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#3216892 05/17/22 06:15 AM
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According to what I can find, this is supposed to cancel a double-sharp and give a single sharp on a note.

But I ran into it where there is no double-sharp to be cancelled. There's a G flat in the key signature, however, and the idea appears to be to cancel the flat and make it G-sharp. Why it couldn't be written as an A-flat I don't know.

I can't go by "what sounds right" because this piece has lots of deliberate dissonance in it.

(By the way, this is from June Weybright's Mildly Contemporary series. I see a handful of mentions of Weybright on this board, but nothing about Mildly Contemporary. When I was a kid in the 1960s my piano teacher gave me a few assignments from one of these books, and I've sought them out now in my retirement).

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The natural sign can cancel any previous accidental.

As for why G# rather than A flat, it's all to do with harmony and enharmonic changes - or to the whim of the composer wink .


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There is no reason to use a natural sign to cancel anything out, even double-sharps. Any accidental automatically cancels everything before it.

It's common to see natural signs that "cancel out" a key signature before introducing a new key signature, but that is just courtesy from the editor and is not required in standard musical notation.

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Originally Posted by Brus
According to what I can find, this is supposed to cancel a double-sharp and give a single sharp on a note.

But I ran into it where there is no double-sharp to be cancelled. There's a G flat in the key signature, however, and the idea appears to be to cancel the flat and make it G-sharp. Why it couldn't be written as an A-flat I don't know.

The accidentals indicated are always absolute and not relative and they are unrelated to the key signature. The Natural sign cancel all previous accidentals, ie you get a G (white key), irrespective of what is in the key signature or previous accidentals. There is a common misconception that the natural sign cancels only one sharp, but that is untrue. In some editions, you will find a double natural sign after a double sharp or flat, but that is strictly not necessary, the single natural is enough.

If you want to get a G sharp after a previous double sharp, you need to write one sharp (assuming the key signature does not have one, and we are in the same bar). Most editors for clarity will put a natural sign and a sharp by courtesy.

In your case, if there is a G flat in the key signature, and you see a natural G, then it is exactly that, a natural G (ie white key). If the author wanted a G sharp, he would put a sharp or possibly and by courtesy a natural and sharp.


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For clarity…what do you mean by “a natural sharp sign”? Are you referring to a *natural sign* immediately followed by a *sharp sign*?

If so, this combination isn’t always about cancelling out a double-sharp. In some cases it can be cautionary or used merely to call attention.

If the G is flat in the key signature, the composer may have felt it necessary to natural it, then add the sharp to ensure that you know it’s supposed to be a G-sharp. Instead of making the mistake of “sharping” the G-flat into a natural. Perhaps the composer was just being careful. Perhaps this is a mistake that is made often? You also say this piece has a lot of intentional dissonances. Perhaps it’s to ensure that you don’t make a mistake of playing that note in the way it has been altered in previous measures. Has that particular G been sharped, double-sharped, or naturaled repeatedly in previous passages? Because this piece has intentional dissonances, probably created by lots of accidentals, the composer may have done this to make sure that you know exactly what the intention is there, since the piece has so much going on.

It’s hard to know why without knowing what the piece is or how the passages before it look, but those could be reasons.

As for why the composer chose to make it a G-sharp instead of an A-flat….the same reason a composer might chose to call a piece Prelude in D-flat & notate it in D-flat instead of Prelude in C-Sharp with notations in C-sharp. It could just be preference, especially if this is a piece where the composer takes liberties & is experimental.


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