I'm writing an ABAB arrangement where the only difference the second time (apart from lyrics) is one extra bar (extra long pre-chorus, as it were) between A and B.

I think it would help the musicians to easily see that the repeat are, in fact, mostly identical. I would lose this if writing it without repeats.

Can I write it like this? I have never seen voltas mid-repeat before. MuseScore plays is like I intend it, but that could of course be a due to implementation details, so I don't want to take that as confirmation that this can be done.

In case it's not clear, the intended order of the measures below are 1 2 5 (repeat) 1 3 4 5.

example with volta brackets in the middle of a repeat structure

  • So this could be done with a combination of repeats and dal segnos and stuff. But if the motivation is to "help the musicians," we would absolutely prefer that it just be written out. We're much less interested in the fact that some material is similar than in not having to move our eyes from one part of the page and trying to figure out where to jump to. Commented Feb 3, 2022 at 16:18
  • Thanks, it's interesting that Aaron suggests more or less what I'm suggesting as one alternative.
    – cmeeren
    Commented Feb 4, 2022 at 21:06

1 Answer 1


The key here is “I have never seen voltas mid-repeat before”. Neither have I in many years of reading music and probably anyone else. You have a repeat ending with no repeat. This will only get you confusion, questions from others reading your music and wasted time at rehearsals. All you have to do is insert an extra bar 5 after bar 2 and put the repeat after that bar and then 345 become 456 and everything is clear. Writing everything as clearly as possible is what we should all strive for when writing out music for others to read. I’ve always felt it’s better to add a page one two to a chart and avoid too many road map signs like DSS, double codas, repeat endings that are very far apart from each other and the like, especially nowadays with the advent of computer notation and the ease of copy/pasting passages.

  • 1
    Yes, paper is cheap, rehearsal time is precious.
    – PiedPiper
    Commented Feb 3, 2022 at 16:16
  • 1
    @PiedPiper I’ve seen hours of rehearsal time wasted over the years because of complicated road maps. I’m sure you’ve seen the same. Commented Feb 3, 2022 at 16:34
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    Well, "bar 5" above is a stand-in for a whole chorus. But point taken. (Personally I would find the voltas more useful when reading, since I would then be in no doubt that almost the entire A and B are, in fact, identical. But if it's not standard... well, we might all just invent our own musical notation at that point.)
    – cmeeren
    Commented Feb 3, 2022 at 17:33
  • @cmeeren Musicians that read are used to re-reading previously presented material in a piece, heck we even like it, “Oh, I already know this, great,”. Your point of wanting to connect things that are related to each other is also taken. This can also be done by rehearsal text like “Chorus 2” at the beginning of a section. Bottom line, if it’s just for you there’s no issue. If it’s for others to read consider something that might throw them off and try and avoid it. Commented Feb 3, 2022 at 17:56
  • I've seen it, mostly in sheet music of a pop song. There's no logical reason why it would be any more disruptive to reading than a normally-placed volta - except that it's non-standard, which is an extra reason to use it with caution. But if it would save a page, and the part won't be sight-read in a recording studio...
    – Laurence
    Commented Jul 23, 2022 at 15:17

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