I have a three verse, two chord song:

Verses 1 and 2 are

a b c
a b c
d d e

Verse three is

a b c
a b c
a f g
d d e

Without writing everything serially, within a repeated section with lyrics listed as:

  • verse 1. Initial blah, blah blah tah dah
  • verse 2. Similar blah blah blah, tah dah (that follows melody)
  • verse 3. More of blah blah and inserted deed dee dee, then tah dah

What marks do I use to show the unique structure of V1 and V2, vs V3?
Do I use volta 1 2, volta 3, within the section?

1 Answer 1


Most standard approach

The most straightforward thing to do is to use one volta for the "normal" verse, and one volta for the "extended" verse.

|: a b c a b c || Volta 1 & 2 = d d e :|| Volta 3 = a f g d d e ||
Verse 1 lyrics    V1 lyrics cont.
Verse 2 lyrics    V2 lyrics cont.
Verse 3 lyrics                            V3 lyrics cont.

Notated version of above roadmap

Less standard approach

Another option if the "inserted" section is short would be

Play 3x
|: a b c a b c [3rd x only: a f g] d d e :|

In the score, it would look something like this:

Example of score with "3rd x only" indication.

This is risky, however, as it's prone to confusion or mis-reading. It could be combined with a "to 'location'" mark to help clarify. This is loosely what pit musicians do, for example, when marking cuts in their scores. The cleanest options would be "to 'rehearsal letter'" (as below) or "to 'measure number'".

3x only with 1,2x to sign

Special case

When only a small number of measures is involved, an ossia could be used.

Insertion via ossia staff

  • I was hoping that there was some mark, similar to volta, that says, play this, the 1st and 2nd verse, but insert this for verse three. But for the 4 extra bars, it is straight forward. But to have no special marks, it goes out to seven or eight pages. Not a problem in the ether, but harder to publish. Thank you. Jan 28, 2022 at 2:40
  • @RobertLang Understanding this context changes my answer. I'll update in a couple of hours.
    – Aaron
    Jan 28, 2022 at 3:02
  • Aaron. That may work. It looks like you used a closed volta bar and text as instruction to the player. I am a novice so ask, is that correct? Permitted? No one will seek me out to beat silly for doing that? If so, we are good. Let me rewrite my work. Is there a way to post it for review? Thank you (unless that is not permitted by the rules). Jan 29, 2022 at 2:40
  • 1
    Your first solution is good. The “3rd x only” option is just asking for trouble. Feb 3, 2022 at 17:23
  • 1
    I've seen manuscript dance band arrangements with mixed forward and backwards DS and DSS markings. They were horrible! It would make more sense to use a coda symbol for a forward DS, even if it is not a real coda. Coda and double coda signs can be nasty too, but at least you have an idea which way to look.
    – Peter
    Oct 4, 2022 at 5:50

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