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Sostenuto Pedal #1294540
10/27/09 12:55 AM
10/27/09 12:55 AM
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Is there a particular symbol for the middle (sostenuto) pedal?
Apparently only very few composers, like Debussy and Ravel, make use of it. And many pianos don't have it at all.
Is the indication just "sostenuto"?

Thanks,
CA



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Re: Sostenuto Pedal [Re: ChopinAddict] #1294568
10/27/09 03:51 AM
10/27/09 03:51 AM
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No, the 'sign' is just sost.

Many composers don't use it because most (if not all) upright pianos do not have a sostenuto pedal, so it's restrictive to the kind of piano you can (properly) perform the piece.

Re: Sostenuto Pedal [Re: Nikolas] #1294578
10/27/09 04:38 AM
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Thanks, Nikolas. I actually have a digital piano, but it has all three pedals, so I was curious...

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Re: Sostenuto Pedal [Re: Nikolas] #1294655
10/27/09 08:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Nikolas
No, the 'sign' is just sost.

Many composers don't use it because most (if not all) upright pianos do not have a sostenuto pedal, so it's restrictive to the kind of piano you can (properly) perform the piece.


I think many composers don't mark use of sostenuto pedal because they indicate little or no pedalling of any kind. I don't think this means they didn't intend for a pianist to use this pedal. I don't think Debussy marks any pedal in his scores, for example.

I don't think it's the fact that some verticals don't have this pedal that is relevant. Grainger, who gives detailed pedalling in his works, marks extensive uses of the sostenuto pedal.

Re: Sostenuto Pedal [Re: pianoloverus] #1294679
10/27/09 09:19 AM
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Keep in mind, too, that the sostenuto pedal, available on American pianos by the end of the 19th century, wasn't available on European pianos of the time. Previous discussions on this forum have revealed the Debussy's piano did not have a sostenuto pedal, so those who insist that Debussy used it are basing that statement on false information.

Regards,


BruceD
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Re: Sostenuto Pedal [Re: pianoloverus] #1294684
10/27/09 09:27 AM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I think many composers don't mark use of sostenuto pedal because they indicate little or no pedalling of any kind. I don't think this means they didn't intend for a pianist to use this pedal. I don't think Debussy marks any pedal in his scores, for example.
While I'm a pianist, I don't notate pedal (sustain) unless it's a very precise point I want to make sure they use it. Otherwise I'm assuming the pianists will do what they know best.

With the sostenuto pedalling, the effect is quite different and very precise to leave in chance. While it might be innuendoed (sp?) with held notes and what not, it's not accustomed to be left to the descretion (sp? again...) of the pianist.

In addition to that, classical repertoire has been vomitted all over by incredibly ugly editions (new ones) with dreadful misinformation added (including ludicrous fingering). (For the record, I was teaching on a couple of young ladies and they were playing the first (and 2nd) Bach and some things were just SO impossible, that I proposed to buy them the 2 voice inventions myself (got the urtext editions), so I can just make my own notes.

Bruce: Had no idea about that in regards to Debussy. Interesting! smile

Re: Sostenuto Pedal [Re: Nikolas] #1294688
10/27/09 09:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Nikolas
[...]
Bruce: Had no idea about that in regards to Debussy. Interesting! smile


I believe that information to be accurate as it was confirmed to me in email exchanges with Paul Roberts, author of Images, The Piano Music of Claude Debussy and a well-known interpreter of the music of Debussy.

That said, there are instances in the music of Debussy, Ravel and other composers where the use of the sostenuto pedal is most helpful.

Regards,


BruceD
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Re: Sostenuto Pedal [Re: BruceD] #1294689
10/27/09 09:36 AM
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That is good to know. However, I do think that particular pedal can actually help play Debussy. I'm thinking in particular the Cathedrale Engloutie where one must sustain the lowest C over several bars while having chords changes. The way modern pianos are so resonant with the damper pedal, I cannot imagine not pedaling each of these chords. Perhaps on the older instruments of Debussy's time the damper and sustaining ability were not as great, so he could have held down the pedal for the entire section without a problem.


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Re: Sostenuto Pedal [Re: Morodiene] #1294702
10/27/09 10:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Morodiene
That is good to know. However, I do think that particular pedal can actually help play Debussy. I'm thinking in particular the Cathedrale Engloutie where one must sustain the lowest C over several bars while having chords changes. The way modern pianos are so resonant with the damper pedal, I cannot imagine not pedaling each of these chords. Perhaps on the older instruments of Debussy's time the damper and sustaining ability were not as great, so he could have held down the pedal for the entire section without a problem.


Yes, I agree completely. One may well suppose that had the pianos of Debussy's day had a sostenuto he may well have used it. Whether he would have notated or not is another question, since Debussy rarely indicates any pedal use at all. Instead of using damper pedal signs, he occasionally will write: "quittez, en laissant vibrer" (lift the hands off the keys but let the sound continue).

Regards,


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Re: Sostenuto Pedal [Re: BruceD] #1294849
10/27/09 01:17 PM
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Also remember that the "middle pedal" is not a sustenuto pedal in all pianos. In most grands, the sustenuto pedal holds the last note or notes captured by the pedal. In my old Baldwin Acrosonic, the middle pedal was just an ordinary damper pedal for the lower half of the piano.


Best regards,

Deborah
Re: Sostenuto Pedal [Re: gooddog] #1294897
10/27/09 02:17 PM
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I've seen the notation "TSP" in a couple of old editions of works like Liszt or Busoni transcriptions of Bach organ works. These were pretty clearly added by the editor, but they generally connote classic "pedal tone" situations.

Re: Sostenuto Pedal [Re: gooddog] #1294907
10/27/09 02:37 PM
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Originally Posted by gooddog
Also remember that the "middle pedal" is not a sustenuto pedal in all pianos. In most grands, the sustenuto pedal holds the last note or notes captured by the pedal. In my old Baldwin Acrosonic, the middle pedal was just an ordinary damper pedal for the lower half of the piano.


I think the Banowetz book on pedaling says that the middle pedal on uprights is never a sostenuto (maybe the upright action doesn't allow it?). And that although the sostenuto pedal can found on some European grands, it has never been standard; it is standard only on American grands.

The Wikipedia article on piano pedals says that Debussy and Ravel specified it, but that is referenced in a book that I haven't read, and don't know if it is reliable. I can't remember any explicit use of it in Debussy or Ravel myself, so I wonder which music of theirs the author thinks uses it.

Re: Sostenuto Pedal [Re: wr] #1294962
10/27/09 04:00 PM
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Originally Posted by wr
I think the Banowetz book on pedaling says that the middle pedal on uprights is never a sostenuto (maybe the upright action doesn't allow it?).

I don't recall reading that from Banowetz, but that was always my understanding too—until this thread last summer in the Piano Forum:

Necessity of a sostenuto pedal?

I was genuinely surprised that a middle pedal with true sostenuto function is a feature on a number of upright brands (albeit generally top-tier ones).

Steven

Re: Sostenuto Pedal [Re: wr] #1294973
10/27/09 04:18 PM
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Originally Posted by wr
Originally Posted by gooddog
Also remember that the "middle pedal" is not a sustenuto pedal in all pianos. In most grands, the sustenuto pedal holds the last note or notes captured by the pedal. In my old Baldwin Acrosonic, the middle pedal was just an ordinary damper pedal for the lower half of the piano.


I think the Banowetz book on pedaling says that the middle pedal on uprights is never a sostenuto (maybe the upright action doesn't allow it?). And that although the sostenuto pedal can found on some European grands, it has never been standard; it is standard only on American grands.

The Wikipedia article on piano pedals says that Debussy and Ravel specified it, but that is referenced in a book that I haven't read, and don't know if it is reliable. I can't remember any explicit use of it in Debussy or Ravel myself, so I wonder which music of theirs the author thinks uses it.


Expensive high end verticals from Steinway, Bechstein, Bösendorfer, etc. have (or are available with) sostenuto mechanisms, but the vast majority of verticals substitute a "practice pedal".

A sostenuto is pretty standard on European grands nowadays since they want to be able to sell in the U.S. market.


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Re: Sostenuto Pedal [Re: BruceD] #1294986
10/27/09 04:45 PM
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I totally agree with Morodiene too...
It does help in some instances, particularly if you have small hands.
My middle pedal is really a sostenuto pedal by the way.
Interesting information about Debussy, Bruce, thanks.

CA



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Re: Sostenuto Pedal [Re: wdot] #1294989
10/27/09 04:51 PM
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Originally Posted by wdot
I've seen the notation "TSP" in a couple of old editions of works like Liszt or Busoni transcriptions of Bach organ works. These were pretty clearly added by the editor, but they generally connote classic "pedal tone" situations.

What would the T stand for?



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Re: Sostenuto Pedal [Re: ChopinAddict] #1295002
10/27/09 05:07 PM
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Originally Posted by ChopinAddict
Originally Posted by wdot
I've seen the notation "TSP" in a couple of old editions of works like Liszt or Busoni transcriptions of Bach organ works. These were pretty clearly added by the editor, but they generally connote classic "pedal tone" situations.

What would the T stand for?

"The"? laugh


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Re: Sostenuto Pedal [Re: sotto voce] #1295067
10/27/09 06:36 PM
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Originally Posted by sotto voce
Originally Posted by wr
I think the Banowetz book on pedaling says that the middle pedal on uprights is never a sostenuto (maybe the upright action doesn't allow it?).

I don't recall reading that from Banowetz, but that was always my understanding too—until this thread last summer in the Piano Forum:

Necessity of a sostenuto pedal?

I was genuinely surprised that a middle pedal with true sostenuto function is a feature on a number of upright brands (albeit generally top-tier ones).



I found what I was trying to remember in Banowetz, thanks to Google Books. In his initial discussion of the sostenuto pedal, he says: "To this day, in most cases, this pedal is standard equipment only on instruments built in the United States; and in all countries upright pianos rarely have a true sostenuto pedal mechanism." So I misremembered it a bit, but it seems from the other comments that the situation has changed since he wrote the book, too.



Re: Sostenuto Pedal [Re: Morodiene] #1295081
10/27/09 07:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Morodiene
Originally Posted by ChopinAddict
Originally Posted by wdot
I've seen the notation "TSP" in a couple of old editions of works like Liszt or Busoni transcriptions of Bach organ works. These were pretty clearly added by the editor, but they generally connote classic "pedal tone" situations.

What would the T stand for?

"The"? laugh


Tenacious? grin



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Re: Sostenuto Pedal [Re: ChopinAddict] #1295099
10/27/09 07:47 PM
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I think what Joseph Banowetz was saying is that you can't count on the Sostenuto pedal being there - especially if you regularly perform in Europe - especially if you are off the beaten track. Modern grands all have a sostenuto pedal, but not all concert venues have modern grands, so you can't completely count on them.

On the issue of Debussy, while he didn't have access to one; I quite agree he would have taken advantage of one. There are plenty of opportunities throughout the entire Debussy works where it comes in handy. I had the fortune of studying with Paul Roberts at Castelfranc this past summer and he certainly uses the sost pedal when playing Debussy - and we discussed a number of places throughout the Bk I Preludes where I was using it.

Joe Banowetz also would recommend taking advantage of it - despite is skepticism of its availability. I studied at a summer workshop in Bulgaria from 2006-08 were Joe was one of the teachers. While I didn't study directly with him I did have lengthy discussions with him about practising and pedalling. Like is book, he is a fountain of information when it comes to advanced pedalling technique.

Re: Sostenuto Pedal [Re: Morodiene] #1295121
10/27/09 08:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Morodiene
Originally Posted by ChopinAddict
Originally Posted by wdot
I've seen the notation "TSP" in a couple of old editions of works like Liszt or Busoni transcriptions of Bach organ works. These were pretty clearly added by the editor, but they generally connote classic "pedal tone" situations.

What would the T stand for?

"The"? laugh

That actually was going to be my guess. grin I have no real idea what the notation "means," but it clearly indicates the use of the sostenuto pedal.

Re: Sostenuto Pedal [Re: wdot] #1295139
10/27/09 09:19 PM
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Both the "loud" and "soft" pedals are more often used to smudge inaccuracy in interpretation or lack of technical competence. In the progression of the piano literature we cannot do without them, but I recomend that anyone wishing to be thorough in their approach should perfect a piece first [sans pedale] and then consider pedaling enhancements.


You play it & I'll hum it, but currently rehearsing:

Bach WTC book 2 no 15 G major, no 20 A minor, no 22 Bb Minor
Mozart A minor Sonata K310
Mendelssohn Op 35 preludes and fuges
Busoni Carmen Fantasy
Rachmaninov Bb prelude OP 23 no 2
Lyapunov Humoreske Op 34
and others
Re: Sostenuto Pedal [Re: PartyPianist] #1295146
10/27/09 09:29 PM
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I'll grant that the damper pedal is fatally easy to overuse, but the una corda on a grand doesn't smudge anything; it merely changes the tone color.


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Re: Sostenuto Pedal [Re: wdot] #1295157
10/27/09 09:51 PM
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Originally Posted by wdot
Originally Posted by Morodiene
Originally Posted by ChopinAddict
Originally Posted by wdot
I've seen the notation "TSP" in a couple of old editions of works like Liszt or Busoni transcriptions of Bach organ works. These were pretty clearly added by the editor, but they generally connote classic "pedal tone" situations.

What would the T stand for?

"The"? laugh

That actually was going to be my guess. grin I have no real idea what the notation "means," but it clearly indicates the use of the sostenuto pedal.


First: I doubt that the article "the" would be part of the abbreviated term; second: isn't it more likely that the abbreviation is not for English words?

Regards,


BruceD
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Re: Sostenuto Pedal [Re: Horowitzian] #1295161
10/27/09 09:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Horowitzian
I'll grant that the damper pedal is fatally easy to overuse, but the una corda on a grand doesn't smudge anything; it merely changes the tone color.


Yes and no....with a piano quartet una corda can be used to smudge, as with large chordal progressions on solo piano. The "odd bum note" is easily missed in the pp crowd wink


You play it & I'll hum it, but currently rehearsing:

Bach WTC book 2 no 15 G major, no 20 A minor, no 22 Bb Minor
Mozart A minor Sonata K310
Mendelssohn Op 35 preludes and fuges
Busoni Carmen Fantasy
Rachmaninov Bb prelude OP 23 no 2
Lyapunov Humoreske Op 34
and others
Re: Sostenuto Pedal [Re: BruceD] #1295176
10/27/09 10:49 PM
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Originally Posted by BruceD
First: I doubt that the article "the" would be part of the abbreviated term; second: isn't it more likely that the abbreviation is not for English words?

Regards,

I'm with you on both counts there, Bruce, and it was baffling me! It took some searching, but I've found what I think is the most likely explanation for the abbreviation.

In German, the sostenuto pedal is referred to as the Tonhaltepedal or the Sostenuto-Pedal. That phrase—Tonhaltepedal or Sostenuto-Pedal—is translated as Tonhaltepedal oder Sostenuto-Pedal, and I believe that T.S.P. stands for exactly that: Tonhaltepedal oder Sostenuto-Pedal.

The nomenclature auf Deutsch for the pedal (but not the abbreviation) is confirmed here:

Klavier - Pedale

Flügel (Tasteninstrument)

Steven

Re: Sostenuto Pedal [Re: PartyPianist] #1295179
10/27/09 10:55 PM
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Originally Posted by PartyPianist
Originally Posted by Horowitzian
I'll grant that the damper pedal is fatally easy to overuse, but the una corda on a grand doesn't smudge anything; it merely changes the tone color.


Yes and no....with a piano quartet una corda can be used to smudge, as with large chordal progressions on solo piano. The "odd bum note" is easily missed in the pp crowd wink


I disagree. The blow distance doesn't change, unlike a "soft" pedal on uprights (and certain grands which have a fourth pedal, e.g. Stuart & Sons and the big Fazioli) which actually reduces the blow distance making it easier to "cheat" on pp passages. A properly regulated una corda combined with a well voiced piano merely alters the timbre of the notes played.

Last edited by Horowitzian; 10/28/09 12:52 AM. Reason: dang typos! :-)

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Re: Sostenuto Pedal [Re: Horowitzian] #1295209
10/28/09 12:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Horowitzian
Originally Posted by PartyPianist
Originally Posted by Horowitzian
I'll grant that the damper pedal is fatally easy to overuse, but the una corda on a grand doesn't smudge anything; it merely changes the tone color.


Yes and no....with a piano quartet una corda can be used to smudge, as with large chordal progressions on solo piano. The "odd bum note" is easily missed in the pp crowd wink


I disagree. The blow distance doesn't change, unlike a "soft" pedal on uprights (and certain grands which have a fourth peda;, e.g. Stuart & Sons and the big Fazioli) which actually reduces the blow distance making it easier to "cheat" on pp passages. A properly regulated una corda combined with a well voiced piano merely alters the timbre of the notes played.


You may disagree, but Gerard Willems who did the analysis of the last Sydney Piano Competetion was very critical of the Ukrainian girl for her over-use of the soft pedal in her performance of one of the Medelssohn piano trios. He described her effort as "bleached of detail" from memory, which is precisely the point I make.


You play it & I'll hum it, but currently rehearsing:

Bach WTC book 2 no 15 G major, no 20 A minor, no 22 Bb Minor
Mozart A minor Sonata K310
Mendelssohn Op 35 preludes and fuges
Busoni Carmen Fantasy
Rachmaninov Bb prelude OP 23 no 2
Lyapunov Humoreske Op 34
and others
Re: Sostenuto Pedal [Re: PartyPianist] #1295214
10/28/09 12:50 AM
10/28/09 12:50 AM
Joined: May 2007
Posts: 6,215
Down Under
currawong Offline
6000 Post Club Member
currawong  Offline
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Joined: May 2007
Posts: 6,215
Down Under
"Bleached of detail" is probably not the same as "smudged". I take the former to mean lacking in contrast, or clear articulation perhaps, whereas "smudged" implies "blurry".


Du holde Kunst...
Re: Sostenuto Pedal [Re: currawong] #1295217
10/28/09 01:00 AM
10/28/09 01:00 AM
Joined: Sep 2008
Posts: 8,453
Horowitzian Offline
8000 Post Club Member
Horowitzian  Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Joined: Sep 2008
Posts: 8,453
Exactly, currawong. Overuse of the damper pedal is what produces a "smudged" sound.

"Bleached of detail" would indeed be an apt description for someone who keeps their foot on the una corda all the time, but that does not mean the una corda "smudges" the sound. The una corda is far more effective if used at strategic places within a performance. Of course that depends on the music, the timbre of the instrument, and of course the acoustics of the room.


Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons.
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