Music Symbols for Repeat signs and endings

Da Capo, Dal Segno, Al Coda

There are a number of repeat signs used in modern day sheet music along with first and second endings, capos and codas.

If you were to write the music notation for a particular song without the use of these symbols, you could end up with pages and pages of music manuscript.

Most forms of modern music incorporate a certain amount of repetion, so to save on repeating the same thing over and over, we use a number of symbols which tell us what to repeat and in what order... and it saves on time and paper.

Repeat Sign

Diagram 1:
Repeat Sign In sheet music, this sign is used to enclose certain parts that are to be played more than once by the use of double bar lines and dots. In this diagram, when you reach the second sign, you repeat the section in between the 2 double bar lines. (The gap in the middle represents any number of bars)

Example: ||:     1     |     2     |     3     |     4     :|| Play bars 1 - 4 and then repeat them again.

First and second endings

We can also use repeat signs to indicate different endings:

First and second endings
Diagram 2:

The first time through, you play the first ending marked 1. Then you go back to the beginning. The second time through, you play the second ending marked 2 - omitting the first ending.


The same principle can be applied to multiple endings...

First, second and third endings
Diagram 3:

The first and second time through, you play the first ending marked 1.2. Then you go back to the beginning. The third time through, you play the third ending marked 3 - omitting the first and second ending.


Example using repeat signs and different endings:

Repeat Signs and endings
Diagram 4:
  • Play Bars 1 - 4 then go back to the start
  • Play Bars 1 - 11 then go back to the start of bar 5.
  • Play from bar 5 to bar 10, this time omitting bar 11 and playing bar 12 instead.

Da Capo - Dal Segno - Al Coda

Da Capo

Da Capo means 'from the head'. It is often abbreviated as D.C. It means you go back to the beginning of the music.

Da Capo
Diagram 5:

Dal Segno

Dal Segno means 'from the sign'. It is often abbreviated as D.S. It means you go back to the sign instead of going back to the beginning of the music.

Da Segno
Diagram 6:

Al Coda

Al Coda means 'to the tail'. It means that you must go to the end section that starts with the coda sign.Coda


Al Coda
Diagram 7:

Example using segnos and codas:

Repeat Signs and endings
Diagram 8:

  • Play Bars 1 to 12 - when you reach D.S. al coda (Dal Segno al coda), go back to the coda sign at the beginning of Bar 1... the coda sign can be anywhere in the piece - it just happens to be at the first bar in this example.
  • Play Bars 1 to 8 - when you reach al coda, go to the coda sign at the start of bar 13.
  • Play bars 13 to 16 and repeat them again.
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