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Example: Tones c '' 'and d' '' in three different representations through single and double octaving

The octave in music is the displacement of a tone by an octave . It is the simplest form of transposition .

From a physical point of view, when octaving upwards ( high octave ) the frequency of the tone is doubled , when octaving down ( low octave ) it is halved . (This applies to all common tunings.)

Octavings are indicated in the notation by a small, italic 8 or the symbol 8 va (= otta va , Italian for octave). If these characters are notated above the note or the system, they indicate an offset of one octave upwards, and one octave downwards below. In the case of longer octaved passages, this symbol is followed by a dashed line, which indicates all notes concerned. An upward octave was previously explicitly notated by 8 va alta ( ottava alta , ottava sopra ), and a downward octave by 8 va bassa ( ottava bassa , ottava sotto ). Today 8 a b is still used occasionally . used or the actually incorrect, but now common in more modern scores 8 vb as a short notation for deep octaves. The 8 results from the fact that an octave is spaced seven tone steps of a diatonic ( heptatonic ) scale , whereby the starting tone is counted first and the octave tone is the eighth, Latin octavus (e.g. c, d, e, f , g, a, h, c ').

It is also much rarer to find an italic 15 or 15 ma = quindicesima , which indicates the shift by two octaves (rarely also called double octave ). The 15 results from the fifteen tones that form two octaves (starting tone plus 14 tone steps).

The cancellation of the octave can be indicated by the instruction loco (= Latin / Italian "in its place"), with which other styles of playing in violin literature such as sul G (= "to play on the G string") or 4 me corde (= "to play on the 4th string").

Whether the octaved notes are ultimately written out (with a correspondingly large number of auxiliary lines) or simplified with 8 va or 8 vb depends very much on the instrument used. Particularly high notes in the violins (which especially from the late romantic / modern period also sometimes play up to the 4-bowed octave) are often not marked with 8 va , as violinists are used to reading many auxiliary lines. It is similar z. B. also with very low notes of the contrabass (bass) tuba or (non-sounding notated) bass clarinet. For the piano z. B. however, these characters are often used. Furthermore, many other instruments such as the piccolo, celesta, glockenspiel, double bass or double bassoon do not use any of the above characters at all, as they sound automatically transposed by an octave (up or down depending on the instrument).


Abbreviations :

  • coll'ottava (abbreviation coll 8 va , co): playing with doubling the octave
  • all'ottava: play one octave higher or lower than notated

See also