Accidental Rules – Naming Notes

Ultimate Music Theory Accidental Rules - Naming Notes

When naming notes with accidentals, there are rules!  These accidentals are found in the music (and are not part of the Key Signature at the beginning of each line).  When naming notes, those Accidental Rules need to be followed!

Has a student ever asked why the flat on E Line #1 does not make the E in Space #4 flat?  There is an Accidental Rule for that.

Have they ever wondered why you don't need to repeat the accidental before each note, but you do need to write the accidental after each letter name?  When we are naming notes with accidentals, there is an Accidental Rule for that too.

Have they ever noticed that a sharp or flat has to be rewritten after a bar line, but we don't need to cancel the accidental with a natural?  You got it - there is an Accidental Rule for that!

So, let's review these Accidental Rules for Naming Notes.

Accidental Rules - Naming Notes

When naming notes with accidentals, Rule #1 is:

An Accidental applies only to notes on that line or in that space until canceled by another Accidental.

Let's look at the first part of this rule:  An Accidental applies only to notes on that line or in that space.  What does that mean?

I tell my students that the Staff is like a very big highway with lots of different lanes.  If a driver in Lane #3 hits a rock and gets a flat tire, the driver in Lane #10 does not also get a flat tire.  As long as that rock is in Lane #3, every car that drives over it will get a flat tire.  But that sharp pointy rock in Lane #3 is not in any other lane!

UMT Accidental Rules - Naming Notes Rule 1

I love the pictures of So-La and Ti-Do driving their red convertible.  If Ti-Do is driving on the E line (Line #1), if he "hits an accidental" (has an "accident), then he is affected by that accidental.

We have fun saying "BOOM, Ti-Do hit a flat, so now he has a flat tire".  The next step in understanding this concept is that, if Ti-Do hits another accidental (before he gets to the Bar Line...which is the next rule), his car is affected by the new accidental!

Accidental Rules - Naming Notes

When naming notes with accidentals, Rule #2 is:

A Bar Line cancels any accidentals.

I tell my Students that a Bar Line is like a Street Cleaner - it sweeps all the "accidentals" off of the Staff Highway.

If you want a note to still be sharp or flat, then you need to write the accidental again after the Bar Line.

An excellent Blog to read in order to understand how a Tie affects naming notes with accidentals is the Tied Notes with Accidentals Blog!

UMT Accidental Rules - Naming Notes - Rule 2

In Measure 2 of the above example, did you notice that we do not need to write a Natural Sign in front of the first note in this measure?

When writing notes with accidentals, a Bar Line cancels the accidentals and returns all notes to their "natural" pitch without having to write natural signs in front of every note! (I find this so cool!)

Accidental Rules - Naming Notes - Pop Quiz

Now, let's have some fun.  That's right, it's Pop Quiz Time!

Name the notes in the Pop Quiz Box.

To have even more fun, play these notes on your instrument.

Did you remember all the Accidental Rules?

UMT Naming Notes with Accidentals Pop Quiz

Before you look at the Answers to our Pop Quiz, I would encourage you to check out the Ultimate Music Theory Membership!

As part of your Membership, you will be able to print two corresponding Worksheets for this Blog.

The first Worksheet is Naming Notes Without Bar Lines.  The second Worksheet is Naming Notes With Bar Lines.  Both Worksheets have Answer Sheets to make your marking super easy!

And remember, the only way to access these Worksheets is to have an Ultimate Music Teachers Membership.

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Want Access To The UMT Worksheet That Correlates To This Blog? Get Worksheets, Games, How To Teach Online Tips, Coaching Calls & More!

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Accidental Rules - Naming Notes - Pop Quiz Answers

Now, here are the Answers to our Pop Quiz!

How did you do?  If you are not comfortable with your answers, I would encourage you to work through the Ultimate Music Theory Workbooks.  Remember - you never know what you do not know until you discover that you did not know that!

UMT Naming Notes with Accidentals Pop Quiz Answers
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Keep on Learning... With a Smile and a Song!

Shelagh McKibbon-U'Ren

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