Courtesy accidental options

I’m looking for the following behavior re courtesy accidentals: A note that was altered by an accidental at the same octave in the previous bar, but not in the present bar, should bear a courtesy accidental if it immediately follows the altered note (with no other notes in between). It should not bear a courtesy accidental if notes of other pitch occur between the two. That is, it should only get the courtesy accidental if it is immediately preceded by an altered note on the same space or line in the previous bar. (This is the preferred behavior specified in the Barbershop Harmony Society’s notation manual for arrangers.)

I’ve found Notation Options -> Notes at the same octave in the following bar. I don’t see an option there that appears to give the behavior that I want. Is there a workaround I can use to obtain the behavior I want? And, can it be added to the notation options, please?

Thanks,
Jordan

Well, I can’t speak to whether or not they will program it to automatically behave the way you want (personally I’ve always observed and been told to allow a courtesy accidental even if notes occur in-between) but you have the option to display an accidental on any note either regular or parenthesized. All you have to do is select the note(s) in question and go to the properties in engrave mode.

Ah yes, I see it now on the “Bottom panel”, Cmd-8. Thank you!

The closest you can get to the advice in the Barbershop Harmony Society’s manual is to set ‘Notes at the same octave in the following bar’ and ‘Notes at a different octave in the following bar’ to ‘No cautionary’, and set ‘On the first occurrence of the same note in the following bar, either at the same or in a different octave’ to ‘Show cautionary in parentheses’. This should minimise the number of accidentals you have to hide by hand. You might even find that the circumstances in which the BHS recommends cautionaries are so uncommon that you would be better off disabling all cautionaries altogether and then only showing them when needed via Properties.

I cannot help but feel that the recommendation is rather peculiar: why should the cautionary be required only if the accidental was on the final note of the previous bar and the note that “corrects” it is the first note of the next? It’s been a while since I sang barbershop music, and I wasn’t conscious of really thinking about cautionary accidentals when I did, but I doubt that it’s the case that the harmony of barbershop music is so predictable and diatonic that cautionary accidentals would not be useful in broader circumstances. I wonder whether these guidelines were developed at least in part in recognition of the difficulty of getting good cautionary accidentals without a lot of work on the part of the editor in most notation software?

OK, I’ll try this. Thanks!

You might even find that the circumstances in which the BHS recommends cautionaries are so uncommon that you would be better off disabling all cautionaries altogether and then only showing them when needed via Properties.

We do in fact often use cautionary accidentals; in particular, since pillar harmonies often change at bar boundaries, it’s quite common that movement involving the third or seventh of a chord will require a courtesy accidental. #4 to natural-4 (in a II7-V7 motion) is a typical and frequent example.

I cannot help but feel that the recommendation is rather peculiar: why should the cautionary be required only if the accidental was on the final note of the previous bar and the note that “corrects” it is the first note of the next?

Ah, but that’s not exactly it: the accidental needn’t be on the final note of the prior bar; it merely needs to affect the final note, and can occur on an earlier note in that bar. See the attached image for an illustration. The rule is more about the position of the unaltered note, the one that would or wouldn’t get the cautionary.

It’s been a while since I sang barbershop music, and I wasn’t conscious of really thinking about cautionary accidentals when I did, but I doubt that it’s the case that the harmony of barbershop music is so predictable and diatonic that cautionary accidentals would not be useful in broader circumstances.

Many barbershoppers who are proficient sight-readers do think mainly in terms of scale degrees. Speaking only for myself, my default, subconscious interpretation of an accidental while reading is: warning, the following note is a raised or lowered instance of whatever scale degree. And, when they don’t occur parenthesized and right after a note that was altered, courtesy accidentals do sometimes fool me into thinking the following note is altered when it really isn’t. I suspect this sort of slip-up is not unique to me, and is one reason behind BHS’ recommendation.

In any case, thanks for the thoughtful response, and for the suggestions that may cut down on my hand-editing of accidentals.

Regards,
Jordan
Tenor courtesy accidental example.png