In modern Western music notation, a natural (♮) is a musical symbol that cancels a previous sharp or flat on a note in the written music. The sharp or flat may be from a key signature or an accidental. The natural indicates that the note is at its unaltered pitch.[1]

Natural (music)
In UnicodeU+266E
(HTML : &#9838)


The natural symbol can be used as an accidental to cancel sharps or flats on an individual note. It may also be shown in a key signature to indicate that sharps or flats in a previous key signature are cancelled.

A note is referred to as 'natural' when the letter-name note (A, B, C, D, E, F, or G) is not modified by flats or sharps from a key signature or an accidental. These notes correspond to the white keys on the keyboard of a piano or organ.

The keys of A minor or C major and their scales contain all natural notes, whereas other scales and keys have at least one sharp or flat.

F, C, E, B, and most notes inflected by double-flats and double-sharps correspond in pitch with natural notes but are regarded as enharmonic equivalents of the natural note.

The natural sign is derived from a square b used to denote B in medieval music (in contrast with the round b denoting B, which became the flat symbol). The Unicode character MUSIC NATURAL SIGN '♮' (U+266E) should display as a natural sign. Its HTML entity is ♮.


In musical notation, a natural sign () cancels a flat or sharp from either a preceding note or from the key signature.

{ \omit Score.TimeSignature { \key aes \major s8^"" \bar "||" \key f \major s8^""))

Sometimes these cancelling naturals at a key change are omitted, although they must be shown to indicate a new key with no flats or sharps.

\relative c' { \omit Score.TimeSignature \set Staff.printKeyCancellation = ##f
  \key aes \major s8^"" \bar "||"
  \key f \major s^"" \bar "||"
  \key e \major s^"" \bar "||"
  \key c \major s^""

Like all accidental markings, the natural symbol would be written to the left of the note head and it applies to any subsequent notes of the same pitch through the remainder of the measure.

 { \omit Score.TimeSignature \relative c'' { b!1 ))

To cancel the previous natural signs on notes of the same pitch, another accidental, such as a flat (♭) or a sharp (♯) is used. If a key change indicates flats or sharps of a key signature changing to double flats or double sharps, naturals may be used to cancel the single flats or sharps but this is not necessary.

Double natural

A double natural is a symbol that has two naturals (♮♮).[2] It may be used to cancel a double flat or double sharp, but in modern notation a single natural sign (♮) is acceptable.[2]

\omit Score.TimeSignature \relative c'' {
  beses2_"Older Practice" \tweak Accidental.restore-first ##t b bisis \tweak Accidental.restore-first ##t b beses_"Modern Practice" b bisis b
} }

Similarly, a simple ♭ or ♯ without any natural sign can be used to indicate that a double flat or double sharp has been changed to a single flat or sharp, but older notation may use ♮♭, ♭♮, ♮♯, or ♯♮ instead.

\omit Score.TimeSignature \relative c'' {
  beses2_"Older Practice" bes bisis2 bis \accidentalStyle modern beses_"Modern Practice" bes bisis2 bis
} }
{ \omit Score.TimeSignature { \omit Staff.KeyCancellation \set Staff.keyAlterations = #`((6 . ,DOUBLE-FLAT)(2 . ,DOUBLE-FLAT)(5 . ,DOUBLE-FLAT)(1 . ,FLAT)(4 . ,FLAT)(0 . ,FLAT)(3 . ,FLAT)) s^"" \bar "||" \omit Staff.KeyCancellation \set Staff.keyAlterations = #`((6 . ,NATURAL)(6 . ,NATURAL)(2 . ,NATURAL)(2 . ,NATURAL)(5 . ,NATURAL)(5 . ,NATURAL)(1 . ,NATURAL)(4 . ,NATURAL)(0 . ,NATURAL)(3 . ,NATURAL)(3 . ,SHARP)(0 . ,SHARP)(4 . ,SHARP)(1 . ,SHARP)(5 . ,SHARP)(2 . ,SHARP)(6 . ,SHARP)) s^""))


  1. ^ Benward & Saker (2003). Music in Theory and Practice, Vol 1, p.6. McGraw-Hill, Seventh edition. "Natural ()—cancels any previous sharp or flat and returns to the natural, or unaltered, pitch."
  2. ^ a b "OnMusic Dictionary - Term". Retrieved 20 July 2020.
  3. ^ Max Reger: Clarinet Sonata No.2 (Complete Score), pp. 33.: Scores at the International Music Score Library Project
  4. ^ Wen, Eric (2011). "E-quadruple flat: Tovey's Whimsy". Zeitschrift der Gesellschaft für Musiktheorie (in German). 8 (1): 77–89. doi:10.31751/612.
  5. ^ Chopin: Études No. 9, Op.10 (C.F. Peters), pp. 429.: Scores at the International Music Score Library Project
  6. ^ [1]