I like to denote different sections of a piece by double thin bar lines. I use Lilypond, and there is a command there, \section that produces such lines.

Question: if a new section of a piece starts not from the beginning of a measure, is it fine to use this command?

I attach an image where double lines are inside a measure.

Score 4/4 where section is in the middle of a measure

3 Answers 3


It looks confusing because what you call a section separator is a double bar line, which functions the same as a bar line and makes it look like two bars of 2/4 with no key signature change. I would advise against it. I would put the double bar after 4 eighth notes, which seem like an anacrusis. It is common to have an anacrusis before a double bar line and it is understood that it is part of the subsequent phrase.

  • 2
    OK, thank you for a new word to learn (anacrusis). I have never heard this term before, TBH. Indeed, this piece has a lot of phrases that starts with 4 eights in the previous measure. Commented May 22 at 22:30
  • After some googling on anacrusis and section separation, it seems that it is a relatively common question :-) Commented May 22 at 22:31

Yes, it's fine to do that — the meaning is clear. In some settings a dotted bar line is used, but that's more for clarifying rhythmic or metric divisions in free time, large meters (say, 19/4), or frequently varying meters. For the situation in the question, the double, thin bar lines are best.

  • If I can find an example of this in the standard literature, I'll post it, but if anyone knows of one, please let me know.
    – Aaron
    Commented May 22 at 18:52
  • 2
    I feel like it's common enough when it's a repeat... Commented May 22 at 19:16
  • I would say go for it just to be a tiny bit creative and anarchistic ;) It's human communication after all, not a programming language for machines. Commented May 22 at 20:19
  • There are examples in Schubert 6 Moment Musicaux, no.2 in Ab. The movement is in 9/8, in A-B1-A-B2-A form; the B2 section has a sixteenth-note anacrusis and the A section has a dotted-quarter-note anacrusis, and in each case the section divider (double bar line) is placed before the anacrusis, at least in the first couple of editions I checked. I’m sure there are plenty more in Schubert’s piano works and similar classical writing; this was just the first I thought of. That said, I think the other alternative is generally preferred today.
    – PLL
    Commented May 23 at 9:10
  • The Schubert example from my previous comment: scores at IMSLP, image excerpt.
    – PLL
    Commented May 23 at 9:17

That descending line of eighths in octaves looks like it could be an anacrusis, and if so the double bar section separation might be better after the descending line.

  • 2
    Thank you, this is what I have decided to do (to put the double-bar separator between the measures). Commented May 22 at 22:32

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