In the example below, the note marked 1 is a natural because it is tied
from a note with an accidental. The notes marked 2 and 3 are flats,
because the effect of the naturals in the previous bar is "cancelled"
when going over the bar line.
- Accidentals are small changes to the normal
pitch of a note
- The normal pitch will be the one given by the
- An accidental is placed immediately in front of the note,
occupying the same space or line as the note
- It has effect for that note, and for any other occurrences of the same
note at the same pitch in the same bar
- If a note which has an accidental applying to it is
tied across a
the note to which it is tied is the next bar does not need another
accidental written, it applies anyway.
- An accidental on one note does not apply to the same note in another
octave, or on another
stave, but it does (strictly speaking)
apply to the same note in the same bar in a different
part. However, for practical purposes,
an accidental is normally repeated if it is in a different part.
- Accidentals are cancelled within a bar by using another accidental
to indicate the pitch required. So if a note is sharpened by the key
signature and appears twice in a bar, and the first is
made a natural by an accidental, the second must be preceded by a
sharp sign if it is to be at the pitch indicated by the key
- The signs used for accidentals come from altered forms of letter -
see History of notation.
- All the accidentals are shown in the following table:
|Sharp||Raises the pitch by one semitone
|Flat||Lowers the pitch by one semitone
|Double sharp||Raises the pitch by two semitones
|Double flat||Lowers the pitch by two semitones
|Natural||Cancels the effect of one of the above
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