Natural sign

In music theory, natural sign is a musical sign from the family of symbols called accidentals.

Here's what a natural sign looks like:

natural sign

What does a natural sign do?

The natural sign cancels the effect of sharps and flats

The natural sign in front of a music note cancels the effect of sharps and flats.

Using naturals

The position of the natural: The natural sign can be placed in front of a note (it is an accidental) or next to the clef in the key signature, and in both cases it cancels the effects of all other accidentals.

With letters, we write "C natural" or "C♮" for short. But on a staff united states of america (stave united kingdom), the natural, like all the other accidentals, is written before the note. Here is a C natural:

C natural

And here are naturals signs in the key signature which cancels the previous key signature of A major scale (3♯), the three sharps are canceled, and the new key signature has now two flats:

Key signature change

Little reminder:

  • A sharp (♯) raises the note by one half step united states of america (semitone united kingdom).
  • A flat (♭) lowers the note by one half step.

Naturals and doubles accidentals

Nowadays, a single natural sign is enough to cancel the effect of a double flat or of a double sharp:

Naturals and doubles accidentals

But in the past, you had to use the double-natural to cancel the effect of a double accidental, because a single natural will cancel only one of the two accidentals of the double accidental.

The natural sign in quarter-tone symbols

The natural sign is used to represent quarter tone accidentals:

Half flatsHalf sharps
half flathalf flathalf flathalf flatHalf-sharpHalf-sharpHalf-sharp

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