In Italian "Coda" is feminine, therefore...

Dear Dorico team,

I’ve noticed that in the Engraving Options dialog in the Repeat Markers section there is a subsection where we find: “D.S. al Coda” and “D.C. al Coda”. Coda, being feminine in Italian, should be preceded by “alla” (feminine) and not “al” (masculine). That is why “D.C. al Fine” is right: because “fine” is masculine in Italian. (Not to further complicate things, but technically “fine” can be either masculine or feminine in Italian…)

In short, in order to be correct Italian: the options should say: D.C. alla Coda or D.S. alla Coda.

Surprisingly, there’s an options right after that where the treatment of “coda” as feminine is correct: Poi la Coda. Because “la” is feminine and “il” is masculine. (You could say, for example, “Poi il Fine.”)

I realise this is a very slight detail, but I thought I’d offer my suggestion anyways.

This is one of those idiosyncrasies - even Italian publishers largely publish music that contains “D.S. al Coda” markings…

When living in Italy in the 1970s I well remember a game show (Scommettiamo, actually) where contestants had to choose one of three (?) envelopes, “numero uno”, “numero due” or “numero tre” - in each one of which was (one has to trust) sealed one of three questions.

But because in Italian ‘envelope’ is la busta (feminine), it was correct for the contestants to ask for “la numero tre” - even though ‘numero’ is masculine - because “la busta numero tre” was understood.

Could it be that ‘al coda’ actually implies ‘al segno della coda’; or ‘al punto/posto della coda’?

C’è un vero dilemma.

This was mentioned just a few days ago in a thread about linguistic etiquette in scores. Italian, being a traditional lingua franca for music during the common practice, was bastardized in many ways as it spread and was used by musicians not acquainted with the language. This is one of those cases. As Leo said, even italian publishers shy away from correcting that specific case, such is its widespread usage. It absolutely crystalized like that. If you really want, you can correct it on a case-by-case basis, but I have to agree that Dorico does best in following common practice convention.

What about “… a Coda” ?

(And Fine is feminine as well :laughing: )

Mark is right in stating that “al Coda” is short for “al segno della Coda”.

As for Fine, the musical word is always feminine, meaning “the ending of the piece”. The male version of “Fine” means something unrelated, that could be translated as “the goal”, or “the scope”. “Vai alla fine” means “go to the ending”, but “È questo il mio fine” means “this is my intention”.


Perfect Paolo! :slight_smile:

The problem is that Segno is masculine… So

Alla Fine
Alla Coda
Al Segno

Unfortunately I cannot count the editions where all is printed “AL” . May be that the best solution is making that phrase editable…

Or accept the convention knowing that it is one with elision?

I understand Mark, but I can assure you that for an Italian It’s really ugly! Like saying “Go at the End”! Better “To Coda” :stuck_out_tongue:


As an Italian speaker too I understand. It just sounds… ‘wrong’, a huge mistake :frowning: .

But - as I say - so does the kind of elision I alluded to here: ‘la numero…’ indeed! How absurd.

What I was saying here, though, is that to insert a printed string in a score may be less painful because it’s the accepted convention.

Nice Topic! :smiley:

Take the following just as an opinion Mark.

“La numero 3” is correct because of the envelop which is obviously present even if elided. Number 3 alone doesn’t mean anything. But in “Al coda” or “Al Fine” the part “Segno della” is pleonastic because you want to go just to the Coda or to the Fine… In other words Coda and Fine are an object quite different that the number 3.

My debatable 1ç :slight_smile:

Post Scriptum: I find better “A Fine/Coda” because in this case what is elided is the verb “Vai/Go”


Yes - I agree. I suspect that ‘al coda’ originated in the C18th. Maybe at that time engravers were more aware of the ‘segno’ than of the ‘coda’ as a virtual object.

But I do agree with you - that ‘al’ + feminine is ugly. Unless by some remote chance ‘coda’ were neuter in Latin! :slight_smile:

Nope. Normal first declension feminine. The only masculine 1st declension nouns ending in -a tend to be proper names (often non-Latin origin) or human occupations (farmer, sailor, thief, etc…)

You’re right, of course, Rob; thanks :slight_smile:

Was grasping at straws.

And was thinking analogously - in hopes of finding another guise for coda - of Italian nouns like lenzuolo and aiuolo which appear to be utterly… ‘wayward’ in their plurals until you remember their declension in Latin. Like ‘domus’, which is feminine.

I see that the OED confirms my C18th guess - and, wait for it, that it has another example of masc. article + fem. noun: ‘the first movement ends with a fortissimo coda’.

Is that a glimmer of hope that if we only dig hard enough we may find some clues?

Just write all your musical instructions in American English: we have minimal gender inflections and no one expects us necessarily to be grammatical anyway. :mrgreen:

Ok, but this way you would lose some of the connotative power of the language. As the Spanish emperor Carlos V used to say, “I speak Spanish to God, Italian to the women, French to the men and German to my horse”. As musicians, our nearest roles could be that of the horse.


Great Topic!

Note that Elaine (p. 238–239 — I have to write to her!) makes the same mistake, in several rows, but also, correctly, prescribes “al Segno e poi la Coda” and not " e poi al Coda" or “e poi il Coda” :open_mouth: .

Takes time to change the mind…! In the meantime editing may be the solution… :wink:

That was written by Beethoven not Gould (can’t remember which piano sonata - one of the Op 27s or 31s.)

I guess the idea of a coda was sufficiently novel in 1799-1802 that it needed an explanation.

Just another contribution: in Spanish Coda is also feminine “la coda”, but it’s also written as Al Coda because “seño” (sign) is masculine “El seño”. So in casual conversation during rehearsal you might be constantly referring to “la coda” (feminine) but then when you say “to the coda” you say Al Coda because it’s omitting the “seño”, so the complete phrase would be “al seño de la coda”, but that’s a mouthful! Although there’s nothing wrong with saying the whole thing, the vast majority of people abbreviate.