Definition and background:
Often, repeated sections of a composition will have different endings for each repeat of that section. This can be to create the symetry of an antecedent and consequent phrase or simply to extend the composition. Although there are normally only first endings and second endings, the composer can choose to have as many different endings as there are repeats of the section.Normally, the second ending is shown with the trailing end of the symbol open (see first example below). If the second ending appears at the end of a movement, section or at the end of the composition, the symbol is closed at the final bar line (see second example below).See also First ending, prima volta, seconda volta.
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Wikipedia - Glossary of Musical Terminology
Virginia Tech Multimedia Music Dictionary
ORB -- Medieval Music Glossary