Show Summary Details

Page of

Printed from Grove Music Online. Grove is a registered trademark. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a single article for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy).

date: 19 August 2019


  • David Hiley


A sign placed, in modern notational practice, before a note, which alters its previously understood pitch by one or two semitones. The sharp (♯; Fr. dièse; Ger. Kreuz; It. diesis) raises a note by one semitone; the double sharp (𝄪; Fr. double dièse; Ger. Doppelkreuz; It. doppio diesis) raises it by two semitones. The flat (♭; Fr. bémol; Ger. Be; It. bemolle) lowers a note by one semitone; the double flat (♭♭; Fr. double bémol; Ger. Doppel-Be; It. doppio bemolle) lowers it by two semitones. The natural (♮; Fr. bécarre; Ger. Auflösungszeichen or Quadrat; It. bequadro) cancels a previous sharp or flat. A double sharp is changed to a single sharp by writing ♮♯ or occasionally ♯, a double flat to a single flat by ♮♭ or occasionally ♭.

For a discussion of the addition of accidentals to early music see Musica ficta; see also...

Access to the complete content on Grove Music Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.

Châlons-en-Champagne, Bibliothèque Municipale
Musica disciplina
Musical Antiquary
Rome, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana
Montpellier, Bibliothèque Inter-Universitaire, Section Médecine
Florence, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana