6 Ledger lines and 8va

Even the use of different clefs is inadequate to indicate all the possible pitches a composer may want to use. Short lines are added above and below a staff to extend its range. These short lines are called ledger lines. Earlier we discussed middle C, which is one ledger line below the treble staff and one ledger line above the bass staff.

ledger lines 


Notice the incorrect notation of ledger lines in the following examples. There is an unneccessary line added for each of these notes.

incorrect notation of ledger lines


The range of the staff can be further extended with the octave sign 8va, indicating that the notes in the bracket are to be played an octave higher or lower. If the octave sign occurs above the treble clef, the notes sound one octave higher than written. If the octave sign is located below the bass clef, the notes are sounded one octave lower than written.

octave sign


  Ledger lines and 8va