Play different things first and second time

I have a repeating section for everyone except for a player that should play different things in both passes. Currently I’ve “solved” this with an extra staff but the first and second ending are a bit of a pain.

Is there a way to solve this without creating an entire new flow with its own layout? Basically I don’t need the ending brackets here, just two staves (or, the entire section could be one big first and second ending) but the number of bars is tied to the global layout, so I can’t get rid of the superfluous bar.

IMO you should give everyone the same repeat structures, with first and second endings, even if some players have identical notes there.
It’s highly confusing if a conductor in a rehearsal instructs musicians to, say, ‘continue with the second ending’, and half of the ensemble doesn’t have one in their part.
People will start wondering if they will have to watch out for more of these quirks, and will lose confidence in the engraver who took this decision.
Just sayin’…
[Edit to add:]
It’s not surprising Elaine Gould agrees, of course (Behind Bars, p.579):


I would extend the second staff through the second ending and move the note in the second ending from the first staff to the second staff. That would be much clearer.

If you really want to keep the two staves system, don’t use first and second endings at all. Just put a note on each line marked first or second time. Make sure it’s OBVIOUS like bold text in a box.

Hi there

Others have given you ways to make what you’ve done clearer, but it will always be unexpected. I would write out the section as 16 bars without repeats, which is the traditional way of dealing with this situation.


Thanks for your kind help, everyone. I agree that the repeat structure should be the same for everyone to avoid confusion. And the problem with writing out the whole part (i. e. without repeats) is that everyone will have the same thing twice except a few players, so that’s a bit redundant.

I went with the suggestion by @Craig_F and moved the content of the second ending to the second staff:

It’s a bit unusual but I guess people can get used to it after one rehearsal.


I’d try the same notation, but generally, this looks clear to me, anyone can understand that the reprise starts on the line below (2.x), then jump to the 2nd ending then D.C al Coda.

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Hi again

I think that 1x and 2x isn’t sufficiently clear, and looks like it might be a divisi. If I was being forced by a nefarious client to do this, I’d write Play first time only and Play second time only at bar 18.

More importantly, the first time and second time bars are not required, so I would (again, only if threatened with bodily harm) delete them (thereby removing entirely the last bar in your excerpt), and place the music currently in the 2nd time bar in the empty bar 25 on the lower stave.

Finally, your comment ‘I guess people can get used to it after one rehearsal’ is a red flag for me: people are infinitely adaptable and can get used to pretty much anything, but the purpose of good engraving is to conform as far as possible to norms so that the musicians don’t have spend mental energy (and rehearsal time) to adapt.

But…carry on.



what @JHughes said.

A strategically placed System Break at the end of the first ending could be useful here.

+1, I completely agree. It looks like this is one system, 16 beats. It’s not going to save pages of paper to just write it out. You also wouldn’t have to waste rehearsal time explaining it as everyone would just naturally play it correctly the first reading. I guess I don’t see the point in coming up with a novel way of notating this when writing it out without repeats would be perfectly clear.


OK, I’ll have to put that into some context. For starters, other players will have a lot more to play in these 16 bars; writing this out without repeats will add quite a bit more paper, all things considered (because things won’t fit on the page anymore), and it would just be the same notes again for most of the players.

Secondly: the part in the images is a trombone part of a Polka for a concert band, so there isn’t any complicated divisi stuff going on. This is pretty easy to grasp, I’d think, if I put myself in the position of a player looking at this for the first time. But I agree that I could phrase the instructions more eloquently.

I know and I thought about that but as was mentioned before, this would mess with the repeat structure (because first and second ending are very well required for the other players) and make things more confusing for everyone when rehearsing.

I might get back to it once there is a perspective of this becoming commercially successful but for now I’m content with the outcome.