Questions tagged [accidentals]

A sign (♯, ♭, ♮) indicating a momentary departure from the key signature by raising or lowering a note a semitone, respectively called sharp, flat and natural (which cancels a previous sharp or flat.The term can also indicate the note raised or lowered. Also found as a double sharp and double flat.

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74
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13answers
50k views

Purpose of double-sharps and double-flats?

In a few pieces of music I have read through, I have come across double-sharps and flats. To my understanding, they are two semitones above/below the note indicated. What is, then, the point of ...
61
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5answers
10k views

What's the difference between a G♭ and an F#?

I've heard it said that, whilst on most instruments these notes are played with the same fingerings/technique/etc there is a subtle difference. This isn't specific to this particular note combination,...
59
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7answers
19k views

Why are there both sharps and flats? [duplicate]

If we can get away with just having sharps (aka black notes on a piano) then why complicate things and add flats as well? For example, if I have a C# why call it Dflat? Why not just leave it as C# and ...
38
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2answers
114k views

What does a small x-like symbol before a note mean?

I've been playing piano by ear for a long time and now I am trying to learn the first movement of the Moonlight Sonata. I am a little confused about the meaning of a little cross placed right before a ...
37
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9answers
10k views

Why is music theory built so tightly around the C Major scale?

Lately, I'm trying to study deeper into music theory, learning Intervals, key Signatures, Chords, Progressions etc. I can see that everything is built around the 'normal' notes that belong to the C ...
35
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10answers
41k views

What is the difference between sharp note & flat note?

In guitar or generally in any musical instruments, what is the difference between sharp notes & flat notes? For example : Are A♯ & B♭ the same? And are C♯ & D♭ the same? Does that make ...
32
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8answers
12k views

Does an accidental apply to all octaves?

I've been playing French Horn for 20 years, and thought I had most basic concepts regarding accidentals understood. But the other day I came across the following image via Wikipedia, which had me ...
26
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5answers
2k views

Why do we need note names like B♭, D♭ etc.? Why not use only A♯, C♯ and so on? [duplicate]

The very same sharp/flat tones can be written in two ways: C♯ is the same as D♭ D♯ is the same as E♭ …and so on This is so confusing. What is the reason for it? ...
24
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4answers
1k views

Where do the double accidentals go in “theoretical” key signatures?

Recent questions led me to discussions of theoretical keys, which are defined by Wikipedia as keys with at least one double accidental in the key signature. (Unfortunately, the source of that ...
22
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4answers
2k views

Should one write ♯ or ♭?

In the staff, would one write enharmonic notes with # or ♭? Does it matter which you'd use and why? For example: In the key of C Major, would it be better to write this passage with an A#, as it is, ...
22
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7answers
20k views

What is the difference between equivalent Flat and Sharp keys as far as musical notation? Are there any reasons to prefer one over the other?

I wrote a song in Db Major, but I could also notated that it would be equivalent to say C# Major as well. I am not well versed in musical theory and I think both are equivalent to each other and ...
21
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5answers
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If between E and F is a halftone, why can F not be an E♯

A ♯ raises a note by a semitone or halftone. I'm confused. If E and F are a halftone apart, why can't F be E♯?
21
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6answers
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Is G sharp major a real key?

I'm mostly self-taught, so I don't know much in the way of theory beyond the basics. I have heard of G sharp Major a few times. I believe a scale in the key goes as such: G♯, A♯, B♯, C♯, D♯, E♯, Fx, G♯...
21
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5answers
3k views

How to know whether to write accidentals as sharps or flats? [duplicate]

I am writing a bassline for a song in Em and there is a passing note A# or Bb in the approach notes. How do I write this note? Since the key signature has one sharp, is it best to write the accidental ...
20
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6answers
2k views

Scope of accidentals in measureless music

An accidental usually only lasts until the end of a measure, but what if there are no measures? I'm writing some music without bar lines (blame Satie) and am wondering what to do about notating ...
20
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2answers
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Which accidental continues through the bar?

Messiaen's Prelude for Organ (no opus number, discovered posthumously in 1997, composed probably circa 1929) is rife with ambiguous accidentals. Some can be figured out by examining similar passages, ...
19
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9answers
4k views

Collective word for sharps and flats in the key signature

On a mailing list I'm subscribed to, someone recently asked what the collective name was in English for the sharps and flats you find in the key signature. Apparently, the closest translation from ...
19
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2answers
2k views

Why is there a sharp and a natural over this Bb?

I'm studying a piece by palestrina (Agnus Dei is the title of this piece, but I'm not sure of the name of the work) and in this 3rd bar we have a sharp in the parenthesis and a natural over the B, ...
17
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3answers
1k views

Reasoning for redundant “natural” (but not courtesy accidental)

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 ...
17
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1answer
790 views

Do accidentals earlier in the measure affect a trill?

I was attempting to help someone understand all the markings in a piece with which they are unfamiliar. One, however, has given me pause: Now, I know the rule for a trill is that it ordinarily ...
16
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7answers
7k views

Do accidentals override key signature and previous accidentals?

I am wondering how the accidental in the first chord (see what is circled) is played? Does any accidental simply move the note up or down a half-step from what the note is supposed to be based on the ...
16
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4answers
12k views

Can a scale contain both a sharp and a flat note?

So, the question should say it all, but for example: The G minor scale (G - A - Bb - C - D - Eb - F - G) To change this into the G harmonic minor scale, I would need to raise the seventh note a ...
15
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5answers
2k views

Basic Accidental Question

Example: You have d major scale but you make a c flat accidental, does it just naturalize c back to its basic form or make it an enharmonic b? Ive tried searching on google but found nothing. It's ...
14
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3answers
15k views

Can an accidental carry over to the next measure?

I have been practicing this piece (The Stars and Stripes Forever) for a while. On the first note of the second measure of the second line, there is a natural sign. I have always understood accidentals ...
14
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2answers
3k views

Why is there both a sharp and a natural sign in parentheses before this note?

On Andre Gedalge's Traite de la Fugue book, there are these examples, where before the F note, there is both a natural and a sharp sign, both of which are in different parentheses. Which one do I ...
14
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3answers
828 views

Small natural above C in G Major

Here is a picture of the sheet music (Eine Klein Nachtmusik, movement 1). The odd accidental has a red freehand circle around it. What does this natural sign mean? As you can see, the key is G Major ...
13
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5answers
2k views

Are accidentals in the key signature and measure additive?

If I have a flat for a note in the key signature, and then in a bar the same note with an flat symbol, does that mean the note is "double flatted"? For example in the key of D Minor with hash one ...
12
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3answers
2k views

Why accidentals are not additive?

This question asks if the accidentals are not "additive" (i.e. placing a sharp on F where the key signature already contains an F sharp would result in an F double sharp, and placing a flat on F in ...
12
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2answers
992 views

Which is the correct version of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition?

I was using a score of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition from https://imslp.org/wiki/Pictures_at_an_Exhibition_(Mussorgsky%2C_Modest). This one was published by V. Bessel & Co. in St. ...
12
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6answers
4k views

Sharp 5 or flat 13? Sharp 9 or flat 10?

Let's say I'm in C major. I have a dominant altered chord built on G. This very popular voicing has the following tones (I'm including both enharmonic spellings for the accidentals): G B (D# or Eb) F ...
11
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8answers
4k views

Why are accidentals not just indicated next to the note in sheet music to make sight reading easier?

For example, in the key of G, why is the sharp not put next to every F note? I think this would make it easier to sight read quickly, especially for keys that have many sharps or flats. Is there an ...
11
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2answers
4k views

Where did the symbols ♭ and ♯ originate from, and why those?

We're all used to flat and sharp signs, also naturals. Accidentals in some cases. But why those unusual signs? I suspect the ♭ may have something to do with the German B, but the ♯ sign? Something to ...
10
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1answer
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Do accidentals on ornaments apply to the same notes elsewhere in the measure?

In the first measure from this section of Schubert's Serenade, does the accidental on the ornamental C at the beginning affect the "regular" C that follows?
8
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7answers
9k views

What purpose do accidentals serve in music?

I'm having trouble writing music containing accidentals. If the diatonic scale contains 7 related notes, what purpose do accidentals serve? If the accidental notes are not related to the overall ...
8
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5answers
25k views

What are Accidental Notes?

Can any one please explain what is an accidental note? Do they have any rules to play accidental notes in a scale? I only have basic knowledge of keyboards.
8
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1answer
200 views

Why did Anna Magdalena Bach write funny accidentals sometimes?

I'm checking BWV 1004 for a project I'm working on. I sometimes see that Anna Magdalena Bach wrote some veeeery strange flats. For example... Bars 113 and 114 from Chanonne. Bar 113 has on the bass ...
8
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1answer
760 views

Using Key signature but scale is going out onto ledger lines [duplicate]

I am working through my grade 1 theory book and am a little confused on a question. I have learnt that you either use key signatures or accidentals when writing out a scale. Not both. The question I ...
7
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3answers
2k views

What conventions are used with accidentals and tied notes?

If I have a tied note across a bar line, say 2 whole G notes, and I have an accidental, say a sharp, on the first G, my assumption is that the accidental applies as well to the second G because it is ...
7
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4answers
1k views

Do accidentals apply to other staffs of the same type?

In this excerpt from Bach's BWV 772, does the B flat accidental on the lower staff also apply to the upper staff(second to last beat)? I know that accidentally usually do not apply to different ...
7
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1answer
285 views

When to use flat or sharp in atonal music / accidentals rules for atonality?

In this example, Einojuhani Rautavaara sometimes uses flat and sometimes uses sharp in some chords. Once it's atonal music, what're the rules for sharps and flats?
7
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1answer
371 views

Where do accidentals go when voices overlap?

When two different voices on the same staff have overlapping note ranges, they get shifted and written side-by-side. For example: What happens if there is an accidental on a note of the voice ...
6
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2answers
996 views

How do I notate sharps in ABC notation?

I'm trying to convert the dozenal representation of tau (=2*pi) to a series of notes. I was trying to use ABC notation, but I don't know how to indicate sharps or flats. I'd like to use a notation as ...
6
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4answers
664 views

Having trouble with accidentals - Note-for-note vs traditional?

I am hoping to enter the music in the attached image into a midi sequencing program. The problem I'm having is understanding the musical notation here. Traditionally, accidentals follow pretty basic ...
6
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2answers
7k views

Do accidentals last for the entire measure? [duplicate]

When I mark a note with an accidental, is that accidental gonna be applied to that note for its duration or is it applied every time that same note is played in that same measure?
6
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3answers
235 views

What exactly indicates natural after double sharp/flat?

I have this measure in a 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 ...
6
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2answers
2k views

Double Sharps And Double Flats

A double-sharp (x) raises a natural (♮) note by two semitones. A double-sharp (x) raises a sharp (#) by one semitone. What does a double-sharp raise a flat by? A double-flat (♭♭) lowers a ...
6
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3answers
282 views

Key Signature with all Notes naturalized

I’m still new to piano and just getting into key signatures. In Beatles’ Best (easy Beatles sheet music) Get Back is in G, however, all F’s have a natural accidental next to them. Is this sheet music ...
6
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2answers
314 views

Accidentals in the same register in a measure with a clef change

From a notational perspective, is it clear that the second C4 in the image below is flat (if in fact it is)? I've never encountered a situation like this before.
6
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2answers
106 views

Would an accidental in a mordant still be effective for the whole measure?

This is from Bach's Chromatic Fantasie and Fugue: This would obviously be played D, C#, D. Let's say that there was a C on the same octave later in that measure. Would the C be sharp?
6
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2answers
137 views

How do accidental notes work in a blues song? [duplicate]

In the notes prior to the sheet music, it is said that an accidental note only lasts for one bar. Here in bar 3 an accidental note has been applied to the C in bar 3. In such a case why has the sharp ...