Adding Harp Pedal Notes

For harp, I need to define pedal positions. One way is like this:

Another way is like this:

If I am writing a glissando like the following
how do I enter the pedal positions in Dorico? I thought about just adding text, but that didn’t work for natural signs. In this glissando, I want all the pedals in the middle position (C diatonic).

Second question:
I have followed the steps in the manual to show pedal diagrams, but I don’t see them in the full score or harp part (although I know I have somehow made them appear in the past).


Both styles are standard; I find the diagram quicker to read.

Note that harp pedaling does not show in score layouts by default. You can turn them on if you need, but I would print the score without.

There is a fairly new section of the right panel for making these markings. I think this has not made it into the documentation just yet.

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When editing a harp part, you can just use the popover for playing techniques and enter it in. I start a flow with full pedals and then use partial - pedals.

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I would love to see a way (in Properties?) to override layout settings in the score for individual harp pedal diagrams to show just those that affect glissandi.


@superg, The Harp section of the playing techniques is exactly the solution I needed. Thanks.
@Mark_Johnson , I agree the diagram is faster to read.

I usually create one harp part with pedals indicated and one without so the player can choose. That may be unnecessary, but I like to err on the side of making things easy for musicians. Some like the markings and some prefer to do their own, but, in any case, I needed to indicate the notes for the gliss.

My take on harp pedals is that in the score there should be no diagrams or written pedal names.

For the glissandi, there should ALWAYS be a sextuplet of notes indicating the remaining notes of the scale and their tuning.

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This notation, while clear and unambiguous, is somewhat old-fashioned, cumbersome to achieve, and requires extra space. A diagram conveys exactly the same information and is simply a picture of the pedals themselves.

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except using a diagram doesn’t convey to a non-harpist what the tuning is.

you may think this is “old fashioned”, but it IS the correct way to notate harp glissandi in a full score.

I don’t find this cumbersome to achieve in Dorico. Obviously, it’s not “instantaneous” nor automatic, but it’s barely more complicated than a complex 2-voiced divisi in strings with contrasting rhythms.

write starting note.
write septuplet in voice 2.
resize septuplet,
hide first notehead, hide beams and stems (all very easily done in Dorico)

I think all the adjusting could probably be done using a macro program or one of Dorico’s features (I haven’t used it.) So this could easily be a one-step operation.

IMHO a conductor should be able to understand a harp diagram… Part of your job

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Some of the classic (or old-fashioned texts, if you prefer) like Piston’s “Orchestration” suggest writing one octave of notes followed by the gliss.. I’ll have to see if Dorico understands that and plays it back correctly. In this case, it so happens that I have all the pedals set to natural positions, but I understand that a complex setting would be hard for a non-harpist to understand unless there were notes or chords. I am convinced that harpists all have IQs over 180.

Thanks for the discussion.

By the way, I bought two books on writing for harp and read them both several times. They were really helpful in preventing horrible mistakes, but I still always ask a harpist to check my work.

Dorico makes it rather easy to switch between symbolic and pedal key styles, both full and partial in engrave mode. I’m not aware of there being a requirement to precede a gliss with the pedals if the pedals are already set for the correct musical key of the glissando in question. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen a noted gliss, and I mostly use partial pedals to keep the symbology simple. But like I mentioned, things are super-simple to change in Engrave mode.

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I asked a professional symphony harpist, (and have seen in ‘how to’ harp writing texts by pro harpists); many professional harpists actually prefer putting in their own pedal markings; even some of the ‘Masters’ didn’t always get it quite right. She said our responsibility as composers was to be sure that the part was playable, and leave the pedal markings for the harpist to do. Although, sometime I do use pedal markings myself :wink:

This is true in general, but for a gliss the pedals often have to be specified.
Even if it’s only the name of a scale, such as “E♭ major”.

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