# A musical question about volta brackets

• Jan 7, 2018 - 13:51

I fail to see the difference between open and closed volta brackets.

They both lead to "further instructions" of some sort, so musically, I don't see how it matters. Why can't they always be illustrated as open?
If volta 1 leads to a repeat sign a few bars later that takes you back to the beginning, then what difference does it make if the volta was closed or open?
And what if volta 2 leads to a new part that is really long, a whole page maybe, it would be very annoying, visually, having that volta line stretching that long. And why? At the end of that part, there are still some instruction that tell you where to go. So what's the point?

#### Comments

First and second voltas are normally the same length from what I have seen. So if the first volta covers 3 measures, the second volta will normally cover 3 measures also though I have seen large variations on this, normally with the second volta only covering a single measure.

In reply to by mike320

Well I've seen all kinds of different lengths, depends completely on how the song goes, doesn't it? I also see they are open or closed like it's random. Still don't understand the function of a closed volta.

In one of my songs the 1st volta is 3 measures (end of chorus, leads back to beginning for verse 2). And the 2nd volta is the end of chorus 2, which lead to the bridge, which is a lot of measures.

In reply to by Simon Gårdh

As I said earlier, I have seen all kinds of variations on voltas. I just mentioned the most common variations I have seen, mostly in classical music. Voltas are not standardized at all as far as opened, closed, short or long. Musically it doesn't make a difference with the exception of the existence and length of the first volta. I suppose second voltas could be used as a sort of rehearsal mark, so the conductor can direct the band to start after the second volta. This is yet another variation.

The usual convention is that if the volta ends with a repeat back, then it is closed - makes it doubly obvious that something special happens at that point. Only the last volta of a set is open, indicating the music continues. Sure, you don't need the closed volta - the repeat signs alone tell you everything you need to know. it's just a little extra information some (but not all) publishers provide.

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