Term 2 Theory Lessons & Quiz

1 Road Maps


Good music usually has lots of repetition; it makes it easier for the listener to understand the music they are listening to, and gain more enjoyment out of it. Notes, rhythms, melodies, harmonies and instrumentations are usually repeated, in some form, throughout a piece of music. For example, if a certain musical phrase represents a character in an opera, that phrase may be repeated every time that character is on stage. A repeat may be part of a musical form, like Rondo form where the A theme is repeated over and over again. Repeats are used in pop music where the verse and the chorus of the song get repeated, even though they usually have different lyrics. Knowing how to read repeats is really useful.

repeat sign is the simplest kind of repeat because the repeated section is played exactly the same. The section that is between the forward facing and backward facing repeat sign is played twice. If there is no forward facing repeat sign, then you should return to the beginning of the piece and play the whole thing over again.

A simple repeat may also include an ending. This shows that the section is almost exactly the same, but it differs slightly. At the point where the music differs, an ending is put in. The first time you play through the section, you take the 1st ending. Then you repeat back to the beginning, skip over the 1st ending and play what is in the 2nd ending. Usually you'll only have 1 or 2 endings, but sometimes things can get a little crazy. The bar numbers are written below each bar so you can see how each of these endings works.

D.C. and D.S.

Endings work well when the passage that is being repeated only differs slightly or the section being repeated is relatively short. If you have a long repeated section, it can be easy to lose your place in the music and forget where the beginning repeat sign is. Musicians have come up with two easier ways to indicate long repeats.

D.C. is an abbreviation for the Italian term da capo. "Capo" in Italian means "the head." So, a D.C. written in the music means you should repeat back to the head, or the beginning, of the piece.

D.S. is an abbreviation for the Italian term dal segno. "Segno" in Italian means "the sign." So, a D.S. written in the music means you should repeat back to the sign, which looks like a sideways S with some dots and a line through it.

al Fine and al Coda

Fine (pronounced "fee-nay") literally means the end. A Fine is used in conjunction with a D.C. or D.S. repeat. Once you have repeated back to the beginning or the sign, you need to know where to stop. If the repeat is al Fine that, after repeating back to the beginning or sign, you should continue to play until you see the Fine. That is where you stop.

A D.C. al Fine would look like this:

This is how a D.S. al Fine would be performed:

Coda is a section of music added to the end of the piece of music. Sort of like a tag on the end. If you see an al Coda written in the music, it means you should repeat back to the beginning or the sign, and then when you see "to Coda" and the coda symbol (it looks like a target sign), you jump to the Coda immediately.

A D.C. al Coda would be performed this way:

An a D.S. al Coda is marked like this:

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