I would like to know, suppose a clef with key signature (e.g., G is always sharp), independent of octave, appears at the beginning of the staff.

Then every G that appears must be read sharp.

Then what do I write, to have the reader read a normal G, or a G flat?

  • 2
    (I don't think you mean pentagram… Though I'm not aware of any English word for five equidistant parallel lines, other than ‘staff’/‘stave’.)
    – gidds
    Aug 26, 2022 at 21:59
  • Sorry, I meant stave. Why the downvote? Aug 26, 2022 at 22:47
  • 2
    Votes are anonymous and downvotes are very rarely acknowledged by the person who casts them. I feel it is unjustified in this case so I will give you a +1 to offset it. Aug 26, 2022 at 23:12
  • 2
    @gidds In Spanish the word “pentagrama” refers to the music staff. This is probably a translation issue. Aug 26, 2022 at 23:12
  • 1
    @JohnBelzaguy Ah, that would explain it. (I didn't downvote, BTW.)
    – gidds
    Aug 26, 2022 at 23:58

2 Answers 2


Place a natural or flat sign (an "accidental") immediately to the left of the note to be changed.

The below image shows examples of key signatures with G-sharp where the notes themselves are changed to G-natural or G-flat. Once changed, the G on that line or space will remain natural or flat until the end of the measure. After the end of the measure, the key signature takes over. So if another G-natural or G-flat is desired, then another natural or flat sign will need to be placed.

Accidentals affect only the specific line or space on which they're placed. This is also shown in the image below.

Demonstration of accidental usage

  • 1
    Anyone who has such an elementary understanding of music theory that they can ask this question and thinks that there is a G flat in a piece they're writing that has a G sharp in the key signature is probably doing something wrong.
    – phoog
    Aug 27, 2022 at 22:09
  • @phoog I think you're being too literal.
    – Aaron
    Aug 28, 2022 at 1:04
  • Can you find an example of a professionally engraved piece where a flat is applied to a pitch that is sharp in the key signature, or vice versa?
    – phoog
    Aug 28, 2022 at 7:45
  • 1
    @phoog - that hypothetical Gb is far more likely to be F#. Which would be in the key sig. before G# anyway.
    – Tim
    Aug 28, 2022 at 8:21
  • @phoog This happens all the time in late-Romantic music; think Bruckner, etc. Sure, it's advanced stuff, but it definitely happens.
    – Richard
    Aug 28, 2022 at 14:54

When there's a sharp in the key signature, say, on the G in the treble clef, it means every G in that piece will be played as a G♯.

To cancel that, there needs to be a natural or flat sign just before the note affected. That will then last until - the end of the bar it's in, or - it's changed by another accidental to say what it'll be next. But regardless, in the very next bar, it will need to be played as G♯ again - unless affected by yet another natural or flat sign.

Those accidentals will only affect notes in the particular octave tey're written in - any other G notes in other octaves will still be G♯.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.