I have a question about this E double sharp pointed below:

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As far as I know, E double sharp equals F sharp, but watching different videos I see this note is played as natural F. Can you please confirm how is this played? Thanks! Here are some examples:

(really fast but I believe I see a natural F constantly played)

  • 1
    I looked up a couple variants of the score. It is definitely not a misprint; and verifying with the Musescore example that key should definitely land on the F#; so I'm as confused as you are. Do many people play F natural (E#) instead? Would be nice if you could give a couple examples; I saw one Youtube video you already commented on. – KeizerHarm Jul 30 '20 at 8:47
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    @KeizerHarm Sure, I am going to add to the original post – mate89 Jul 30 '20 at 8:49
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    This question is not duplicate. The author of the question knows what a double sharp means. The question has arisen because of an apparent inconsistent between the music score and what is played by very good interpreters. – Andre Aug 8 '20 at 22:20
  • This figure of 6 16ths in the right hand's lower part occurs many times in the piece, and many times its 2nd note is a minor second below the 1st, even when that 1st is a major chord's 3rd, e.g. in b.12, where we have B# and Ax in G# major harmony. So there is a good case to regard Ex as correct. – Rosie F Aug 9 '20 at 8:55

The score clearly indicates E double sharp, which enharmonically equals F sharp, as you pointed out already.

As to why so many people play an E (single) sharp: I can only speak for myself, but as soon as so many double sharps come into play (especially in a context with two billion ledger lines) the kind of reading you’d do when sight-reading (relying more on pattern recognition and what makes musical sense than really counting sharps and lines) is often insufficient. I would guess these people sight-read through it a few times when practicing the piece for the first time and after that the misread notes were already ingrained. Normally you can sense which notes you you had to guess instead of reading properly while sight-reading but in this case the “wrong” note (E single sharp) works well enough that you might assume you guessed right without really checking.

  • I find it remarkable that three people made the exact same mistake! – KeizerHarm Jul 30 '20 at 11:38
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    Count 4, when first skimming the fragment the OP posted, I did the same! It’s a very intuitive mistake to make, because after a G double sharp usually the lower note is E sharp (or natural, but that’s “easy”) which is one of these notes that you’re not really used to. If it’s E double sharp it’s also one of these notes that you’re not really used to so it seems okay. The fact that it’s in an uncomfortable position on the staff makes everything worse of course. Since the misreading doesn’t lead to a terrible dissonant or style breach it’s easily overlooked. @KeizerHarm – 11684 Jul 30 '20 at 11:42
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    thanks a lot for your comments and explanation! – mate89 Jul 30 '20 at 22:29
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    @KeizerHarm I see now I made a typo in my earlier comment; G double sharp should of course be F double sharp. I’m sure you understood what I meant, I’m just adding this comment for completeness. – 11684 Aug 2 '20 at 13:30

The note should be played as E sharp. What happens is that there is a change in the key at this measure. The key changes from C sharp minor to D sharp major.

D sharp major is an unusual key, with key signature F# C# G# D# A# E# B# F## C##. The double sharp F and C appear several times in measures 18, 19 and 20. The E is sharp, not double sharp.

The manuscript probably had an E sharp, which was then edited as E double sharp. E sharp makes sense musically, in the key of D sharp major, and appears later one octave higher in the same measure.

It is not a coincidence that many interpreters play this note as E sharp. It makes sense musically, it is plausible that the sharp in the manuscript could be carried on edited as double sharp, and it aggress with the major, contrasting key in the measure.

I have added a video with another example. This video has a visual feature that might be helpful.

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