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Da capo

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Title: Da capo  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Repeat sign, Coda (music), Aria, Musical form, Repetition (music)
Collection: Italian Words and Phrases, Musical Form, Musical Notation
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Da capo

A contrived example showing DC al FINE. About this sound    Use of Da Capo prevents the need to write out extra measures, often many more than in this example. The order of the notes to be played: G A B B C G A B B C low-C
A similar example showing DC al CODA. About this sound    The order of the notes to be played: G A B B C G A low-C

Da capo is a musical term in Italian, meaning from the beginning (literally from the head). It is often abbreviated D.C. It is a composer or publisher's directive to repeat the previous part of music, often used to save space. In small pieces this might be the same thing as a repeat, but in larger works D.C. might occur after one or more repeats of small sections, indicating a return to the very beginning. The resulting structure of the piece is generally in ternary form. Sometimes the composer describes the part to be repeated, for example: Menuet da capo. In opera, where an aria of this structure is called a da capo aria, the repeated section is often adorned with grace notes.

Variations of the direction are:

  • Da Capo al Fine (D.C. al Fine): repeat from beginning to the end (or up to the word fine, should that appear at the end of the passage, movement &c. - the word "fine" itself signifying '"end" / "ending").
  • Da Capo al Coda (D.C. al Coda): repeat from beginning to an indicated place and then play the tail part (the coda).

D.C. al Coda is a musical direction used in sheet music. It literally means, "da Capo al Coda," or "from the head to the tail". It directs the musician to go back and repeat the music from the beginning ("Capo"), and to continue playing until one reaches the first coda symbol. Upon reaching the first coda, one is to skip to the second coda symbol (which signifies the ending of the piece), and continue playing until the end. The portion of the piece from the second coda to the end is often referred to as the "coda" of the piece, or quite literally as the "end".

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