Pedal lines

Pedal lines indicate to performers which piano pedals to use, and can also give performance instructions, such as how far down to depress the pedals and when to lift the pedal to clear the resonance.

Most pianos have either two or three pedals. These pedals are:

Sustain pedal

The sustain pedal controls the dampers on the piano strings, which is why it is also known as the “damper pedal”. It is also the most commonly used pedal. Depressing the sustain pedal removes the dampers, allowing the strings to resonate longer. Sustain pedals are usually on the right.

Figure 1. An example sustain pedal line
Sostenuto pedal

The sostenuto pedal only allows the strings of the notes currently depressed on the keyboard to resonate. It is also known as the “middle pedal” as it is usually in the middle of the other pedals.

Figure 2. An example sostenuto pedal line
Una corda pedal

The una corda pedal shifts the action inside the piano so that the hammers hit fewer strings than normal. Historically, this caused hammers only to hit one string, not the usual three, which is where the name comes from. Because this reduces the volume and impact of the sound, it is also known as the “soft pedal”.

Figure 3. An example una corda pedal line

Dorico Pro offers comprehensive notational and playback support for piano pedal lines. You can create pedaling for the sustain, sostenuto, and una corda pedals, with support for modern sustain pedaling techniques, including changing the pedal level over the course of a single pedal instruction.

In Dorico Pro, pedal lines are considered playing techniques because they alter the sound produced by the instrument. Therefore, pedal lines are included in the Playing Techniques panel in Write mode and you can input them using the playing techniques popover. However, pedal lines have additional, unique requirements that do not apply to other playing techniques, such as retakes, pedal level changes, start signs, end signs, and continuation lines.