Dal Segno in Sheet Music

segno music icon
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Imagine driving in a car and seeing a detour or dead end sign, that sign would redirect the driver to take another route. Similarly, when a musician sees a dal segno in sheet music, that is a navigation sign telling the musician to skip to another part of the music.


The musical term ​dal segno, which is Italian for “from the sign," refers to a symbol or navigation marker that instructs a musician to repeat a passage starting from the sign. In word form, it is most often abbreviated D.S. in musical notation or just called a segno in English. It does not make sense to refer to a segno as a "segno sign," since that redundantly translates to mean "sign sign."

Musical Notation Marks

There are a number of musical notation marks when reading sheet music. Some may be directional marks like dal segno, others may be instructional to the musician to adjust volume or the speed of the music. Other marks can tell a musician how to play a single note, such as with an accent or to hold it out.

Below is a chart of navigational or directional markers involving dal segno.

Marker Translation Direction
D.S. or dal segno From the sign Start playing from the segno
D.S. al fine From the sign to the end Play from the segno to the end of the music
D.S. al coda From the sign to the coda Play from the segno to the coda mark

D.S. Al Fine

D.S. al fine is a common navigational marker that instructs a musician to go back to the sign and end the piece at al fine, which is Italian for the word, "the end." The end can be marked by a final barline, a double-barline or is marked with the word fine.

D.S. Al Coda

Another common navigational marker is D.S. al coda, which instructs a musician reading sheet music to go back to the sign, and when a coda sign appears, skip to the next coda.

A coda is an oval-shaped musical symbol with oversized crosshairs. Coda is Italian for the word "tail." Similarly, a coda is a passage that brings a piece or musical movement to an end. Technically, it is an expanded musical cadence. This navigation may add a few measures, or it may be as complex as to add an entire musical section.