Does a first time bar always need a repeat?

I want to notate a piece which finishes in the middle section with a fine, but to do so I need to repeat from the end and then skip a few bars.

Can I put the few bars I need to skip under a 1st time bar with no repeat at the end of the time bar, but rather a DS al Fine at the end of the piece which takes me back before the time bar, and then play through a 2nd time and skip the 1st time bar proceeding to the 2nd time bar and the Fine?

I have never seen a 1st time bar without a repeat sign, but my repeat sign appears after the second time bar at the end as a DS al Fine.

Is this sensible notation?

• You don't need a repeat sign for this. In addition to the "Fine" sign (traditionally this was just a fermata), there are also various "reentry" signs which mean exactly what you want: "when returning from the middle section, jump here rather than to the very beginning". (I'm leaving this as a comment because I don't have a handy link to a notation example.) Commented Oct 9, 2015 at 6:37
• Killian are you sure you mean a fermata? The fermata has a specific meaning (extend the note beyond the notated length) which is very different to the function of D.S. Al Fine, and I've not seen it used in the way you describe. That aside I would agree with the rest of your answer, of using a D.S. Al Fine at the end of the piece, a segno at the re-entry point, and a Fine to mark the end point. Commented Oct 9, 2015 at 7:43
• I'd go with Da Capo al Segno and place the sign where you want to jump to the Fine section. Commented Oct 9, 2015 at 12:03
• A fermata over a barline is an old equivalent of 'Fine'. Commented Jul 22, 2022 at 0:01

It sounds like you want D.S. al Fine - and not "Da Capo al Segno" as given in the comments to your question, which I believe is incorrect.

• D.S. = "dal segno", or "from the sign", i.e. go to the sign (an ornate "S" shape)
• al Fine = "to the end".

In full: "go from the sign to the end"

The suggestion "Da Capo al Segno" does not make sense. "Da Capo" means "from the head" (i.e. the beginning). It would be very confusing to be instructed to "go from the start to the sign", because the sign/Segno (that ornate "S") is conventionally a place you start at, not finish at.

Your solution of a 1st-time bar (at the start, if I read you right) without a repeat sign would be confusing and unconventional. The proper way is (assuming I've understood your question correctly) - as you say yourself - to use "D.S. al Fine". By the way: it's normal to put a double barline where you have your Fine. This reinforces for the player that there's something special about that barline.

If you want the ending to be slightly different to when it's played the first time, you should additionally use a Coda, which is probably beyond the scope of this answer.

There is no hard and fast rules about the use of repeats in notation. You are just governed by the need to make your score as easy to read as possible.

I have seen pieces where a repeat is used to add brevity to a piece but I have also seen repeats omitted. It will all depend on whether you think it would be easier to just keep on reading the score or go back to the beginning for a repeat.

Just keep in mind if you are on a second page and you repeat from the beginning then it is going to pretty hard to easily start sight reading from the beginning.

Your eyes are very quickly going to have to scan all the way back to the beginning of the first page. It could be very easily for an inexperienced sight reader to loose the tempo like that. Especially if the tempo of the piece is resembling anything fast.

You can notate however you like as long as it's clear.

I'm not quite clear what you want. Maybe a DC (or DS) al Coda would fit the job. Or maybe something like this. Not standard notation, and a computer scoring program would need persuading to play it back! But it's clear, and not uncommon in pop song copies. Just make sure that if you use non-standard notation, it IS clear. Just a 2X bracket won't cut it here, full instructions are required.

There are levels of permissibility. In scores to be sight-read at a recording session, even a simple repeated section is a bad idea - write it out. Where the music will be read, but with rehearsal, repeated sections and coda etc. jumps can be tolerated (but watch out for clumsy page turns if you don't want your music to be fluffed. Where a score is more for reference than for live performance, we can be much less fussy.