In some compositions the composer will call for the repeat of a certain notes (beats), measures or sections, meaning that these notes (beats), measures or sections should be performed again. These notes, measures or sections are indicated by repeat signs that are specific to each type of repeat.
1. Note (Beat) Repeat Sign:
The sign to designate the repeat of a note or beat of a measure is single slash, with the slash representing the repeat of a specific unit of time. As shown in the example below, the slash represents an entire beat (single note, multiple notes, or a chord). Eighth note patterns would also be represented by a single slash. If sixteenth note patterns are to be repeated, then two slashes must be used, thirty-second note patterns require three slashes, sixty-fourth note patterns require four slashes, and one hundred twenty-eighth note patterns require five slashes. Beats with mixed rhythmic values can be repeated with a double slash and two dots (shown below).
2. One-bar Repeat Sign:
The sign to designate the repeat of an entire measure is a single slash with two dots within the measure immediately after the measure to be repeated. A composer can use any number of one-bar repeat signs in a row, although after several one-bar repeat signs it becomes difficult for the performer to visually keep track of the number of repeats performed. Thus, it becomes necessary to indicate the number of the repeated measures by placing a number over the measure (often every two or four measures) (shown below).
3. Two-bar Repeat Signs:
The most common sign to designate the repeat of a two-measure phrase is a double slash with two dots on the bar line between the two measures immediately after the two measures to be repeated. The number two is typically centered over the sign, but is technically not required. A composer can use any number of two-bar repeat signs in a row. An alternate way to designate the repeat of a two-measure phrase is the use of word bis (meaning twice) centered in brackets over the phrase (shown below).
4. Section Repeat Sign:
A repeated section in a composition is designated with a repeat sign at the beginning and end of the section to be repeated. The repeat sign consists of two thick vertical barlines through the staff, with two dots, one between the second and third lines of the staff and one between the third and fourth line. The dots will be on the same side of the line as the material which is to be repeated. If there is no beginning sign, the section should be performed from the beginning of the composition or movement. The repeat signs signify one repetition of the section unless otherwise noted. The repeat can also be used in conjunction with first endings and second endings (prima volta, seconda volta) if only the last few measures of the section are different (shown below).
A rare alternate way to designate the repeat of a three or four-measure phrase is the use of word bis (meaning twice) centered in brackets over the phrase. This is the same as the two-bar repeat sign, only indicating more than two measures to be repeated (shown below).
Frédéric François Chopin: Prelude in E minor, Op. 28, No. 4
Aram Khatchaturian: Gayne Suite No. 1, "Sabre Dance"
George Gershwin: Piano Concerto in F major, III
Dmitri Shostakovich: Ballet Suite No. 1, "Music Box Waltz"
Last Updated: 2013-02-26 18:18:39