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I am a newbie to music . I have a doubt about accidentals .

My doubt is whether a basic note and an accidental of that note is counted as a single note or double.

That is , if a tune X contains following notes C,C# , G,Gb only . My question is "Do that contains 4 notes or two notes that is C and C# or B and Bb is considered as a single note or double note ?"

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    Unless you can give an example, and make the question easier to understand, it will be disallowed. Please re-phrase it. – Tim Jan 19 '15 at 14:50
  • @Tim , The question had the example already. here the example.. That is , if a tune X contains following notes C,C# , G,Gb only . My question is "Do that contains 4 notes or two notes that is C and C# or B and Bb is considered as a single note or double note ?" – Ragesh D Antony Jan 19 '15 at 15:07
  • As an example, I hoped for a sample. It's not crystal clear.If it comes from an actual tune, please quote. For example, are those notes in the same bar? And when you ask about a double note do you mean two notes played simultaneously? And are you aware exactly what an accidental is? – Tim Jan 19 '15 at 15:45
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The simple answer is that the altered version of a note is considered a different note than the unaltered version. In other words, yes, a C and C# are considered two different notes.


To be clear though, the term note actually has three distinct, albeit related meanings in music.

  1. First, the term note can be synonymous with pitch, which appears to be how you are using the word. For instance, if I sing an A and you sing an A then we are singing the same note.

  2. Note can also be used to mean a certain isolated occurance of a pitch, rather than the pitch itself. In this sense, you could say that the first three notes of the theme from the first movement of Beethoven's fifth symphony are the same pitch (G).

  3. Lastly, the term can be used to describe the written notation of a pitch and duration, the actual notes on a page of sheet music.

Assuming you are asking with the first definition in mind, there is actually one more layer of ambiguity. With the examples you mentioned, it is clear that C and C# are two different pitches (they sound at different frequencies). However, most musicians will tell you that C# and Db are two different notes as well, despite the fact that they represent the same pitch (in equal temperment) are are played with the same key on the piano. And then there's also the question of whether or not you are going to say two pitches separated by an octave (two C#s for instance) are the same or different "notes".

The point is that the term note is not a particularly well-defined musical term, which makes your seemingly simple question at lot more complicated than you would think. That said, there is no common definition for which C and C# would ever be considered the same note.

  • Thanks.. This is what I need. Will you able to give the theoretical explanation for this (or give a link for the theory behind this) @Casey Rule – Ragesh D Antony Jan 19 '15 at 15:20
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    Well, you asked for it.. There's a thoroughly complicated answer to you question. Hope that helps! – Casey Rule Jan 19 '15 at 15:50
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The 'default' is a single letter name, A-G. If there are #s or bs in the KEY SIGNATURE then all he affected notes are played as such. As in the key of G, every F will be played as an F#. If a note somewhere in the tune needs to be different, as in a sharp, flat or natural, it will be shown just before that note, and will last for the rest of the bar.If your tune has a C in it, and later a C#, there will indeed be different notes, but at least one will have an ACCIDENTAL before it. The same with B and Bb.

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In your example (C, C#, G, Gb) you have simply four distinct notes because in both theory and practice they are really different notes and pitches (sounds).

There is another more tricky example where you have two distinct names for notes but, basically, the same pitch: B#, C or E, Fb (there are more, of course). Well, B#, C share the same sound, but they are two distinct notes.

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The notes C and C# are two different notes just as G and Gb are two different notes. So (going with your example), if you have a tune that contains C, C#, G, and Gb, you would have four different notes.

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