Advanced Music Theory tutorials
12. Repetition markers
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Is this some sort of subtle dig on how people believe all music sounds the same or what?

  1. Topics of discussion
  2. Simple repetition markers
  3. Advanced repetition markers

1. Topics of discussion

In this tutorial, we will be discussing the many types of repetition markers in music. So, let's have some fun.

2. Simple repetition markers

Repetition markers are used to designate sections of a song that are meant to be played twice. They are very common in classical music and one of the more common ways in which they are used is the one that tells you to repeat the whole song twice. Here is how that looks on a music sheet:

Simple Repetition Example 1

And here it is played back:

Of course, in a song you may have more sections that you want repeated. This is especially useful for classical music form such as sonata where the sections of the song are repeated. Here's how it looks on a music sheet:

Simple Repetation Example 2

And here it is played back

And a final example here would be of a repeated section in between two regular sections, something like this:

Simple Repetition Example 3

And here it is played back:

3. Advanced repetition markers

Now that we this all figured out with the basics of repetition, let's take a look at some advanced repetition markers. Such repetition markers allow you to do several things:

  • tell a musician that a certain measure needs to be repeated a number of times
  • tell a musician that you have alternate endings to a repeated section
  • use even more Italian words to tell a musician where to start repeating a secion from

Let's start off with the bar repetition marker:

Bar Repetition

And here it is played back:

As you can see, we have two bars that have a weird sign on them. What that translates to is basically this: the bars with those signs on them have the same notes as the previous bar. In our case, the first time we see that sign, it means that we have to play the C D E F notes since the first bar consisted of those notes. And the second time, we also have to play the C D E F notes since the previous bar also had those notes.

Let's move on to alternate endings. In your musical journeys, you may also encounter these under the name voltas. Here's how they look like on a music sheet:

Alternate Endings

And here it is played back:

And now, let's move on to the fun part of this tutorial, learning a bunch of new Italian words:

  • capo - translates to beginning
  • fine - translates to end
  • coda - basically means outro
  • segno - translates to sign or mark

And now that we know this, we will take it to the next level and learn some useful musical indications in Italian:

  • D.C - it means da capo, which translates to from beginning
  • D.C. al Fine - it means da capo al fine, which translates to from beginning to end
  • D.C. al Coda - it means da capo al coda
  • D.S. - it means da segno, which translates to from the sign
  • D.S. al Fine - it means da segno al fine
  • D.S. al Coda - it means da segno al coda

These indicators are basically repetition markers, but in "written" form, if you will. They act the same as regular repetition markers. What is important for me to show you here is how a segno and coda look like on a musical sheet. Fine is simply written in text on the music sheet, so don't worry about it.

Here is a segno and coda example:

DS al Coda

And here it is played back:

Anyway, that about covers it for this tutorial. In the next tutorial, we will be discussing octave changes. See you then.

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