Alternate endings provides the author of the music with yet another short-hand method of reducing the amount of music that is required to be written within the score.
If alternate endings did not exist, some scores could be as much as 10 or 12 pages rather than 2 or 3 pages.
Alternate Endings Used To Save Score Space:
Alternate endings are most effectively used when major portions of the the song remain the same and the music arranger wants to save space in the score. They are used like Repeats, in fact they do use repeat symbols as part of the ending.
For example: The song has 16 measures of notation. If you simply used Repeat Symbols at the first and last measures, you would have 32 measures of music that is played twice over, exactly the same.
Alternate Endings give the flexibility to change the last few measures of the score to be slightly different, or very different from each other.
Most often you will see alternate endings in a song that have just 2 endings. Look at the diagram at the beginning of this article. You would play the song the first time through and play through the First Ending, which is indicated by the bar on top of the measure with the number “1″.
Notice how there is a set of Repeat Symbols at the end of the First Ending? This means you go back and play the piece over again.
The second time through, when you come to the first endings you Skip Over It and you play the second ending instead of playing the first ending. In other words the second time through you play the “Alternate Ending”.
The Number of Alternate Endings is Not Limited:
There are many things that can vary with Alternate Endings. The number of endings can vary from a minimum of 2 up to any number. However, I don’t think I’ve ever seen more than 4 or 5.
Number of Measures Used in Alternate Endings:
The number of measures that an Alternate Ending uses is unlimited. Again, you will most often seen one or two measures for each of the endings. In the example at the beginning of this article there is just one measure for each ending.
Location of Alternate Endings:
The location of the Alternate Endings can be different for different songs. Sometimes you will see Alternate Endings at the end of the song. Just as often you will see them used in the middle of songs. In this case, you usually play through the endings and on the last Alternate Ending you continue to play the remainder of the song.
Multiple Alternate Endings:
There is no limit as to the number of “sets” of Alternate Endings there can be. For example you can have one set of endings 1 and 2 in the middle of the song and another set of endings 1 and 2 at the end of the song.
If this seems a bit difficult to understand, please be patient. We will have a lesson that uses alternate endings and I will clearly mark up the Tab Notes to show you exactly where you play and how you play them. Then, simply come back to this article are re-read it and you will understand.
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