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Musical Symbols of Piano Music: Part Two

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Piano Pedal Marks
Symbols indicating sustain pedal use and duration.

Different ways of expressing sustain pedal use and duration in piano music.

Image © Brandy Kraemer

Reading Piano Pedal Marks

There are three common pedal marks used to control the most popular piano foot pedal: The sustain (or “damper”) pedal. These commands are:


  1. Engage Pedal (Ped.)
    Indication to use (or “depress”) the sustain pedal.

  2. Release Pedal (*)
    Releases the sustain.

  3. Variable Pedal Marks (__/\_/\__)
    Explains the pattern in which you depress and release the sustain pedal:

    • Horizontal lines show when the sustain pedal is depressed.

    • Steep diagonal lines indicate a quick, temporary release of the sustain pedal.

    • Vertical lines indicate a release, or ends use of the pedal.

More On Piano Foot Pedals:
►  Learn About the Three Standard Piano Pedals
How they sound, how they’re played, and how they work.

►  Read How the Three Piano Pedals Came To Be
Hint: One used to be played with the knee (!)



See More Musical Symbols:
Staff & Barlines    ■Note Lengths     ■Articulation Marks    ■Repeat Signs
The Grand Staff      ■Dotted Notes      ■Dynamics & Volume      ■Segno & Coda Signs
Time Signatures       ■Accidentals        ■Key Signatures      ■Pedal Marks
Tempo Commands     ■Piano Chords         ■Music Rests          ■8va & Octave Commands


Related Video
Note Reading Basics
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