Tutorial for Writing Piano Music In Dorico

Hi everyone,

I’m transcribing my orchestral piece for piano, and I was wondering if there’s a tutorial for inputting piano techniques like pedaling, padal changes, staff voicing, etc… or any hints for changing pedals at least and the likes.

Thanks guys.

Hello, This is all in the manual. Do study it. I find Dorico to be the best and easiest program for piano pedalling. I don’t know of a tutorial re pedalling as such.

Pedalling is simple with the playing techniques panel.


Engraving options allow you to change the dreadful 19C Ped marking to more modern brackets.

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If you’re transcribing an orchestral piece probably go easy on the pedal, or leave out entirely and up to performer discretion, it’s a piano thing not orchestral anyhow. Sounds like you’re looking for pedaling tips? Unless you really understand pedaling best to not mess with it too much or it’ll get muddy. If you’re having them play a lot of parallel chords or octaves then some light discretionary pedaling can be indicated to the performer for legato passages, they’ll know how to manage it.

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Yes you’re right i AM looking for pedaling and voicing tips. Do you have any suggestions like a site or a method?

Sorry no I learned by playing, you have to simply understand it, not sure if there’s much general things you can say about it compositionally. Other than the basics which is you’re adding depth and richness and avoiding mud, so pedal on tonal changes at a minimum. Second thing is it’s probably easier to overdo it than under.

Referencing what @DanMcL said. Anyone who wanted to help would have to see the music itself to offer specific advice. General advice is, as Dan said, both personal and context related. I suppose one might study some piano scores by reputable editors or performers who indicate pedaling.


Ah, so you are more wanting advice on how to set the pedal for your transcription. Since pianists know what they are doing (most of the time) and understand pedal deeply, the easy solution is to simply put ‘pedal ad lib.’. They’ll get it. And the score will not be cluttered. Sorry, I don’t mean to be unhelpful here, but you can find this indication quite often.


Yeah I was wondering about that, the Romantics and Impressionists were in the heyday of pedaling, but they were in a particular style suited to it, which maybe could be simplified to arpeggiated wide chordal lines. Later in that period to now it seems like more una corda is used in my limited experience, it seems they’re trying to get a specific effect with that.

But you know depending on piano and hall a performer might apply a little pedal anyhow to achieve a tone they’re looking for, or help with legato.

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Pedal ad lib would be great. I’d usually be using the pedal for long duration note effects like sustained unmeasured tremolos and such.

Thanks for the advice @Andro @DanMcL @Derrek

Actually, you don’t even need a Ped. ad lib. indication. The sustaining pedal is used in almost all current piano music, and as Andro said, pianists know how to handle it. Only put in pedaling where you want some special effect that is not obvious in the notation. For example, if. you notate long held notes in the bass by showing the actual duration of these notes., a pedal marking is redundant when the pedal must be used to hold such notes. On other other hand, if you show long held notes at the duration held by the hand, and expect the player to hold them longer with the pedal, it is a good idea to put in a pedal indication to show the exact duration of the notes.


Alsok, you need to be aware that most piano music manuscripts that composers wrote out by hand had no pedal indications at all. (A couple of exceptions are Debussy and Rachmaninoff.)

What I’m saying is: most pedal indications in 18th and 19th century piano music were added by later editors, not the composers or arrangers themselves. If you’re going to publish your piece, I’d leave the pedal markings to your editor to insert.


Beethoven put in a few special-occasion pedal indications in his music. Chopin was the first composer to put in detailed pedaling, because he was writing in a new way for piano that would have been confusing for his contemporaries. Pianists then having learned the new style from Chopin, the following composers could limit pedaling indications to special occasions, such as what I mentioned in post above. For this reason, Debussy and Rachmaninoff used no pedal indications.

Later editors have added all kinds of markings to earlier music including pedal indications, as L3B mentioned. That is for educational purposes and not necessarily appropriate for a new score.


Pedalling: pedalling in the context of a piece written for piano is more subtle than pedal on / pedal off. If you want to get an insight into pedalling Graham Fitch (contributor to Pianist magazine) has created a couple of videos about pedalling. On a modern / grand piano there are 3 pedals - soft , Una Corda and sustain. The sustain pedal is what is normally implied when there is a Pedal makes on a piano score. It lets the strings continue to ring after release of the key. Half pedal / fractional pedal changes the colour of the note by effectively dampening (by proximity of the damper not actual touch) the higher harmonics of the sound. Una Corda allows the hammer to strike only 1 string rather than 3, and soft pedal reduces the force that the hammer can strike the pedal with so it is always softer.

Pedal is used to sustain a harmony; a “dab of pedal” helps join (ie make legato) notes that the pianist may not achieve through normal fingering.

As one contributor said - pedalling is usually left to the pianist - and the invitation to pedal is usually not written (ie pedal ad lib is taken as superfluous instruction). If the composer wants a specific sound there will be instruction - no pedal or Una corda etc.

The basic aim of pedalling is to bring out the musicality - apply pedal where it adds to the richness of the sound, don’t apply if it makes the sound muddy, and usually don’t apply (or release -re-apply ) where a continuous pedal would create an unwanted dissonance. EG if you pedalled (down) in one bar and sustained a C and the next bar had a C# it is likely you would release and reapply the pedal to avoid the clash… “all else being equal”.

If Ian doubt - talk to a (professional) pianist ask them to play the score and ask them where they pedalled. Pedalling is something pianists learn to do - they weren’t born knowing how to pedal - and most pianists will willingly share their insights.

Hope these few notes help.


Pedalling on piano is a subtle art - and though some composers indicate pedalling a lot of pedalling is at the discretion on the pianist - it depends on the piano, the room, the music, the period and style of the music and the interpretation being given by pianist.