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#1150914 - 01/11/08 10:34 PM Question About Accidentals aka Have I Been Living Under A Rock?
Jeanne W Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/28/04
Posts: 1240
Loc: New England
I can't believe what I just read in "The Norton Manual of Musical Notation". The book states:

"An accidental applies only to the note at its original pitch level. When that note is sounded at a different octave level, another accidental is needed."

That's news to me! All these years I thought the accidental carried through the measure for that note no matter what pitch.

If this is true, I have to think I never ran into an instance of this happening; otherwise I'd have been playing the music incorrectly, and I don't think I could be doing that without knowing it.

Someone please enlighten me. The "pitch thing" according to "Norton" is correct???

Jeanne W

P.S. Maybe the real question is: "Just WHAT KIND of rock having I been living under all these years?" \:D
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Piano & Music Acc. / Sheet Music


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#1150915 - 01/11/08 11:38 PM Re: Question About Accidentals aka Have I Been Living Under A Rock?
epf Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/07
Posts: 658
Loc: Central Texas
Yes, that is correct (sort of). What should be added is that if a note is tied across a measure then the accidental still applies to the tied note, but not to other notes in the new measure.

BTW, no comment with regard to your place of your domicile. ;\)

Ed
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#1150916 - 01/12/08 01:33 AM Re: Question About Accidentals aka Have I Been Living Under A Rock?
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5945
Loc: Down Under
 Quote:
Originally posted by Jeanne W:
If this is true, I have to think I never ran into an instance of this happening; otherwise I'd have been playing the music incorrectly, and I don't think I could be doing that without knowing it.[/b]
I suspect you have run into it, and the composer has wanted to make sure people play his/her music correctly so they add a courtesy accidental, just to make sure.
If I'd written an F# in one octave followed by an F natural in another, I'd usually write the natural in, just to remove all doubt, whether strictly speaking it's required or not.
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#1150917 - 01/12/08 10:09 AM Re: Question About Accidentals aka Have I Been Living Under A Rock?
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13802
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Norton is correct, but it's one of those things that most people ignore.

It's a bit like the words "a lot." There is no such word as "alot," you're supposed to spell it out in two words, but so many people screw it up, "alot" finally made it into the dictionary and is commonly used.
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#1150918 - 01/12/08 10:33 AM Re: Question About Accidentals aka Have I Been Living Under A Rock?
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11731
Loc: Canada
This same question was posted in another forum a while back, with the same degree of astonishment. Debate went on for a while whether an accidental on an F would apply to all other F's in different octaves in that measure, or only the F on that line or space. The answer was - only that one.

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#1150919 - 01/12/08 02:48 PM Re: Question About Accidentals aka Have I Been Living Under A Rock?
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Jeanne W,

I'm with you! I consider that accidental added in a measure apply to any and all of the same pitch, regardless of register, until cancelled by the barline or a natural sign. En garde!

I also hate the natural added in the next measure cancelling the accidental that was added in a measure before. I KNOW that, I already automatically cancelled it when leaving the measure.

An unnecessary reminder of the cancelled note is an aggravation, I have to "wite out" those or I'm likely to alter the altered note again. I'm not mistake oriented, I just very visually read the notation on the music staff.

Regardless of "The Norton Manual of Musical Notation", I will continue to teach it the way I do. I produce excellent sight readers the way I was taught. Nothings broken with it.

You are OK, Jeanne W!

Betty

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#1150920 - 01/12/08 03:17 PM Re: Question About Accidentals aka Have I Been Living Under A Rock?
Nikolas Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5305
Loc: Europe
 Quote:
Originally posted by Betty Patnude:
Jeanne W,

I'm with you! I consider that accidental added in a measure apply to any and all of the same pitch, regardless of register, until cancelled by the barline or a natural sign. En garde!

I also hate the natural added in the next measure cancelling the accidental that was added in a measure before. I KNOW that, I already automatically cancelled it when leaving the measure.

An unnecessary reminder of the cancelled note is an aggravation, I have to "wite out" those or I'm likely to alter the altered note again. I'm not mistake oriented, I just very visually read the notation on the music staff.[/b]
From the composers point of view, as well as the engraver, I have to say that:

A. accidentals have always applied to the exact pitch and not general note in a bar.
B. I usually deal with non tonal works exactly, which makes things more difficult so "cautionary accidentals" as they are called, are more than necessary.
C. A natural is always a natural, no matter what, to anyone even the fastest sight reader (unless I'm mistaken to what you say). Nobody can go from D natural to anywhere else if they see a natural next to it.
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#1150921 - 01/12/08 03:52 PM Re: Question About Accidentals aka Have I Been Living Under A Rock?
RogerW Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/10/08
Posts: 439
 Quote:
Originally posted by Betty Patnude:
I also hate the natural added in the next measure cancelling the accidental that was added in a measure before. I KNOW that, I already automatically cancelled it when leaving the measure. [/b]
I must say that you are very much unique on this issue. In my experience, every time I forget to write in a cautionary accidental, the performer plays it wrong. I cannot even count the times when I at rehearsals have had to point out missing cautionary accidentals, which always is a bit embarrassing for me and I see it as completely my fault that rehearsal time is wasted.

Notating accidentals is often quite complicated, but my rule of thumb is "the more the merrier". Notation is after all instructions for the performer, I want to make those instructions as clear as possible. Especially when writing for bigger ensembles with limited rehearsal time this is crucial. In many cases it is wise to add more accidentals than Norton suggests. An example: If there is a grace note with an accidental (Ab) in the beginning of the bar and on the next beat Ab is repeated on the beat. Do I need to add the accidental on the later Ab? Common sence says no and so does my notation software, but when I sit there in concert as the composer (or in this case orchestrator) and hear the solo clarinet play the main melody wrong, then suddenly the answer changes to yes, I should have. And I can assure you that from that day on, I will always add an extra accidental in similar cases.

Don't get me wrong. Of course I would wish that all performers could read the score as throroughly as you do, I admire this ability, but unfortunately this is not the case. This is why we composers are left with little choice but to make our notation fool proof.

Roger

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#1150922 - 01/12/08 04:14 PM Re: Question About Accidentals aka Have I Been Living Under A Rock?
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11731
Loc: Canada
I seemto remember in the other forum's discussion that this might be a convention that is in transition. Either the accidental used to affect all notes of that name in that measure and in some modern scores it doesn't, or vice versa. They argued it forever.

Another is when a double flat becomes a single flat. In my theory book you write a single flat, but prior to that there was a natural and flat side by side. Apparently this has changed over time - or is it also geographic?

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#1150923 - 01/12/08 04:30 PM Re: Question About Accidentals aka Have I Been Living Under A Rock?
Nikolas Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5305
Loc: Europe
natural + flat seems to be what I know as well from double flat to single. But then again I can't really recall if I've ever used double accidentals. Not since I'm non tonal most of the time...
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#1150924 - 01/12/08 04:30 PM Re: Question About Accidentals aka Have I Been Living Under A Rock?
John Citron Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/15/05
Posts: 3925
Loc: Haverhill, Massachusetts
An unnecessary reminder of the cancelled note is an aggravation, I have to "wite out" those or I'm likely to alter the altered note again. I'm not mistake oriented, I just very visually read the notation on the music staff. [/b]

This confuses me too, Betty. I find myself making more mistakes when the editor has written out the assumed accidental change.

John
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#1150925 - 01/12/08 05:23 PM Re: Question About Accidentals aka Have I Been Living Under A Rock?
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
When we are dealing with notation systems, this would be built in as a reminder, or it would not.

They who write music are assuming that people need reminding. If you read it right in the first place there is no need to be reminded.

And when someone above said, you can not naturalize a natural D, first of all I am never saying letter names in my head as I play, I am looking at positions and intervals and I count on the key signature being valid at all times. And for accidentals to be placed only as needed.

And for the b # naturals, put in to alter the key signature. When they return a note to it's natural place (again) in the next measure, it makes my brain stall or trip because I've already done it. And you're right you can't do it again. I have to "wite" them all out and get rid of them. I use a lot of white out these days.

My playing comes from my subconscious and all it's years of training, I'm not about to comply with this royal silliness.

The other thing that drives me nuts is when fingering is mentioned at all when it is needed and out of no where comes a fingering choice which is already part of the hand position I am playing.....I know that one! It's a done deal.

And, there is so much insensitive fingering on the page, I use my "wite ou" almost constantly. "Wite out" is even on my grocery list this week.

Sloppiness of pianists have convinced composers and publishers to put reminders onto the music staff? If you are going to do that into the future, perhaps you should consider making them bold red color for the easily forgetful. And please charge them more for their copies of (enhanced with reminders notation) and give me a break on the price of mine, because I don't need them and you'll save yourself some ink, and I'll save myself from painting with "wite out".

Really!

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#1150926 - 01/12/08 08:55 PM Re: Question About Accidentals aka Have I Been Living Under A Rock?
Late Beginner Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/06/08
Posts: 588
Loc: West Australia
Good to know what the correct form is. Interesting debate too. \:D

As a beginner, I regard the score as simply a way to provide the information. I don't really mind how it's done, so long as I understand it. I'm perfectly comfortable to add all sorts of extra cheats and reminders to the page - or to white out existing marks (such as fingerings that I no longer need to be prompted about, or various other types of redundant reminders).

But I also do understand why more experienced players might see a score as a thing of elegance and beauty that shouldn't be cluttered up with non-essentials. I look forward to getting there myself some day.

Horses for courses. \:\)

Cheers,

Chris
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#1150927 - 01/12/08 10:54 PM Re: Question About Accidentals aka Have I Been Living Under A Rock?
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11731
Loc: Canada
I'm not into note reading enough for the piano, but I do find I have the same problem as Betty on the violin. If I am sight reading and see an accidental I think I have to do something. If the accidental is unnecessary then there is a moment of confusion as my brain adjusts to either making the note a semitone higher or lower and then realizes it's already correct. The same is true for fingering - the number tells me I should be shifting, so I prepare to shift or change fingers, only to find out there are no changes. I use gobs of white-out too.

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#1150928 - 01/13/08 03:10 AM Re: Question About Accidentals aka Have I Been Living Under A Rock?
Nikolas Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5305
Loc: Europe
 Quote:
Originally posted by Betty Patnude:
When we are dealing with notation systems, this would be built in as a reminder, or it would not.

They who write music are assuming that people need reminding. If you read it right in the first place there is no need to be reminded.[/b]
On the contrary, what they, who write music, are doing is that they have come in contact with performers and do the performers preferable practice. I've been said many times in my life that my scores need more accidentals, and especially the cautionary accidentals (because, let's face it having an octave of F# and F, most people will assume a typo and think it's an octave and not a diminished 8th, I'm sorry to say).

 Quote:
And when someone above said, you can not naturalize a natural D, first of all I am never saying letter names in my head as I play, I am looking at positions and intervals and I count on the key signature being valid at all times. And for accidentals to be placed only as needed.

And for the b # naturals, put in to alter the key signature. When they return a note to it's natural place (again) in the next measure, it makes my brain stall or trip because I've already done it. And you're right you can't do it again. I have to "wite" them all out and get rid of them. I use a lot of white out these days.[/b]
That someone was me. Hi! \:\)

I didn't imply for a second that anyone goes on sight reading, or playing music by picturing A, B, F#, etc in their head.

What I simply said is that the natural, and only the natural, is a cancelation sign. And in piano, cancelation means going to a white key. If you're already in a white key I can't seem to think where else you can go. That's what I said.

As for "witing" out, I'd say that most performers I know do need a few, at least cautionary accidentals.

I need you to know, Betty, that I also value this ability of yours, and wish all sight readers were like this, only they're not.

 Quote:
My playing comes from my subconscious and all it's years of training, I'm not about to comply with this royal silliness. [/b]
My composing comes also from years of training and practice and really can't see any royal silliness in this thread. Perhaps you can enlighten me as to what you mean by that? Or is it that the whole worlds needs to be united? ;\)

 Quote:
The other thing that drives me nuts is when fingering is mentioned at all when it is needed and out of no where comes a fingering choice which is already part of the hand position I am playing.....I know that one! It's a done deal.

And, there is so much insensitive fingering on the page, I use my "wite ou" almost constantly. "Wite out" is even on my grocery list this week.[/b]
Ditto about that! I like my scores clean and put my own fingering, if needed. I strive for clean scores on something SO personal as the fingering but I don't think I've ever wited out anything from a score. I tend to avoid "permanent damage" on scores, such as pens and wite outs.

 Quote:
Sloppiness of pianists have convinced composers and publishers to put reminders onto the music staff? If you are going to do that into the future, perhaps you should consider making them bold red color for the easily forgetful. And please charge them more for their copies of (enhanced with reminders notation) and give me a break on the price of mine, because I don't need them and you'll save yourself some ink, and I'll save myself from painting with "wite out".

Really! [/b]
You are talking like you've never seen this happen, only you were the first to mention it really! So you must've met this repeatedly enough to annoy you SO extensively.

I'm not here long enough and you are quite a long time here, if I recall, so I have no idea what music you play, etc, but in some styles of music, more is better. The best thing is to avoid confusion for the performer. And confusion can come in plenty of ways.

You are "blessed" with great practice and great abilities, but at least from what I've seen, cautionary accidentals are not really that useless.

(BTW, I'm not reffering to anything with a key signature, right? I've said already I'm not talking about tonal music)

Really!
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#1150929 - 01/13/08 08:42 AM Re: Question About Accidentals aka Have I Been Living Under A Rock?
Reaper978 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/08/05
Posts: 1326
 Quote:
(BTW, I'm not reffering to anything with a key signature, right? I've said already I'm not talking about tonal music)
That's not real music... \:D

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#1150930 - 01/13/08 08:56 AM Re: Question About Accidentals aka Have I Been Living Under A Rock?
Alexander Hanysz Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/12/07
Posts: 141
Loc: Adelaide, South Australia
 Quote:
Originally posted by Jeanne W:
I can't believe what I just read in "The Norton Manual of Musical Notation". The book states:

"An accidental applies only to the note at its original pitch level. When that note is sounded at a different octave level, another accidental is needed."[/b]
It used to be the case that most composers and good music engravers would use "courtesy accidentals" (a.k.a. "cautionary accidentals") so that there can be no possible confusion about such things. For example, if you have an F sharp in one octave followed by either an F sharp or an F natural in another octave, the second note would always have a sharp or a natural sign as appropriate.

Nowadays a lot of composers are notating their own works using computer software. The software will usually follow the rules as you quote them, and usually won't put in any courtesy accidentals at all. This is something that I personally find quite irritating.

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#1150931 - 01/13/08 09:19 AM Re: Question About Accidentals aka Have I Been Living Under A Rock?
epf Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/07
Posts: 658
Loc: Central Texas
Just for the record, I never put courtesy accidentals in my music, nor do I indicate fingering. If someone asks I will tell them how I think it should be fingered, but each of us has a way of playing that makes a particular fingering feel "right" -- and I don't want to mess with that.

Ed
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#1150932 - 01/13/08 01:08 PM Re: Question About Accidentals aka Have I Been Living Under A Rock?
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Hi, Nicolas,

It's nice to "meet" you! I'm glad you said "...that someone was me. Hi!"

I enjoyed your posting directed to me - and I realize I could open my eyes moreso. I am not at all part of the the 21 Century when it comes to computers, digital keyboards, software, and you obviously are very contemporary. In fact, I have trouble finding the on/off switchs on such things.

And, atonal music explains why you would subscribe to your use of accidentals - as a necessary thing.

So, I'm feeling quite cheerful about reading and understanding your posting about choices and reasons why in notation.

I also notice tied notes going across barline, and I've always thought of it as an inept counting problem by someone mostly seen in new age music. I go nuts when the rhythm notations in music are like that.

So between more accidentals than I need, and the taxing rhythms, I just feel more certain of what I am doing, if the music complies to the way I read. When it doesn't it makes me be hyper alert and with too much going on, just plain stressed.

I find myself becoming a "relic".

Thank you for the edification - there IS a rhyme and a reason, after all among younger musicians and composers.

I really had the impression that these (newer) applications of accidentals were "remedial" in nature - as reminders to something already expressed.

It was kind of you to take the time to point things out to me - and most of my sputtering (including royal silliness) was because it confounds me sometimes and makes me question what I'm seeing, instead of playing blissfully along subconsciously, I'm brought to the surface to acknowledge something I don't want or need.

I could be a lot more tolerant and understanding, but I'm not sure I'll accomplish that in this lifetime. ;\)

Thank you again!

Betty

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#1150933 - 01/13/08 04:52 PM Re: Question About Accidentals aka Have I Been Living Under A Rock?
Jeanne W Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/28/04
Posts: 1240
Loc: New England
I'm just checking in briefly. This is turning into quite a debate. I've read some of the posts, will come back later to read the rest and more carefully.

Count me among those who very much dislike the courtesy natural in the following measure which cancels an accidental in the previous measure. For me that creates extra steps my brain has to perform in reading the music for no good reason.

We're already multi-tasking big time when playing the piano. Unnecessary steps in reading notation is undesirable.

To state a courtesy natural in the following measure Norton says:

"Recommended": notate the natural sign by itself.

"Not Recommended" putting parentheses around the natural sign.

I LIKED IT BETTER WITH THE PARENTHESIS AROUND IT! Why:

You're reading the music-you see the parenthesis. That's a dead give away that what you're reading is a courtesy natural and there's no need to consider it any further! That's 1 Step/1 brain process versus...

You're reading the music-you see the natural sign: 1-is this a "new" natural? 2-is it a courtesy natural? 3-yes it's a courtesy natural. That's 3 Steps/3 brain processes.

:rolleyes:

Jeanne W

P.S. I'm with you, Betty. In most cases, I'd rather not see a courtesy natural at all. It's redundant. If I continue stumbling on it, I'll write the courtesy natural into the music myself.

P.P.S. This reminds me of a traffic signal I encountered today while out driving my car. I stopped at an intersection because the light was red. The traffic signal has a lighted left arrow for those making a left turn. Below the signal is a sign that states: "No turn on red arrow." HELLO, THERE! SINCE WHEN DO WE EVER TURN LEFT ON RED??? Maybe that's how people in New Hampshire drive??? \:D
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1920 Steinway A3
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#1150934 - 01/13/08 04:59 PM Re: Question About Accidentals aka Have I Been Living Under A Rock?
Jeanne W Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/28/04
Posts: 1240
Loc: New England
 Quote:
Originally posted by keystring:
I seemto remember in the other forum's discussion that this might be a convention that is in transition. Either the accidental used to affect all notes of that name in that measure and in some modern scores it doesn't, or vice versa. They argued it forever.

Another is when a double flat becomes a single flat. In my theory book you write a single flat, but prior to that there was a natural and flat side by side. Apparently this has changed over time - or is it also geographic? [/b]
You are right. The method using a natural and flat side by side is the "old way". The method of just writing a single flat is the "new and preferred way" according to Norton. I like the old way better - it's clearer to me!!!

Jeanne W
_________________________
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1920 Steinway A3
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#1150935 - 01/13/08 05:07 PM Re: Question About Accidentals aka Have I Been Living Under A Rock?
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11731
Loc: Canada
Jeanne, I like the idea of the parenthesis. Betty, that would save a lot on whitener. ;\) Isn't it an automatic reflex to go back to the default note if the accidental isn't continued?

Old way of natural-flat, or natural-sharp is also clearer to me. If I see a flat as an accidental, my first reaction is that the note has been lowered when in fact it has been raised by a semitone from bb to (nat)b.

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#1150936 - 01/13/08 06:45 PM Re: Question About Accidentals aka Have I Been Living Under A Rock?
Alexander Hanysz Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/12/07
Posts: 141
Loc: Adelaide, South Australia
Personally I'm a big fan of courtesy accidentals. The reason is that when I'm sight reading, I tend to anticipate the next notes depending on what key the piece is in at that time--so I like to see any modulation clearly marked with an accidental.

Let's look at a specific example. I've picked Chopin's A major polonaise, opus 40 number 1. It has a short passage that modulates into G sharp major, so there are plenty of accidentals to look at! In bar 15, it moves to E major: the first bass note of that bar is A natural. My edition (Henle) has a courtesy accidental for that note, which I greatly appreciate: I would instinctively play A sharp otherwise. Once the A natural has been played, the modulation is established, therefore there's no need for courtesy accidentals on the E naturals in the rest of the bar.

(Why use such a strange key as G sharp major anyway? It's because bar 5 went into C sharp major, and so bar 12 goes to the dominant of that key--if it were notated as A flat rather than G sharp, the relationship would be harder to see.)

Similarly, the bass of bar 16 looks like a I-vi-ii-V-I progression in E major--but actually there is a modulation back to A major, hence a courtesy accidental for the right hand D natural.

On the other hand, bar 32 of the piece contains a chromatic scale: the accidentals indicate passing notes, not modulation, therefore bar 33 doesn't need any courtesy accidentals.

My point is that the presence or absence of courtesy accidentals gives clues as to the harmonic "grammar". The traditional use of these signposts makes sight reading much easier.

(A closely related issue is one of correct "spellings" for chords. Try to imagine what the "Moonlight" sonata would look like if all the B sharps were replaced by C naturals.)

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#1150937 - 01/23/08 08:49 PM Re: Question About Accidentals aka Have I Been Living Under A Rock?
askena Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/15/08
Posts: 57
Loc: los angeles
Funny, I just posted a question about that and was led to this thread.

I was curious, as I am learning a Mompou piece that uses measures in a...shall we say, "relaxed' manner?...as there is no time signature. Satie was another fan of no measures or time signatures.

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