Octave labels: “8vb” instead of “8ba”?

I don’t know if this has been covered yet but I’m used to the labels “8vb” for “octave lower” and “15mb” for “two octaves lower” and the only options I see in Dorico are “8ba” and “15ma”, respectively. Is this not implemented (yet) or am I missing it somehow? Would you mind adding this in a future release?

I know that both “8vb” and “15mb” are used in some publications, but really these markings are incorrect: “8va” is a contraction of “ottava”, while “15ma” is a contraction of “quincidesima”, and of course they are also fully qualified as “ottava alta” or “quindicesima alta”. To differentiate “ottava bassa” or “quindicesima bassa”, it is most correct to write e.g. “8ba”, where “ba” is the beginning of “bassa”.

I’m not sure where the “8vb” and “15vb” markings originated from, but I’m pretty sure (which is not to say that I am completely sure, of course, as it’s difficult to research this exhaustively) that they might have been introduced by mistake, probably relatively recently. At the moment we don’t have any plans to introduce these “wrong” markings.

I believe some ignorant fellow misinterpreted 8va as a contraction of “octave above” and decided to use 8vb for “octave below”.

I agree that it’s wrong, BUT if it’s asked for by a publishing house (in order to match existing publications) then it’s a stupid reason not to be able to prepare a work in Dorico. I wonder if it might be possible to have a custom text option for octave lines, just as we already have for pedal markings?

Please tell that to clients who tell their note-writing-guy to do it anyway…

To be honest, this mindset of “we know what’s right and won’t implement anything else” really bothers me. I am on a Finale forum, where about 80% of requests are “how can I create the strange things my client wants me to do” and 100% of them I feel will never be possible in Dorico, because “it’s not the correct way to do stuff”. I would really love to see it being recognized by the creators of Dorico that many of your customers simply have to fulfill the needs of their customers.

The German Wikipedia page on the topic describes 8vb as being “common by now”.
The OnMusic Dictionary calls it “a relatively new indication and is used in the modern music notation computer programs to replace the traditional 8va bassa, 8a b and simply 8°.”

So, please add it. Many things in history have started as being a (small) error and have become common over time.

Thanks for your reply, Daniel. I can’t say that I’m the most experienced guy with these markings but so far I’ve only come across “8vb”, never seen “8ba” before. Also – and I know that Wikipedia isn’t usually considered as credible source – some quick internet search for these spellings bring up a couple of results, Wikipedia entries among them. So, this spelling doesn’t seem to be totally unusual.

Well, if we were going this route then we might as well repeal the use of “h” for the note name “b” in German notation. :wink:

It might be “wrong” but as pianoleo stated it might be requested. And since it is used in some publications it would be kind of arrogant to prevent it in Dorico.

I read that 8va stands for ‘All ottava alta’ and 8vb for ‘All ottava bassa’, in which case it makes sense. I would also agree that it might be useful to have it as an option at least.

In Dorico 1.2 is: 8va/8vb and 15ma/15mb , and it is so correct. So where is the problem?
8ba: I’ve never seen that.
otta is the Italian feminine of “eight”.
8va = otta-Va-Alta,

Sorry, Piano-EK, are you saying that 8vb and 15mb have already been made possible in Dorico?

I confess I’m not at home so can’t check!

Then tell me, please, how/where to set this. If I go to Engrave Mode and check Octave Lines I don’t see any such setting.

Sorry, now I’ve also noticed it.
8va is ok.
8vb is wrong (8ba) in score.
See attachment.

There was a long discussion on this before. 8vb is by far the most common, IMVHO the most easily parsable, and the most related to 8va.
8va and 8ba make little sense as abbreviations as they’re inconsistent.

In pop music perhaps. Not in classical music - bear in mind publishers have back-catalogues that go back multiple decades, and in some cases, centuries.

For me, even in classical music. The most common that I can see is 8ve with the line below or just 8, with the context making the ‘basso’ obvious.

I must have led a highly protected life, because I have never seen 8vb or 8ba in a score. Indeed, the latter seems to me to be of doubtful legitimacy as a suitable Italian shortcut.

As I have always understood it, 8va is short for “ottava”, and is used to mean “an octave higher”, whereas “an octave lower” has traditionally been indicated by 8va bassa or 8va sotto.


From the book Music Notation by Mark McGrain, published by Berklee Press (Berklee College of Music), in print since at least 1986, page 137:

“The abbreviation “8va. bassa” or “8vb.”, placed below the staff indicates that the passage is to sound one octave lower than written.”

Given Berklee’s worldwide influence in the fields of jazz, commercial music, TV and film music, and popular music, I think it’s a mistake to dismiss 8vb as incorrect or “wrong”. Please at least offer it as an option in Dorico.

I grew up with the same convention Steve did, where the position of the line dictated whether to transpose up or down.

I just looked through the characters in the Bravura Text font and there are even characters with 8vb (U+E51C) and 15mb (U+E51D), and even 22mb, so I guess the implementation of such a setting should be fairly simple. I really hope this will be implemented.


I don’t think I’ve seen anything OTHER than 8vb and 15mb my entire professional life. I’ve certainly been using those expressions and have never had a musician storm out of the studio.

I agree that given the popularity of these terms they should be supported.

Given the multiple conventions in widespread use for this abbreviation, I agree that it seems unnecessarily reductive to designate one as the only correct one. As has been noted above (and in other topics too), some of us report to supervising editors who have defined a specific style book for all projects, and I know that from time to time over the years I have had to format a score in a way that would not have been my personal preference.

I would hope ultimately for a choice of alternatives to be available.