I have been transposing some voice + piano accompaniment music originally written for a mezzo-soprano or alto into a key for a tenor down (usually by a third or a fourth) and have found the resulting piano sheet music to look rather odd. I don't know how to play piano, but I imagine taking sheet music that already uses ledger lines below the staff and transposing it down by that much make it annoying to play, and in particular difficult to sightread. However, I'm not sure how or when it is appropriate to use ottava lines and clef changes, in a way which will feel natural for the pianist.
- Is there a general rule of thumb for when to use clef changes or ottava lines? Is there a maximum number of ledger lines, or a minimum number of notes within the staff or written without ledger lines? Would instances where a note is being played "in octaves" (i.e. F4 and F3 being played at the same time or within the same phrase) be exceptions to that rule of thumb?
- Should clef changes generally be reserved for full phrases/sections while ottava lines should be used for short sections within phrases?
- Would it be appropriate to use ottava lines for a short sequence repeated in increasing/decreasing octaves (i.e. an arpeggio across multiple octaves) if one or more of those repeats is entirely off the staff? Or would that be more confusing than helpful?
- When, if ever, is it appropriate to use ottava clefs? In particular, is it ever appropriate to write the right hand in the "vocal tenor clef" i.e. the treble clef down an octave?