I'm writing a song as a score for piano and vocal. The verses begin with a pickup note on 4. So, after the chorus I end on 4 and then pickup up into the next verse with a repeat sign.

The question is: Where do I write the pickup notes and lyrics after the chorus?
Writing the pickup to the next verse after the chorus and right before the repeat would make sense, but that is really awkward, since you have to go from there back to the beginning (FYI, there are 5 verses). Not very easy on the eyes. I'm just wondering if there is a standard approach to this.

  • My suggestion is to write the lyric in parantheses, ex ("so I..") to show that it's starting on beat 4, then continue to write the rest as normal!
    – KoshVorlon
    Commented Jan 2, 2019 at 16:14
  • 1
    Do you actually need a repeat sign? If there's no coda and no introduction, you probably do not. Just shorten the last measure and end the piece with the usual double bar.
    – phoog
    Commented Jan 2, 2019 at 18:28
  • I'm not sure if it's clear: do you have (verse x5) then (chorus), or (verse then chorus) x5? Commented Jan 2, 2019 at 18:35

1 Answer 1


You can do this two ways. Do the first. It really is clearer.

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(How many verses are you going to make the singer(s) perform without a few bars rest though?)

  • In the absence of an introduction and a coda it's common, and probably better, to dispense with the repeat sign altogether. In that case the last measure is shortened by the duration of the pickup measure, and the beginning of reach verse is printed at the beginning.
    – phoog
    Commented Jan 2, 2019 at 18:28
  • That's OK when making a simple reference lead-sheet of just the words and melody. In a fuller arrangement for performance, the accompanying instruments probably need clearer instructions exactly what to play at the 'turn-round' endings and the actual end.
    – Laurence
    Commented Jan 2, 2019 at 19:56
  • It applies equally to a lead sheet and to a piano-vocal score, which this question is about. If different verses have different endings, then of course you need some way of notating that, but for most strophic songs there is no need for such complication. People have been writing out such songs for centuries without repeat signs.
    – phoog
    Commented Jan 2, 2019 at 20:04
  • 1
    A slight modification of the first option is to duplicate the lyrics for the second and third verses under the initial pickup note as well. Makes it easier to read the lyrics, without the first syllable of the verse being in the wrong place.
    – endorph
    Commented Jan 2, 2019 at 22:29
  • 1
    Having been a professional accompanist for a number of years, I can say I have only seen example one in a non-lead sheet setting. Many times, repeats and first/second endings, etc are on a different page than the start of the verse. The pick-up therefore is shown in the 1st ending/repeat. Also, while the first word of the next verses is not printed at the beginning of the verses, choral directors often suggest the singers write it in. If it is printed, it should be shown in parentheses so as to not confuse the singers as they come to the first verse.
    – Heather S.
    Commented Jan 5, 2019 at 21:41

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