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Discussion Starter #1
Here is a basic question about reading sheet music that I need the proper answer to. If the sheet music you are playing calls for a note to be sharp or flat in the music itself and not at the key register, do you continue to play that same note sharp or flat for the rest of the song until the music tells you to play it naturally? Do you do so just for that measure?

And what about notes that are supposed to be played sharp or flat as indicated by the key signature? If the music at some point directs that it be played naturally at one point, do you keep playing it naturally everytime you see it until the music says play it as directed by the key signature or do you automatically play it as directed by the key signature the next you see it?

Thanks.
 

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The key signature rules throughout the piece. If there is an accidental (sharp, flat or natural), it is only effective for that measure or until another accidental in the measure dictates otherwise. In other words, you revert back to the key signature at the beginning each measure.

Hope this helps!

www.ReedsForLess.com
 

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Accidentals (sharps, flats and naturals) in the key signature last for the entire time the key signature is active (until the end of the piece, or a new key signature becomes active).

Accidentals written in front of a note affect all following notes in the same measure, unless cancelled by another accidental.

For example in the key of F (Bb in the key sig), if you have a phrase using a B natural, you would put a natural sign in front of that note. If, in the same measure, you had some more written B's, they would ALL be natural, unless a flat was put in front of one of them. Once into the next measure, all accidentals are cancelled, and the key signature rules once again.

Note that accidentals only apply to the note at the same level. If you put a natural in front of B4, B3 would still be flat.
 

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Note that accidentals only apply to the note at the same level. If you put a natural in front of B4, B3 would still be flat.
most people I know do NOT follow this rule...accidental is good in all octaves :space0::line4: like to hear from BarrySachs on this one....

in commercial music many lazy copyists only put the key signature on the top staff of the page....this can lead to confusion when there are key changes... I like it on EVERY staff
 

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most people I know do NOT follow this rule...accidental is good in all octaves :space0::line4: like to hear from BarrySachs on this one....
Hmm, interest thought that music notation programs do not follow that convention though. If you put a Bb in the staff, and then have a B an octave above, that one is a B natural.
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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The correct thing is that accidentals only apply at the same octave, however it is good practise to give "guide" or "courtesy" accidentals when a note in the same bar at a different octave occurs.
 

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The correct thing is that accidentals only apply at the same octave, however it is good practise to give "guide" or "courtesy" accidentals when a note in the same bar at a different octave occurs.
No, No! Make the player play a clam and have everybody laugh at him!:)
 

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also if the accidental is tied across the bar line the next same note in that measure reverts to the key signature and is not played as the accidental.
 

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Gross analogy, but works for some students of the male persuasion...

Accidentials are like toilet paper. Use in that measure, then flush it.

Sorry....
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks a lot. I learned these rules in elementary school when I played the trumpet, which was a LONG time ago. I stopped playing any music for 37 years and needed a refresher because I am reading quite a bit of sheet music these days.
 

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The correct thing is that accidentals only apply at the same octave, however it is good practise to give "guide" or "courtesy" accidentals when a note in the same bar at a different octave occurs.
Really? I've always been taught (and my ear backs me up) that an accidental in one measure applies to the same note in all octaves. Weird.
 

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Lazy music writing or not, I have always assumed that any sharps or flats in the key signature apply to that note in ALL octaves unless otherwise written (accidentals) and accidentals are in effect from the note that starts it to the end of the measure.

Of course, sometimes the sheets I'm reading from aren't always accurate and so then I will pencil in the change or just memorize it the way I think it should be.

Not everyone gets serious about learning to read music though. I'm glad you (the OP) are taking the time to make sure you have it right.
 

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The correct thing is that accidentals only apply at the same octave, however it is good practise to give "guide" or "courtesy" accidentals when a note in the same bar at a different octave occurs.
This is good advice. However, over-usage of courtesy accidentals can lead to performer (especially sight reading) second guessing themselves and playing it wrong. If there is a Bb in the key signature, and perhaps I'm standing a few feet away from the music or the lighting is bad, and i see a figure infront of the note B, I might assume it's a natural, then play a B natural and then when it sounds like arse I'll step up for closer look and see that someone put a flat infront of it ...
But like Pete is suggesting, a smart arranger will think of typical "mistakes" that readers may make and take a pre-emptive measure to avoid problems.
 

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Lazy music writing or not, I have always assumed that any sharps or flats in the key signature apply to that note in ALL octaves unless otherwise written (accidentals)
Yes, I think everyone agrees that key signature sharps and flats apply to all octaves, it's accidentals that there seems to be some controversy over.

To clarify, accidentals are sharps, naturals and flats added to individuaL notes to override those in the key signature. These only affect notes in the same octave, up to the end of the bar they appear in.

The sharps and flats in the key signature are not accidentals.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accidental_(music)

Of course, wikipedia can be wrong, but there are other references to this:

http://lsr.dsi.unimi.it/LSR/html/doc/Documentation/user/lilypond/Automatic-accidentals.html

http://forums.symphonypro.net/viewtopic.php?id=109
 

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I always thought that accidentals affect only one note. Atonal music must be difficult to read. Key signatures make sense for tonal music but having two different ways to represent the same pitch seems stupid to me, also the idea that a C played on a piano is a B flat on a saxophone is insane. Music notation is antiquated. Color gradients ought to be used to represent velocity and volume. Accent signs are a very imprecise way to represent an important nuance of music.
 

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Think about the accidentals and other octaves from the standpoint of chord structure. If the accidental was to accomodate a flat 5th, and you elected to go up an octave, why would you not expect the 8va 5th to be flat as well? Seems to me that the accidental would apply to all octaves in that measure (even other clefs), simply to maintain chordal integrity. :dontknow:
 

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Seems to me that the accidental would apply to all octaves in that measure (even other clefs), simply to maintain chordal integrity.
But why would conventions of music notation be based on the assumption that a chord lasts for a whole bar?

However the fact that an accidental is good for whole bar in the same octave might seem to contradict this, but I imagine it's a hangover from when most/all music was polyphony. An accidental maybe stayed for one voice of the polyphony, but would not apply to any other voices.

Just a guess.

Alternatively it could be because it's reasonably easy to spot the same not at the same octave, but not at different octaves, so adding them there may have become a convention after firsr being used as a guide/courtesy accidental.

Just another guess.

Either way, right or wrong, we are unlikely to be able to change the way it is.
 
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