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Okay so I recently came across a website which demonstrated the possibility of finding a triple sharp or triple flat, which was just weird in the first place.

Question: Is it possible to ever come across a chord naturally (no pun intended) that would ever have more than a triple accidental (like quadruple, five, etc.). This means that by using one of the 12 enharmonic major/minor scales and any mode, would it ever be possible to run into that? Or would someone have to intentionally go out of their way to do so?

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It's not possible to do it "naturally".

We do need double sharps pretty often, and double flats at times. But double sharps are most commonly needed to keep a melodic or harmonic minor scale diatonic (I'm using diatonic in the literal sense of "through the tones", or having one of each letter).

Let's say you've got a key signature of B, five sharps. And you're in the relative minor, G#. The harmonic minor raises the seventh degree, which is F#, so we need Fx.

If you're writing a melody, you'd have no need for a triple-sharped F, because you would just write G#. So the only reason you'd need to raise that Fx again is to accommodate a particular chord.

Since chords are built in thirds, you cab consider each chord tone:

  • it can't be the root, because they're never raised
  • it can't be the third, because a raised third is a sus chord, which uses the fourth
  • it could be the fifth, for an augmented chord
  • it can't be the seventh, because raising that is the root
  • it could be the ninth; #9s are common
  • it could be the eleventh, as in a maj7#11 chord
  • it can't be the thirteenth, because you'd write it as b7

So the only times you'd "naturally" need a triple sharp is if it's the 5th, 9th, or 11th.

Now we can work backwards:

  • if Fx is the fifth, it's a B root. But in key, it's already augmented: B-D#-Fx. We have double augmented intervals, but double-augmented chords don't exist (because it would be a G#m inversion, G#-B-D#)
  • If Fx is the 9th, then E is the root. But that means Fx is already a #9.
  • If Fx is the 11th, then C# is the root. But that means your Fx is already a #11.
  • Thank you very much! That was very helpful and very thorough – North Feb 22 at 5:19
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NO, in real-world music we see the occasional double-sharp or double-flat, but that's as far as it goes.

The experimental fringe do experimental things, of course!

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