Different kinds of accidentals
An accidental is a sign to raise or to lower the pitch of a note.
Below are the most common accidentals:
When added to a note, a natural (♮) cancels the previous accidentals.
|+ 1 half step (semitone )|
|- 1 half step (semitone )|
|+ 2 half steps (semitones )|
|- 2 half steps (semitones )|
Accidentals on a piano keyboard
To visualize accidentals, here are accidentals on a piano keyboard:
Sharps on a piano keyboard:
Flats on a piano keyboard:
With this piano keyboard you can notice that:
- C♯ has the same key as D♭
- D♯ has the same key as E♭
- F♯ has the same key as G♭
- G♯ has the same key as A♭
- A♯ has the same key as B♭
As there is only 1 half step (semitone ) between E and F:
- E♯ has the same key as F
- F♭ has the same key as E
As there is only 1 half step (semitone ) between B and C:
- B♯ has the same key as C
- C♭ has the same key as B
And notice some examples with double sharps and double flats:
- C♯♯ has the same key as D
- A♭♭ has the same key as G
- E♯♯ has the same key as F♯ or G♭
Accidentals in music score
Accidentals are always written before the note
Accidentals are always written before the note, here is an example:
Accidentals only affect on the current bar
After an accidental has been written, every same note is also affected for the remainder of the measure in which they occur, unless explicitly changed by another accidental. The note on next bars or measures will not be affected by the accidental from the previous bar.
Accidentals and ties
As ties connect notes, two notes tied have the same pitch, even cross a bar line:
A courtesy accidental, also called a cautionary accidental or reminder accidental, are accidentals that are not necessary, but that are used to remind the musician of the correct pitch.
Example #1 of a courtesy accidental:
Example #2 of a courtesy accidental:
Accidentals affect key signature
Accidentals affect the key signature.
In this example (below), This key signature means that all E notes are E flat (E♭) and that all B notes are B flat (B♭). But the accidentals affect the key signature:
Accidentals and octaves
With the key signature, all notified notes are affected:
With accidentals, only the notes on his position on the staff (stave ) is affected:
Accidentals do not accumulate
Accidentals do not accumulate, example:
Here, the note is a C sharp (C♯) and it is not a C double sharp...
The flats order is: B♭ E♭ A♭ D♭ G♭ C♭ F♭
Read more about flats order.
The sharp order is: F♯ C♯ G♯ D♯ A♯ E♯ B♯
Read more about sharps order.
Others articles from this category:
Learn flats order and find a trick to memorize the order of flats. With the order of flats you will be able to know all Altered notes and to find the key
Learn sharps order and find a trick to memorize the order of flats. With the order of sharps you will be able to know all Altered notes and to find the key.
Quarter tones: learn all about Quarter flat, Quarter sharp, Three quarter flat and Three quarter sharp. Learn why to use quarter tone in music.
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