Using accidentals with octaves

• Sep 4, 2017 - 09:37

Currently, Musescore does not display accidentals at the octave (in a same voice)

Concerning the playback, this does not pose a problem with the natural, since the note to the lower octave is the same as the note above.
On the other hand, for the sharps and the flats, the difficulty appears since the accidental to the octave is not added by default. And so playback is deficient - you have to manually add an accidental. Anyway, what is shown can easily admit to ambiguity.

Elaine Gould (Behind Bars), p.78-79 seems clear on the fact that "each additional octave requires a further accidental"

So, MuseScore displays and plays this: altérations.mscz
Sibelius (7.5) has a different behavior: the program displays a natural, by default, and it continues to do the same for sharps and flats. In a way, you're warned.
And for Finale (2012) : again a different behavior (but for the playback, it's ok, and for the display probably too, except for the natural, less expected?):
So it does not display the natural (as MuseScore), but it shows a second sharp and a second flat to the octave.

Any thougths about the best expected behavior for MuseScore in this use case?

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As I said on the French forum, every score I see has accidentals in both octaves. I realize they are not necessary, but this is the industry norm. As far as the results you get from Finale, If you enter the notes by keyboard using my shortcuts*, you get the same results.

  • I have defined a shortcut to add a note an octave below (among others). So when I enter G#, G down arrow add octave below I get measure 1. If I enter G, G up arrow add octave below I get the result in measure 2 and so forth.

My point is that MuseScore and Finale have the same results if MuseScore is used to its max capacity. The results in measure 1 are not standard in the industry, no matter what Gould says.

This leads me to being torn, because I think the industry goes overboard in its use of courtesy accidentals. At times I am transcribing and run across a courtesy accidental. I don't remember what it cancels so I look back through the score only to find there was an accidental tens of measures earlier and this note has not been played since. Since over use of accidentals is the industry standard, if they were to suddenly stop doing this, it would lead to confusion among the musicians since they expect this abuse. When I transcribe songs, I do as the publisher did, which is over use the accidentals because I want by copy to be as close to the original as possible.

MuseScore is doing the correct thing here. An accidental in one octave does not apply to any other octave. If you want an accidental on another octave, you need to place it there explicitly. So your second and third measures are not octaves. If you want those to be octaves, you need to add the appropriate accidentals. If you really intend those not to be octaves, then it is true that for clarity, it would be a good idea for you to add explicit courtesy accidentals to the bottom notes. Just as it is always a good idea to add courtesy accidentals to the next measure if the same notes occur again. MuseScore allows both forms of courtesy accidental in exactly the same way. It does not add these automatically, because there is much subjectivity about how courtesy accidentals should be used. There is a plugin that can help automate this, and I'd like to see that functionality incorporated in the program itself at some point.

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