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#1983634 - 11/07/12 02:47 AM +2 Pedals?  
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justpin Offline
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Holmes Chapel
How long can you live as a pianist with only the sustain pedal?

At what point do you need the other two?

Was replying to the DP post and he'd edited his post to say I want 3 pedals so it is similar to my teachers piano.

So far I've not yet once encountered an sheet music notation requiring the other pedals...... in fact as I progress, it seems sheet music even lacks sustain pedal markings a lot of the time and leaves this up to the interpretation of the person playing the score.

I mean all my teachers who've been playing longer than I've been alive have only had two.

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#1983643 - 11/07/12 03:14 AM Re: +2 Pedals? [Re: justpin]  
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BillTheSlink Offline
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From what I was told only Grand pianos have the third (center) pedal usually and since there are more uprights in the states than grands I would assume you could do without it forever unless you were to become a concert pianist, which even then I am not sure how much they use it.


Casio CGP 700 and love it. Learning with Piano For All and think it's the bomb. Picking up beginner pieces as time allows and I have lots of time :-)
#1983688 - 11/07/12 07:44 AM Re: +2 Pedals? [Re: justpin]  
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BeccaBb Offline
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My upright acoustic (over 100 years old) has all three pedals and I have all three for my Roland.

I know with the Satie piece I was learning I needed the sustaino pedal (that's approximately level 3.) So I would guess it depends on what repetoire one is playing.

(sorry for bad spelling too early in the morning)


Becca
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#1983697 - 11/07/12 08:17 AM Re: +2 Pedals? [Re: justpin]  
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Morodiene Offline
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The sostenuto pedal (middle one) is not used very often. Its purpose is to act like a damper pedal but ONLY for the keys pressed at the time of it's use. You could therefore sustain notes while playing the rest staccato, for example, or sustain notes while changing the damper pedal for others, creating some interesting effects. If you don't have a sostenuto pedal, you probably won't miss it.

Some uprights have a mute pedal in the middle, that can lock into position. This is unique to uprights and is nice if you live in an apartment or have noise concerns.

As for the una corda (left pedal), that is often used for effects quite often in advanced repertoire. It's not usually indicated in written music, but pianists use it based on the effect they are going for. Of course, it depends on how the instrument sounds with the una corda. One can also use it when accompanying a singer to not overpower them if they are not as strong or if you have a particularly loud piano. Personally, I do not use it much in my playing because my piano already has a very warm sound to it, but that's a personal choice.

I think most people would be fine with only having the damper pedal.


private piano/voice teacher FT

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#1983703 - 11/07/12 08:42 AM Re: +2 Pedals? [Re: justpin]  
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Sam S Offline
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OK, here's a long explanation of the pedals. If you don't want this much information, then skip it, but I'm bored right now so here you go:

You have to look at the historical context to see why there are three pedals on quality modern grand pianos. The first pedal to appear, and the one that is used the most, is the right pedal, called the sustain pedal or the damper pedal. That's the one we are all familiar with. It removes the dampers from the strings so that they are free to vibrate whether the key is pressed or not. In upright and grand pianos the effect is the same, although the physical action is different. In the grand, the dampers are lifted from the strings and returned by gravity when the pedal is lowered. In an upright, the dampers are held on the strings by springs - when the pedal is depressed, the dampers move away from the strings (toward the player).

The left pedal is the una corda or soft pedal. Una corda means "one string". If you have never seen this pedal work on a grand piano, you are in for a treat. When depressed, the action of the piano actually slides to the right. Since modern pianos have varying numbers of strings per note - 3 in the treble, changing to 2 somewhere around the c below middle c, and then to one string in the low bass, the effect of moving the action to the right is that the hammers strike fewer strings per note. When this pedal was first introduced, the hammers only struck one string when the pedal was depressed, hence the name una corda. On modern pianos, they more commonly strike two strings in the three-string unisons, one string in the two-string unisons, and the single bass strings. The change in tone is produced by striking fewer strings per note, but also by using an area of the hammer head that is not hard and impacted by normal playing. The adjustment and voicing of the piano has a lot to do with the change in tone for this pedal.

The middle pedal, the sostenuto pedal, was the last to be introduced, and its action is confusing and difficult to describe. Where the right pedal removes the dampers from the strings, the middle pedal will "catch" a damper that has been removed from the string and keep it from returning to the string until the pedal is released. For instance, play a note, press the middle pedal, release the note. The note will continue to sound. You can play other notes and they will sound normally, the dampers returning to the strings when the keys are released. Note that, unlike the sustain pedal, pressing the sostenuto pedal when no keys are pressed has no effect. The sostenuto pedal is actually pretty cool once you figure it out. You can play a chord, and while the keys are depressed, catch the dampers by pressing the sostenuto pedal, Now you can release the chord and it will continue to sound while you play other keys. You can even use the sustain pedal while the sostenuto pedal is down and they will not interfere with each other. For a long time the sostenuto pedal only appeared on quality grand pianos.

On uprights, the sustain pedal is always there. The left pedal is not a una corda pedal (since the upright action cannot shift to the right like a grand action) but usually moves the hammers closer to the strings. This makes the action less sensitive to your keystrokes, enabling you to play softer. The middle pedal on an upright (when present) is not a sostenuto pedal, but may be used for a number of things. On an old Wurlitzer I owned once, it did nothing, and was just for show. On my Yamaha U1, it lowered a felt strip between the hammers and strings. The pedal could be locked down, thus giving a "mute" function with greatly reduced volume.

As far as notation goes, as you have discovered, pedal markings are not very common or reliable. Much is left to the performer's skill and musicality. Sustain pedal markings are the most common. Una corda markings are rare, but the pedal is still used to add color and in very soft passages at the discretion of the performer. The sostenuto pedal is never marked, except in rare cases in more modern music. Think of it as another tool in your toolkit to achieve your musical goals.

I can recommend the book "The Pianist's Guide to Pedaling" by
Joseph Banowetz. It covers all the pedals and their use in different periods.

Sam

#1983869 - 11/07/12 06:31 PM Re: +2 Pedals? [Re: justpin]  
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4evrBeginR Offline
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California
Originally Posted by justpin
How long can you live as a pianist with only the sustain pedal?

At what point do you need the other two?


You probably want to have at least 2 pedals. I think you would want to learn the coordination of using both feet whether or not the soft pedal made a huge difference in the sound. It's part of the learning process. I encounter music asking for both soft and sustain pedals all the time. The middle pedal may not be as important. My acoustic upright doesn't have sostenuto. On that piano, the middle pedal is the practice pedal, actually very useful. I use it quite often. I've never used the middle pedal on a grand piano when playing music, only when messing around.


Art is never finished, only abandoned. - da Vinci
#1983950 - 11/07/12 11:42 PM Re: +2 Pedals? [Re: justpin]  
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Brian Lucas Offline
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The only time I've really NEEDED the other pedals is when I can't get a hard action piano to play soft enough. Then the soft pedal comes in very handy.


-Brian
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#1983952 - 11/08/12 12:00 AM Re: +2 Pedals? [Re: Sam S]  
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Newman Offline
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Thanks, Sam. That was useful.


Guitar since 1966. Piano (Kawai DP80) since 2011.
#1983959 - 11/08/12 12:15 AM Re: +2 Pedals? [Re: Newman]  
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4evrBeginR Offline
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Btw, do you know why it's una corda (one string) in the music yet it's really two strings or due corde, yet it's marked tre corde (three strings) in the music to release the pedal? If they know about tre corde then they know the piano has 3 strings, so shouldn't they mark the music due corde for soft pedal and tre corde to release rather than una corda and tre corde?


Art is never finished, only abandoned. - da Vinci
#1984067 - 11/08/12 08:58 AM Re: +2 Pedals? [Re: 4evrBeginR]  
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Morodiene Offline
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Morodiene  Offline
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Originally Posted by 4evrBeginR
Btw, do you know why it's una corda (one string) in the music yet it's really two strings or due corde, yet it's marked tre corde (three strings) in the music to release the pedal? If they know about tre corde then they know the piano has 3 strings, so shouldn't they mark the music due corde for soft pedal and tre corde to release rather than una corda and tre corde?


The term "una corda" is derived from early one when the pedal was first introduced. The name stuck even though it's not technically playing only one string. smile


private piano/voice teacher FT

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#1984096 - 11/08/12 10:16 AM Re: +2 Pedals? [Re: Morodiene]  
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packa Offline
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Originally Posted by Morodiene
Originally Posted by 4evrBeginR
Btw, do you know why it's una corda (one string) in the music yet it's really two strings or due corde, yet it's marked tre corde (three strings) in the music to release the pedal? If they know about tre corde then they know the piano has 3 strings, so shouldn't they mark the music due corde for soft pedal and tre corde to release rather than una corda and tre corde?

The term "una corda" is derived from early one when the pedal was first introduced. The name stuck even though it's not technically playing only one string. smile


On early pianos, depressing the soft pedal fully did play only one of the three strings, but intermediate positions of the pedal could be employed to play two of the three. Thus, una corda, due corde, and tre corde have all been used in notation, along with tutte le corde (literally, all the strings) as an alternative to tre corde. According to the Harvard Dictionary of Music, for example, Beethoven used due corde in the slow movement of his Fourth Piano Concerto, Op. 58, to explicitly call for the intermediate effect between one and three strings. On modern pianos, the half-pedal effect has been lost, and the pedal still plays two strings when fully depressed. But it has remained conventional to use una corda to mean fully depressing the soft pedal even though the acoustic effect is now somewhat different from early instruments.


Paul Buchanan
Estonia L168 #1718
#1984191 - 11/08/12 02:06 PM Re: +2 Pedals? [Re: 4evrBeginR]  
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Thanks Morodiene and packa for the lesson. Morodiene, nice to see you here again. Always good to have a teacher around the ABF.


Art is never finished, only abandoned. - da Vinci

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