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In the pictures below, there are many measures with different simile marks.

I know there are many different types of simile marks, varying number of lines, with or without dots, on barline or in the measure. Can someone explain the meaning of each element of the simile mark, and what they do?

Staff with multiple simile marks Different examples of simile marks

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  • The first example seems odd, in that the simile marks could/should be present in the left hand part as well.
    – Tim
    Commented Oct 27, 2014 at 20:45
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    @Tim - I think it was just trying to explain what the simile marks meant
    – vcapra1
    Commented Oct 27, 2014 at 21:42

2 Answers 2

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All simile marks basically say the same thing which is play what you just played. The only thing that typically changes from simile to simile is how much you play. With a single simile you would only play one note/chord, but the others take groups of notes or measures. The breakdown of all the similes in your post are as follows:

  • Single - play last notated note/chord
  • Double - play the last notated figure (typically one beat)
  • Multi - play the last notated figure (typically two beats)
  • Measure Repeat - play the last notated measure
  • Multi-Measure Repeat - play the last two notated measures

In scores for full bands and lead sheets, similes can be used in a slightly different way for instruments that play chords as seen in the picture below:

enter image description here

The first measure has simile-like notes that show note hits and duration, but no actual pitches. The player would play the chord denoted above their staff, but the voicing is up to the musicians. I'm not sure about the proper name for this notation, but Finale calls it rhythmic notation. The other 3 measures have a slash for each beat in the measure. This says play the last noted rhythmic pattern. The chords may change as seen in the third measure, but the rhythm stays the same. Again I'm not sure about the proper name for this notation, but Finale calls it slash notation.

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A single slash symbol shows the repeat of either the last crotchet (quarter note), or the last a group of quavers (eighth notes) that make up a beat.
A double slash is used for a group of semiquavers (sixteenth notes).
Similarly, a triple slash is used for demisemiquaver (thirty-second notes) etc.

In the following images, the lower staff shows what is meant by the upper staff.

Slash repeats in simple time:
Slash repeats in simple time

Slash repeats in compound time:
Slash repeats in compound time


A percent sign is used to repeat the last bar.
percent repeat

A double slash percent sign centred on a bar line means to repeat the last two bars:
double percent repeat

If more than two bars is to be repeated, a percent sign with more slashes can be used.


The odd-one-out is in your first image, where a double slash percent sign is being used for a group of notes that contains mixed durations.

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