There are many common chord symbols and notation for musical ideas. If you want someone to play an A major chord, just an A denotes an A major chord. If you wanted someone to play an A minor chord, Am is the symbol you would use. If you want someone to play an A "power chord" , you would notate A5. The notation for music is very in extensive, but I do not know the standard notation for an A octave. Is there any notation for an octave besides the P8 used in interval notation? Is an octave uncommon enough to where there is no symbol for it?

EDIT: I don't think I was clear enough. Is there any notion for octaves that can be used on lead sheets? i.e. very simple notation that shows the note and the fact that only an octave is to be played. Does it exist?

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    Since I'm right here, I'm just going to comment that the only way I can think your interval could be notated in macroanalytical notation is if you wrote "A omit5|omit3". Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 13:50
  • @jjmusicnotes it may be the best way, but at that point I would rather have someone says it doesn't exist because it could then be any type of chord with everything omitted except an octave.
    – Dom
    Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 13:56
  • If everything is omitted, then it cannot be any type of chord, it would be the "everything is omitted except the root" chord. Also, your comment worries me as you appear to prefer to be fed misinformation or ignorance over truth and reason. Commented Jan 22, 2014 at 0:09
  • @jjmusicnotes But then you could do "Am omit5|omit3" or "Adim omit5|omit3" or "A+ omit5|omit3" or "A omit5|omit3". It would all mean the same and would vary based on context. For example in A minor you would probably want "Am omit5|omit3" and in A major you would want "A omit5|omit3". In my mind it would completely depend on the context of the key.
    – Dom
    Commented Jan 22, 2014 at 14:04
  • none of what you typed makes any musical or notational sense. You would never see those labels because it is the 3rd and/or 5th of the chord that define the quality of the chord. Commented Jan 22, 2014 at 22:48

4 Answers 4


If I understand correctly, you want a way to display a chord that is reduced to only the tonic (lower and 1 octave higher). According to this site; http://www.all-guitar-chords.com/lesson.php?id=245

They kind of call it (8). So I guess you could write A(8), but you should be careful to explain this this notation at the top of your sheet, just to be sure.

To be complete, this is the list this website uses:

Major 3rd: 1 - 3 - 5

Minor 3rd: 1 - b3 - 5

Augmented: 1 - 3 - #5

Diminished: 1 - b3 - b5

Sus2: 1 - 2 - 5

Sus4: 1 - 4 - 5

Major 7th: 1 - 3 - 5 - 7

(minor)7th: 1 - 3 - 5 - b7

Dim7: 1 - b3 - 5 - bb7

9th: 1 - 3 - 5 - b7 - 9

11th: 1 - 3 - 5 - b7 - 9 - 11

13th: 1 - 3 - 5 - b7 - 9 - 11 - 13

15th: 1 - 3 - 5 - b7 - 9 - 11 - 13 - 15

(5): 1 - 5

(8): 1 - 8

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    It would probably only be A8 (no parenthesis) since there already is an A5.
    – Dom
    Commented Jan 22, 2014 at 13:58

there is octave notation for just pitches. C4 being middle C. C5 an octave up, etc.

But if you're talking about chords, the Am could be any octave you want. And if you want specifically an octave to be played, as in an A arranged as an A3 and A4, I don't think there's a chord symbol for that other than writing octave, oct, etc.

Usually the chord states the bass and pitches to be used for harmony. It leaves the arrangement (octave, inversion, etc) up to you.

An octave is almost always just stating the bass. And usually your harmony is a little more robust than a single note. So although you're playing an octave bass, the chord for that beat or couple of beats, etc is usually 3 or 4 notes that make the whole phrase "fit". Probably you'll eventually find a 3rd, 5th, etc.


Oh hey, I just looked in my own little piano practice program.

I've got these chord types listed: 1+8, unison, and octave.

  • Just to be clear, both the question and this answer seem to be implying macroanalytical notation (what is used for chord spellings.) For specific pitch classes, different notation must be used. To Stephen: actually, instances where the bass is doubled at the octave are typically only used in strategic moments and so they actually make up a very small percentage of music. Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 6:15
  • That doesn't really relay to some musicians as an interval. Think of if we were to put the notation on a lead sheet.
    – Dom
    Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 13:41
  • @Dom - what doesn't really relay to musicians? Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 13:44
  • @jjmusicnotes the C4 to C5 as a simple notion for an interval. If someone was to write that it may seem like you are playing a C4 then a C5.
    – Dom
    Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 13:47
  • @Dom - I see, I was referring more to the use of "standard" 5-line notation when I made the comment about pitch class. Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 13:49

A few years ago, the '5' chord appeared. Previous to this, there was probably no such known name. After all, a power 'chord' is not a chord in everyone's eyes. Should a chord be made up using 3 or more notes ? (O.K., use 1- 5- 1 ). In the future, we may well see '8' chords shown.It starts here...


Chord names are not an exact science.

For instance Am could be played (in ascending notes) as A-C-E or A-E-C. As a keyboard player I am at liberty to choose what's handy.

Furthermore the 6th chord often has the 3rd and 5th included, eg Am6 could be A-C-E-F#.

But writing (eg) A8 would I think be clear. But also valid would be A -3 -5, the minuses have become an instruction to omit a pitch.

But as far as I am aware there is no way to denote "no other notes except the root". Perhaps A0 could be understood??!

  • 4
    Be careful with the minus sign. It usually means flatten, or 'minor'.Chord names SHOULD be an exact science, otherwise what is the point ? Ambiguity is no help when reading. I used to get tripped up with Cb9, or was it Cb9. O.K., context helped, but in the heat of the moment, it was 50/50.
    – Tim
    Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 14:33

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