Transposing harp pedaling

Hello all,

I have a piece I have to transpose with a lot of harp pedalings

Is it possible to automatically transpose harp pedalings in Dorico ?

Thanks for your help

It is not possible to do so because pedalling “structure” often has to change drastically from one key to another. This is largely due to the fact that the notes D, G and A have no enharmonic equivalent like the remaining nine notes do. This means that some passages actually cannot be performed at all when transposed unless completely re-written, making the very concept of pedal transposition impractical.


Just in case someone else stumbles on this post, here’s a simple example.

In the C major example, the interval between the first and last note of the first measure in the left hand is a major 3rd. The 6th degree of the scale is flattened and so there is only a single string (B) in between. In D-flat, things are completed different. While the starting diagram could be “transposable” in theory, with a proper algorithm, the rest of the passage is not. The 6th degree of the D-flat scale CANNOT be flattened, since it would be a B-double-flat, and double-flats do not exist on the harp. The harpist only sees notes on the page that refer to strings, and the pedals do the rest. Therefore, that note HAS to be an A-natural. The implications here are that suddenly, the interval is now a diminished 4th instead of a major third; there are now two strings (C and B) between the first and last note of the first measure in the left hand; and the whole passage now requires two pedal changes instead of one. Of course, that passage could have “transposable” pedal changes if written in C-sharp major, but that key is shunned by harpist for acoustical and tuning reasons. Every time a composer writes a harp part in C-sharp, a harp-playing angel falls from heaven!

These decisions have to be made by the composer and/or harpist. In many situations where passages are more complex than the one above, there is more than one pedalling option, and those options rarely correspond to the concept of “transposition”. I hope this clarifies things somewhat.


Thanks Claude for taking time to answer to my question in detail.

As you can see, I am not a specialist in harp writing. As Dorico offers a feature to calculate the pedalings of harps, I assumed that it could use the same algo for transposition.
But, your example shows that it is indeed a little more complicated.

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You’re welcome. It’s one of these things where Dorico is such a “musical” software that figured bass, chord symbols etc … can transpose. But that’s because the intervals remain essentially the same. So it’s easy to make the initial assumption that harp pedals would be the same. With harp however, there is never a guarantee because the intervals may have to change enharmonically, muddying the waters.