I have a cello score here from Sebastian Lee; Op. 70.

Nr. 37 in bass clef and the key of c minor contains the following part:

enter image description here

what is the sense of this 5th note in the upper staff?
why is it using a natural (♮) and a sharp (♯)?

How would I call this note for engraving with LilyPond?

I used this code for now:

b(-3 g) g g ais-2 g-0 b(-3 g) g g ais-2 g | %05

but this would give a result like this:

enter image description here

or is the extra natural only a warning, that is not necessarily needed?
Sebastian Lee, Op.70 in LilyPond format on GitHub

  • 2
    When excerpting scores, you must include the clefs and key signature, otherwise all answers are reduced to speculation. Nov 25, 2019 at 8:18
  • @KilianFoth hey man, thanks for the feedback! I updated my post.
    – nath
    Nov 25, 2019 at 16:58

2 Answers 2


The note with the two accidentals is an A#. The B has a natural, showing that the key sig has at least one flat. I guess it has at least 3 flats, so As are flat unless otherwise stated? There used to be a convention that if, say, the key sig makes As flat, and you want an A#, you put a natural and a sharp, as shown in your extract. (Modern practice is to just put the sharp.)

  • IIRC, there's one situation where modern practice might put a natural before a sharp: when the note would otherwise be a double sharp. (Usually from an accidental earlier in the bar, though I suppose it's technically possible it could be in the key signature.)
    – gidds
    Nov 24, 2019 at 12:26
  • Note that this is done for readability -- the composer wanted to use both the B natural and the B flat (A sharp) more than once in the same measure, and this notation makes it much more intuitive for a performer to read, as opposed to using alternating natural and flat symbols on the same staff note.
    – Dave Tweed
    Nov 24, 2019 at 16:51
  • The modern consensus is that natural signs immediately before other accidentals should never be used no matter what the context. A # in front of an f means an f sharp and can't possibly mean anything else. Nov 25, 2019 at 8:17

As noted in Rosie F's answer, the natural is not typically required here in modern notation. But if you wanted to get it in Lilypond, I don't think there's a default accidental setting that will display these in this circumstance. Instead, you probably will need to use the Accidental.restore-first property. Something like:

b(-3 g) g g 
\tweak Accidental.restore-first ##t
ais-2 g-0 b(-3 g) g g ais-2 g

That can get you the extra natural sign if you'd want it:

enter image description here

  • I just found an article in the LilyPond docs on Automatic accidentals. Just for the records :-)
    – nath
    Nov 23, 2019 at 19:59
  • 1
    @nath: yes, that's what I was referring to in terms of Lilypond's "default accidental settings." There are a bunch of options there, but I'm not sure that any of them include this particular type of extra natural.
    – Athanasius
    Nov 23, 2019 at 20:03

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.