The musical symbol 8va is:
- an abbreviation of ottava, Italian for octave (otta is the Italian feminine of “eight”).
- a musical command indicating a note or series of notes will be played an octave higher than written on the staff. 8va makes it easier to notate and to read notes off the staff, which would otherwise have multiple ledger lines (see image).
8va can affect a single note, or it may span several measures. In the latter case, it stops at the word loco, or at the end of its dotted, horizontal line. If an entire staff is affected, a tiny 8 will be sitting atop the clef.