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Re: keyAlterationOrder

From: Hans Åberg
Subject: Re: keyAlterationOrder
Date: Tue, 29 Dec 2020 23:12:48 +0100

> On 29 Dec 2020, at 21:09, Freeman Gilmore <> wrote:
> On Tue, Dec 29, 2020 at 2:14 PM Carl Sorensen <> 
> wrote:
>> So if we are in the key of G major, an f sharp has an alteration (sharp) but 
>> is not an accidental.  In the same key, an f has an alteration (none) which 
>> requires an accidental (natural) to be printed.
>> In lilypond we explicitly represent pitches as a step plus alteration (if an 
>> alteration is omitted, it is assumed as none, not as following the key 
>> signature).  This is a design decision that allows the notes to be entered 
>> as specified pitches, regardless of the key signature.  Thus, the pitches do 
>> not change when the key signature changes; only the display of the pitches 
>> changes.
>> Personally, I am glad the lilypond creators made this choice.  I always 
>> enter the pitches I want to hear, and the display of those pitches can be 
>> easily changed.
> So to be sure I understand you correctly, only the note (pittch) as written 
> effect midi, key sig effect display of note on score.

Traditionally, the key signature is a way to simplify notation, and is not 
formally linked to the actual key or scale of the musical piece. Historically, 
one might write say a G major key signature when the piece is in D major. With 
harmonic minor, one typically does not include the raising of the second below 
the tonic in the key signature, though one can. In Turkish music, where 
microtonal key signatures are used, one typically also writes above it the name 
of the scale, called the makam, to clarify further. I find this a good practise 
with non-standard key signatures.

The key signature applies to all octaves, whereas those at the notes, only for 
that position in the staff system to the end of the measure it is within. If an 
accidental of the key signature agrees with the one of a note in the staff 
system, the latter is suppressed notationally.

This is also how LilyPond works.

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