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Sebs Offline OP
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Does a coda ever land in the measure such as beat 2 in 4/4 or will composers always write/arrange it to make sure the coda will always be at the end of a bar?

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Anything's possible.

Codas are not usually labelled, so where they start is open to interpretation. Or even if there is a coda. Or a codetta.

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Originally Posted by Sebs
Does a coda ever land in the measure such as beat 2 in 4/4

When you say land, do you mean end? Just as a coda can start anywhere in a measure, it can end anywhere in a measure.


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As Sam said, even deciding whether there is a coda and where it starts is a contentious matter, but there are many examples both in classical and non-classical music of pieces ending on a partial measure. Technically, when a piece starts with a pickup measure then the last measure should be shortened by the same amount as the pickup. In practice this doesn't always happen.

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We need to know what the OP is asking.

She may be referring to the Coda Symbol that directs one to the Coda section of the work needed when repeating a section of music or she may be asking how to know when the composer has started the musical convention of writing a coda to a work.

In either case the coda can start anywhere in a measure. It is no different that the conventions for a repeated section of music.

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Thanks for the replies!

Originally Posted by prout
We need to know what the OP is asking.

She may be referring to the Coda Symbol that directs one to the Coda section of the work needed when repeating a section of music or she may be asking how to know when the composer has started the musical convention of writing a coda to a work.

In either case the coda can start anywhere in a measure. It is no different that the conventions for a repeated section of music.

Yes, sorry I should have clarified better. Im referring to a pop song that I'm arranging and I'm using DC Al Coda then "To Coda" and "Coda" that way I don't have to have extra bars. The way I have it arranged the "To Coda" works great on beat 3 as I have rest in the melody there. I understand in pop there are not a lot "rules" but i wasn't sure if it was a best practice to arrange it where the "To Coda" and "Coda" always at the end/start of a bar.

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I checked a bunch of pop tunes in my library and they all start the coda at the beginning of a measure. This is a small sample of 20 songs or so.

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Thanks @prout. The ones I have looked also have the "To Coda" at end of bar and "Coda" at start of a bar only. While Im sure it can still work being placed in middle of a measure this just makes me think it might be considered a best practice to have where bar ends/begins.

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At worst you'd just have beats 1 & 2 duplicated at the start of the coda. The same hassle happens with repeats - the slightest difference would necessitate the use of first and second endings.


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There are plenty of examples. Random example I picked from my bookshelf just now, Mozart KV 509 "Six German Dances" has a properly marked Coda section that starts on beat 2 of 3 (it's in 3/8 time).

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In my score the coda starts on beat 3. My guess is that yours also starts on beat 3.

The score has no indication of when to go to the coda, though it becomes obvious when you run out of music to play. Half the da capo measures have 2 beats and the rest have 3 beats even though the piece starts on the 3rd beat.

This work is almost as confusing to play as a crappy (IMO) Celine Dion arrangement for piano and voice.

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I play in a lot of jazz big bands, and lots and lots of the charts have codas marked, and in every one I have ever seen you jump to the coda at the end of a measure and the coda starts on beat 1. It would be awkward from a visual standpoint, because you a moving your eyes from one part of a score to somewhere distant, to do that in the middle of a measure as we are conditioned to looking at measures as a whole when reading.

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Originally Posted by prout
In my score the coda starts on beat 3. My guess is that yours also starts on beat 3.
Sorry, I looked too quickly. Yes, it starts on beat 3 and my point is still valid that there are pieces where the coda starts with a pickup.

Originally Posted by jjo
I play in a lot of jazz big bands, and lots and lots of the charts have codas marked, and in every one I have ever seen you jump to the coda at the end of a measure and the coda starts on beat 1. It would be awkward from a visual standpoint, because you a moving your eyes from one part of a score to somewhere distant, to do that in the middle of a measure as we are conditioned to looking at measures as a whole when reading.
I don't see this as a problem at all if you put some space between the coda and the rest of the piece so that it's visually separated. I have some contemporary music that is spaced like this and even though the codas actually start on beat one, visually it would still look the same if it started on a pickup measure. Repeat signs in the middle of a measure are ubiquitous in both classical and non-classical music and that doesn't bother anyone from a visual standpoint.

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Qaz: That's interesting because I don't believe I've ever seen a repeat sign other than at the end of a measure. If it's in the middle of a measure, you go back to the middle of some other measure?

Perhaps the differences in our experience is that when playing big band charts, you are either sight reading, or playing a chart you may not have seen for months. You get a precious few seconds to scan the form, and if codas or repeat signs were in unusual places it could cause confusion that wouldn't occur if you had 5 or 10 minutes to look over a score closely.

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@jjo: I'm surprised you've never seen this. Haven't you ever played pieces with a pickup measure? When there is a pickup then the last measure is usually shortened by the amount of the pickup. If there is a repeat sign then that's a repeat sign in the middle of a measure. Maybe you never noticed because it looks like any other measure but if you add up all the notes you'll figure it's not a full bar. Sometimes you see the repeat sign literally in the middle of the measure and the measure continuing after it and sometimes the begining of the repeat is after the pickup measure so that you skip the pickup the second time. I can post some examples tomorrow.

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As promised, here are some examples of what I'm talking about.

Repeat sign in the middle of a measure, from the Bourrée in French Suite no. 6:
[Linked Image]

And another one from Schumann's Wild Horseman op. 68 no. 8:
[Linked Image]

From Mozart Six German Dances KV 509:
[Linked Image]

In the same piece is the coda example I was talking about earlier. The coda starts on a partial measure:
[Linked Image]

Here's an example of skipping the pickup on the repeat from Joplin Mapple Leaf Rag:
[Linked Image]

If you look at the end of that piece you'll notice that the last measure is one eigth note shorter - exactly the amount of the pickup:
[Linked Image]

Here's the example of space added before the coda that I mentioned earlier, from May Be by Yiruma:
[Linked Image]

This is a full measure but you could conceivably jump to a partial measure and it wouldn't be confusing IMO.

I could give a million examples more but hopefully that gets my point accross. smile

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In classical music, the coda can be a well identified section, in which case it will start at the beginning of a new bar or with an anacrusis (pickup or upbeat), or it can be the continuation of a section. In that last case it can be difficult if not impossible in many situations to define precisely where the coda starts. Therefore assigning the beginning to the start of a bar or in the middle of a bar is often times just a matter of arbitrary decision. It does happend though that the coda starts after a formal cadence, in which case it is clear where the beginning is. Also the fact that the coda proper begins with beat 2 for example can be misleading as beat 1 can be elided, ie the end of the previous part is also the begining of the coda, in which case the coda would really start on beat 1.

The case of the anacrusis is different as it is purely a convention of notation. There are plenty of cases where the final bar is not reduced by the amount of the anacrusis. There are a number of examples in baroque music but also the most famous being the 3rd mouvement of Beethoven 5th symphony. Reducing the last bar allows to have a metrically compliant score (ie the number of beats is aligned with the meter of the piece).

There are different types of anacrusis. The most common is the rythmic anacrusis where the value of the upbeat is small and is used essentially to highlight the accent on the first beat of the subsequent bar. In that case The anacrusis is actually nothing more than a full measure where one does not count nor play the initial rests. A good example of such notation is Elgar opus 39 N1 which is a march. But musically speaking, notated with or without the rests has no musical impact. The convention of notating it without the rest facilitates the beating and the phrase really starts after the anacrusis. However writing the last bar as a full bar or partial bar would make no musical difference (other of course than disrupting the meter logic).

A more ambiguous case is when the anacrusis is part of the musical phrase structure/pattern, typically in a number of Mozart and Haydn pieces the anacrusis is repeated within the phrases. In that case, it makes sense to count phrases including the anacrusis (ie a 4 bar phrase would end in the middle of bar 4 and not at the end of bar 4) and reducing the last bar by the value of the upbeat allows to keep the phrases structure clean.


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QAZ: thanks for those examples. Very interesting. I'm now in the jazz world, and I can assure you I've never seen that stuff in a lead sheet or in a big band chart.

One reason may be that in classical music (or rags) you have time to look the music over and see how the repeat or coda is being attached. In jazz, it's very common to be sight reading or playing something you don't get a chance to look at.

Another reason may be that in jazz, after playing what's written on a lead sheet, you keep playing the "form" by improvising over the chord changes. Having a repeat sign in the middle of a measure would create confusion as to where "the form" begins and ends for purposes of improvising. Typically, pickups are not part of the form.

I must have seen that stuff way back in my classical piano days, but had no memory of it!


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