SOPP586: What is the rule regarding accidentals if a note with an accidental is to be held for more two bars?
Vidas: Hello and welcome to Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast!
Ausra: This is a show dedicated to helping you become a better organist.
V: We’re your hosts Vidas Pinkevicius...
A: ...and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene.
V: We have over 25 years of experience of playing the organ
A: ...and we’ve been teaching thousands of organists online from 89 countries since 2011.
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V: Hi guys, this is Vidas!
A: And Ausra!
V: Let’s start episode 586 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Amir, and he writes:
“I think you surely heard this question before. What is the rule regarding accidentals if a note with an accidental is to be held for more two bars and after that it is repeated in the second bar, should the note change as an accidental be repeated in the second bar (in case that there is no sign of an accidental) or it is to be omitted?
V: Amir is taking our Organ Sight-Reading Master Course, and in some lessons, from “The Art of the Fugue,” by Bach, sometimes you get a notation which is not entirely clear sometimes for him, so he asks if there is no sign in the new bar of a new accidental, should you repeat the new accidental or not?
A: Well, that’s a good question, but actually it’s very simple, because if the note is repeated, so it means you have to hit the key again, yes?
A: So it means that you don’t have to use that old accidental unless it’s written in, but if the note is slurred with the…
A: Yes, from the previous measure, it means you don’t have to repeat it, and it means that that accidental from the last bar is still valid.
V: Yes, I think that’s the case.
A: And in general the rule with accidentals, as I teach in my Music Theory lessons is that accidental is valued for one measure, one voice, and one octave. That’s the basic rule.
V: So if you have two voices in the same staff, and only one has an accidental, the other voice has to have an accidental in order to have that accidental. Right? It’s only valid for that particular voice.
A: Yes, it’s valid for one voice, one measure, one octave.
V: In the next measure, it has to be repeated accidental, right?
A: That’s right.
V: Or in the other octave, if you jump an octave up, and you want to hit that accidental, the composer has to write that accidental, too.
A: That’s right.
V: That’s the basic rule of Music Theory and Music Notation. If you’re not sure always, you can double check with music notation software. You notate some notes, and see how the computer generates the notation for you. It’s always clean and understandable. This way, sometimes we do check. Right Ausra?
A: Well, I don’t know. I think I know Music Theory pretty well enough that I wouldn’t have to use that Sibelius or Finale to check it, but…
V: You don’t think that you know more than the computer! The computer is smarter than you!
A: Well, no, it’s not, and really, in these musical problems, you might find mistakes as well, so I’d better choose to believe my head.
V: But what I mean is that maybe Sibelius has a current rule written, and your rule is maybe out of date!
A: well, as you say, but actually what I also trust is that I trust my ear when playing music. It also tells me if that accidental is right or wrong, unless we are talking about very modern music—atonal music.
V: Sometimes, you know, it’s difficult to see even with Bach, in chromatic music, if he meant a sharp or a natural somewhere.
A: Yes, that’s true. And sometimes, if you would compare different editions, you might find different solutions for the same spot. Especially if we are talking about old music.
V: Right. So guys, please send us more of your questions; we love helping you grow. And remember, when you practice,
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Drs. Vidas Pinkevicius and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene
Organists of Vilnius University , creators of Secrets of Organ Playing.
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