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Musical Symbols of Piano Music: Part Two

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Musical Repeat Signs
Repeat signs and volta brackets used in sheet music.

Repeat signs with two volta brackets, indicating two different resolutions.

Image © Brandy Kraemer

How to Read Musical Repeat Signs

The following musical symbols define the pattern or order of a song:


  1. Repeat Barlines
    A passage between two repeat barlines is played at least two times in a row. After the repetitions are played, the song continues onto the following measures:

    • If the right (or “end”) repeat is on the very last measure, the song will end after the repetitions are completed.

    • If there is no left (or “begin”) repeat, the song will repeat from the beginning.

  2. Volta Brackets
    Numbered brackets change the ending of each repeated passage:

    • 1st Ending: The first time the passage is played, bracket 1 is played.

    • 2nd Ending: The second time around, the notation in bracket 2 is played.
    A composition can contain any number of volta brackets (also called “time bars” or “endings”).


See More Musical Symbols:
Staff & Barlines    ■Note Lengths     ■Articulation Marks    ■Repeat Signs
The Grand Staff      ■Dotted Notes      ■Dynamics & Volume      ■Segno & Coda Signs
Time Signatures       ■Accidentals        ■Key Signatures      ■Pedal Marks
Tempo Commands     ■Piano Chords         ■Music Rests          ■8va & Octave Commands


Related Video
Note Reading Basics
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