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Accidentals in Sommerabend by Grieg

Posted by dweedle 
Accidentals in Sommerabend by Grieg
June 20, 2018 06:32AM
I'm playing "Summer Eve" by E. Grieg, Op. 71 No. 2 (www.pianoshelf.com/sheetmusic/652/grieg-op.-71,-lyric-pieces,-book-x-652). I'm not well versed in music theory, and I'm not sure that the key of this piece is or the implications of particular accidentals. For example, G is flat by the key signature, however, there is also a G flat accidental. Does this mean the same as the double flat B (down a whole step)? Why use double flat accidentals and flat accidentals?
Re: Accidentals in Sommerabend by Grieg
July 20, 2018 02:02PM
The key looks to be D flat major. I assume you are referring to the G flat accidental in bar 9 of the piece. Like you I’m no expert, but I’m quite sure this means G flat, not G double flat. An accidental temporarily replaces what went before, it doesn’t supplement it in the way you are suggesting (if it did, the B double flat accidental which you also mention would really be a triple flat because B is in the key signature as well!).

Strictly speaking, the G flat accidental is unnecessary. It is only there because there is a G natural accidental in the preceding bar. Of course, that previous accidental is automatically cancelled by the bar line so the G flat symbol in bar 9 doesn’t have to be there. It is simply inserted as a reminder that we have reverted to G flat and it is what is called a “courtesy accidental”. Often, these courtesy accidentals (which are not strictly necessary but are helpful to the player) are shown in parentheses but they don’t have to be.
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