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Each music note has two attributes – pitch and duration. Pitch and duration are independent of each other. Pitch is indicated by the vertical position of the note on the stave, the key signature, and “accidentals” placed next to the note. Duration is indicated by the type of note used.

The key signature on the left side of the stave tells the musician what sharps and flats they should play automatically. “Accidentals” – sharps, flats, and naturals placed to the left of a note – inform the musician of pitch deviations from the “norm” in the key signature.