Musical Playing Directions

All of the following playing directions examples are shown using the 5 line stave (a.k.a staff) for conventional notation, often used in conjunction with guitar tablature.

Repeat Sign

When you get to the repeat sign, go back and repeat.

Repeat Signs

If there is a corresponding repeat sign facing the other way, go back and repeat from that sign.


A thin and thick line indicates the end of a piece.

Da Capo

“From the head”. Go back to the start. Abbreviated to D.C.

Dal Segno

“From the sign”. Go back as far as the sign (the sign is just below and looks like a bit like a $). Abbreviated to D.S.

First and Second Endings

The first time through play the section marked “1”, then go back to the beginning of the repeated section and on the second time through play the section marked “2”, omitting section “1”


The Coda symbol acts like a teleport. When you reach the Coda symbol go straight to where you see another one further on. Note: The Coda only applies once you see “al Coda” (apply Coda). Usually after D.C. or D.S. as “D.C. al Coda” or “D.S. al coda”.

Musical Playing Directions - Example 1

Play bars 1 – 4. Go back to the beginning and play bars 1 – 7. Go back to the start of bar 5 and play bars 5 – 6, omit bar 7 then continue from bar 8 to the end at bar 12.

Musical Playing Directions - Example 2

Play bars 1 – 8. When you reach D.S. al Coda go back to bar 2 and play to bar 5 where at the Coda sign you go to the start of bar 9 and play bars 9 – 11. Repeat bars 10 – 11 then end the piece at bar 12.

© Intuition Publications 2012 – present