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Music Term: Pedal

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A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 1-9

Pedal


Definition and background:

A device on a piano that is activated by the foot of the performer. There are either two or three pedals on the modern piano. The right pedal is a damper pedal, which, when depressed, raises the dampers and allows the sound of the piano to be sustained. This is the most used pedal. The letters "Ped" provide the directive for the performer to depress the damper pedal and the marking to indicate the release is a flowery looking asterisk symbol (More about Piano Pedal Markings). These directives should be exactly under the beat or fraction of the beat where the damper pedal should be depressed or released. It should be noted that there is a half-pedal directive that instructs the performer to depress the damper pedal fully and then release half-way before depressing fully again or releasing. The markings are similar, however there is a line between the two markings with a spike in the line where the half-pedal is to occur. The left pedal is the soft pedal or the muting pedal, which, when depressed, softens the volume of the sound. The term una corda (Italian for one string) is shown under the staff directing the performer to depress the soft pedal, and the term tre corde (Italian for three strings) is shown under the staff directing the performer to release the soft pedal.Larger pianos will also have a third pedal in between the damper pedal and the soft pedal called the sostenuto pedal. Depressing this pedal will dampen only the strings that have been struck. The letters " S.P." below the notes of the composition direct the performer to depress the sostenuto pedal. This is often followed by a line slanted up with a downward line on the end to indicate the release of the pedal.A long held note within a piece of music; the pedal is held while other parts move above it. A lever operated by the feet, found principally on pianos and other keyboard instruments. The abbreviation ped. is an instruction in piano music that the sustaining pedal should be depressed.


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