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What is 8va?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Bushfire, Oct 22, 2005.


  1. What does "8va" mean? I've just come across it in a piece of music, I'm assuming it means octave, but that's just a guess.

    Thanks,
    -Bernard.
     
  2. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I know! I know! !Yo se! !Yo se!

    8va means "octave," and when you see it on sheet music, you play up an octave or down an octave for the notes indicated under its bracket.
     
  3. Cheers mate, but how are you supposed to tell whether to go up or down? I mean, I know the piece of music means to go up in this example, but what If you're not familiar?
     
  4. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I believe that if it's written over the staff (and it usually is), it means go up an octave, and if it's written under the staff, go down an octave.
     
  5. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    8va means play an octave higher than written.
    8vb means play an octave lower than written.
     
  6. I think they're short for ottava alto and ottava basso, respectively, but 8va can also (confusingly) mean octave lower when written below the staff. An octave lower marking isn't something I'd expect to see on bass music. Also, a little eight connected to the top or the bottom of the clef has the same meaning. Almost all bass and guitar music really should have it, since we play an octave lower than written.
     
  7. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player

    And the word "loco" cancels the effect of an 8va/8vb mark. Does anybody know where this word come from? It doesn't seem to appear in books explaining standard musical terms.
     
  8. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    I'd imagine it's italian for 'at place'.
     
  9. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Thank you. I was trying so hard to remember what that was, and it's been so long since anyone wanted something played down an octave on sheet music that I drew a blank.
     
  10. kjones

    kjones Supporting Member

    Dec 4, 2004
    Maryland
    It could also mean, "Stop being crazy playing up that high."
     
  11. Bassist4Life

    Bassist4Life

    Dec 17, 2004
    Buffalo, NY
    Yup. This is correct. +1

    Joe
     
  12. Tash

    Tash

    Feb 13, 2005
    Bel Air Maryland
    I've also seen 16va used to indicate a two octave jump. It was in a Violin score written on treble cleff.
     
  13. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player

    As far as I understand, a two octave jump is indicated as "15ma" and "15mb", since 16 is equal to two octaves plus a second.
     
  14. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification

    Exactly right.
     
  15. Unchain

    Unchain I've seen footage.

    Jun 20, 2005
    Tucson, AZ
    You guys are too smart with your "music theory" and your "reading". :rolleyes:
     
  16. Yeah thanks guys. It wasn't on a piece of bass music, a piano piece.
     
  17. Hookus

    Hookus

    Oct 2, 2005
    Austin, TX
    Actually, correct me if I am wrong, but isn't all sheet music written for bass guitar technically an octave up? Most people just don't write the 8va, it is assumed.
     
  18. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    From sounding pitch, yes. But within the context of a chart, you'd write 8va/8vb. You don't need to write 8vb for a whole chart, and in fact shouldn't. Bass is considered a transposing instrument.




     
  19. That's a slightly confusing (to me) way to put it. It's all written "8va", you might say, but the proper marking to put there would be 8vb (or a little 8 dangling from the clef), to tell players to take it down an octave to the proper pitches.
     
  20. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player

    Writing "8va" or "8vb" is totally different to the little 8 dangling from the clef. The first ones are octave transposition marks which tell the player that he/she should play not the written notes, but an octave above or below, depending on the mark. The 8 below the clef is just a reminder about the fact that every note written in that staff is actually sounding one octave lower (which is the case for guitar, bass guitar and double bass). The player shouldn't play any different than he/she understands by direct reading. BTW (I think this has been said in a previous post) guitar, bass guitar and double bass should have the little 8 below the clef. I don't know why it is not used (maybe it is, but don't remember having seen it before). The only case I've seen it used (and very strictly) is in tenor (voice) sheets, which are mostly in treble clef, but the male voice sounds one octave lower than written in this clef.