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12.8.4.7. Octave-Change Spanners ("8ve" Signs, "Ottava Brackets")

Musical Definition: In order to most conveniently notate over large ranges, composers and editors sometimes use text spanners to indicate that a passage should be played one or two octaves higher or lower than written. This allows the notes to stay mostly within the staff lines, thereby decreasing the number of ledger lines required.
LilyPond Notation: The \ottava command is used to notate all five states of transposition:
  • 15va (play two octaves higher than written) is engaged with \ottava #2
  • 8va (play one octave higher than written) is engaged with \ottava #1
  • loco (play in the octave written) is engaged with \ottava #0, which also cancels another sign.
  • 8vb (play one octave lower than written) is engaged with \ottava #-1
  • 15vb (play two octaves lower than written) is engaged with \ottava #-2