Enharmonic spelling

• Nov 29, 2021 - 10:02

is this engraved right? Or is it better when the 2nd note is a g flat, and the 4th note a g sharp?


Greetings, Pentatonus


The F# looks fine.

For the second question, G# is probably easier to read. In chromatic scalar passages it is generally better to use sharps when the line rises and flats when it falls as that requires fewer accidentals. Depending on the harmonic context a flat may be more appropriate, but even then, unless you want to visually emphasise the harmonic context, the G# would be an acceptable alternative.

In reply to by SteveBlower

I'd say in most cases, visualizing the harmony does simplify the reading. I had to read to do a gig where someone consistently spelled E major triads as E Ab B because apparently someone told them Ab was easier to read than G#. Up or down doesn't matter in these cases.

However, that applies mostly to piano, guitar, and other instruments capable of playing chords. Or, sometimes, to lead sheets, where spelling the melody consistent with the chord symbols is also a bug aid to readability. But for single note melodies with no chord symbols, it's often better indeed to ignore the harmony and just follow the direction of the line.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

To clarify, I should have said, in the vast majority of the special cases of chromatic scalar passages the rule is sharps on the way up, flats on the way down which minimises the number of accidentals. In cases other than chromatic scalar passages, yes, spelling should conform with harmonic relationships.

F# and G#. The fewer accidentals, the better. Also, it just scans better when playing. For such short duration notes I wouldn't take harmonics into account.

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