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I am reading a measure of music (in bass clef) in which a flat E is followed by a non-annotated E.

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Should that subsequent (4th) E note be played flat or natural? I feel like there should a natural symbol (♮) if the composer intended it to be played natural, right?

My musical software is playing that note flat. I just want to make sure that is not a bug. :)

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It's called an accidental - even though it's there on purpose! An accidental in a bar will affect the note it's just before, and any other same place notes following in the same bar. Once the bar line is reached, that accidental ceases to have impact. If it's needed later, it needs re-instating, only to be cancelled by the following bar line. Uncannily, it won't affect any notes of the same name which are an octave or two away, only the note/s it precedes.

If it needs cancelling (e.g. Eb with accidental followed by Enat.) then the second E will have a natural sign before it.

All this is regardless of the key sig., and usually the result of a particular note not being included diatonically (in the key), in the manner that a 'changed' note, like an Enat in key Bb will need to be shown with an accidental.

  • 1
    Nice thorough answer, and upvoted particularly for including the subtle gotcha that the same note in a different octave isn't affected by the accidental ... – Steve Mansfield Mar 5 '18 at 8:26

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