In La Campanella by Liszt, in the running passage which I added a photo off, shouldn't the highest note (which I marked with an arrow) be a G because the F double sharp gets carried over? In all of the recordings I listened to, it's played as an F sharp. What is the correct way to play it?thing


While accidentals will often prompt publishers to put courtesy natural signs before the note's pendants in another octave if they occur later in the same bar, this is not actually necessary: unlike the signs of a key signature, accidentals only apply to the exact line they're written in. The 𝄪 does not apply to another F♯ but the one it's actually written before.

Apart from that... even if the double-sharp carried over, it would not be a G, even though F𝄪 is indeed played with the same piano key.

Nevertheless, watch out... as Richard said, this is not something that's always handled consistently. But it is the official convention.

  • The better nomenclature for reminder natural sign would be a courtesy accidental. – Neil Meyer Aug 13 '16 at 11:00
  • That is a nice term indeed. – leftaroundabout Aug 13 '16 at 11:05

Composers (and editors, and publishers, etc.) vary on whether or not an accidental on a particular pitch (ie, this exact F♯) applies to all members of that pitch class (ie, all F♯s). However, the fact that they specified a high E♮ tells me that this could be an F-doublesharp.

But I really doubt it should be an F-doublesharp. In fact, if I were playing it, I would almost think it was an F♮ instead of an F♯, since it's just a big chromatic scale. But the score shows an F♯; without any proof from a Liszt manuscript or anything like that, it's an F♯.

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    This is 19th century music using conventional 19th century notation, not some 20th or 21st century score where the composer chose to follow different notation rules. There is absolutely no justification for "assuming" the top F# is really an F natural, unless you can find a reputable edition which explicitly writes F natural. As @leftroundabout says, the natural on the E is just a cautionary accidental, and if you look at the following bars of the score where the same passage is repeated in the right hand, the cautionary accidental is not given after the first one or two repetitions. – user19146 Aug 12 '16 at 21:42
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    I saw that, but I felt the cautionary accidental was unnecessary. At the very least, if the producer of these scores felt that that cautionary accidental was necessary, they should have also felt a cautionary accidental on the F was necessary. – Richard Aug 12 '16 at 22:06
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    @alephzero - the run is purely chromatic rising, I think the top note would be F natural, a semitone from its previous note. Going to F# wouldn't be such a good run. The nayural/sharp C has me mystified on the way down, though. Surely no need to cancel a double sharp, as the single sharp does it anyway? And, there are a couple of other cautionary accidentals which don't particularly help. – Tim Aug 13 '16 at 6:29
  • @Tim: well, even as an F♮ that note would stand out from the rest of the chromatic run, by virtue of being the mirror point. I'd argue that the first four notes of the second half of that bar actually represent a sort of “tonal island” within all the chromaticism – all E-major scale notes over an E-major chord. – leftaroundabout Aug 13 '16 at 7:41

Cat amongst pigeons here! I reckon there's a note missing! 16 dsq followed by 15? With no duplets mark? Checked out 3 different publications, all with 16 + 15. What am I missing - apart from one dsq? That would put a whole new angle on the issue.

  • This is Liszt. In mathematical terms, 15=16 for sufficiently large values of 15. – Brian Chandler Aug 13 '16 at 14:23
  • @BrianChandler - I don't understand. Help! – Tim Aug 13 '16 at 14:33
  • Sorry, I was being abstruse. Liszt often writes these huge sets of dsq, hdsq, or whatever, without any numbered bracket. You are supposed to see all the notes and see how much time you have to play them in, and that's it. I think that generally these are not supposed to sound rhythmical, they are supposed to sound like a swoosh of sound, and there is no need to count them exactly. (There is a mathematical joke about "1+1=3, for sufficiently large values of 1" or similar.) I marked this down, simply because it really isn't anything to do with the question, but HTH. – Brian Chandler Aug 13 '16 at 14:39
  • @BrianChandler - thanks for your hoesty! Wish they all admitted! However, I felt that a 'missing note' might be a good reason why the sequence went like it did, so submitted it as a reasonable answer. Publishers aren't perfect! – Tim Aug 13 '16 at 14:55

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