Three piano pedals

What notation do people like to use to indicate holding all three piano pedals down, and how should I do it in Dorico?

I usually see each pedal with its own separate marking. I’ve seen up to 2 lines at once.

Curious: What good would the middle (sostenuto) pedal do while holding the right (sustain) pedal?

1 Like

@Mark_Johnson That is a very good question. You are of course right. But that’s what my composer colleague does, and I am merely the Harmless Drudge, the engraver. :slight_smile:


(Pianist here) for example an octave LH on the low notes of the piano held by the sostenuto, then other notes/chords/arpeggios etc. can be played feathering the sustain pedal for a legato sound to slightly blend the notes as required (slurs, phrasing) off and on as you might normally do.


Great, thanks for that, arco.

So now thinking of how to indicate this, it would be the left foot handling two pedals, yes?

I found this, which describes the Sostenuto pedal and how it’s used (Debussy):

…left foot on both pedals if they go down at the same time, yes.
It depends on what the composer requires for the sound intended at various points during that pedalling section (slurs, phrasing, note duration, legato, blur, clarity…). Perhaps the right foot (if it is not doing anything just at that time) could continue the hold on the sostenuto if the soft pedal needs independent action at some point.

Personally, I would suggest putting in the pedal markings as the composer (imagines) requires and leave the pianist to figure out the best way to organise the foot work (no need to specify right or left foot). They are quite used to pencilling in fingering etc. as they prepare.
(Others here might suggest otherwise :slight_smile: )

I used to play church organ (to a limited degree) but there were times when I had to play a sustaining note on the pedals with one foot, while the other played a note, then join the other foot on that sustaining note, so the other foot could play elsewhere (difficult to cross feet!) It may have been an exercise to get used to various possibilities of foot work, I don’t remember.

[- of course if you have a page turner sitting beside you … :rofl:]

Interesting! I sometimes use this technique when ending my jazz solos. Well, maybe I’d just put a text like “Hold the 3 pedals” ?? or maybe something like “Ped/Sost/Una Corda”. ??

I wonder if a little icon similar to a recorder fingering chart but for piano pedals, showing all three pedals depressed might be a more elegant way of doing it. Outline for up, filled in black for down. This would probably benefit from a little eight glyph font though.

(Something akin to this)

This is atypical, but if there is going to be particular combinations required throughout and they change at all, it could be convenient. Or, rather than placing these every time there is a retake, if you switch pedaling type and stick with it for a while, you could put these symbols every so often with sempre or sim. after words until it’s time to change again, using regular pedal symbols in the meantime.

1 Like

SMuFL does include piano pedal glyphs FYI.

1 Like

Nor, I am not sure that example is a good one, since the Sostenuto would be redundant I would think? (as there would be a hand playing the notes on each stave respectively, and no following notes?)
However I know what you mean for using the sostenuto especially while playing solo, improvising or actually any kind of music; and it is useful for endings similar to how you have suggested but where you might have some flourishes after the long notes are pressed, sustained by the sostenuto pedal.