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Da capo, pronounced [da kˈkaːpo], is a musical term in Italian, meaning from the beginning (literally from the head). It is often abbreviated as D.C. It is a composer or publisher's directive to repeat the previous part of music, often used to save space. It is an easier way of saying repeat from the beginning. 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. "Fine (Ital. 'end') is generally placed above the stave at the point where the movement ceases after a 'Da Capo' repetition. Its place is occasionally taken by a pause (see fermata)."
Variations of the direction are:
- "Da capo (It.) From the beginning. An expression first used by Scarlatti in his 'Theodora,' signifying that the performer must recommence the piece, and conclude at the double bar marked 'Fine.'"
- 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"). "D.C. (da capo) al Fine means repeat from the beginning and play to Fine (the end)." "From the beginning to the mark Fine."
- Da Capo al Coda (D.C. al Coda): repeat from beginning to an indicated place and then play the tail part (the coda).
The Italian term...'da capo' literally means 'from the head,' i.e. the start of the song or piece...in most music you will either see D.C. al Fine or D.C. al Coda. You may also see simply D.C....in the final bar of a score, which means to repeat from the start of the score...then stop at the end. In music, these instructions always appear at the end of the bar from which you have to jump back (either to the 𝄋 sign or to the start of the piece).
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". This may also be instructed by simply using the words al Coda after which the musician is to skip to the written word Coda. Da capo al segno (D.C. al Segno), "From the beginning to the sign (𝄋)."
- Randel, Don Michael; ed. (2003). The Harvard Dictionary of Music, p. 234. Harvard. ISBN 9780674011632.
- Grove, George; Fuller-Maitland, John Alexander; Pratt, Waldo Selden; and Boyd, Charles Newell; eds. (1906). Grove's dictionary of music and musicians, p. 42. Macmillan. [ISBN unspecified].
- Stainer, John and Barrett, William Alexander (1898). Stainer and Barrett's Dictionary of Musical Terms, p. 133. Novello. [ISBN unspecified].
- Lancaster, E.L. and Renfrow, Kenon D. (2004). Alfred's Group Piano, p. 55. 2nd ed. Alfred. ISBN .
- Spreadbury, Daniel; Eastwood, Michael; Finn, Ben; and Finn, Jonathan (March 2008). "Sibelius 5 Reference", p. 269. Edition 5.2.