I stumbled upon this piece, Lágrima by Francisco Tárrega, and I would like to know if I should do the repetition sign when doing da capo al fine or just end the piece.

The score

3 Answers 3


The repeat sign applies only to the first encounter with it. After the D.C., the piece ends at the Fine — no repeat.

  • 6
    In fact, even if there were a repeat in earlier measures, you would normally ignore it after a D.C. Commented Oct 27, 2021 at 13:43
  • 4
    and if the is a repeat with multiple endings, only use the last ending on the DC time through. Commented Oct 27, 2021 at 15:09
  • 1
    @ElementsinSpace Oh, so you just keep repeating the first ending only until the last run? So I guess you have to know in advance there is a DC somewhere?
    – DKNguyen
    Commented Oct 28, 2021 at 3:21
  • 4
    @DKNguyen no, I mean you go through all the various endings initially, but when you are on a DC run time you only use the last ending. Commented Oct 28, 2021 at 6:46
  • 2
    @DKNguyen - I suppose I should have said use only, rather than only use. Commented Oct 28, 2021 at 16:12

You don't stop at the Fine when you first read it. If there is a Fine, there's a D.C. al Fine or D.S. al Fine somewhere.

IMHO, whether you repeat or not depends on where the Fine is written. In your case, you don't repeat, because the Fine is before the repetition.

In the following case, the Fine is after the repetition, so you repeat:

With repetition

  • Is there a difference between D.C. al Fine and D.S. al Fine? I'm reading the definitions, and it sounds like both mean "from the beginning to the end". Maybe I should write a separate question? Edit: Nevermind, I just noticed "segno" which means to start playing at a specific part.
    – Clockwork
    Commented Oct 28, 2021 at 8:12
  • 2
    Isn't the convention to never play repeats after a D.C. or D.S. unless explicitly specified in text?
    – Dekkadeci
    Commented Oct 28, 2021 at 12:31
  • @Dekkadeci I think the decision is generally left to the performer (or conductor if there is one). Most will probably not do the repeat after D.C./D.S., but I've heard it done in some cases, particularly if the repeated section is relatively short. Some will skip repeats altogether if they're very long. (In the days of vinyl recordings, this was often the only way to fit the whole piece on the record.) Commented Oct 28, 2021 at 13:14
  • @DarrelHoffman: If a first and second ending contain a full cadence, and differ only in the trailing anacrusis, skipping the first time through on a DC would be typical. If, however, a first ending has a half cadence and the second has a full cadence, the music should be played through both times even on a DC.
    – supercat
    Commented Oct 28, 2021 at 16:39
  • 1
    The difference between DC and DS is DC is Da Capo (from the beginning) DS is Dal Segno (from the sign). If you have a DC you start playing from the beginning of the music, if you have a DS then you look for the Segno - § and repeat from there
    – TheKLF99
    Commented May 23, 2022 at 8:24

Repeats can be used either to notate "self-contained" sections that should be played multiple times, but they can also be used to save space in cases situations where two parts of a section have identical content. While some might eschew the use of repeats for the latter purpose, many performers would rather have a piece of music that can be performed without page turns than one which is "theoretically" correct.

Consider, for example, a piece of music where many 16-bar sections have the following chord sequence:

I   I   I   IV  I   IV  I   V
I   I   I   IV  I   IV  V   I

If the bars 1-6 and 9-14 are identical, the amount of space required may be reduced by about 30% by using a start repeat, bars 1-6 (which match 9-14), a first ending containing bars 7-8, and a second ending containing bars 15-16.

If one or more repeats is being used for the latter purpose, the parts of the music indicated thereby should be performed twice through even on a DC, especially if there are some 16-bar sections which are written out in their entirety because the first six bars don't match bars 9-14 of the section.

I don't there's usually anything printed on the page to indicate which function is being performed by various repeat signs; instead, a performer must exercise musical judgment.

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