Which of the following is correct to indicate a key signature change from D Major to G Major? enter image description here

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    A third option would be to put a natural on the C space, and re-iterate the F#. But then, in which order? Although, a key change up a fourth may be a modulation, so a key sig. change may not be neccesary. – Tim Feb 21 '17 at 7:58

Actually, only the first is correct. Key signature indicators would never naturalize a note only to follow it immediately with a sharp. It would be permissible to naturalize just the C, though.

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    No reference given, no explanation and the only argument seems to address a single note instead of a key signature. – guidot Feb 21 '17 at 8:48
  • So I should go back in time and ask my professors which book THEY got it from??? – Paul Blecha Feb 21 '17 at 11:58
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    @PaulBlecha Yes, definitely. – user1803551 Feb 21 '17 at 22:38

Neither is typical. It would be typical to first cancel the C sharp (or actually any accidentals that aren't at least as "strong" in the right "direction", so f sharp to f double sharp does not need a cancellation) and then repeat the F sharp, like

in this image

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  • Pretty well as my comment. – Tim Feb 21 '17 at 9:24

I would say both of them are correct. I have seen many publications where key changes are written by first naturalizing all accidentals that are not required and then adding whatever additional accidentals are required (as in the second one). A publication that uses this convention is the G. Schirmir Library of Classics.

Edit: I was browsing through some other posts, when I came across this post. Could be something you want to check out.

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  • That post is the same guy asking a question with an answer that answers this one as well... – user1803551 Feb 21 '17 at 22:36
  • Oh alright. Sorry for that. Shouldn't this be a duplicate then? – Mandar Juvekar Feb 23 '17 at 14:07
  • Yup, it is now. – user1803551 Feb 26 '17 at 14:54

I summarize from Behind bars by Elaine Gould ("The Definitive Guide to Music Notation", as its cover claims):

  • Traditional practice cancels a key signature before a new one is created. There are slight variations, whether the cancelling happens before or after the bar line introducing the new signature as well as whether the natural signs precede or follow the new flat and sharps. Generally the new signature consists of as many "accidentals" (used here as generic term for sharps, flats, and naturals) as the old key-signature did, if the same type of accidental is used. If accidental type changes, all old ones have to be cancelled and the new ones written out.

  • Contemporary practice simply writes the new signature without any cancellation; the only exception is the change to a signature-less key as C major, where all active accidentals are cancelled

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