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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello dear keyboard players!

How many ledger lines do you accept to read before you prefer an ottava sopra or bassa? I'm typing a score that nearly encompasses the piano's range and feel the original pretty illegible.

This seems to depend on the instrument. One flautist tells "do use ledger lines, we're used to them, no ottava sopra at all please" despite they need 5 ledger lines for the C and the instrument can play higher, like F. Bur violinists happily read ottava sopra above the 3rd ledger line more or less, as they need 8va and even 15a anyway since the instrument reaches more than an octave higher than the flute.

So what about you keyboard players?

And: are you used to the octaviating clefs? Treble clef with an 8 on top, bass clef with an 8 below. They spare the dotted lines over the notes. I feel piano scores are already overloaded.

Thanks!
 

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When the music gets so high that a player has to stop and count ledger lines it's time for the 8va-------- to come out. The octaviating clefs are useful for vocal work, but I'd skip them for keyboard writing. As a player I vastly prefer the dotted lines.
 
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Octave clefs are best avoided for keyboards, I've never seen them for piano music and wouldn't advise using them. Theoretically speaking however, I can't see why they couldn't be used so long as they are used for a prolonged period and are clearly marked, perhaps with a cautionary note to highlight their use as that little 8 can be missed.
When I write out music, if the dots are beyond perhaps a high 4 ledger line G for a good number of bars, I'll use the 8va, likewise if the bass gets below 3 ledger G for a prolonged period then I will also revert to 8va signs, but ymmv and the circumstances of the music might dictate otherwise. Clarity is of the essence in these matters.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I heard you!

The 8 above or under the clef are so tiny anyway. I didn't find how to magnify them. As users say: Lilypond can do everything - but how?

So I use 8va----- and 8vb----- and try to make sensible choices, accepting around 4 ledger lines before ottavating.

Many thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
The result is there, following your advice as far as I could
talkclassical
Exceptionally, a plain violinist wrote a piano score that is very nice and brings a lot to the piece.
 

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As to ledger lines, what bothers me the most is when a composer and/or arranger will insert the Alto clef smack dab in the middle of a section of Treble clef ... to save one or two ledger lines? I don't read Alto clef - never had the need for it. Some of my Brahms organ pieces are like that.
 

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As to ledger lines, what bothers me the most is when a composer and/or arranger will insert the Alto clef smack dab in the middle of a section of Treble clef ... to save one or two ledger lines? I don't read Alto clef - never had the need for it. Some of my Brahms organ pieces are like that.
I've got a second-hand copy of the breitkopf edition of Brahms' organ works, and it's full of paper cutouts with handwritten lines of music in treble and bass keys, pasted over the original alto clef passages. So yes, I think every organist will agree that this is extremely annoying. Same with the old Bach edition, plenty of alto and tenor clefs. Even octaviating clefs would be better, since organists are used to play passages an octave higher or lower than notated, depending on the registration.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
That must be a matter of habits and uses. I played Saint-Saëns' Swan on the bassoon, from a cello score. Some arranger had suppressed the tenor clef and rewritten everything in bass and treble clefs. The result was seriously annoying.

Not only did the score use the clefs at heights unusual on the bassoon, where the tenor clef fits the tenor register nicely. As the bass and treble clefs lack overlap, the legitimate need to keep the same clef for some duration let use many ledger lines. Despite being initially a violinist, I say as all bassoonists do, "Don't use the treble clef where the tenor clef fits".

Or in fact, legitimate uses for the treble clef are not common on the bassoon, which has less range than the cello. A conventional limit for the bassoon is F on the upper line with the treble clef, still well readable with four ledger lines and the tenor clef, and as soon as the music leaves this upper limit, the tenor clef is more comfortable.
 
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