Let's say I have a whole passage marked with 8va, like below:

excerpt of music under 8va, two notes circled

I want to play just the circled notes at their normal octave. Is there a way to denote this, instead of ending the 8va bracket and starting it again afterwards, which would be tiring if the passage with the 8va is long and I had to do this over and over again?

  • 15
    Since you're up in leger lines with those notes, why not just write them an octave lower than they are currently written? In this case move the G# to the second line from the bottom and the A to the second space, and then keep the 8va and they will be played at the correct pitches. Feb 26, 2016 at 16:37
  • I honestly believed the response to my comment would either be, "Of course I thought of that Todd but here's why that won't work for me", or possibly, "Ok now I will delete this question in shame for having not seen such a straighforward solution", which is why I only made it a comment in the first place. Now I'm curious as to whether it's really a workable solution for you to just write them an octave lower. Feb 26, 2016 at 21:00
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    That's ok! I was sort of joking about that. What don't you like about writing those notes an octave lower? I'm brainstorming but not coming up with much else that would work. Uhh.. you could change the clef real quick - maybe not to bass clef (too many leger lines) but like tenor or something. Feb 26, 2016 at 21:24
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    Just writing them an octave down will be the easiest for a performer to read. Anything else would be cumbersome. When I'm reading and I come across an 8va I go into "8va mode" and I just play an octave higher and my brain transposes automagically. If you break that for two notes it would really mess up my brain and I would have to stop in my sight reading. I can see how it will break the line that you have but it's the best way for the reader. Feb 26, 2016 at 21:29
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    @ToddWilcox - looked up 'automagically'. Couldn't find it and think it really should be in the dictionary!
    – Tim
    Feb 27, 2016 at 8:54

1 Answer 1


Just write them where they will be in 8va, as in an octave lower than they are right now. A reader will have more of a clue as to what's happening like that. So the G# will sit on the second line up, followed by the A on the second space up. Stems the other way - going up!


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