Suppose we are talking about C major. In this case if we want any sound to be "higher", we use #, if we want a sound to be lower, we use b. If on a given bar we have already altered a sound and we want it back to the key, we use the "natural" accidental for that ♮.

Now, think about F major. In this case B♮ is not the "default" sound for a B according to the key signature. Is B♮ still called "natural" then?

1 Answer 1


Yes, because that's what it is. Going by the piano keyboard, every white key is known as a natural. So, in key F, where each B needs to be Bb to make it diatonic, The 'normal' B in that key is Bb. Play a B nat and it won't sound like it belongs in that key.

I think you're confusing the words 'normal' and 'natural'.

In the situation where an ordinary (white) B needs to be played, it will have to have that natural sign in front of it, otherwise Bb will be the 'default' as you put it.

  • So.... "natural" will always point to the white keys on the keyboard (for simplicity's sake) but "normal" sound refers to the sound adjusted to the key. So, B natural will always be "plain b, the white key next to c" regardless of key whereas "B normal" will be "plain B" (the white key) on C major but will be "Bb" on F major. Did I get it right?
    – eftshift0
    Mar 10, 2018 at 19:22
  • 'B normal' doesn't exist in music. As simple as...
    – Tim
    Mar 10, 2018 at 20:19
  • @Tim so is there a word that we can call B♭ in F major to emphasise the fact it's the 'B' expected in the key signature? Or do we just call it B♭ and assume people know that? Mar 11, 2018 at 9:04
  • In key F, We pretty well assume that the Bs will in fact be Bb, it's the key sig. anyway. A term that is used for all 'normal' notes in a key is diatonic - as I used in the original answer. That will cover not only the 'black keys (on a piano), but the normally used white ones too. I don't think there is a name for just those which need to be black. Sometimes they get called accidentals but I think that's a bad misnomer. After all, they're there on purpose! Accidentals are the other notes (non-diatonic) which sometimes get played, and are preceded by b, # or naturals not in the key sig.
    – Tim
    Mar 11, 2018 at 16:40

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