Is the 2nd E natural like the 1st E?

I asked a similar question earlier today:

If the first D note (in the 1st beam) is flat, does that mean the next D note (in the 2nd beam) is also flat? (see photo)

And I was told that the 2nd time a note occurs in the same bar and same octave of an earlier note, it follows the same accidental.

But in this case, there is a vertical line separating the first two E's. Are they in different bars? Or are the double vertical lines (that separate 1. and 2.) bars?

enter image description here

  • To pre-empt the next question(!) if the G note (treble clef) had had an accidental in the first shown bar, it would be tied to the G in the next bar, and that G would be the same note again (held) but with no need to show the accidental again. Not an answer - thus a comment.
    – Tim
    Jun 27, 2021 at 8:48
  • Beginner tip: when posting a question about accidentals include the key signature. Jun 29, 2021 at 17:38

3 Answers 3


No, the second E should be flat. However in this case, I really think the composer should have written a "courtesy flat" to make that clear.

Just FYI: this descending tritone going down like that over a bass moving by 5ths is a nice little device. You should remember it!


The single vertical line is a "bar line" and denotes the end of a bar (also called a "measure". The two thin lines are also a variety of bar line, as is the thin/thick pair. All of those various types of bar line indicates the boundaries of measures.

The single bar line is the most common. The two thin lines typically indicate the end of a section of music, and the thin/thick pair (known as a "double bar line") here represent a repeat (indicated by the dots to the left of the bar lines) and are also used to indicate the end of a piece.

  • 1
    The dotted vertical line is one variation of a bar line that doesn't actually indicate the boundaries of measures. These are commonly used to subdivide a measure without changing the time signature or to change keys mid-measure. In my experience, they are most often found in pieces with very long time signatures, like double common time. I would assume that accidentals carry across these, as they are not actually a new measure, but I've never really thought about it before.
    – WillRoss1
    Jun 28, 2021 at 14:13

You are correct that an accidental persists in the same octave until the end of the bar.

You seem confused by the definition of a bar. That 'vertical line' is a barline. It denotes the end of a bar.

So (assuming a key signature of three flats) the second E is E♭. Yes, it would have been helpful to confirm that with a ♭ in parantheses, a 'cautionary accidental'.

Americans call the vertical lines 'bars' and the area between them 'measures'. British say 'barlines' and 'bars'.

The double lines are another form of barline, carrying more information than simply 'the bar ends here'.

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