Use of Proper Accidentals in a Given Key

by Chase Allsup
(North Carolina)

Here is my situation:

I am trying to write down a Minor 2nd in the key of G Major (G/Ab). The common practice is to use only Sharp symbols in a key signature that uses sharps.

The problem is, it seems impossible to notate a G and G# simultaneously on the same ledger line without it appearing as (G#/G#) so my only route seems to use the notation (G/Ab)

My question is; is it acceptable to use a Flat symbol in a piece of music using the G major key signature? To me, it looks confusing to the reader.

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A little misunderstanding there! ;)
by: Maria

Hi there Chase,
Thank you for your question!

There is no such thing as a common practice to use only sharp accidentals in a key with sharps in the key signature.

A key signature can use any type of accidentals (sharps, flats and naturals).

So, in the key of G major, wanting to write the interval of a minor second up from G, you were right the first time to write a G and an Ab.

However, if you'd like to write a G and then an G# (which is an augmented unison, NOT a minor second) it is fine too.

An accidental is valid only from the note it is written in front of and to the end of that measure. So the first G is not yet "affected" by the next G's #, so to speak.

I think you'd be helped by reading my articles about intervals and key signatures:

Music Intervals
Key Signatures

And this youtube video is really great:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lkgQfQYcZgc


Hope this helped!

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