I transcribe music into sheet music. In a piece of music I am working on it is imperative that the performer him/herselves decides how he/she uses piano pedals and dynamics (the music must be 'subjective'). Is there a common way to communicate this in sheet music? I am looking after a notation such as "Pedals and dynamics are up to the performer".

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    I guess, the best would be just to write exactly this sentence as annotation at the beginning. Perhaps, you could also use the expression “ad libitum” (“ad lib.”), however this expression is more often used in the context of tempo or trills, at least to my knowledge. You could also use terms such as “appassionato” or “brillante” to communicate that the piece should be played in a certain way, without explicitly defining pedals and dynamics. Nov 28, 2019 at 22:20
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    I you write nothing it will be clear that it is ad libitum. Nov 29, 2019 at 12:27

1 Answer 1


If you think your players will understand lesser-known Italian terms, use 'a piacere'. Or, if you want to control the performance to the extent of NOT wanting it 'straight', try 'expressivo, ped. ad lib.' (In the absence of instructions, pianists will 'pedal ad lib.' anyway.)

  • I don't think "a piacere espressivo" makes much sense (grammatically, or musically). There is a long tradition of simply writing a sentence in any convenient language; but also of writing nothing, and assuming the performer will know what they want to do. Nov 30, 2019 at 17:20
  • Well, no. I wouldn't use BOTH my suggestions!
    – Laurence
    Nov 30, 2019 at 19:01
  • Just “a piacere” doesn’t suffice; it simply means “how you like it”. You have to specify that it is the pedal and dynamics that are “a piacere”?
    – 11684
    Dec 6, 2019 at 16:38

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