Repeats, Codas, and Endings


A lot of music includes sections that are repeated. These repeats are often simplified by using symbols to indicate that a section is repeated rather than writing out each repeat. There are several ways of notating repeats.

Repeat Signs

A repeat sign is a modified double barline that includes two dots:

Repeat sign

Single Repeat Sign

A single repeat sign indicates that you should play to the repeat sign and then repeat once from the beginning:

Single repeat sign

Beginning and Ending Repeat Signs

A beginning and ending repeat sign indicates that everything between the two repeat signs should be repeated.

Beginning and ending repeat

First and Second Endings

First and second endings are a way of notating different endings for each repeat of a section of music. They are notated with a bracket above the music with a number in the bracket indicating which ending it is. Here is an example of a first and second ending:

First and second ending

Additional endings beyond the second ending are possible. These may be notated in several ways:

Separate Endings

This is similar to how first and second endings are notated. Each ending will be notated separately with its own bracket and number.

Numbers Separated by a Comma

This indicates that a particular ending is to be used multiple times and which section of music should be repeated for which ending.

Endings with a comma separating the numbers

Numbers Separated by a Dash

This indicates that the section of music should be played for several endings in a row. For example, if you see 1-3, that means to play that section for the first through third endings.

Endings with a dash separating the numbers

Textual Repeats

D.C. or Da Capo

Da capo is an Italian term meaning 'from the beginning'. Da Capo is usually abbreviated as D.C. When you see this, you should return to the beginning of the song and play from there.

D.S. or Dal Segno

Dal segno is an Italian term meaning 'from the sign'. This will generally be abbreviated as D.S. above the music. When you see this, you should go back to where the sign appears in the music and play from there. The symbol for this sign is shown below:

Dal segno sign

D.C. al Fine

D.C. and D.S. are often used with the term Italian term Fine (meaning 'the end'). D.C. al Fine means to go back to the beginning and play until you see Fine. In the following example, you would play until you see D.C. al Fine and play from the beginning, stopping when you see Fine in the second measure.

Da capo al fine

D.S. al Fine

D.S. al Fine indicates to go back to the sign and play until you see Fine. The following example is performed by playing until you see D.S. al Fine, going back to the sign in measure two, and ending in measure three where you see Fine.

Da segno al fine

The Coda

A coda is a closing section of a piece a music that is notated separately from the main part of the work. A coda is indicated by the coda sign. The coda sign is shown below:

Coda sign

D.C. and D.S. are often used with the Italian phrase 'al Coda' (to the coda). This indicates that you return to either the beginning of the piece or the dal segno sign and play until you see the coda sign. Skip to the coda when you see this sign. The sign may be accompanied by text like 'To Coda', but this isn't always the case. The coda is on a separate line from the rest of the music and will have a coda sign above the music. The word 'Coda' may also appear with the sign.

Da Capo al Coda

In the following example, you would play until the D.C. al Coda in the fourth measure, return to the beginning, play to the coda sign in measure two, then skip to the coda:

Da capo al coda

Dal Segno al Coda

The following example is played by playing until the D.S. al Coda in measure four, returning to the sign in measure three, playing to the coda sign at the end of the measure, then jumping to the coda.

Dal segno al coda