If you are playing a piece of music in Eb major (3 flats, Bb, Eb, and Ab) and a note was written as Eb is it actually Eb? Or is it D?


It sounds like you're talking about a "courtesy" accidental. If that's the case then it's not strictly needed but is provided as a reminder that the E is flatted and not natural. For instance did the previous measure contain an E natural?


The accidentals in the key signature apply across to all similar letter notes in the staff. In a piece where one of the Key's accidentals is temporarily naturalized in a measure (bar), some transcriptions will place the Key's accidental in the measure also, as a reminder that the note is changed back to what is in the key. It does not stack with the key's accidental.

For example, in Eb Maj if a phrase of the music uses an E-natural, the next measure not using the E-natural may have a flat sign next to the E as a reminder of the switch back. It does not double flat the note to D.

  • Love to find a different term for the # or b at the beginning of a pieces. They are certainly not accidentals!
    – Tim
    Jan 15 '18 at 9:12
  • Me too. It is clumsy to say "the symbols we use for accidentals that we put in the Key Signature". However, many of my theory books refer to them as the Accidental Symbols, even in reference to the Key Signature. Jan 15 '18 at 20:58
  • Simple solution - call it the key signature...
    – Tim
    Jan 15 '18 at 21:14

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