A Simple Dal Segno Definition: How to Understand it

Finally, a dal segno definition you can understand.

You’ve run into this strange Italian word in your sheet music, and you have no idea what it means. You’re tempted to just ignore it and hope for the best, but deep down you know that it will eventually catch up to you. 

So, you go to your lesson and your teacher asks you what it means. You start shifting in your seat and make up something. Of course, it’s not right, but even if you did look it up, would you be able to understand it? Would you still be able to give the right answer?

It’s a toss up, but this music definition will help you sort it out once and for all.

dal segno definition

Dal Segno Definition

The definition of dal segno is to go back and play from the segno sign. The literal meaning is “from the sign.” It indicates that a musical passage is to be repeated beginning at the place marked with the segno symbol. It is often abbreviated as D.S. in sheet music.

To understand this better, let’s break apart the two words. Dal means “from the” and segno is a sign or music symbol. It even literally means “sign.” When put together, dal segno means “from the sign.” So, you are repeating from the point marked by the segno sign.

On Wikipedia, dal segno is used as a navigation marker. In sheet music, it tells us to repeat music beginning from the “S” sign. It says the sign is sometimes called the segno in English. However, segno is an Italian word according to The A to Z of Foreign Musical Terms book.

segno sign
Segno Sign

In short, dal segno means to go back to the “S” or segno sign and play again. In music notation, this musical term is usually found as D.S. al coda or D.S al fine.

Return to segno and play again.

Learn More About D.S. al Coda

Hopefully this quick dal segno definition clears up everything for you. No more shifting uncomfortably in your seat. Now, you can get it right the first time.

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