In Bach BWV 812 Menuet I bar 6 we have a trill preceding an accidental — the thrust of the bar is to B(natural), therefore in the preceding trill do(would) you trill on B(natural)-A or B(flat)-A?

Similarly at the mordent at the repeat phrase(bar 8), do you use B(flat) or B(natural) as the auxiliary note — presaging the B(natural) in the lower voice (or following on from the B(natural) in the preceding bar.

Bach BWV812 Menuet I

  • 1
    Might be my personal taste, but I'd actually use B flat for the optional mordent in Bar 8. This will be semi-negated by the B natural later in Bar 8, but at this point, the piece has stopped sounding like it is in D minor for far too long, and since we're about to go fully back to D minor, the B flats need to return.
    – Dekkadeci
    Commented Dec 5, 2022 at 17:01
  • 2
    @Dekkadeci negated by the b natural that follows, indeed, as well as the one that precedes it in the V/V one beat earlier. Measure 8 is firmly in the dominant tonality. The place for B flat to return is the following measure where the harmony changes to D minor the first time around and to F major the second time.
    – phoog
    Commented Dec 6, 2022 at 12:38
  • @Dekkadeci when I posted my previous comment I almost mentioned that the ornament in m. 8 with the raised upper note is very typical of the French baroque style. It was only later that I realized that this minuet is from one of the French Suites.
    – phoog
    Commented Dec 9, 2022 at 10:07

2 Answers 2


Certainly the entire bar is an E major bar, so every B should be played as a B natural. But you're right that accidentals in the auxiliary notes are supposed to be notated explicitly. I can only imagine that the editor felt a natural immediately followed by another natural at the same pitch would look redundant, even though technically it's not (accidentals above ornaments are not supposed to affect the rest of the bar, unlike accidentals on explicit notes).

  • The original manuscript didn't include figured bass, but if it did, there would surely be a little natural sign down there, which would make it explicit. Commented Dec 5, 2022 at 15:01
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    @AndyBonner actually Bach's figures frequently leave the perfect fifth implicit in V/V of a minor key. See for example Kommt ihr Tochter, the opening of the Matthew Passion, in E minor, where F♯ dominant seventh chords are figured 7/♯.
    – phoog
    Commented Dec 6, 2022 at 12:56
  • I suspect that the editor probably didn't even consider the possibility of adding the accidental to the ornament -- the edition is certainly free enough with editorial additions while at the same time being careful to identify them with brackets. While the accidental would indeed be called for by modern standards of notation, I don't think that it was even possible in Bach's day. It's certainly not in the source, and an editor who is familiar with the baroque style may have overlooked its absence entirely.
    – phoog
    Commented Dec 9, 2022 at 9:41
  • FWIW, Both Schiff and Gould play B natural in the ornament.
    – Aaron
    Commented Dec 5, 2023 at 5:35

Here's another view of the passage in question, including the preceding measures.

Menuet I, mm. 1–8

...the thrust of the bar [m.6] is to B(natural)...

I don't think it's splitting hairs to say the thrust of the bar is not a particular accidentally inflected pitch, but a modulation to the dominant which is achieved through accidentals. The difference matters, because it has bearing on how to play the ornaments.

In order to see the modulation, we need to do a harmonic analysis, and to do that we need to cut through the complexities of the non-chord tones, especially the F3 held in the bass between mm. 5-6. Here is my analysis, which mostly erases the non-chord tones, and replaces the held F3 with an earlier arrival of the E3 which the F3 eventually resolves to...

enter image description here

After beat 1 of m. 5 though to the cadence at m. 8 the music has moved to A minor.

The use of accidentals is very, very clear in that passage. You are now in A minor.

So, how to play the ornaments on A3 in m. 6 and A4 in m. 8? Play them in A minor. The upper tone will be B♮.

There is no editorial comment in the score to do this, because the accidentals make it clear to play in A minor.

  • 2
    What's the reason to down vote? Commented Dec 7, 2022 at 17:15
  • +1 may be downvoted because you critizise the picture. I agree with you critic and your answer. Commented Dec 8, 2022 at 9:58
  • Or maybe in your analyisis there is a G# lacking in the V chord (E) ahead of the last bar? Commented Dec 8, 2022 at 10:16
  • @AlbrechtHügli, oops, I corrected that typo about the G#. If it was a technical/typo kind of problem, I wish they would have commented about it, so I could fix it sooner. Thanks for pointing it out. Commented Dec 8, 2022 at 15:39
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    "What's the reason to down vote?" I have been meaning for some time to post this comment to address the down vote, but I've been a bit too busy. This is the best answer currently posted, essentially the same as the answer I would have posted (had I not been so busy) and essentially the same as Killian Foth's answer, but more thorough. Both answers boil down to "of course it's B natural because of the harmonic context," but this one is more detailed. That said, I'm not sure I agree that the F in m. 6 is a non-chord tone. I would say the harmonic rhythm is mostly straight quarters rather...
    – phoog
    Commented Dec 9, 2022 at 9:55

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