In Simandl's 30 Etudes for String Bass, Etude #10, there is this natural accidental on the note C (fourth bar of the second line):

two lines of a musical score

Since there is no alteration of the note either by the key signature or some previous accidental, what does this natural accidental imply?

Is it a mistake or was I supposed to play some previous C differently?

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    I could see putting it there if it sounds weird to play C natural. It's like the composer saying, "Yeah, I know it sounds weird, I want it that way. Yes, it's supposed to be natural." – Todd Wilcox Feb 29 '16 at 14:04
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    There's no rule against redundant markings; I agree with @ToddWilcox on this one. – Carl Witthoft Feb 29 '16 at 14:17
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    Since it's in, presumably, C minor, and the lower C in the same bar isn't marked, it's sloppy writing/editing. – Tim Feb 29 '16 at 15:45
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    @ToddWilcox right, but the C♮ sounds not only not weird at this spot, it's almost inevitable after the leading note B♮. – leftaroundabout Feb 29 '16 at 17:53
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    This kind of confusion is why I (when I'm wearing my composer/editor hat) think cautionary accidentals should always be in parentheses. Without parentheses, it's unclear to the attentive performer/reader if the marking is cautionary, if they missed something earlier, or if someone on the composer/editor/engraver side of things made a mistake (which is hardly uncommon). – LiberalArtist Feb 29 '16 at 18:01

In the full score here http://imslp.org/wiki/30_Etudes_for_the_Double_Bass_(Simandl,_Franz) (top of page 29) there is no accidental on the C.

The OP's image is apparently a different edition - the dynamic markings are also different. I call "typo", and/or "poor editing and proofreading".

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    Research for the win. – Todd Wilcox Feb 29 '16 at 16:38
  • Probably non existing proofreading – Neil Meyer Feb 29 '16 at 17:55
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    @NeilMeyer spurious accidentals are nothing. I have an early Russian edition of some piano music by Scriabin that even has some incorrect clefs, not to mention MM marks that say "half-note = 40" when it should be "eighth-note = 40", etc, etc...!!! – user19146 Feb 29 '16 at 18:24
  • Yep. The only possible reason for the C natural sign would have been an unlikely C♯ or a very unlikely Cb somewhere in the vicinity in the piano score, and there isn't one. Typo it is. – Scott Wallace Feb 29 '16 at 21:26

The measure in question is a straightforward melodic minor scale. It is an "Etude for String Bass" so presumably there are no other instruments possibly playing (or having played) a different C. There is no similar/transposed passage in the vicinity that would require an accidental/natural.

So you are correct in being irritated: this particular natural is uncalled for and does not help in any conceivable way.

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    This isn't exactly an answer, more of a comment. I suspect you don't have the rep to comment. You might want to either edit in something about why the natural sign would be written in or delete this. – Todd Wilcox Feb 29 '16 at 16:39
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    @ToddWilcox I disagree. This answer seems to me to be a reasonable explanation of why the natural sign is unnecessary. And as alephzero's answer shows, the natural sign demonstrably shouldn't have been included in the first place, so there's objectively no good way to "edit in something about why the natural sign would be written in." – Kevin Feb 29 '16 at 17:58
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    @Kevin I see where you're coming from (and where user26925 is probably coming from). To me, pointing out that the natural sign is unneccessary is not the same as answering why it's there, but it's not so far off that I downvoted or flagged, I see it both ways. I mainly commented to point out the nuance to a new user. – Todd Wilcox Feb 29 '16 at 18:06
  • I'm not a bass player, but is it possible that the "4" fingering might suggest playing a C# for some reason? Personally I would have thought a cautionary flat on the E would have been more useful, to head off anybody thinking "whoopee - C major scale ahead, I know how to play that"! – user19146 Feb 29 '16 at 18:31

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