For example, let's say the key signature has an f sharp and then also an individual f note has a sharp next to it. Are they just emphasizing the f sharp or does that actually become a g?

Same question with a double sharp. If the key signature has an f sharp, and then there is an individual f with an x infront of it - is that supposed to be a g or a g sharp?

  • 2
    When you add a sharp to a Fis you geht a Fisis, no G, Although there are instruments like the piano where you would play this with the G key.
    – harper
    Dec 29, 2012 at 7:19
  • @ Aaron: concerning your edition.... there are no double sharps in the key signature. Sep 12, 2020 at 5:33

4 Answers 4


It is just for emphasis. It is usually just an instance where, in a recent measure in the piece, the F note had a natural attached to it. The F-Sharp would be included in the following measure as a reminder that F is no longer natural, that it is back to the F-Sharp that it is in the key signature.

If there is an X next to a note, it is just a double sharp (F## or G natural). I actually had trouble with that when I started studying music. Basically the # from the key signature is included with the other # that is added to make a double sharp. This is to add clarity for the person playing or studying the piece of music.

  • 1
    Accidentals are nulled after the end of the measure they appear, but yeah, this is done. (According to Wikipedia, sometimes these courtesy accidental marks appear in parentheses, although I don't recall ever seeing this.) Nov 22, 2011 at 20:41
  • @neilfein Indeed! I have seen those in parentheses now that you mention it!
    – Stephen
    Nov 22, 2011 at 21:02
  • Take a look at this question about courtesy accidentals: music.stackexchange.com/q/5194/1678
    – Luke_0
    Feb 24, 2012 at 16:29
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    @ogerard: While accidentals are only applicable to the octave in which they are written, a performer who sees e.g. a G that's marked with a sharp played at the same time as another with no marking that would not be a sharp might wonder whether the lack of a sharp on the second note is a misprint. Adding a natural would make that clearer. Also, another place where courtesy accidentals are IMHO essential is when two parts on the same staff use the same line or space at different parts of the measure and the first has an accidental. Performers will not usually notice an accidental for...
    – supercat
    Nov 26, 2016 at 21:05
  • 1
    ...someone else's part, but performers who happen to notice an accidental at a given staff position might treat it as applying to theri part. The only way to make things clear is to explicitly label the second note with some kind of accidental.
    – supercat
    Nov 26, 2016 at 21:08

As well as a reminder that the F is sharp again, an F-sharp mid-bar might also be cancelling an F-natural earlier in the bar.


Accidentals are not cumulative. F# is F#. No matter it may already be stated in the key signature.


I've seen the possibly redundant sharps used anyway to indicate that the specific note is vital to the chord that's there.

As an example, your F# is making me think of the chord symbols A6 and A13. Those would be common in the key of D, so there's no real need for the F# since it's native to D. Yet if the composer wants the F# to be mandatory, no experimentation nor altering of it, he'll write it explicitly to make sure the chord gets the tonality he wants. If the note is a necessary part of the melody, even moreso.

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