8va 8vb please

• Oct 27, 2019 - 19:26

applied 8va.jpg to a range of notes, a quick advise , please


The va after the 8 is Italian for the th on English 8va is 8th, that a doesn't stand for alta and so 8vb doesn't mean anything, the b doesn't stand for bassa.
But that notation is still used, sort of a historical error, so the corresponding glyphs exist and can get used.
You get them by unticking the 'Numbers only' property of the ottava in Inspector, which changes the glyphs to


The former gives 8va the latter 8ba (and no need for you to 'manually intervene). If you really want 8vb, use


Here indeed this needs to be done manually.

In reply to by mike320

...8vb is still used and understood by all musicians.

I agree.
Could also be a geographical/temporal element to 8vb. I know that's what I saw when I was taking (guitar) lessons mid-century past. :-)

FWIW: Also, back then, I never saw the 8va bassa treble staff. Solo guitar improv. often requires octave transposition 'on the fly' - especially when reading lead sheets - so as to place the melody on the upper 3 strings, thus freeing the lower strings for simultaneous bass and harmony accompaniment. (So, liberties are often taken with what's strictly notated.)


Bump and second that. Plain 8 is just confusing in certain cases no matter whatever some engraving guru is saying. Also a problem is that the dashed line is in both cases in the middle of the 8. If the notation is tight it isn't clear if the staff above is suppose to be an octave lower or the staff below an octave higher...
It needs both 8va and dashed line in the cap height and either 8vb or 8ba, doesnt matter, but dashed line in baseline.

In reply to by tomalakis

Actually, as the old TV show said, 8 is enough - it's the standard used by many publishers and is completely unambiguous and is what is recommend by engraving guru Elaine Gould in "Behind Bars". But indeed, if you wish to add the extra letters, use the Inspector - uncheck the "Numbers only" box, then hit "Set as style".

I'm not understanding your point about dashes, the default is already dashed, with hook pointing toward the staff, again, exactly as in the more or less universal standard used by most publishers.

Sounds like maybe somehow you have added the wrong line, or added it incorrectly, so feel free to attach an example if something is seeming off.

In reply to by tomalakis

MuseScore actually makes it quite easy for you to achieve what you want, even if it is non-standard. Follow the changed elements shown in red below, and click the S (Style) button in each case:

8va alta.png

"... [I] really have to wonder what an "engraving guru" someone has to be"

Just read the press reviews about Elaine Gould's "Behind Bars". For example...

a) an extract from comments by Lawrence Halverson, Ensemble Librarian of The Juilliard School of Music:
"This book is surely to become THE book on music notation. . . The author, Elaine Gould spent over 20 years writing this book and it is the culmination of her professional life as copyist and editor at Faber Music. This book should be on the shelf of every composer and copyist. Librarians can use it to show composers and publishers how things should appear on the page."

b) an extract from a 5-star review by Ivan Hewett in BBC Music Magazine, March 2011:
"In sheer practical terms, this book’s authority is unarguable. It’s surely destined to join those other perennial guides to good practice, like Fowler’s Modern English Usage. But like them, this book offers something more than utility. As you turn the pages, the tiny practical details compose themselves into something majestic. Notation, like language, embodies a 'wisdom of the ages'. It is a mysterious compound of practical usefulness, logical consistency and odd conventions, which can embrace many innovations without losing its essence. The fact that this quality emerges so vividly is a tribute to the author. It is truly a mighty labour Gould has accomplished, which as well as the patience of Job and a taxonomist’s orderly mind also reveals a humane good sense."

In reply to by tomalakis

And just to round off this discussion, here are the settings for the 8vb setting which is still popular with some people.

8vb Settings.png

If you use this 8vb style all the time, you can set up an ottava bassa line on a sample score just how you want it - and then Ctrl+Shift+Drag the symbol to your Lines palette for future use. MuseScore makes it easy!

In reply to by tomalakis

I see what you mean about that unusual special case where the systems are cramped and the line is half way between them,. Under normal circumstances, it would be much more visually obvious which staff the line is connected to based on sheer proximity. Plus of course the end hook removes all doubt no matter what. So my first advice is to adjust the position in these unusual special cases to make it clearer.

That said, I also see what you mean about the position of the line relative to the number, and the previous suggestion shows how to adjust that. You can then Ctrl+Shift+drag the customized line back to your palette for easy reuse.

I would still say, it's best to follow the recommended standards and not add the "va" and definitely not "vb" since that is not the correct abbreviation anyhow. They really don't add value, and just take space. But there is obviously historical precedent for them, so if you are trying to emulate the look of a historic score, then by all means, make that customization as well.

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