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Accidental accidentals: cross, be, natural natural

Accident marks are characters in the musical text that indicate a change (increase or decrease) in a root note . They are also called accidents (different spelling: Akzidenzien ; singular: the Akzidens ) or accidentalias .

Such accidentals can move root tones up or down by a semitone or two . In addition, there are special accidentals for offsets by quarter , sixth, eighth and twelfth tones that are used in new music and transcriptions of ethnic music.

Types of accidentals

One differentiates:

  • the cross ( ) to increase by a semitone; The suffix "-is" is added to the note name (e.g. C → Cis, H → His)
  • the double cross ( Double cross) for the increase by two semitones, the suffix "-isis" is added to the note name (e.g. C → Cisis, H → Hisis)
  • the B ( ) for the lowering by a semitone, the suffix "-es" is added to the note name (e.g. C → Ces, but: H → B, A → As)
  • the double b ( Double b) for lowering by two semitones, the suffix "-eses" is added to the note name (e.g. C → Ceses, A → Asas or Ases, H → Heses)
  • A natural sign ( ) cancels the effect of pre- or transfer character in the clock on.

All shifts are based on the root tone, not a possibly pre-marked tone. With a preliminary drawing with a , an F sharp with an accidental becomes a Fes, not an F.

Double accidents occur where the basic tone has already been changed by half a tone by a preliminary drawing; Adding a double accidental to a tone that has not been plotted is not in line with musical practice, as the enharmonic tone is used for this (e.g. F sharp for A major (F sharp, C sharp and G sharp are marked) would be correct, for A minor ( no sign) it would be G).

Names of altered tones

Double b Root / Double cross
Ceses Ces C. Cis Cisis
Deses Of D. Dis Disis
Eses It E. Ice cream ( spoken:  E-is) Eisis
Feses Fes F. F sharp Fisis
Geses Ges G G sharp Gisis
Asas or Ases As A. Ais ( spoken:  A-is) Aisis
Heses B. H His Hisis

The naming of the altered tones is independent of possible enharmonic mix-ups . So is z. B. the tone His, which is obtained by increasing the B, in pure tuning and thus a different tone than the C in terms of harmonic function. In equal tuning , however, these two tones are mapped to the same tone. B. the keys of the keyboard each receive several tone names .

Ice cream
G sharp
- a

Differentiation from sign

Accidental accidentals differ from using the same characters as a leading sign in several ways :

  • Accidentals come directly before a particular note . In contrast, the accidentals are immediately after the clef (before the time signature ).
  • Accidental symbols only apply to the specified pitch, not to all octave ranges .
  • An accidental is only valid in the measure in which it is notated. With the exception of tied notes , the pre-drawn pitch applies again after the next barline . In contrast, the accidentals apply until the end of the respective piece of music, unless they are overwritten by a new preliminary signature.

In romantic music (e.g. Verdi, Bizet, Rossini, Berlioz, Debussy, Puccini, Enescu, etc.) it was usually customary to use the accidental symbols in the new measure even if a slur was used. This notation is unmistakable and there is no need to set warning accidents in the event of a page or line break. But Richard Wagner, Anton Bruckner and Felix Weingartner also wrote this down. They were often called "French notation". Even with Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky you can occasionally find this spelling, which, however, was often only used inconsistently.

The publishers proceeded very differently in printed editions: German publishers usually made changes according to their house rules, which have become more and more accepted worldwide - perhaps because they save a little space. They are also called "German notation". The Romance original publishers Verdis, Puccinis, Debussys, Bizets and other Romance composers kept this notation for a long time. The French publishers used the newer German notation for Ravel and Dukas. What their manuscripts were like is not known. This notation has been found again and again among younger, often Eastern European composers.

Bruckner's first prints were all standardized; only the Bruckner Complete Edition (Haas and Nowak) adopted this original notation again. After Nowak's death, however, the editors no longer use the “French notation”. Newer Urtext editions are very inconsistent here, because although the original notation is also an intrinsic feature of the composer's work, it is mostly standardized, despite the alleged Urtext premise.

The notation used by Alban Berg (and other modern composers) - adding an accidental or a resolver for each note - is not identical to the French notation, despite the seeming similarity. In the case of transfers, German rules are followed there.

All notations work in practice without complaint, often the musicians are not even aware of which notation they are currently playing. In any case, the French one is safer, it comes from their operatic practice. With very few orchestral rehearsals, difficult works had to be played almost "from the sight". In the opera, the players also have to constantly pay attention to other things - especially what is happening on the stage. Therefore, the eyes are constantly changing between the sheet of music and looking at the conductor; and besides, one is constantly at risk of being distracted and can easily overlook the omens. In this case the additional accidentals of the French notation are very helpful.

When using the “German notation”, you must always pay attention to the page and line breaks. There - as in the French tradition - additional accidentals are used. Some publishers (including Boosey & Hawkes) put these warning adverts in brackets. The Dvořák and Tchaikovsky Complete Editions did not use these signs. If these warning accidents are missing, samples are often unpleasantly delayed.

Use of language

The following rules apply in German :

  • When increasing with a cross, the name of the root note is always extended by the suffix "-is". So cis, dis, eis (pronounced e-is), fis, gis, ais (pronounced a-is), his .
  • In most cases, diminution is indicated by the suffix "-es". Exceptions to this are the root tones e, a and h. In detail: ces, des, es , fes, ges, as , b (instead of hes) .
  • Double increase with a double cross provides cisis, disis, eisis, fisis ... , double decrease with a double b ceses, deses, eses , feses, geses, asas or ases , heses (instead of bes) . These double alterations almost always only appear briefly as accidentals, as accidentals only in rare keys such as Fes major .
  • It is also common in parlance to call the temporary accidentals somewhat vaguely “accidentals”; to better distinguish the standing at the beginning of the grading system in this case should sign are called "general signs".

In the English and Romance language areas, the root names themselves are not extended, but are given the following attributes:

  • : engl. sharp , french dièse , ital. diesis
  • : engl. flat , french bémol , Italian bemolle .

See: Other language tone names

Warning accidents

For the sake of clarity, accidentals that are actually superfluous are occasionally used as warning accidents (also known as reminder signs ), for example in the following cases:

  • if there was a different shift in the measure beforehand
  • if in another voice at the same time or shortly before (in the same measure) another offset applies (e.g. in the case of a cross position )
  • if tied notes that retain the alteration are separated by a line break, the accidental is repeated at the beginning of the new line

Warning accidents are occasionally identified as such by putting them in brackets , printing them smaller or placing them above the relevant note.

History of accidentals

Since ancient times, the principle of diatonic has prevailed in the music of the western world, which derives its melodic tension from the alternation of differently sized pitch intervals ( whole tone and semitone steps). This was adopted in the mode- based music of the Middle Ages . The main tone series was then designated with the letters ABCDEFG. In the older chorale notation , only two accidentals emerged from around the 10th century, which always refer to the root note B of that time: the b rotundum ("round B") or also b molle ("soft B") denotes the lower one Tone variant, the b quadratum ("square B") or b durum ("hard B") the higher. The b rotundum is the direct forerunner of our current accidentals während , while both the natural später and the cross later developed from the b quadratum . The foreign-language tone names bemolle (Italian) or bémol (French) and the name of the tone family Moll are derived from the term b molle , and the name major from b durum .

Over the centuries, the appearance of the b square approached that of the letter "h". This solidified itself in the 16th century with the advent of letterpress printing , as there was no separate type of printing available for the b quadratum and the “h” was chosen as a substitute representation. This change also had an impact on the designation of the root tone series: in many language areas of Central Europe (in German , Norwegian , Swedish , Polish , Slovenian , Czech ) the root tone itself was given the name h and the lower tone the name b . In contrast, the main tone in English retained the name b , while the lower tone there is called b flat . To this day, this division of the tone names regularly leads to confusion among musicians.

Quarter tone and sixth tone accidentals

Quarter-tone accidentals are used in the same way as chromatic accidentals for notating pitch differences. They are used as a supplement to the semitone symbols cross ( ) and b ( ) in quarter-tone music and similarly in oriental music (for example in the notation of Persian music based on the Dastgah system ). They are used to raise or lower the base tones by one or three quarter tones.

So far there is no uniform character system as with the halftone displacement characters. The common systems are easy to interpret because of their similarity to the chromatic accidentals.

Quarter-tone accidental 1Viertelplus.png Increase by a quarter tone Quarter-tone accidental 3Viertelplus.png Increase by three quarter tones
Quarter-tone accidental 1quarter minus.png Decreased by a quarter tone Quarter-tone accidental 3quarter minus.png Three quarter tone lowering

Here are further examples of quarter-tone and sixth-note notations with details of the deviations in cents .


Representation in computer systems

Accidentals in unicode
character Unicode
code point links to the Unicode block
Name / description Decimal
Latex Keyboard entry
with assignment E1
U + 266F musical sharp sign cross 9839 & # x9839; \sharp
U + 266D musical flat sign b 9837 & # x266D; \flat
U + 266E natural sign Natural sign 9838 & # x266D; \neutral
? U + 1D12A musical symbol double sharp Double cross 119082 & # x1D12A;
? U + 1D12B musical symbol double flat Double b 119083 & # x1D12B;
? U + 1D12C musical symbol flat up b increased 119084 & # x1D12C;
? U + 1D12D musical symbol flat down b humbled 119085 & # x1D12D;
? U + 1D12E musical symbol natural up Natural sign increased 119086 & # x1D12E;
? U + 1D12F musical symbol natural down Cancellation sign lowered 119087 & # x1D12F;
? U + 1D130 musical symbol sharp up Cross raised 119088 & # x1D130;
? U + 1D131 musical symbol sharp down Cross humiliated 119089 & # x1D131;
? U + 1D132 musical symbol quarter tone sharp Quarter-tone cross 119090 & # x1D132;
? U + 1D133 musical symbol quarter tone flat Quarter tone b 119091 & # x1D133;

See also


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Wieland Ziegenrücker: ABC Music . 6th edition. Breitkopf & Härtel, Wiesbaden 2009, ISBN 978-3-7651-0309-4 , p. 40.
  2. Daniel Gottlob Türk: Brief instructions on how to play the piano, an extract from Daniel Gottlob Türk's larger piano school . Hemmerde and Schwetschke, Halle 1792, ISBN 978-1-270-99237-0 , p. 26 ( limited preview in Google Book Search - sheet music and audio files from piano school in the International Music Score Library Project ).
  3. Helmut KH Lange: General music theory and musical ornamentation . Franz Steiner Verlag, Stuttgart 1991, ISBN 978-3-515-05678-6 , pp. 19 ( limited preview in Google Book search).
  4. W3C ( World Wide Web Consortium ): Character entity references in HTML 4
  5. Scott Pakin: The Comprehensive LaTeX Symbol List. (PDF, 8.7 MB) January 19, 2017, archived from the original on September 28, 2017 ; Retrieved on September 28, 2017 (English, linking the original results in a mirror of CTAN , the archive link compare file: Comprehensive LaTeX Symbol list.pdf ).