Nearly all marching band music (not classic marches, mind) that I've seen in my five years of performing experience has been written without any kind of repeat signs. However, I've recently seen some marching arrangements of jazz standards that did in fact use repeat bars.

Printing in a "through-composed" manner seems to make more sense to me, as it would be easier for performers to annotate the sheet music as needed, and easier to coordinate drill charts with measure numbers.

Are these markings actually more common than I think?

  • What you haven't memorized your part? (seriously- all top marching bands do) Feb 28, 2019 at 19:49

2 Answers 2


I'm glad you excepted classic marches, which invariably have at least one BIG repeat, a DC after the trio section.

Yes, I can see the logic in 'writing it out' when complex drill moves are involved. I can't speak for the House Style of any particular publisher, but if you're asking for advice how YOU should score music I'd borrow Einstein's advice to make notation 'as simple as possible, but no simpler'. Use the minimum amount of ink that conveys all necessary information. This will depend on the music content and on the circumstances where it's to be performed. In movie soundtrack recording sessions we write everything out. Where music won't have to be sight-read we can trade a convoluted repeat structure for economy of paper.

  • I didn't think about a written-out section being easier to understand quickly. For the arrangement I'm working on right now, I think you've just sold me on writing it that way, instead of the (perhaps unjustifiably short) D.S. al coda.
    – JAF
    Feb 28, 2019 at 17:32
  • 1
    OK. But I guess marching bands get a fair amount of rehearsal? Instant sight-reading may not be THAT much of a priority! Feb 28, 2019 at 18:50
  • They do get a good amount of rehearsals, and private practice is also encouraged to memorize the music. However, I'm thinking that if you have to spend less cognitive energy following repeat marks around, the work of memorization might be easier (and my arrangement could be more marketable).
    – JAF
    Mar 1, 2019 at 15:17
  • University bands (and some high school bands too) will usually play a different show every week, so there might be a little more of a parallel to session musicians than to, say, an orchestra or wind band.
    – JAF
    Mar 1, 2019 at 15:20

Another reason for durchgedruckt music is that often, the repeats have slightly different orchestration or ornamentation or the like. Sousa's repeat of the trio in Semper Fidelis is an example; new instruments are added at each section.

DCs save paper but often make reading complicated. A few repeats with jumps and different instructions each time through (1st alletro, 2nd tempo di PBS documentary) become difficult.

  • "Durchgedruckt" - I KNEW there was a real word for it!
    – JAF
    Mar 1, 2019 at 15:21

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.