Nested Repeats

• Feb 23, 2019 - 21:33

Repeats inside repeats doesn't really work


In reply to by ♪𝔔𝔲𝔞𝔳𝔢𝔯 ℭ𝔯𝔞𝔣𝔱𝔢𝔯♪

Some advice was given to us in the music-school:

  • A start-repeat barline always matches with the end-repeat barline.
  • They are always in a pair. (Except for the start-repeat barline that should be at the beginning of the piece. This can be omitted/neglected.)
  • Only the most recent (last seen) start-repeat barline applies. (In other words: The last start-repeat barline resets/overrides the previous ones.)
  • It is recommended not to use the repeat barlines in places with less than four measures.
  • It is recommended that the repeat barlines do not combine and cut the sections (does not create intersection between sections); and same applies to the voltas (example: between A, B, C, Coda). For these cases, signs such as "DS" and "DC" are used.
  • The Jump marks, such as "DC" and "DS", are not interchanged between a bar-repeat pairs.
  • and more...

If the following example was valid though:

  • If the following example was written in a unfolded way, how many measures would be in total?
  • What is the road map for the following example?
  • If the group (or session) leader gives you this score five minutes before you go on stage, can you play all the repeats without error?


Thanks Ziya, I enjoyed your post. One day I'd like to see a full description (i.e., the "and more...").

Your example was good. That simple example shows how confusing repeats could become if not constrained.

Doubtless many of us have reflected on the commonality of repeats, DS, DC, etc., and the constructs like "while", "goto", etc., in programming languages. There, we are helped by indentation conventions, and the fact that we don't really need to know consciously how many times a section will be executed (just that it will be executed enough). One wonders whether, if a group of experts started from scratch and designed some rules for music, they would have been better than the ones we have. I suspect that no set of rules would be very good for more than a few simple common situations, but that they could be a bit better than the ones we have.

In reply to by MikeN

The music notation we have today is the culmination of over 4 centuries of development. People have been adjusting the specifications of notation throughout that time. The experts through these centuries have developed standards that make sense, such as the lack of nested repeats. Even in the days of time consuming hand copying and expensive paper and ink being saved, these experts did not see the utility of allowing for nested repeats.

Music notation will continue to change due to new instruments and new technologies and even new ideas, so I don't count out the possibility that one day some method of notating nested repeats one day, but currently that does not exist. If a method is decided upon, it will not likely happen in a day, but will no doubt result from common usage among those who write music as happened in the last 400+ years of development.

In reply to by MikeN

> @MikeN "One day I'd like to see a full description (i.e., the "and more...")."
The reason I didn't write more here is because the other advices are about playing techniques. And it's not really about the subject and also aren't about Musescore's ability to play (or interest).
for example:

  • 2nd Repeats: change the dynamics a little. (eg: like p to mp or vice-versa)
  • At the end of the Voltas: Indicate the ending of the sentence.
  • DC and DS repetitions: Show the fresh start feeling. //So we don't use DS if it is not the beginning of a section. (in Classical music)
  • and more ... :) (various play techniques used in repetitions for Fugues, Valses, Marches; Baroque and Romantic era. pieces)

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