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Can any one please explain what is an accidental note.? Do they have any rules to play accidental notes in a scale? I only have just basic knowledge in keyboard.

Thank you..... :)

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

To understand what an accidental is, you must first understand what a key signature is.

That is answered at: What is a key signature?

.. but briefly, a key signature is a set of markings telling you which notes to always play as sharps or flats. For example, the key signature for F major consists of a ♭ in the B position, meaning "Whenever a B appears in this score, play B♭".

An accidental points out a note which is an exception to the key signature. It is a note with a ♯, ♮, ♭ next to it, to say "although the key signature says otherwise, for this bar only, play it like this".

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Accidentals are notes which don't usually occur in the key the piece of music is in.

For instance, if you're playing a piece in C major and there's a B flat, then this is an accidental note since B flat isn't in the scale of C major.

Accidentals are easy to spot in notation since they'll always have a sharp ♯, natural ♮, or flat ♭ sign in front of them.

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yes, also, dont think that because its an accidental it means that its an accident. they are very deliberate – Finbar Maginn Apr 18 '13 at 13:33

Don't forget also the (x) and the (bb). Double sharps and double flats occasionally need to be used, to sharpen an already sharp (as in the written key signature) note, and vice versa.E.g. in Db, there is already a Bb in the key sig.If one wanted to write a chord of Gbm; the third, normally a Bb, would need to be flattened again.Thus it is written as Bbb or B double flat.Yes I know lots of guitarists in particular would call it an A !!! But technically it must be called a B note of some sort - hence Bbb. These, I suppose, are actually the only accidentals that never get used as anything else.

Also, don't forget that after the next bar line following an accidental, all accidentals from the previous bar are cancelled.It really bugs me that so many pieces of music put the cancelling natural, for example, in the next bar.Totally pointless, yet seen in lots of piano exam pieces, especially at lower grades. All it does is add extra superfluous marks to distract the player.

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You're right that the cancelling natural isn't necessary, but many scores include them for clarification so there's no ambiguity about whether the note is natural or not. This also occurs on accidentals in different octaves in the same bar - if a C in one octave is sharpened, then there's usually a natural sign on a C in another octave to clarify what the composer means. – whostolemyhat Apr 19 '13 at 8:47

In the key of C, the "accidental" notes are the black keys on your piano.

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In any other key, the "accidental" notes are whatever notes that you need to play in the piece which are not in the key itself, and thus not in the key signature.

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A thought : in C maj.,e.g., a bar needs an F#.So an accidental # is written in front of the F. In the same bar,after this, an F natural is needed. So a natural sign is put before the second F.Surely then, the natural sign is still called an accidental, thus in your example, a white F natural can also be an "accidental" note, even in its own key. – Tim Apr 18 '13 at 15:37
@Tim Don't confuse the symbol and the note. The natural sign is an accidental, but a note that is part of the key is not an accidental note regardless of whether it is prefixed with an accidental. – Matthew Read Apr 18 '13 at 16:10

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