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1 - Does an accidental also apply to the same pitch but in different octave in the same measure ? ( my question is related to piano not other instruments )

for example if we have c# in a measure also another c but in different octave in the same measure is this c# or c natural ?

2 - How long a dynamic last when I see one dynamic marking under a note for example "ff" is it means I should play that particular note fortissimo or I should play fortissimo all of the notes until I see other dynamic marking ?

Last edited by Batuhan; 11/24/17 06:59 PM.


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1. No, just the same pitch

2. Dynamic markings depend a lot on the editor. They’re representative of the composer’s intent but there is a lot that is not necessarily on the page. On a score is ‘sparse’ markings, you use them as guideposts but you try to make them part of a narrative.


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Originally Posted by Whizbang
1. No, just the same pitch.


This might be a confusing answer, as the OP uses the word ‘pitch’ to mean ‘the same note name’ - that is, for example, C4 and C5 are the same pitch. Correctly, we would say ‘same pitch class’.

An accidental only applies to the same notes on the the same line or space within a measure, unless cancelled by another accidental or natural sign.

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Originally Posted by Whizbang
1. No, just the same pitch

2. Dynamic markings depend a lot on the editor. They’re representative of the composer’s intent but there is a lot that is not necessarily on the page. On a score is ‘sparse’ markings, you use them as guideposts but you try to make them part of a narrative.


But my piano teacher said that It doesn't matter an octave change accidental apply to the all of same pitch in the measure. I doubt about that because when I research on Internet some people said It's wrong some people said It's true so I don't know which one I should believe. There is no precise conclusion :


Last edited by Batuhan; 11/24/17 08:29 PM.


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Originally Posted by prout
Originally Posted by Whizbang
1. No, just the same pitch.


This might be a confusing answer, as the OP uses the word ‘pitch’ to mean ‘the same note name’ - that is, for example, C4 and C5 are the same pitch. Correctly, we would say ‘same pitch class’.

An accidental only applies to the same notes on the the same line or space within a measure, unless cancelled by another accidental or natural sign.


yeah I ask if C#4 and C5 occur in the same measure C5 is sharp or natural ? Let's assume that the key signature is C major

same pitch class but different octave

Last edited by Batuhan; 11/24/17 08:31 PM.


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Originally Posted by Batuhan
Originally Posted by prout
Originally Posted by Whizbang
1. No, just the same pitch.


This might be a confusing answer, as the OP uses the word ‘pitch’ to mean ‘the same note name’ - that is, for example, C4 and C5 are the same pitch. Correctly, we would say ‘same pitch class’.

An accidental only applies to the same notes on the the same line or space within a measure, unless cancelled by another accidental or natural sign.


yeah I ask if C#4 and C5 occur in the same measure C5 is sharp or natural ? Let's assume that the key signature is C major

same pitch class but different octave
C5 is natural.

Your English is excellent.

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Originally Posted by Batuhan
But my piano teacher said that It doesn't matter an octave change accidental apply to the all of same pitch in the measure.

Are you saying that there is an accidental and then an ottava sign in the middle of the measure? In that case I think your teacher is right.

But sometimes editors make mistakes and some notes lack accidentals when they should and vice versa. Your teacher understands the music and could spot such notes that don't make sense.

Originally Posted by Batuhan
There is no precise conclusion

Music is not always precise. There is much more to interpretation than what is written on the sheet.

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Here is a copy of one of my posts from a few years ago dealing with this same question:


From Read, G. (1979). Music notation: A manual of modern practice (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Taplinger Publishing:

"When an accidental not included in a key signature precedes any note, it affects the pitch it precedes--and no other--for that one measure only" (p. 129, author's italics).

From Heussenstamm, G. (1987). The Norton manual of music notation. New York, NY: W. W. Norton:

"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" (p. 69, author's italics).

From Gould, E. (2011). Behind bars: The definitive guide to music notation. London, England: Faber Music:

"An accidental holds good for the duration of a bar. It applies only to the pitch at which it is writen: Each additional octave requires a further accidental" (p. 78).


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Originally Posted by Qazsedcft

Are you saying that there is an accidental and then an ottava sign in the middle of the measure? In that case I think your teacher is right.

No. With an octave sign the accidental needs to be repeated.

And at any time, if there is a chance of something being confused, an extra accidental is recommended.

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When it comes to dynamics depends on the context. I play in a music group in church. The F & P markings is usually relative to other instruments around. If my section (violin) sounds too loud in relations to other instruments, the conductor would say drop the volume down a bit to get a good balance. With piano playing you often see a F and further down the piece a P with nothing in between. Some of the time you may think of the notes in between as having a decrescendo where you would start out loud and gradually softer. Other times you would play the entire section as loud until you encounter the p and you would drop the volume. Instead of going from a F to a P suddenly, you may start dropping the volume a few notes earlier to make a more gradual transition.

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Originally Posted by packa
Here is a copy of one of my posts from a few years ago dealing with this same question:


From Read, G. (1979). Music notation: A manual of modern practice (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Taplinger Publishing:

"When an accidental not included in a key signature precedes any note, it affects the pitch it precedes--and no other--for that one measure only" (p. 129, author's italics).

From Heussenstamm, G. (1987). The Norton manual of music notation. New York, NY: W. W. Norton:

"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" (p. 69, author's italics).

From Gould, E. (2011). Behind bars: The definitive guide to music notation. London, England: Faber Music:

"An accidental holds good for the duration of a bar. It applies only to the pitch at which it is writen: Each additional octave requires a further accidental" (p. 78).


Thank you. I always got confused about that.


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Originally Posted by packa
Here is a copy of one of my posts from a few years ago dealing with this same question:


From Read, G. (1979). Music notation: A manual of modern practice (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Taplinger Publishing:

"When an accidental not included in a key signature precedes any note, it affects the pitch it precedes--and no other--for that one measure only" (p. 129, author's italics).

From Heussenstamm, G. (1987). The Norton manual of music notation. New York, NY: W. W. Norton:

"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" (p. 69, author's italics).

From Gould, E. (2011). Behind bars: The definitive guide to music notation. London, England: Faber Music:

"An accidental holds good for the duration of a bar. It applies only to the pitch at which it is writen: Each additional octave requires a further accidental" (p. 78).

An addition to that rule: when the same pitch occurs in a change of clef, or when the same pitch appears in the same clef but in the other staff, it has to be marked.

The rule is not only for pitch but also for change of staff or change of clef.

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Originally Posted by Gary D.

An addition to that rule: when the same pitch occurs in a change of clef, or when the same pitch appears in the same clef but in the other staff, it has to be marked.

The rule is not only for pitch but also for change of staff or change of clef.

This is completely true. Although I only quoted briefly from Elaine Gould's monumental reference, she covers these and many other special situations in an entire chapter devoted to the layout and interpretation of accidentals in printed scores. I have always recommended her book, which was written from the perspective of a long-time editor at a major music publisher, to anyone with a deep interest in creating or understanding Western music notation.


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Originally Posted by packa
Originally Posted by Gary D.

An addition to that rule: when the same pitch occurs in a change of clef, or when the same pitch appears in the same clef but in the other staff, it has to be marked.

The rule is not only for pitch but also for change of staff or change of clef.

This is completely true. Although I only quoted briefly from Elaine Gould's monumental reference, she covers these and many other special situations in an entire chapter devoted to the layout and interpretation of accidentals in printed scores. I have always recommended her book, which was written from the perspective of a long-time editor at a major music publisher, to anyone with a deep interest in creating or understanding Western music notation.

I spend a huge amount of time editing music, my own and the music of others.

Rules tend to be a bit "fuzzy" when you get beyond basics.

Students have pointed out missing accidentals in cases where I have cross-staffed notes, where you drag some notes to the bottom staff, yet both hands are playing in the same clef. Finale is not smart enough to add accidentals.

It is also not smart enough to omit them when you have the same pitch in the same staff, same measure, in two voices. Then you will get an extra mark, which you have to hide.

In short, notational software does not always get things correct any more than translation programs can replace translators.

In other words, using Finale, which gets things right a huge amount of the time, you have to be ready to step in to make corrections at any moment.

The trickiest rule is about cautionary accidentals. The rule of them is that any note with an accidental in the last measure needs to be marked with an accidental in the next when it is changed, but the exact application of that rule has some wiggle room. There is also the problem of a note with an accidental with another an octave higher or low having none. In general both notes will be marked, to avoid confusion.

In the end it is all about getting the player to realize the music with the least amount of errors and confusion.

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Originally Posted by packa
Originally Posted by Gary D.

An addition to that rule: when the same pitch occurs in a change of clef, or when the same pitch appears in the same clef but in the other staff, it has to be marked.

The rule is not only for pitch but also for change of staff or change of clef.

This is completely true. Although I only quoted briefly from Elaine Gould's monumental reference, she covers these and many other special situations in an entire chapter devoted to the layout and interpretation of accidentals in printed scores. I have always recommended her book, which was written from the perspective of a long-time editor at a major music publisher, to anyone with a deep interest in creating or understanding Western music notation.

I spend a huge amount of time editing music, my own and the music of others.

Rules tend to be a bit "fuzzy" when you get beyond basics.

Students have pointed out missing accidentals in cases where I have cross-staffed notes, where you drag some notes to the bottom staff, yet both hands are playing in the same clef. Finale is not smart enough to add accidentals.

It is also not smart enough to omit them when you have the same pitch in the same staff, same measure, in two voices. Then you will get an extra mark, which you have to hide.

In short, notational software does not always get things correct any more than translation programs can replace translators.

In other words, using Finale, which gets things right a huge amount of the time, you have to be ready to step in to make corrections at any moment.

The trickiest rule is about cautionary accidentals. The rule of them is that any note with an accidental in the last measure needs to be marked with an accidental in the next when it is changed, but the exact application of that rule has some wiggle room. There is also the problem of a note with an accidental with another an octave higher or low having none. In general both notes will be marked, to avoid confusion.

In the end it is all about getting the player to realize the music with the least amount of errors and confusion.
Originally Posted by thepianoplayer416
When it comes to dynamics depends on the context. I play in a music group in church. The F & P markings is usually relative to other instruments around. If my section (violin) sounds too loud in relations to other instruments, the conductor would say drop the volume down a bit to get a good balance. With piano playing you often see a F and further down the piece a P with nothing in between. Some of the time you may think of the notes in between as having a decrescendo where you would start out loud and gradually softer. Other times you would play the entire section as loud until you encounter the p and you would drop the volume. Instead of going from a F to a P suddenly, you may start dropping the volume a few notes earlier to make a more gradual transition.

The default rule is that you continue with the same dynamic level until you get a new command. If it says f, you stay f until you run into something different.

However, when there are very few markings, literally following the score is going to lead to problems, either something very boring or something even very unmusical.

The opposite problem occurs when composers attempt to communicate every nuance they have in mind by micro-managing all markings, dynamics, accents, touch, pedal, etc. In the end this can be just as misleading and confusing.

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Originally Posted by Gary D.
[Finale] is also not smart enough to omit them when you have the same pitch in the same staff, same measure, in two voices. Then you will get an extra mark, which you have to hide.

I learned that accidentals apply only to the same pitch in the same voice. So Finale would be doing it correctly, according to that rule. This of course may not be the most current rule, or the most conducive to easy reading.


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Originally Posted by PianoStudent88
I learned that accidentals apply only to the same pitch in the same voice. So Finale would be doing it correctly, according to that rule. This of course may not be the most current rule, or the most conducive to easy reading.

The problem is that choices by composers and editors must go beyond rules, because there is more to it. Think of grammar and spelling rules, and what would happen these were controlled diligently by computer program. There is the story of Winston Churchill:
"After receiving a Minute issued by a priggish civil servant, objecting to the ending of a sentence with a preposition and the use of a dangling participle in official documents, Churchill red pencilled in the margin: “This is the sort of pedantry up with which I will not put.”
"up with which I will not put" sounds absurd, but it strictly follows the rules.

I sight read a piece last week where Finale had followed the rules, and because one passage sounded so odd, I went to double check.There was, say, an Ab4 that had been turned into an Anat in the upper staff; therefore when the same note appeared in the lower staff, also treble clef, there was no natural sign. I played it as Ab (as in the signature) - it was not as I remembered the piece which made me stop dead in my tracks and check the score. A human editor would have put in the natural in the lower staff, because the point of notation is to be "transparent" to the reader.

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I wonder if the “same pitch and voice” principle is more apropos for vocal music, where the singer of one line isn’t necessarily following the other lines — even when four part music is written on only two staffs.

Last edited by PianoStudent88; 11/27/17 01:01 PM. Reason: correct autocorrect mess

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Originally Posted by keystring
Originally Posted by PianoStudent88
I learned that accidentals apply only to the same pitch in the same voice. So Finale would be doing it correctly, according to that rule. This of course may not be the most current rule, or the most conducive to easy reading.

The problem is that choices by composers and editors must go beyond rules, because there is more to it. Think of grammar and spelling rules, and what would happen these were controlled diligently by computer program. There is the story of Winston Churchill:
"After receiving a Minute issued by a priggish civil servant, objecting to the ending of a sentence with a preposition and the use of a dangling participle in official documents, Churchill red pencilled in the margin: “This is the sort of pedantry up with which I will not put.”
"up with which I will not put" sounds absurd, but it strictly follows the rules.

Not ending a sentence with a preposition is not a true rule of English grammar. It was a fake rule invented by Victorian pedants who thought English grammar should be like Latin grammar. It’s not surprising that trying to follow a fake rule produces bad results.

Originally Posted by keystring
i sight read a piece last week where Finale had followed the rules, and because one passage sounded so odd, I went to double check.There was, say, an Ab4 that had been turned into an Anat in the upper staff; therefore when the same note appeared in the lower staff, also treble clef, there was no natural sign. I played it as Ab (as in the signature) - it was not as I remembered the piece which made me stop dead in my tracks and check the score. A human editor would have put in the natural in the lower staff, because the point of notation is to be "transparent" to the reader.

If the note was in a different staff, wasn’t it also in a different voice? If so, the missing natural sign was an error by the person creating the score, not an error by Finale.


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Packa and the rest have it right that if there's an accidental on one note, it doesn't propagate to other octaves. That being said, if you have C#4 and C5 in a chord on the paper, the resulting sound is very dissonant, and in the majority of music, possibly a mistake. Melodically it's fine, but if it appears harmonically, depending on the genre, it might be worth a double check.



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