# Lilypond incorrectly displaying natural signs in B Major

My hymn is in B-Major, so I set the key-signature accordingly \key b \major but the problem is that it causes LOTS of natural signs.

Do I really need those? This hymn is for children and the naturals make it look complicated. The piece I am transcribing was hand written and does not show the naturals.

If I don't really need them, how do I remove them? And will it mess up the organist?

global = {
\time 8/8
\tempo 4=90
\key b \major
}

melody = \relative c' {
\global
\partial 8
f8 b4 a8[ g] f2 d8[ e] d8~c8 b4. b8 e4 e8~f8 g4 e4 b'4 g8 e8 f2
}


Sorry for the confusion over the time signature. Although it was incorrect before it does not affect my question nor my problem. But here is a more complete measure with some code.

• It looks like maybe you are entering notes as, for example, "g" instead of "gis". – Old John Jul 20 '15 at 23:10
• Hmm... 6/8 time signature for the upbeat, followed by a 4/4 measure and a 2/4 measure (with no signatures)... You've got larger problems here than just too many naturals. (I'm assuming that all those naturals shouldn't be there as the notes should be sharped by the key signature.) If you are using Lilypond as Old John thinks, you may want to look at musescore.org instead. It may be more suitable for what you want to do at this point. – user16935 Jul 20 '15 at 23:31
• BGM, I honestly think you need to take a step back from writing your hymn and learn just basic music theory as there are a ton of problems with this and the naturals are the least of them. Any software you use will only be a tool and won't help if you don't know what's wrong with your piece. I suggest looking at music theory.net: www.musictheory.net – Dom Jul 21 '15 at 0:09
• The problem is deeper then if the naturals should be there or not as you don't know they should be there or not which is part of the transcribing process. – Dom Jul 21 '15 at 0:44
• Let's nail this down so that no one misunderstands, shall we? The notes with naturals should be sharps as per the key signature, and hence with no accidentals at all, correct? In Lilypond, the notes that currently have the accidentals should be called fis, ais, gis, dis and cis. Lilypond uses a convention similar (but not exactly so) to German note names, and you need to name the notes correctly despite the key signature. See lilypond.org/doc/v2.19/Documentation/learning/…. – user16935 Jul 21 '15 at 2:04

I'm assuming you are turning a hand- written score into a digital one.

You're problem is that you have written this:

f8 b4 a8[ g] f2

The key signature shows that F, A, and G need to be sharped, but you've written then as naturals. Try this:

fis8 b4 ais8[ gis] fis2

The "-is" tells Lilypond that you want that note sharped, an "-es" tells Lilypond that you want a note flat.

Lilypond doesn't automatically assume that you want it sharp because it isn't uncommon that a composer wants a note to be natural in a piece when the key signature says it should be sharped.

If you are listening to a recorded song, you have not picked to correct key signature (Try C).

You might also want to take a look here.

• All that I have is the hand-written music; I have no idea what it sounds like and have never heard it before. You may be right about the key signature being wrong, however. Your code does remove the naturals, but that means I'd have to do it to the entire piece; and I happen to have that lilypond page open in the browser already. – bgmCoder Jul 21 '15 at 1:23
• Using C major makes the notes look nice, and the midi doesn't sound any different (but I think that the key signature in lilypond is layout and doesn't affect the notes if I am correct) – bgmCoder Jul 21 '15 at 1:27
• If it's in B, and none of the B notes are ever used, use C, it would make everyone's life easier. From a player's prespective, you'd need to get you mind into B, then deal with every B major note alteration being altered back. – Jacob Swanson Jul 21 '15 at 1:30
• If Lilypond is showing naturals, it's because it thinks that's what you told it to do. But if they aren't in the manuscript that you're transcribing, then you obviously didn't intend to tell it to put them there. So as Jacob suggests, if you want to keep the original piece in the key that it's written in, you will need to manually enter all the correct sharps into Lilypond (using "-is"). – Caleb Hines Jul 21 '15 at 5:32
• @BGM The reason it would've sounded lousy "in C" is probably because you weren't actually transposing it correctly, and you were ending up in the Locrian mode, which is just plain awful. If you were transposing to C, all the notes would go up one letter, so the first few notes would've been changed to: G C B A G – Caleb Hines Jul 22 '15 at 2:16

My first guess would be that you are actually writing in Bb major rather than B major and are omitting that fact from LilyPond (in that case, the key signature would be \key bes \major and have a single flat). Bb major would be a much more common key to use.

In this case, your file would likely just need

\language "deutsch"


on top, interpreting all occurences of b as bes. However, given that your location is Kansas, I consider it more likely that you just left off any accidentals. If your original key was supposed to be Bb major (and your organist will like you better than if it was supposed to be B major), just write bes instead of b. Or start the file with

\language "english"


and write bf (short for B flat) instead of b.

If this is really B major, almost any note except the B itself needs to be sharp. Look up note names in the LilyPond manual. Note that the note names spelled out in the music are independent from any key signature: if you want to hear a C sharp, you have to write its name no matter what the key signature is.

It might make sense for you to generate MIDI output (check the manual for that) in order to proofhear the music you have been typing.

• The piece I am transcribing from was hand-drawn, but clearly shows the same key signature. Lilypond is inserting the naturals automatically. – bgmCoder Jul 21 '15 at 0:58
• Are you transcribing from a (recorded) song or the sheet music? – Jacob Swanson Jul 21 '15 at 1:08
• Lilypond is inserting the naturals because you didn't tell it not to. – Caleb Hines Jul 21 '15 at 5:35
• I still haven't given up on the idea that there should be a command to automatically flat the flats or sharp the sharps. Having to add flat or sharp for every single note is PITA. – bgmCoder Mar 14 '18 at 21:05