The Sheet Music

I play piano. I took Trinity College London grade 6 practical and finished my theory course. I still don't understand why the Pedal sign looks like the word “Leo”. Could someone tell me why "Leo"?

  • 15
    Thanks for that. I'm now never going to be able to un-see it...
    – berry120
    Mar 11, 2021 at 22:49
  • 5
    When I was a child I believed that those signs were pictures of dogs. My mother played the piano and I asked her why there were all these dogs. Mar 12, 2021 at 12:08
  • 3
    For centuries before computers and fonts, people would write by hand using crude devices to transfer some type of ink or mark to a substrate like paper. Letters had a wide variety of shapes and styles, depending on the period and whose hand was doing the writing. As a matter of tradition, musical scores adopt modern fonts that replicate these older styles of hand-written text.
    – J...
    Mar 12, 2021 at 13:00
  • 1
    I always saw it as a reference to Led Zeppelin.
    – user9480
    Mar 12, 2021 at 13:59
  • 2
    I suspect the underlying question for this post is actually "Why does the Ped. sign still look like 'Leo' even though that probably impedes readability?"
    – Dekkadeci
    Mar 13, 2021 at 15:01

4 Answers 4


As already mentioned,

it's "Ped." in a funny font.

Once you know it, I guess you can't unsee it.

The font "French Script" has a similar small letter D:

Ped., especially the small letter D in French Script

The font "Monotype C" has a similar capital letter P with the uncommon "leg":

Ped., especially the capital letter P in Monotype

It's even more pronounced in "Vivaldi":

Ped., especially the capital letter P in Vivaldi

But, usually, Ped. is modelled as a single glyph like in Bravura:

Ped. glyph in Bravura


It's "Ped." in a funny font.

  • 9
    I've always seen it as a small dog. The "d" is the tail.
    – Aaron
    Mar 11, 2021 at 1:25
  • 16
    @Aaron ... and what about the period behind its tail? Ah, I don't wanna know exactly. Mar 11, 2021 at 10:27
  • 3
    The period is there to show that it's an abbreviation. For the font: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackletter
    – ojs
    Mar 11, 2021 at 11:27
  • 11
    @ojs Whoosh! :)
    – Barmar
    Mar 11, 2021 at 14:41
  • 3
    @EricDuminil The body of the "d" is the dog's back haunch; the bend in the "L" is the forepaw, and the loops at the top of the "L" are nose and ear.
    – Aaron
    Mar 12, 2021 at 18:11

David Rowland, the author of "A History of Pianoforte Pedaling" (Cambridge University Press, 1993), suggests the script "Ped" mark may have emerged in the late 1830s with the publisher Breitkopf & Co. This is based on early Chopin editions found at the Chopin Variorum. He further proposes that Breitkopf might have received new engraving punches around that time, with other publishers following suit.1

Some further hunting...

The first of Breitkopf's Chopin publications to use the script "Ped." (also the first to use the "snowflake" for pedal release) is the Ballade in F Minor, Op. 52, published in 1843. (The French first edition of the same piece, published by Schlesinger, contains a block "Ped.")

Chopin Op. 52, German first edition, measure 1

Also in 1843, Schlesinger published Chopin's Impromptu in Gb Major, Op. 51. It contains a block "Ped.", though it does include a snowflakey pedal release indicator.

Chopin Op. 51, French first edition, measure 3

The prior publications, the Fantasie Op. 49 (Breitkopf, 1841; shown below) and the Mazurkas Op. 50 (Schlesinger, 1842), use the block "Ped".

Chopin Op. 49, first edition, corrected reprint, measure 7

1 Email with Prof. Rowland. Reproduced here by his permission.

Email from Prof. David Rowland


Could someone tell me what this is supposed to mean?

As you already know, it means Ped.

I still don't understand why the Pedal sign looks like the word "Leo".

Because the glyph for the "P" is made look similar to an "L", and the "d" is styled like an "o" with a tail on it. So while it means "Ped.", it seems to some people to look like "Leo`".

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