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Notation: Simile Symbol

Posted by Bluewaterpig 
Notation: Simile Symbol
August 14, 2015 06:32AM
Hi everybody,

We're having a bit of a debate amongst the music faculty at my school. The argument is over simile symbols. Hopefully somebody can post a definitive answer. Here's what we all agree upon, and this can also serve as a summary for anybody who isn't familiar with simile symbols yet.

A simile symbol is used when two or more identical measures are played back to back. It eliminates the redundancy of notating the same thing over again and it also helps the performer to realize that the same thing is being played age. If it's just two identical measures, a "single" simile mark will be used. It's placed in the middle of a blank measure that follows the measure that is to be repeated. Here's an example of this:


When it's more than two identical measures being played, a multiple measure simile mark is used. It has two lines instead of one and it's placed in the middle of two blank measures, right on the barline. Here's an example of this:


Here's where the debate is...often times, there will be a number placed on top of the multiple measure simile mark. What does that number signify?



Thanks in advance!!
ttw
Re: Notation: Simile Symbol
August 14, 2015 09:16AM
Back 60 years ago or so when I was in high-school band, that number signified the number of measures to rest.
Re: Notation: Simile Symbol
August 14, 2015 09:46AM
Bluewaterpig Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Hi everybody,
>
> We're having a bit of a debate amongst the music
> faculty at my school. The argument is over simile
> symbols. Hopefully somebody can post a definitive
> answer. Here's what we all agree upon, and this
> can also serve as a summary for anybody who isn't
> familiar with simile symbols yet.
>
> A simile symbol is used when two or more identical
> measures are played back to back. It eliminates
> the redundancy of notating the same thing over
> again and it also helps the performer to realize
> that the same thing is being played age. If it's
> just two identical measures, a "single" simile
> mark will be used. It's placed in the middle of a
> blank measure that follows the measure that is to
> be repeated. Here's an example of
> this:
>
>
> When it's more than two identical measures being
> played, a multiple measure simile mark is used. It
> has two lines instead of one and it's placed in
> the middle of two blank measures, right on the
> barline. Here's an example of
> this:
>
>
> Here's where the debate is...often times, there
> will be a number placed on top of the multiple
> measure simile mark. What does that number
> signify?

I've not seen that before, but I guess that would be the number of repeats ( to save wriiting extra bars). Only a guess, mind.

The mutli-measure rest that TTW mentions usually looks like this:




Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/14/2015 09:47AM by JonR. (view changes)
Re: Notation: Simile Symbol
August 14, 2015 03:48PM
I've never heard this called a "simile mark".

Simile is traditionally a written out expression meaning to play the music in the same manner. You write out the first measure with staccato dots for example, and then put simile or sim. or sim on the next measure to indicate that the notes (which aren't necessarily the same) are to still be played staccato - it was merely a time-saving tool instead of writing out all the little dots. And it could be used for many types of indications (accents, slurs, etc.).

Sometimes another word could be added (and of course, there could be alternate indications like sempre staccato for "always staccato") but the basic meaning is "continue to do this in the same way you just did it".

There's an older German term "bis" which I think translates to something like "twice" which is what a "repeated measure" is like. Usually a bracket was put over one or two measures and "bis" written over a bracket over the next two empty measures for the repeat:

This is, to my knowledge, where the idea of what I've always just called the "repeated measures" symbol.

One or two as your initial example. If more, traditional repeat bars are used.

You say "often times" there's a number on top. I've never seen it. It's either a single or double like you posted traditionally.

Anything else would be a "new" notation borrowed from the multi-measure rest concept Jon posted.

However, in much percussion music (or pop music that's written) there can be a repeated pattern a jillion times - like the snare drum part in Ravel's "Bolero". Even though that's typically written out, you will see, like in Drum Line music:

..................................4.....................................8.........................etc.
| o/o | o/o | o/o | o/o | o/o | o/o | o/o | o/o | o/o | o/o |etc.

With a numeral 4 above the 4th one, and 8 above the 8th one, etc. so you can find your place on the music.

So not the number of times to repeat the measure, but the number of times it's been repeated at that point!

By the way, the "double" one means TWO measures are repeated, not a single measure repeated twice.

So you wouldn't put:

| notes to be repeated | o/|/o |

you'd put

| notes to be repeated | o/o | o/o |

if you wanted one measure to be repeated twice.

This:

| notes to | be repeated | o/|/o |

is how you'd do it if you wanted two total measures to be repeated once in total.

If you had three measures to be repeated, you'd put:

||: music | to be | repeated :||


Steve
Re: Notation: Simile Symbol
August 15, 2015 01:37AM



Here's an example. So does that 2 signify that you're supposed to play those measures 2 additional times? So you'd play the two measures of written notation, and then repeat them twice more...meaning you end up playing 6 measures of music total.

Agree? Disagree?
Re: Notation: Simile Symbol
August 15, 2015 02:44AM
Bluewaterpig Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>
>
>
> Here's an example. So does that 2 signify that
> you're supposed to play those measures 2
> additional times? So you'd play the two measures
> of written notation, and then repeat them twice
> more...meaning you end up playing 6 measures of
> music total.

No - I think in that case it simply means "repeat previous 2 measures".
Notice the repeat symbol is a single one, not the double-barred one that usually (on its own) means a 2-measure repeat (the "multiple" one you showed in your first post).

IOW, instead of using the double-barred symbol, for some reason they're using a single symbol but placing it across the barline and adding the figure "2". The meaning seems clear to me - not 100%, but I'd bet on it.
Re: Notation: Simile Symbol
August 15, 2015 08:17AM
I noticed that it was the single line symbol too.

So to summarize the usage of this notation practice, I would say that...

1) The number posted above the symbol refers to the number of prior bars to be repeated

2) The selected phrase can be repeated either once or twice, depending on which symbol is used
Re: Notation: Simile Symbol
August 15, 2015 09:37AM
Bluewaterpig Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I noticed that it was the single line symbol too.
>
>
> So to summarize the usage of this notation
> practice, I would say that...
>
> 1) The number posted above the symbol refers to
> the number of prior bars to be repeated
>
> 2) The selected phrase can be repeated either once
> or twice, depending on which symbol is used

No - not as I understand it. You simply fill the empty bars with the previous phrase - ie repeat it once.

The symbol used to indicate that single repeat - of 2 previous measures - is either
(a) the "mutli-measure" symbol (two crossbars) across the barline, or
(b) the single repeat sign across the barline, but with the figure "2" added (to confirm that it's the last 2 measures that should be repeated).

With longer repeats - say 4 measures (again to be repeated just once) - I've seen versions of that symbol with 4 crossbars, placed across the central barline of 4 empty bars. Again, an alternative would be the single symbol with a figure "4" above.

If more repeats were required - say 2 measures repeated 2 or more times - I think you'd see the signs themselves repeated.
E.g, for 2 measures repeated twice, you'd see 4 empty measures, with the 2nd pair indicated the same as the 1st pair. I.e. "repeat the last 2", followed by "repeat the last 2" (again). And so on for more repeats.

I think for any repeated sections of more than 4 measures, the usual repeat barline signs would be used. The default for those is "repeat once" of course, and for more repeats I've sometimes seen "x3" or "x4" above the final barline, to show how many times you should play that section.
Re: Notation: Simile Symbol
August 15, 2015 03:34PM
I wish people would just learn how to notate music properly.

I blame it on notation software.

Doubly so, because one it's not always designed by people who know music notation, and two, it's so flippin easy to copy and paste the music why would you bother with the symbol in the first place (other than tradition, and if that's so, then do it traditionally!).
Re: Notation: Simile Symbol
August 16, 2015 08:33AM
stevel Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I wish people would just learn how to notate music
> properly.
>
> I blame it on notation software.
>
> Doubly so, because one it's not always designed by
> people who know music notation, and two, it's so
> flippin easy to copy and paste the music why would
> you bother with the symbol in the first place
> (other than tradition, and if that's so, then do
> it traditionally!).

Personally I like the repeat symbols because they show immediately that that bar (or bars) is repeated - saves too much sight-reading, at least with complicated passages! In that sense, it's the software's ability to simply copy and paste that's the problem (false economy).
Mind you, there are limits: a single repeat of a single measure really ought to be just written out twice, IMO - it's more elegant at least. The eye can see the repetition quite easily.
And I agree if one is going to use the symbols, then one ought at least to use them properly!
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