What are accidentals?
Accidentals are musical signs used to change the pitch of a note. Accidentals are used to raise, lower or restore the pitch of a note.
There are several signs that are used as an accidental in music. However, we will be looking at the most popular accidentals used. The three most popular accidentals used in music are sharp, flat and natural.
A sharp raises the pitch of a note by one semitone or half step.
A flat lowers the pitch of a note by one semitone or half step.
A natural restores a raised or lowered note to its original pitch. In other words a natural is used to cancel a previous sharp or flat sign.
The five black keys that come between the seven white or natural keys on the keyboard are called sharp or flat. These black keys come naturally between two white keys. When you move from a white key to a black key that is next to it (whether to the left or to the right) this type of movement is called a semitone. A semitone is also called a half step. (Click here for more details.)
Therefore one can recognized that C is different from C sharp and E is different from E flat.
A sharp, flat or a natural sign comes after the letter when it is written in Standard English form. However, the sharp, flat or natural sign are placed before the note on the staff.
Take a look at the illustrations below for a better understanding.
(SHARP, FLAT & NATURAL WRITTEN IN STANDARD ENGLISH STYLE.)
When a sharp or flat is placed on any line or in any space of the treble or bass staff, the name of that line or space will change taking on the name sharp or flat. When a natural is placed on the staff after a raised or lowered note, the natural cancel the raised or lowered note causing any note that comes after to go back to its original pitch. Hence, the line or space will have its original letter name.
HERE ARE TWO EXAMPLES THAT WILL GIVE YOU A BETTER UNDERSTANDING.
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