Ledger Lines

You may have noticed that these poor 5 lines of the staff are not able to represent the full range of notes that exist in the octaves. Therefore, we also use ledger lines.

These lines are nothing more than the continuation of the staff; they are used to represent notes that go beyond lower and upper limits. See the example:

Example of ledger lines

ledger lines examples

When you see these little dots, try to imagine the figure below. Keep counting the notes the same way you did on the staff: each space or line is a different note.

different note

There is yet another resource for representing notes in very high or very low octaves. It is the “8v” symbol. In sheet music it looks like this:

octaves notationIn this score, the 8v symbol was accompanied by the letter “a”, which means “above”. Interpretation is not difficult: the highlighted section (F, G, F) must be played one octave above the position on the staff. If the idea is to play an octave below, the letter used is 8vb.

Great, so far you have been introduced to three resources that record the notes and their octaves: the clefs, the ledger lines and the “8v” symbol. On the piano, there is no rule about when to use one or the other. They are used at the discretion of the musician, since they produce identical effects. See the example below:

octave lines

Note: Although there are no rules, it is always convenient to write in the “simplest” way possible, after all, sheet music exists to help musicians, not to complicate their lives.

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