I have made a transcription of a song with the following structure:

Intro, A, B, A, B, A, Coda

The score that I created is the following (the content of the bars was replaced by whole notes for simplicity):

enter image description here

But after some thought, I don't think that the repeat finish sign :|| on bar 15 is considered valid notation in this case. First of all, it does not have a matching repeat start sign ||: (because these are already matching some other repeat finish sign :||). But assuming (as I did) that it is supposed to loop back to the beginning of section A to achieve the structure mentioned above, I noticed that I would have written the exact same score if the piece had the following different structure:

Intro, A, B, B, B, Coda

What notation can be used in this case to achieve the intended structure (besides writting notes on the score or duplicating sections A or B in the score)?


I found a new reason to think that the score that I show above is wrong for this case. I thought that the repeat finish sign :|| on bar 15 had precedence over the Dal Segno al Coda navigation mark. But then I found in other post (in the accepted answer, by Aaron) an example where there is a repeat loop with two different endings X and Y (bars 11 and 12, respectively), where:

  • Ending X is played on the first and second times (1 and 2);
  • Ending Y is played on the third time (3).

Inside ending X, there is a Dal Segno that is taken on the first time. I thought we would only jump to Segno on the second time (i.e., the last time on ending X, but it turns out that we jump on the first time already. Similarly, I see that the D.S. al Coda on my score must mean that we jump to Segno also on the first part, which would correspond to the following structure:

Intro, A, B, A, Coda

In other words, the x3 notation on the repeat finish sign :|| is irrelevant.


Clarification: I'm asking for a solution that is not writing notes on the score or duplicating sections A or B in the score because I am using Guitar Pro 8 for two things at the same time:

  1. Write this score to then export it to a PDF. For this reason, duplicating is not desired because I wish to have a compact sheet;
  2. Generate an audio file (based on the score). For this reason, manual notes won't work for sequencing the different parts for the audio file generating.

I'm trying to have a single Guitar Pro 8 file for both of these things so that I don't need to edit in two different places if changes need to be made in the future.


I posted a follow-up question to this one with a different attempt to write the score for this piece of music.

Related threads:

I found some very informative posts about nested repeats and their mixed usage with Segno/Coda navigation marks, but none of them refer to this specific case where the the outer and inner repeat loops end in the same repeat finish sign :||. The posts I read are:

  • 3
    Regarding this and your follow up question, from my experience, complicated road maps like this are just begging for reading errors and wasted time in rehearsals. It’s better to minimize repeats, repeat endings, D.S. and coda signs or even eliminate them. With digital notation one no longer has to write everything out, just copy/paste. I would much rather read a linear 5 page chart than a 2 page chart and have to jump back and forth from section to section. Nov 8, 2023 at 17:50
  • 1
    With @JohnBelzaguy on this one. Most definitely just write the whole thing out. This gave me a headache and when it's just whole notes. Save your rehearsal time for musicality instead of roadmap questions. Or, the happy medium would be write out the entire A/B section with no internal repeats. Your printed music would be intro, A/B with just ONE repeat and "3x" text, and the coda.
    – nuggethead
    Nov 8, 2023 at 19:21
  • @John Belzaguy I tend to agree with you, but this is a very short transcription of a piece for one guitar mainly for my own playing, but I still want it to be readable to others. I wanted to erase duplicate bars because each bar is very hard and intricate (3 voices + wild left hand fingerings). Even if I write sections A and B without inner repeats (which I actually did before posting this question), the question still stands, as it regards the outer structure, which is quite simple but seemingly difficult to notate with standard notation. Nov 8, 2023 at 20:20
  • @nuggethead The solution you provide does not correspond to the intended structure, as it would play B a third time which is not intended. If B were to be played a third time, this would indeed be a much simpler case to solve, as you mentioned. I could write Intro, then A and B inside a repeat, then a duplicate of A and then the Coda, but one other reason I am so focused on a compact sheet is that this one fits into a page the way I posted it, and I intend to do a collection of around 15 or 20 transcriptions of the same soundtrack, so space is one of the dominant factors. Nov 8, 2023 at 20:27
  • 1
    @AntónioCharana If you are using computerized notation then the complexity of the bars is insignificant as you can copy/paste bars. What I’m seeing here is ||: A B :|| A coda. Rewriting A makes life much easier for everyone. Every “solution” I’ve seen makes me scratch my head, and I do this for a living! :) Nov 8, 2023 at 22:39

3 Answers 3


It's easy to write this in a way that a human player can read (and at least some notation programs, for example Finale).
The repeat in measure 15 is ambiguous. Leave it out and write "2x D.S. (con rep.)" (or "with repeats" instead of "con rep.") so you go back to the segno twice. Then make it clear that the coda is to be taken the third time through and not the second: "3.x al Coda".
The result: intro A B A B A coda.

A lot of musicians will assume that repeats are not made after a "Dal Segno", so it's always safer to make it explicit whether the repeats are to be taken ("con rep."/"senza rep.").

  • Thank you, this would be a good and clear solution. Unfortunately I think Guitar Pro 8 does not provide a good way to do this while preserving the correct audio playback and not polluting the sheet with additional D.S. marks or manual text notes. Nov 8, 2023 at 20:32
  • I marked this answer as the accepted one even though the only way to do it in Guitar Pro 8 is to add manual text notes (which do not affect the playback audio). This seems the most clear solution. Although, for future readers of this question, the conclusion I got from all answers in this thread is that my question does not have a solution using pure standard notation. Nov 19, 2023 at 18:04
  • @AntónioCharana Whether it's "pure standard notation" or not, I very often see parts written exactly the way I describe, and bands have no trouble reading them. If you are constantly pushing the limits of what Guitar Pro can do, you might want to consider changing to a more complete notation program e.g. MuseScore.
    – PiedPiper
    Nov 19, 2023 at 19:22
  • I was not very rigorous when I said "pure standard notation". Let me ractify: there is no solution using only (Dal) [Segno | Segno Segno | Coda | Double Coda | Capo] navigation markers (without manual 2x/3x/no rep. indications) and repeat signs. I believe you in that much music is written this way and that makes sense and is valid. I learnt with this post that "pure standard notation" does not provide a solid way of notating simple structures like the one I mentioned. But I found no source/textbook teaching these manual notes as part of standard notation, hence my comment. Nov 20, 2023 at 11:27

The simplest solution would be to include a note at the beginning of the A section to the effect of "Play A B A B A; take all repeats."

However, since the score must work both written and for playback, I can offer the solution in MuseScore, short of knowing if this will work in Guitar Pro.

Demonstration score in MuseScore

The key features are:

  1. A section break must be placed at the end of the B section (hard to see here, because it overlaps the D.S.).
  2. For both the D.S. and D.S. al Coda, the Play Repeats property must by checked.
  • What I meant to ask is if there is any solution using only repeat signs/navigation markers/other navigation notation and no notes or writing duplicates of sections A or B? I edited the post accordingly Nov 8, 2023 at 2:05
  • @AntónioCharana No. Standard notation does not allow for this. Conceivable you could use nested repeat signs, where the outer signs use a clearly different format — say, with brackets, rather than "simple" double bar lines.
    – Aaron
    Nov 8, 2023 at 2:11
  • Okay, it is as I though then. Also, supposing that the D.S. al Coda was missing from the score, is there any convention to where the repeat finish sign :|| on bar 15 should loop back to? Or is it plainly incorrect notation to have it there in the first place? Nov 8, 2023 at 2:29
  • @AntónioCharana I'm not sure I'd go as far as "incorrect," but for certain it's ambiguous. Absent the D.S, I would presume B.
    – Aaron
    Nov 8, 2023 at 2:34
  • On a given bar, Guitar Pro 8 only allows to put one D.S. (al Coda/Double Coda/fine) and one D.S.S. (al Coda/Double Coda/fine). It does not allow to put two D.S. marks on the same bar. I also searched for the section break feature, but found no evidence that it exists on Guitar Pro 8. Nov 8, 2023 at 20:35

There is no way to unambiguously specify what you want without either adding text instructions or adding at least some more music to the score. You could add third and fourth time bars to the end of section B, using DS at the end of the 2nd time bars, a repeat sign at the end of the third time bars (which would be read as going back to the start of section B) and DS al coda at the end of the 4th time bars. However this does not guarantee that a performer will automatically play all the repeats in section A on the second and third times through them - there are styles of music where omitting these repeats would be expected.

Your bars 3 and 6 are both played 6 times. If the first time bars (bars 4 and 7) are both marked 1, 3, 5 instead of 1, and the second time bars (bars 5 and 8) are both marked 2, 4, 6 instead of 2, this would clearly indicate that the repeats are to be played on each pass through. It would however be clearer to write out section A in full without using repeats.

  • I'm not sure I understood what you meant by adding the third and fourth time bars at the end of section B. You mean adding two additional bars after bar 15? Or you mean representing bar 15 not just as ending 2., but as ending 2. 3. 4.? The first case would add long rests. If you meant the second case, I meanwhile posted a new follow-up question where I tried something similar with D.S. and D.S.S. al Coda but without the additional third and fourth time bars. Nov 8, 2023 at 4:14
  • I meant that you have a 1st time section, a 2nd time section, a 3rd time section and a 4th time section. The notes in the 1st and 3rd would be the same, and the notes in the 2nd and 4th would be the same. You could, if you wished, use 1. 3. on the first time section and only have 3 sections there 1, 3, 2 and 4. The separate 2nd and 4th time sections are needed to ensure that the right thing happens on the right occasions when they are reached. This is all based on printed scores; some things may not be supported by various notation programs.
    – Peter
    Nov 9, 2023 at 0:14

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.