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So if my entire song has a key signature that shows F#, and i have a measure with 1/8th notes and say the first note in that series is an F that has an accidental making it natural, and then two notes later it reads F with no accidental on it, is that natural or sharpened...

i.e. F(natural), B, C, F, D, etc....

is that second F sharp or natural if there is no symbol next to it?
 

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If it is within the same bar it is still natural. A bar line cancels any accidental.
 

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Basic rule is that anything that happens in a measure stays that way throughout the measure until a notation changes it. If you see something Like (#) it is just a reminder that something was changed earlier. One exception is that if a note has an accidental (change from key signature) for a note that has a tie to the next measure, the note in the new measure keeps the change. Example would be in the key of G maj (has an F#), and the F# has a natural sign on front of the last note of the measure tied to the first note of the next meaure, that note would be an F natural HOWEVER in most notation, any notes on the F line after that would be F#s. Usually any notes an octave higher or lower would not be affected. This is typical but not ALWAYS true. When in doubt, check the score.
 

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bruce bailey said:
Usually any notes an octave higher or lower would not be affected. This is typical but not ALWAYS true. When in doubt, check the score.
This is an important observation because to the uninitiated it's not always clear and worse, from the person doing the notation, it's not always clear what they want.

If you are in the key of G and your first note in a measure is a first-space F with a natural sign in front of it, if you see any other Fs in that measure in other octaves they are F#s (from the key signature). Normally the extra accidental only affects the note directly following the accidental and in that octave only. Conversely, if you are in C and you have a first-space F# ,the succeeding Fs in other octaves are F naturals (from the key signature).

(Many writers, like me, will notate in succeeding octaves whether or not that note remains changed or no, as a safeguard against ambiguity. Ie. in G, if the first F is notated F natural, I'm likely to put a (#) before a succeeding F in another octave.)

This probably will not apply to you for some time, but if the music is atonal, or with many shifting tonalities, you have to be careful. So like Bruce says and check the score.
 

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I usually overnotate as it save time later. I do a lot of Bassoon to Bari transposing for woodwind ensembles and it is easy to add 3 #s and make it treble clef BUT when it is a piece with no key signature life is difficult. I make a copy of the Bassoon part, use whiteout and a pen to change the parts and then make a copy of that so it looks more like an original.
 

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This is an important observation because to the uninitiated it's not always clear and worse, from the person doing the notation, it's not always clear what they want.
I usually overnotate as it save time later.
Good advice here - as a composer I always try and make sure that courtsey accidentals are in place, especially in case like the one Gary mentioned (different octaves) and also when there are particularly chromatic sections. Another consideration is that if the music itself isn't really in a key - don't use a key signature. Be sure if you prepare the music in concert pitch, and then transpose it for sax that your program doesn't add a key signature (for example in finale, if you select Bb transpostion, it will read no key signature in concert pitch as C major, and then your Bb parts will have two sharps. You can tell finale not to do this so that it does transpose, but keeps the transpose part without a key signature.)

Anything you can do to make your parts clear always helps -I just had the first rehearsal for my new orchestra piece yesterday, and even with being extremely careful I've already got a list of about 10 items over a 15 minute piece that need to be changed in the parts. (mostly missing accidentals, seems you miss some no matter how careful you are!:x)
 
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