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Accidental position and effect
Unlike the key signature, an accidental is placed within a measure, just before the altered note. Its effect stops at the end of the measure in which it is placed.
An accidental is placed immediately before the altered note, at the same height (on the same staff line or space).
Accidental only has effect for the note(s) that follow it on the same line or the same space, until the end of the bar (or measure) in which it is placed.
To cancel the effect of an accidental within a measure, it is necessary to place a natural () in front of the note in order to restore its natural state.
Cautionary or courtesy accidentals
As musicians are sometimes distrated, they occasionally fail to think of canceling the effect of an accidental once the bar is over. By tradition, it is therefore common to encounter so-called "courtesy" or "cautionary" accidentals, to remind the musician that a previously altered note becomes natural for example. A cautionary accidental is therefore not essential according to the traditional rules of writing music, but facilitates the sight reading of a musician, thus avoiding many errors and saving valuable time.
Last update on 2018/12/21
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