Band directors and other teachers will colloquially refer to a piece's "roadmap": the flow control commands denoted by repeats, repeat endings, D.C.s, D.S.es, codas, etc.

Is there a proper word for that concept? Something more idiomatic to music than to automobiles? Perhaps something in Italian or German or some other language?

3 Answers 3


Form as in "Sonata Form". (This is English and German as well.)

See here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Musical_form

Also keep in mind that the examples you gave, Repetitions and Jumps, are abbreviations. You tagged this question "Notation" which is quite correct for these things. You can unfold them and write out the music as one long piece without changing the music or the interpretation even one bit.

In the end it comes down to form.

  • I second "Form". There are many kinds of forms of course, not just sonata form. But the precise layout of the sections of each piece of music is a little different--there are no "perfectly orthodox" examples of sonatas, symphonies or even songs (intro, verse, chorus, bridge, coda, etc.) for that matter.
    – user1044
    Commented Jul 6, 2012 at 16:11
  • Sonata Form was just an example because it is so common. I could have said "Verse Refrain Verse Bridge Refrain" instead. And if you second Form then please upvote :)
    – nilshi
    Commented Jul 6, 2012 at 18:46
  • 1
    I think your own explanation says why this isn't quite the right answer. A piece has the same musical form regardless of how it's notated; you can expand the repeats and jumps without changing the form of the piece at all. But my question pertains precisely to the repeats and jumps themselves, not the underlying musical structure. Commented Jul 8, 2012 at 12:33

I would put forward the opinion that any terms for what you're referring to are highly contextual, but every teacher I have ever had referred to this as the "skeleton." I don't doubt this was localized to the community around me, but I think it's a convenient term that in the absence of anything "official" avoids some ambiguity.

  • Darn, that's better than mine! But at least we agree that 'form' doesn't quite serve. Commented Jul 6, 2012 at 3:14

I would use the word "stitching" to describe this. While I agree that 'form' is the correct term, I feel it isn't sufficiently evocative on its own. Popular notions of what the 'form' means any technical use leads to Humpty-Dumpty falling off the Tower of Babel.

  • 1
    I just realized I completely flubbed the middle of that sentence. But, perhaps the sentence's very lack of form expresses some kind profound irony. Or a right-brain enantiodromia. :) Commented Jul 6, 2012 at 3:12

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