accidental

Ak-si-DEN-tul
[English]
A mark placed before a note which indicates that the previously understood pitch of the note should be altered by one or two half steps  (semitones). To raise the unaltered pitch  by one half step (semitone ) the sharp is used, to lower it by one half step (semitone ) the flat is used. To raise the pitch  by two half steps (semitones), a double sharp is used and to lower it by two half steps (semitones) a double flat is used. If the key signature indicates that a note be played sharp or flat  and the unaltered tone is desired, a natural is used to indicate this. 

Typically, the accidental alters the pitch  of the note that it is attached to as well as any subsequent occurence of the same note (identical line or space) in the same measureNotes with the same pitch  name, but higher or lower octave should not be effected. Any note with an accidental that also has a tie across a barline carries the accidental to the note on the other side of the barline Notes in the new measure  that are not tied to altered notes from the previous measure  are performed  using the current key signature.

Often, notation can get very complicated and composers  or editors will use a courtesy accidental (accidental or reminder accidental) to remind the performer that the accidental attached to a previous note has been added or removed.

Example

Accidental

See Also

[French] accident (f)
[German] Vorzeichen (n)
[German] Versetzungszeichen (n)
[Italian] accidente (m)

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Last Updated: 2013-02-14 13:48:03