Repeat Bars not Working as Expected - Newbie Needs Help

Hello! First post here. I’m trying out the Dorico SE 4 (the free version). I’ve been using Musescore for a few years as a music hobbyist and I’ve been wanting to up my composition game with a more professional notation program.

As my process for getting familiar with Dorico, I’ve copied an old waltz from sheet music into the program. Unfortunately, the repeat bars seem to be broken - nothing repeats - or Dorico needs some handholding in order to recognize what it’s supposed to do? I don’t know.

Mission Dolores.dorico (768.1 KB)

The waltz is in public domain, and its not my original composition. I’ve just copied it from sheet music.

you need to change this:

Bildschirmfoto 2023-05-19 um 19.29.20

Otherwise Dorico is confused. You can see it in Playback-Options Shift + Command/Ctrl P → Repeats.

So, the waltz should play to the first repeat, go back to the beginning, play to the end, and repeat from the beginning to the end ignoring the repeat in the middle. What you’re suggesting would leave out part of the waltz.

If I understand correctly you want a AABAB-form?

You need to work with a D.C. al fine. To set repeats in your way, is a wrong notation.

Welcome to the forum @Abed !

Dorico automatically disables repeats in playback when they are unbalanced, and would result in an infinite playback loop. If you go through and make sure all the start/end repeats match up (i.e. have a corresponding pair), repeats will be re-enabled in playback.

(The Playback Options dialog referred to above is not available in Dorico SE.)

I’m not sure what you mean by “unbalanced” when the score follows typical conventions. @Nukkul 's solution almost works - but really it just needed a DC at the end to fix the problem.

To check my sanity, I tried this score on Sibelius and Musescore, and neither program had problems repeating as expected…

I’m not sure where you’re from, but for America, this is pretty typical. If there’s an end repeat bar at the end of the score, and there is no start repeat bar, it means to go back to the start of the score and play through to the end. That’s normal.

That’s correct but you never jump back over an end repeat bar.

At least I’ve never seen that in “european classical music”.

Basically putting a da capo at the end does in Dorico what the end repeat bar does in the score (or in Musescore or Sibelius). So, I’m not sure what you mean by never jumping over an end repeat bar.

Let add the a pdf of the original score:
Mission Dolores.pdf (2.0 MB)

That’s because a DC is the correct sign to tell musicians across the globe to go back to the start. It is universally understood.

Out of curiosity, who published your copy of Mission Delores?

It looks like a lot of music printed in the USA in the mid- to late-1800’s, which has been digitized and is made available on the Libray of Congress website -

Indeed it is.

Might be. I’m not a professional musician or composer myself, but I’ve been involved in music in one way or another since childhood. I have seen this end repeat bar at the end of a score so many times that I didn’t think it improper. Maybe it’s just American shorthand for the obvious, and one that many other music notation programs have picked up on and implement.

So, how would you play this?

1 Like

Good example @Janus.

I’m “just” a musician and not a professional engraver or music historian. So I don’t know, if a certain publisher at a certain time or in a certain country used this style.
If I see this part, my guess is instantly, that the two dots are missing and never to play D.C. But first and foremost “there’s a mistake, something is missing”.

Why does Finale and Sibelius play this back properly? Maybe their player handle repetition differently. It would be interesting to know, how they play back Janus’ example.

Is this a hypothetical? Have you a real piece of music that follows that structure? I’m really not interested in perusing hypotheticals.

I’ve read through forum on this issue and have noted the tone, and I’m just not interested in spending my energies there. So if you have a real piece of music to discuss, that could be an interesting and useful endeavour.

Just my two cents… not trying to be controversial here, just trying to be helpful.

@Abed, just out of curiosity, is there another page for this music? Regardless, this certainly looks like incorrect notation to me. There isn’t a final barline, instead it looks like the music continues on another page. If this is the full piece, where does the performer end without a final barline? Regardless, showing a repeat ending barline without a begin ending barline is acceptable for the first occurrence (as in bar 16), which implies a repeat back to the beginning. After that, it is my understanding that ending barlines need either a beginning repeat barline to navigate back to (i.e. at the start of bar 17), or a D.C. or D.S. marking in the end repeat barline measure (bar 32). @Nukkul has the correct answer. (I believe the original is wrong because it is missing the beginning repeat barline). As for other notation programs playing it back correctly… who’s to say that they got it right? With this ambiguity, different interpretation and results are possible. Dorico makes sense as to deciding not to do any repeat with a non-definitive repeat structure as is the case here.
The bottom line…as a humble performer, I would not know what to do when performing this as it is originally notated. How would Dorico be any different?


Yeah, there are a lot of comments on this topic - not just in this post - about being very technically correct. I can only imagine that is because as a user, you must adapt to using the software, especially when the developer lacks empathy towards his users. Ordnung muss Sein! Ja?

The original sheet music was published in 1853, so it probably doesn’t meet the digital standards that you expect. Perhaps you wouldn’t know how to perform this piece because it is outside your experience. It’s from a different time, and possibly from a different place. It’s a one-page, 32-bar song in two parts. Flip the page and you’ll find nothing - or another one-page, 32-bar song in two parts (this song was included in a four waltz collection). It seemed to be a very common format at the time. As far as I recall from my childhood music lessons, when you finally reached the repeat at the end, and with no start repeat bar, you’d go to the beginning and play through to the end, ignoring the middle repeat the second time round. This is really only seen when there are two repeats in the score, which is why I ignored Janus’s hypothetical. This waltz is a real world example of mid-19th century American Pop music - and I’m pretty sure musicians of the time understood the logic of it, even if not meeting exacting standards for future prosperity. This is not high culture music. This would probably be considered B-side at best.

Anyway, my point is not to argue the “correctness” of a historical, published piece of music. My point was to really understand the quirks of Dorico and why it cannot perform as other popular music notation software does. I have a good understanding of that now, as well as the culture surrounding the product.

Thanks for your comment.

Thanks for posting this interesting example, @Abed. I must say that I would struggle to interpret the repeats in this piece myself at sight, but I guess that’s because I haven’t encountered this particular approach before.

What I can say is that if Sibelius handles this repeat structure correctly, it’s more by luck than judgement: the basic principles of how Sibelius and Dorico approach repeats playback is the same, since in both cases the implementation was done by the same person, though at some years remove of course!

I will make a note of this particular structure and see whether it’s something we could handle: if you have an end repeat barline at the end of the flow that isn’t matched with an earlier start repeat barline, behave as if it were a D.C. marking.

1 Like

This stuff never gets old… :joy::wink:

1 Like