I'm writing out an original song I recently recorded because I need to provide both the sheet music and an audio recording for college applications.

It would be okay just to submit what I wrote out before, except I added an extra measure of rest between the 1st verse and chorus, but used the original (shorter) transition between the 2nd verse and chorus. After the 2nd verse I transitioned right into the chorus (as was written); otherwise the 2 verses and the 2 instances of the chorus are identical. Unfortunately, this means that I cannot simply write "{verse}, {chorus}, {[1st ending: back to verse][2nd ending: continue to bridge]}".

I don't want to write out the verse-chorus pair twice. I've looked for a way to include an ossia-like staff chunk showing the 1st (2-measure) version of the transition above the 2nd (1-measure) version of the transition, but it seems to be that floating two measures above one measure is nonstandard (and also not possible in the notation program I am using.

Is there a system of brackets or something where you can say, "Hey, the first time through, play these measures" and "On the second time through, play this measure instead"? Or a roadmap scheme that would work for this situation?

Here's the layout in a clearer format:

  • [forwards repeat sign]
  • Verse 1
  • 2 measures transitioning into chorus (pickups on count 4 of the measure after the measure where the last note of the verse sustains for 2 counts)
  • Chorus
  • Post-chorus type thing (currently begins the second ending)
  • [backwards repeat sign --back to forwards repeat sign/beginning]
  • Verse 2
  • 1 measure transitioning into chorus (pickups in the same measure as the aforementioned sustain)
  • Chorus
  • Bridge (currently begins the 2nd ending)
  • Chorus
  • Post-chorus thing again, but with a different ending

And a snippet of the transitions in standard notation:

Transition 1:

Transition 1

Transition 2:

Transition 2

3 Answers 3


You can use the Repeat Sign which is used to repeat some certain measures you want.

Just put the measures between these two brackets:

enter image description here

If you need different endings for every iteration, you can use these symbols: enter image description here

But the first time through, the transition between the verse and chorus sections is 2 measures long. The second time through, the transition between the verse and chorus sections is 1 measure long. How do I specify that (without having to write out the verse and chorus twice)?

You can use Coda and Dal Segno:

enter image description here
(source: music-mind.com)

  • But the first time through, the transition between the verse and chorus sections is 2 measures long. The second time through, the transition between the verse and chorus sections is 1 measure long. If I use 1st and 2nd endings alone, one of the transition versions must be omitted/is not represented, since if I just write them side-by-side, both will get played both times through, which is not what I want. Is there a less long-winded way to specify alternate transitions (without having to write out the verse and chorus twice)?
    – Stan
    Sep 1, 2014 at 16:53
  • 1
    @AsianSquirrel I updated my answer Sep 1, 2014 at 16:58
  • 1
    I'm not sure how that would work in my particular case. I've added images of the transitions in std notation to the question; would you mind further enlightening me?
    – Stan
    Sep 1, 2014 at 18:11
  • 2
    The alternate endings do not have any requirement to be of the same length. If your software enforces that, well then you should complain; the notation system itself does not have such a limitation. Sep 2, 2014 at 5:41
  • 1
    Of the two ideas, the D.S. al Coda idea is better. Sep 2, 2014 at 13:03

Can't this be done with a normal pair of 1x, 2x endings? Note that it's fine for the 1x ending to be 2 bars, the 2x one 5 bars (or whatever).

In pop music sheets you sometimes see a bar with a plain bracket above, marked 'play this bar only 2nd repeat' or similar. If this saves several sheets of paper, it's just about acceptable. But DON'T do this in music that anyone will have to sight-read. In fact, think hard before using repeats at all, let alone a DC al coda which involves turning pages back and forward. Write it out and use the paper. It's cheaper than halting a professional rehearsal or recording session to explain the 'geography'.

  • This can be done as long as the OP is willing to repeat the entire chorus in both endings. I'm afraid that's the point of resistance....
    – Dekkadeci
    Feb 24, 2019 at 15:47
  • Notate the 2 measures of the 1st ending with a bracket above writing inside 1.time only
  • followed by the single measure of the 2nd ending with a bracket above writing inside 2. time only
  • and after the chorus the sign for repetition
  • after the 2. chorus will follow the bridge with the sign for repetition back to the chorus
  • Coda -> last ending

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