefer the result I edited in my question, based on ElementsInSpace's answer. It is more readable (personal opinion, but seems to be a consensus as well) and shows the left hand 'travelling' across, which is exactly what I want to convey.
    – Stevo
    Commented Aug 8, 2022 at 16:12

I have looked carefully in all of your choices and for me the third one seemed to be the best. It looks more comfortable, and easier to read than the first one. All of them are good but in my opinion the third one is better than the rest.

  • I have the feeling this is a bit un-motivated to be a proper answer and looks more like a comment.
    – Tom
    Commented Aug 8, 2022 at 12:36

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