I understand why you'd add courtesy accidentals, but I was browsing through some old sheet music lying around here and came across this, and can't seem to come up with a reason for this natural in bar 2:

enter image description here

What am i missing here? The signature's G and only the F's should be raised, so why naturalise the G's? I don't have any training, so maybe this is simply something I've missed in my self-study.

(It's from "Alec Eiffel" by Pixies BTW)


enter image description here

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    could you please poste a few more bars and the staff of F clef too? I assume there could be a G# in the left hand if this is somewhat of a blues style ... – Albrecht Hügli Jan 25 '19 at 11:52
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    Hehe, it doesn't really provide any more info, except that the chord's E there. But I uploaded a picture, so you can see for yourself. – Creynders Jan 25 '19 at 11:59
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    And the bass cleff is not provided separately btw. This is literally it – Creynders Jan 25 '19 at 12:02
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    I would call this a courtesy accidental. The difference between "redundant" and "courtesy" is nil IMHO. Not really worth worrying about. – Carl Witthoft Jan 25 '19 at 15:20
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    @CarlWitthoft - with you all the way. Basically can't see the point in that natural (or other superfluous accidentals) anyway. There's always enough stuff to read without overcrowding, I'm sure you'll agree! – Tim Jan 26 '19 at 14:13

The harmony of the given chord in the 1st 2 bars is in E (major chord), the accidental in front of g you consider (minor third!) is referring to this Chord of E.

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    Ah, ok I think I get it! Since the harmony's E and in the E chord there's no G but a G#, they want to alert you on that deviation, right? – Creynders Jan 25 '19 at 12:05
  • I would say "chord" rather than "key," but this is obviously the correct answer. – phoog Jan 25 '19 at 12:05
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    @Creynders that's a possible reason. It's also possible they didn't want you to think that they'd forgotten to put a sharp sign. I would have put the natural sign in parentheses. – phoog Jan 25 '19 at 12:07
  • @phoog - Yep. The natural in front of the G is to ban the memory of the G# that went before in the accompaniment. And yeah, it should have been in parentheses. – Scott Wallace Jan 25 '19 at 13:47
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    @AlbrechtHügli - it should perhaps be pointed out that the accidentals in early music you speak of are modern editor's additions- they don't appear in the original notation, with or without parentheses. – Scott Wallace Jan 28 '19 at 19:20

This is where the blues notes blur the key. The 'key' is more likely E, but in Eminor blues the E blues scale uses the same notes as the G major blues. The writer has decided that that G major/E minor key sig, is clearer/ more accurate, but when there is G note, since it's over an E major chord, it needs to be G natural, and thus it's a courtesy accidental.

It's impossible to write a key sig. for blues, thus the dilemma and the potential need for these courtesies.


the previous chord is an E Major chord, which has a G#, the natural sign is probably to remind you that you that the next bar does not have that, for some reason.

  • duplicate answer, therefore dv. – Tim Jan 26 '19 at 8:37

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