Musical Repeat Sign
A repeat sign is an indicator that guides you through a piece of sheet music. These signs are important because they condense the music into much more manageable parts.
If it weren’t for repeat signs, sheet music would be many pages making it difficult for the musician to play. These signs make it easy to add repeats into music to take away a lot of extra pages and wasted space.
What They Do
There are many different types of repeat sings that are used in music. They all have a different purpose, and tell the musician to go to different parts of a song.
Some of the more simple signs will tell you to go the beginning of a song, while others will direct you to a particular part in the middle of a song. These signs are like road signs for a piece of sheet music. They direct you through the sheet music telling you were to go and what to play.
What They Look Like
There are a variety of different repeat signs. Some are Italian phrases, while other are music symbols.
The most common is the traditional repeat sign. This sign looks like similar to a double bar. A double bar is normally used at the end of a piece of sheet music to show the end of a song. See what a double bar looks like at our in-depth instruction on the piano staff.
The repeat looks a little different in the fact that it has two dots facing to the left. A combination of a double bar and two dots create a traditional repeat sign.
There is also an inverted repeat. This repeat looks identical to the traditional repeat except it is facing in the other direction. This is commonly used to show where to repeat back to.
There are number of terms that represent a repeat.
- Da Capo
- Dal Segno
- Da Capo al Fine
Each of these terms are Italian, and have a specific instruction for the musician to follow.
Coda is a musical symbol that navigates the musician through the piece of music.
It looks like a plus sign with circle around it.
This sign is used to show where in a piece of music you need to jump to. When the music shows a coda sign, you need to find the next coda sign, and start playing the section that has the coda sign above it.
A Coda tells you to skip a particular part of a piece of music. It tells you to move from the first coda sign to the very next coda sign.
This sign is simple navigation mark telling you where to move to in a piece of music.
Da Capo is another Italian phrase that tells the musician to return back to the beginning of a piece of music.
You will very rarely see this phrase written out. You will more likely see it written as D.C.
Whenever you see D.C. it tells you that you are to move from the section you just played, and return back to the very beginning of the piece.
A Dal Segno is sign that looks like an S with a line cutting through it and two dots on both sides.
Dal Segno is normally abbreviated as D.S. and tells you to move back to Dal Segno sign. Once you reach the Dal Segno sign, you continue playing the piece of music like normal.
Da Capo al Fine
This is similar to the Da Capo in the regards that you return back to the beginning of the piece of music. The only difference here, is that you are to return to the beginning and play all the way through to the end of the piece.
This is also usually abbreviated as D.C. al fine.
How to Follow a Repeat Sign
There are many different repeat signs in music. They can get very confusing trying to follow them. We are going to go over some examples of repeat signs, and show how to follow them in a piece of music.
There are two instances that you will see a repeat sign; at the end of a piece of music, and within the piece of music.
If at the end of the music, this directs you to return to the beginning and repeat the entire song. You are to return back to the beginning of the piece of music and play all the way to the end.
If you encounter a repeat sign in the middle of a piece of music you are to play up to the repeat sign, return back to the beginning, and play through to the end of the piece.
The inverted repeat is identical to a normal repeat, except it is facing in the opposite direction. Instead of facing to the left, it faced to the right.
To play a section with an inverted repeat, you play to the original repeat. You then go back to the inverted repeat, and play to the end.
To play a Da Capo or D.C., you play until you reach to the D.C., then go back to the very beginning of the piece of music. As soon as you see the D.C. you return to the beginning of the piece.
To play a Dal Segno, look for the abbreviation D.S. This tells you to go back in the piece of music until you reach the Del Segno sign. You continue playing to the end.
DS al Coda
This stands for Dal Segno al Coda. If you remember, Dal Segno means to return to the Dal Segno sign.
Play until you reach the words D.S. al Coda. Then return back to the Dal Segno sign. When you see the first Coda symbol, skip over that section, and go to the next Coda symbol.
DC al Coda
D.C. al Coda is almost exactly the same as the D.S. al Coda. The only difference here, is that instead of returning back to the Dal Segno, you go back to the very beginning of the piece of music.
You still follow the Coda rules of skipping over the coda.
DC al Fine
When you see the D.S al Fine, return to the beginning of the piece. The word Fine tells you where the song is supposed to end.
You then play through the rest of the song until you reach the part that says Fine. This will be the end of the song.
DS al Fine
D.S. al Fine is a mixture of Dal Segno and Fine. You play to the D.S. al Fine, and then return to the Del Segno sign. Once you reach the sign, play until you reach the Fine which expresses the end of the piece.
This shows the musician that there are multiple ending for a piece of music. Rather then playing through one ending, you repeat back through the music and play the alternate ending that may be little different then the first.
There are brackets that are used to separate the first ending from the other endings.
To play this, you play through the first ending. Then return to the beginning of the piece. Then play through the piece again skipping the first ending. Instead of playing the first ending, you play the second ending.
A repeat sign is very important when learning to read music. Most all sheet music has some type of repeat in it. If you don’t know where to go in a piece of music, you will be lost. It’s like being lost in your car. If you don’t know the road signs, then you’ll be lost. If you don’t know the musical directions you’ll be lost.
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