Until now, I thought that accidentals apply to all notes of the same octave and the same clef during a measure.

However, I'm currently learning the following piece and it seems to be different (4/4 measure signature):

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There are two voices in the treble clef. Is the 4th note in the clef a B♭3 or an A3?
Based on the respective recording, I think it is a B♭3.

Is this the usual way of notation, or is it more common to apply accidentals to all voices?

If it is a B♭3:
The B♭3 from the beginning takes 3/4 of the measure, while the second B♭3 is at 4/8.
How is it meant to be played then? Hold the second B♭3 longer till 3/4 of the measure?

  • 2
    What's bH? If you mean the German note names, don't you mean B?
    – Dekkadeci
    Feb 28, 2021 at 20:34
  • 1
    Related question: Will an accidental in piano sheet count for second voice as well?.
    – Aaron
    Feb 28, 2021 at 20:36
  • 1
    @Dekkadeci In German notation 'B' is called 'H', while '♭B' is called 'B' - it's confusing
    – Arsak
    Feb 28, 2021 at 23:52
  • 1
    @Arsak but there is no note in German nomenclature, nor in English, called ♭H. (Furthermore, when writing in English, at least, the accidental sign follows the note, so D♭, E♭, G♭, A♭, and B♭.)
    – phoog
    Mar 1, 2021 at 1:23
  • Sorry, that was my mistake. I've edited the original post. (-> H3♭)
    – 0vbb
    Mar 1, 2021 at 10:50

2 Answers 2


All of the notes on the B-line in the first bar are B-flats. The second flat (on the fourth eighth note) is unnecessary in a piano piece. Accidentals are never additive: the note stays B-flat, no matter how many times the flat is repeated.

Your second question has been answered here: How does one maintain voice integrity when longer and shorter notes of the same pitch occur in two voices

Note: the second flat would be necessary if the stave was intended to be played by two players. Each player reads only their own line, and needs the all the accidentals.


It's normal to specify an accidental even if it has been already noted, as they usually apply only to a voice, and it's really uncommon to have two voices in the same staff with the same note and different alterations; in the rare case case in which it happens (or, more commonly, just ambiguity), two separate notes could appear at the same time, with individual alterations.

In any case, that certainly is not A. Even assuming that another voice could "break" the current accidentals set for another, that is only valid for that voice, and temporary alterations cannot "add" relative accidentals to existing ones.

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