Consider the following screenshot: Screenshot of piano grand staff with cross-staff arpeggio intersecting a between-staves pedal line
As you can see, the piece ends with an arpeggio that starts on the bass staff and ends on the treble staff. As I understand it, the best and clearest way to notate this is with a cross-staff arpeggio line, as I’ve written. However, I also use the sustain pedal throughout the piece, including on the final notes, and as you can see, the cross-staff arpeggio line is intersecting the pedal line (Sibelius detects this collision and colors the conflicting line red).

What is the proper way to notate this? Should I write two short arpeggio lines, one on each staff, and add some other marking to make clear they’re meant to play as one continuous arpeggio?

  • 1
    What on Earth is the pedal line doing between the two systems? I've only ever seen it rendered below the lower staff. It's not as if the sustain pedal applies only to the right hand, after all. May 28, 2018 at 7:35
  • @KilianFoth, notating the pedal mid-system like this is an old practice I often used to encounter in the ghastly Augener's edition. It has the benefit of allowing more systems to be crammed onto a page.
    – user48353
    May 28, 2018 at 7:49
  • @KilianFoth My bad. That’s what happens when you try to write for piano without having ever seen actual piano sheet music. See my answer below, and consider the question answered. Thanks for pointing it out.
    – Walter
    May 28, 2018 at 7:50

2 Answers 2


The only reason to indicate pedal in piano music is if you want pedal changes to be in exact spots and capturing certain harmonies. Otherwise, leave it to the pianist. If a student is playing your piece, the teacher will help the student to learn how to musically use the pedal. Professionals know how to make these decisions themselves. To put pedal markings in makes the music look like a student edition, IMO, like writing in bow markings for string players. As a professional pianist myself, I would know how to pedal that last chord without any help from the markings. When I write piano music and want pedal, I just put a little note at the beginning of the music, "with pedal." If I wanted no pedal, I would mark that instead.

  • A little too categorical. Adding pedal markings is justified when unusual effects are desired, e.g. Beethoven Op31 No2. If you meant putting pedal markings in the OP's excerpt makes it look like a student edition, rather than that putting them in music generally makes it look that way, then I misunderstood you and my comment doesn't apply.
    – user48353
    May 28, 2018 at 12:05
  • @replete, I don't see how this contradicts what I was saying, only that "special effects" is another use for writing in pedal besides just wanting certain harmonies captured. But, still, writing pedal all throughout is akin to writing in bowings for string players. Professionals only need markings when the composer wants a specific sound.
    – Heather S.
    May 28, 2018 at 16:53
  • I'm not contradicting you, I agree with what you've written: pedal markings are just noise on the page unless something not obvious is intended. I wrote "too categorical" because I felt that the sentence beginning "To put pedal markings in makes the music look like a student edition" could be read as meaning all pedal markings in all music. Reading it again today, I think it's clear enough as is, so +1.
    – user48353
    May 29, 2018 at 1:55

Well, derp on my part. Sibelius had always generated the pedal lines between the staves, so I figured that’s where it belonged, same as with the dynamics. (I figured markings between the staves applies to both, whilst markings above the top one and beneath the lower one only applied to those respectively.) Upon searching some more, I now realize the pedal lines belong beneath the lower staff, not above it. This rather handily answers my original question.


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