I'm writing a piece where the beginning and end use the damper pedal only, and the middle uses sostenuto only. Currently these are notated with con ped. and con sost., but I wonder if that might create confusion for a performer who might try to use both at once. Is this likely to be confusing? If so, what's the best way to make it clear?


2 Answers 2


When a new pedal indication is encountered, it is assumed to cancel the previous one. In a score indicating "con ped." followed later by "con sost.", the "con ped." remains in effect until it is replaced by "con sost." — and vice versa. If two pedals are to be used simultaneously, that would be explicitly notated. (Also, with damper and sostenuto pedals specifically, it would not make sense to use both together. The damper pedal overrules the sostenuto.)

  • I'm fairly sure I've seen "una corda" get put on a score in between "Ped." and "*" indications. I wouldn't be so fast to assume that all pedal indications in piano music cancel out all previous pedal indications.
    – Dekkadeci
    Commented Jun 16, 2022 at 16:55
  • @Dekkadeci: If one plays some notes while holding the damper pedal, and while holding that pushes sostenuto and then releases the damper pedal, would the sostenuto mechanism grab only the dampers only for the keys that are held, or would it grab all the dampers? I would think the former would be somewhat useful musically, but the latter might be mechanically simpler.
    – supercat
    Commented Jun 16, 2022 at 17:05
  • @supercat The sostenuto pedal keeps lifted any dampers that are up at the time the pedal is depressed. If all dampers are lifted via the damper pedal, they will all remain lifted via the sostenuto pedal.
    – Aaron
    Commented Jun 16, 2022 at 17:09
  • @Aaron: I'm not surprised, though I've seen pianos where pushing keys raises the dampers somewhat more than the damper pedal alone would, and it would seem practical to design a piano so that the sostenuto would only grab the fully-raised dampers. I wonder if any have pianos have been designed that way, since I wouldn't really see any musical purpose that would be served by having sostenuto grab all the dampers that wouldn't be served just as well by simply holding the damper pedal.
    – supercat
    Commented Jun 16, 2022 at 17:22
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    Would it not make sense to depress the sostenuto while holding a few keys, then use the damper pedal freely to control the rest? Commented Jun 16, 2022 at 21:43

If you are using con ped., for a general "use the sustain/damper pedal" indication, cancel it with senza ped..
Similarly, you might need to cancel con sost. with senza sost..

Whereas con means "with", senza means "without".

  • 2
    I'm aware of this notation, but it doesn't really answer my question regarding whether it's necessary in this context. It's also unclear to me how "senza ped." and "con sost." can/should be indicated at the exact same point. Commented Jun 16, 2022 at 0:48
  • 1
    @the-baby-is-you I can't tell how necessary it'd be without seeing the particular context. But if you think there is a chance of being misinterpreted, use explicit notation. For the change over point: separate the instructions with a comma; senza ped., con sost.. Commented Jun 16, 2022 at 1:05

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