Correct Piano notation

I tried a search for ‘Music Notation Forums’ because I feel bad posting this stuff here. Didn’t find much, if anyone knows an active one, link me and I’ll stop posting these here. I just asked two pros I know and got two different answers

I lifted a simple piano comping part, shown in Figure 1. It’s easy to play as the right hand voicings are all close. Then I realized that maybe I should break it out.

Is Figure 2 acceptable to a piano player? Easy to read even though the ‘top’ three notes are all in the right hand? Those 10th gaps are okay? What about bar 3? Do I stick to convention and put the ‘C’ in the bottom of the Gsus chord down on the LH staff as well?

Or… bump the notes in Example 1 up an 8ve and somehow put an 8vb in there? Thus avoiding all those ledger lines?

Thanks for any guidance

I’m a pianist. The first picture is the way I’d prefer it.


I second that.
pianists are used to reading ledger lines between staves.

and from an engraving standpoint, the use of 8b between the staves is an error.

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Excellent, I figured as much. Thanks very much for the quick replies.

I echo what has already been said, and only wish to add that, while the second option would technically be fine for organ, having much more than a ninth in one hand is a literal stretch for many players. I know of one professional pianist with small hands who can barely reach the octave. He’s the extreme the other way (poor chap) but point being, many people would otherwise look at the 10th on the first beat and instinctually have to move the tenor voice up to the right hand anyway.


Yep this is exactly what I was wondering about. The part is so obviously a LH bass note and close triads in the RH. Just needed to hear from you pros that those ledger lines are okay for reading.

Much appreciated as always

There is also always the option of putting the right hand part in base clef as well and just having two base clef staves: one with the chord and the other with the bass note. Solves your ledger line problem. No doubt there will be some people who wouldn’t care for it, but it certainly wouldn’t bother me to see to bass staves.

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Feel free to post these types of questions here @mset — and sometimes there is a “Dorico” way to do things which you probably will not get in a reply if you post to a general music forum elsewhere. There are many players of various instruments helpfully replying here and specialists in music layout and publishing.


Sincerely appreciate this. I feel badly sometimes, posting questions like this, but the community here is absolutely the best. Couldn’t have got through my current project without your help

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@mset There are no stupid questions!


And to answer your question re good sites for notation techniques and good practice, do try

You’ll find some excellent people there who are also active here, such as John Ruggero and Fred G. Unn. Lots of philosophy on notation and historical musings /rants.