A strange use of ottava symbols

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Martin
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A strange use of ottava symbols

Post by Martin » Fri Jul 13, 2018 6:36 pm

I'm sure many of us have come across the use of the "8va" ottava symbol in music to denote a passage which needs to be played an octave higher than it is written.

I recently cam across the following piece on the Boije Collection site, which makes no sense to me.

boije_1021.jpg


The 8va symbols are placed UNDER a chord. There is nothing to indicate which note in the chord it applies to. Should the whole chord be played an octave up, or just the bass? Or the top note? Is it an idiosyncratic way of marking an octave harmonic?.

None of these options seem to make any musical sense, so is it just a spectacular piece of drunken engraving?

I think if I decide to play this, I'm just going to play the notes as written anyway, but I just wondered if anyone has seen anything similar or is able to explain it.

The piece is Boije's own "In Memoriam Otto Hammerer", published in 1905 in the "Free Society for the Promotion of Good Guitar-Music" journal.

They didn't even spell his name right....

Martin.
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celestemcc
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Re: A strange use of ottava symbols

Post by celestemcc » Fri Jul 13, 2018 7:50 pm

Looked it up... wonder if it's an error in the typesetting (the typesetter was drunk? Or not a guitarist?). You're right, play it as written. Unless, on second thought: might it have been written for an 8 or 10 string guitar? 8va does mean octave higher, but it's almost like it's asking for the bass notes where the symbol appears to be 8vb (lower).

Yeah, just play it as written.
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soltirefa
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Re: A strange use of ottava symbols

Post by soltirefa » Fri Jul 13, 2018 8:00 pm

It means the lowest note in the chord is played an octave lower for a 10-string or the like. Not uncommon at all.

musikai
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Re: A strange use of ottava symbols

Post by musikai » Fri Jul 13, 2018 9:40 pm

8va stands for ottava. In older scores you play an octave higher if it's above the note or staff, an octave lower if it's below the note or staff. 8vb is a later invention.
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Stephen Kenyon
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Re: A strange use of ottava symbols

Post by Stephen Kenyon » Fri Jul 13, 2018 9:55 pm

Yes it is definitely the suggestion that if you have an extra string or two, you could play that the octave down - we might observe that if the octave lower the voice leading makes more sense. Is it a mid-late 19th century composer like Mertz or Coste?
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Re: A strange use of ottava symbols

Post by mainterm » Fri Jul 13, 2018 10:14 pm

quick note re notation conventions:

8va - when placed above the staff is an abbreviation of all' ottava and means to play the line an octave higher
8va - when placed beneath the staff is a shortening of "8va bassa" or ottava bassa which, you guessed it, means to play the line an octave lower

The term "loco" is meant to cancel the 8va in the absence of a line with bracket.

In the excerpt from OP, my interpretation would be to play the stems down note an octave lower where indicated and within the measure. The use of loco implies the need to cancel the 8va within the measure while the presence of 8va beneath the C in the first line and the absence of loco on the A and G strongly implies they should be played "loco" - at pitch.

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Martin
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Re: A strange use of ottava symbols

Post by Martin » Fri Jul 13, 2018 11:18 pm

Thanks everybody - it's making sense to me now. I've never seen 8va used to denote a lower note before, and would have expected 8vb. I didn't realise that was a relatively recent invention.

Stephen - the piece is actually composed by Carl Oscar Boije af Gennäs himself, and not just a piece he collected, although his name appears as "Boye" on the score, corrected by hand.

Thanks again

Martin
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