I have this measure in a score:

Music score

A the beginning we have F double sharp, and after that there is natural on this F##. I play that as F#.

It sounds as it ought to and it is logical to me that one natural neutralises one sharp. But I am interested, what is today's common practice for indicating something like that?

It is said here that people put natural followed by a sharp to indicate F## -> F#, but in the comments they also say that such marking is obsolete and redundant, but they don't say what is the modern approach.

Is there some definite modern rule that says how to indicate, for example, C## to C#, Cbb to Cb, and also C## to C, and Cbb to C?

EDIT: I haven't mentioned this, Musescore will play this as F. So, in Musescore, this natural resets note completely. EDIT2: I haven't mentioned very important fact, the piece is in the key of E Major, so it already contains F# as a "base" note.

  • From the thread that you link, it looks like the only other viable option is to simply place an accidental in front of the second F and let it be implicit that this means to alter an F natural.
    – user39614
    Commented Mar 6, 2018 at 14:40
  • It seems like the key signature might play a role here. In my (admittedly limited) experience, I've only seen double sharps in situations where the note was already sharp due to the key signature. Thus, I would expect the natural to take you back to the key signature (i.e. a single sharp). However, my experience is grossly lacking in this topic.
    – S. Burt
    Commented Mar 6, 2018 at 15:42
  • @S.Burt You are correct, I forgot to state that. Key signature here is E Major, so yes, it contains F#, and yes I also believe that this will take me back to F#.
    – dosvarog
    Commented Mar 8, 2018 at 11:55

3 Answers 3


A natural is exactly that. The 'white key' on a piano. So, whether the previous F was a sharp or double sharp, it's then going to be plain old F natural. If the composer wanted it to be an F#, then he would have to put a sharp sign in front of that F. Read it like it says - F natural.

  • I don't agree with the OP that notating an F-sharp with a natural+sharp signs is obsolete; that said, if a composer wants to go from Fx to F# he might consider either G, F# or even Fx, Ex notation for ease of reading. Commented Mar 6, 2018 at 14:46
  • 2
    @CarlWitthoft - it might still be used, but it's pr4etty superfluous. The sign directly before a note says what that note will be, and effectively cancels any previous signs. And writing Ex...what! Only if it's technically needed... and even then... Chances are if there's a reason to put G, it'll be # in the key sig.
    – Tim
    Commented Mar 6, 2018 at 15:03
  • @CarlWitthoft I do not claim that natural+sharp is obsolete, I merely said that others are claiming that on provided link. I, myself, never encountered such a situation, hence this question.
    – dosvarog
    Commented Mar 8, 2018 at 12:03
  • @Tim Regarding this piece I am playing - it is in a key of E Major, I have edited the question. So, you say that even though the piece is in E Major, I ought to play that as F natural? Well, I guess then the composer did a mistake in notation, since F natural sounds very bad here. I guess he thought that placing natural will return note to F# since this piece is written in E Major.
    – dosvarog
    Commented Mar 8, 2018 at 12:09
  • @dosvarog - just played it, and I'm even questioning the third pair of notes. The A# may be right, but given no other harmony, A fits better. And, yes, the last couple of Fs sound better as F#.
    – Tim
    Commented Mar 8, 2018 at 16:01

I'm afraid your assumption is incorrect. 100% incorrect, no room for argument!

Here's the two ways to change a double sharp to a single one. And the one way to change it to a natural.

enter image description here

  • So, what you are essentially saying is that if you have double sharp and you place natural on that note, even though the key is B Major in your example, the resulting note will be F natural? And I forgot to state in my original question, piece is in the key of E Major.
    – dosvarog
    Commented Mar 8, 2018 at 11:58
  • Saw e old style many years ago, and it's unequivocal. The middle version is also very clear. Wonder what the old style was to take Fx down to Fnat? double natural? Although it would be rare to see that needed in a score.
    – Tim
    Commented Mar 8, 2018 at 12:26
  • Can't remember 3ver seeing a double natural
    – Laurence
    Commented Mar 8, 2018 at 13:16

MuseScore is correct.

A natural sign takes the note as if there are no accidentals in front of it, returning it to its natural state. You also get the lowering of a double sharp to a sharp.

The notation for this is either a natural sign with a sharp in front of it, or if you are operating under the American paradigm you can use only one sharp.

  • You need to qualify 'to its natural state'.
    – Tim
    Commented Mar 8, 2018 at 12:29

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