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#2023599 - 01/29/13 06:32 PM Using pedal in Baroque pieces
SamXu Offline
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Registered: 03/10/12
Posts: 208
Loc: I'm standing upside down...
When is it acceptable and when is it not acceptable to use pedal in a Baroque piece? How much pedal should you allow?

Just asking for your opinion on this.
_________________________
HSC pieces:
Shostakovich Piano Concerto op 102. movement 1
Chopin Op10 No1
Debussy Broulliards Preludes Bk1
Kats-Chernin Russian Rag
Messiaen Regard d'letoile
Mozart Sonata for 2 pianos D major

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#2023603 - 01/29/13 06:38 PM Re: Using pedal in Baroque pieces [Re: SamXu]
Mark_C Offline
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Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19871
Loc: New York
Two things:

(1) What your ear tells you (making sure not to screw up any voices), AND
(2) Don't follow any supposed "rules." smile

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#2023605 - 01/29/13 06:44 PM Re: Using pedal in Baroque pieces [Re: SamXu]
JoelW Online   content
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Registered: 05/25/12
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Purists will tell you "NEVER!", but don't listen to that garbage.

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#2023617 - 01/29/13 07:14 PM Re: Using pedal in Baroque pieces [Re: Mark_C]
jdhampton924 Offline
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Registered: 01/13/08
Posts: 1009
Loc: Evansville, Indiana
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Two things:

(1) What your ear tells you (making sure not to screw up any voices), AND
(2) Don't follow any supposed "rules." smile


Wishing I had a facebook like button right now.

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#2023633 - 01/29/13 07:53 PM Re: Using pedal in Baroque pieces [Re: SamXu]
bennevis Online   content
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Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5547
I do pretty much what my ears tell me to do. It can vary depending on what piano I'm using and the acoustic I'm playing in. (My pedaling in all music, not just Baroque, isn't set in stone. It's not even set in plasticine. wink )

Not what some self-appointed purists say what one can or cannot do.
_________________________
"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."

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#2023646 - 01/29/13 08:08 PM Re: Using pedal in Baroque pieces [Re: SamXu]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Registered: 05/29/01
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Since, as evidenced by the multitude of approaches taken by the great Bach players, there is no one correct way to use the pedal in Bach, purists cannot have much to say about this issue.

Nor do I think that doing what one's ears tell you is a good answer to what's the correct approach. It's only "correct" or at least reasonable if the person using their ears has a certain level of skill.

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#2023716 - 01/29/13 10:38 PM Re: Using pedal in Baroque pieces [Re: JoelW]
DanS Offline
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Registered: 10/28/12
Posts: 568
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Purists will tell you "NEVER!", but don't listen to that garbage.


Exactly!

The piano wasn't even invented yet (obviously), so when a purist poo-poos your use of pedal, just poo-poo them listening to Bach on a piano! "Well, the harpsichord in getting restrung, so I had to make due this" wink
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"Most pianists are poor musicians, they dissect music into bits-and-pieces, like a roast chicken" -Debussy

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#2023735 - 01/29/13 11:17 PM Re: Using pedal in Baroque pieces [Re: DanS]
Bluoh Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/20/11
Posts: 421
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: DanS
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Purists will tell you "NEVER!", but don't listen to that garbage.


Exactly!

The piano wasn't even invented yet (obviously), so when a purist poo-poos your use of pedal, just poo-poo them listening to Bach on a piano! "Well, the harpsichord in getting restrung, so I had to make due this" wink


Well put. smile

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#2023737 - 01/29/13 11:24 PM Re: Using pedal in Baroque pieces [Re: DanS]
argerichfan Offline
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Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 8934
Loc: Pacific Northwest, US.
Originally Posted By: DanS

The piano wasn't even invented yet (obviously), so when a purist poo-poos your use of pedal, just poo-poo them listening to Bach on a piano! "Well, the harpsichord in getting restrung, so I had to make due this"

Great post! laugh

In playing Bach on the piano I have always favored a 'discreet' (key word, there) use of the pedal, though I understand it is a rather contentious issue. stores (a member no longer active, but still makes occasional appearances) always railed against it, though I have never quite understood his 'none at all!' stance.

As an organist, one of the most exciting recorded performances of Bach's P&F in E minor BWV 548 (nicknamed 'Wedge') I have ever heard comes from Samuel Soria at LA's Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.

Obviously it is an instrument which would have been totally foreign (in more than one way) to Bach, yet Soria's performance IMO captures all the excitement and drive of his most ambitious P&F. I've listened to myriad performances of this piece on historically and self-congratulatory 'correct' instruments, but sorry 'Baroque Boys' (Virgil Fox's delightfully derogatory term), you don't own this piece, and Bach's genius simply transcends the instruments of his day.

The modern piano does too, and let us enjoy -and be enlightened- by what the great contemporary pianists offer. Cheers!
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#2023745 - 01/29/13 11:51 PM Re: Using pedal in Baroque pieces [Re: SamXu]
FSO Offline
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Registered: 04/03/12
Posts: 854
Loc: UK, Brighton
The Well Tempered Clavier...well, the title seems clear enough, but, um, as I recall (I could be wrong), Bach didn't tend to even indicate instrumentation...so...I don't know, complete that train of thought and you end up with a point laugh
Xxx
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#2023746 - 01/29/13 11:54 PM Re: Using pedal in Baroque pieces [Re: Mark_C]
outo Offline
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Registered: 08/02/12
Posts: 821
Loc: Finland
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Two things:

(1) What your ear tells you (making sure not to screw up any voices),


I have tried, because I would like to learn to do it well and discreetly, but my ear always tells me no. Not sure if it is to be trusted confused

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#2023750 - 01/30/13 12:05 AM Re: Using pedal in Baroque pieces [Re: SamXu]
SamXu Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/10/12
Posts: 208
Loc: I'm standing upside down...
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Two things:

(1) What your ear tells you (making sure not to screw up an voices),


The thing is, my ear is weird. The things that my ear likes are generally not what the examiners like. >< Also, I tend to overuse/abuse the pedal during baroque pieces, as I sometimes...'cough' hide my blunders with pedal.
_________________________
HSC pieces:
Shostakovich Piano Concerto op 102. movement 1
Chopin Op10 No1
Debussy Broulliards Preludes Bk1
Kats-Chernin Russian Rag
Messiaen Regard d'letoile
Mozart Sonata for 2 pianos D major

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#2023755 - 01/30/13 12:17 AM Re: Using pedal in Baroque pieces [Re: DanS]
BruceD Online   content
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Originally Posted By: DanS
[...] so I had to make due this" wink


??
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BruceD
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#2023756 - 01/30/13 12:23 AM Re: Using pedal in Baroque pieces [Re: BruceD]
FSO Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/03/12
Posts: 854
Loc: UK, Brighton
Originally Posted By: BruceD

??

Make do with, I believe was the intent...
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Sometimes, we all just need to be shown a little kindness <3

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#2023760 - 01/30/13 12:33 AM Re: Using pedal in Baroque pieces [Re: SamXu]
Mark_C Offline
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Registered: 11/11/09
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Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: Debbusyist
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Two things:
(1) What your ear tells you (making sure not to screw up an voices),

The thing is, my ear is weird. The things that my ear likes are generally not what the examiners like. >< Also, I tend to overuse/abuse the pedal during baroque pieces, as I sometimes...'cough' hide my blunders with pedal.

My ear is like yours, even when I'm not trying to hide anything.

But the thing is, we're stuck with our ear. We can try to develop how we hear further and further, but ultimately what we've got is our ear. And at every given time, however imperfect it is, we're far better off using it (and following it) than not using it. smile

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#2023782 - 01/30/13 01:42 AM Re: Using pedal in Baroque pieces [Re: SamXu]
wr Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 8027
Originally Posted By: Debbusyist
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Two things:

(1) What your ear tells you (making sure not to screw up an voices),


The thing is, my ear is weird. The things that my ear likes are generally not what the examiners like. >< Also, I tend to overuse/abuse the pedal during baroque pieces, as I sometimes...'cough' hide my blunders with pedal.


Oh, you're talking about exams? Well, then you need to find out what their expectations are, not our opinions.

Personally, I don't use pedal in Baroque music, but I don't really care if other people do or not. But one irrefutable point about it should be mentioned: using the pedal cannot actually be necessary for playing Baroque keyboard music, since it didn't exist when the music was being written.

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#2023783 - 01/30/13 01:48 AM Re: Using pedal in Baroque pieces [Re: wr]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19871
Loc: New York
Most of what we do in music isn't "necessary." It is to enhance with what is possible. smile

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#2023795 - 01/30/13 02:35 AM Re: Using pedal in Baroque pieces [Re: SamXu]
Ian_G Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/07/10
Posts: 168
Loc: Germany
Discreetly. Did English Jason say discreetly, too? He did. If the bees had knees, sir, if the bees had knees. One should use the soft pedal, too.

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#2023801 - 01/30/13 02:55 AM Re: Using pedal in Baroque pieces [Re: SamXu]
AZNpiano Online   happy
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5590
Loc: Orange County, CA
For the G minor P/F, use LOTS of pedal. If your examiner has a problem with it, he can deal with it.

Don't "predict" what the examiner will say. Do what you feel is right. Make your own artistic choices.
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#2023807 - 01/30/13 03:42 AM Re: Using pedal in Baroque pieces [Re: SamXu]
stores Offline
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Registered: 12/28/09
Posts: 6648
Loc: Here, as opposed to there
I'm not going to argue about this one way of the other. Most of you here already know my stance. I WILL, however, leave the video below and state that most often our use of the pedal (not only with Bach, but with any composer) arises out of the need to cover up and as a result we form a bad habit by using this crutch. Argue all you like... I don't care. If you want to lie to yourself, that's fine by me (at least the OP has the courage to admit he leans on the pedal, because he doesn't know what he's doing). The vast majority of us don't spend NEARLY enough time learning how to play legato, nor do many of us even know HOW.

Watch... this
_________________________

"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

♪ ≠ $


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#2023839 - 01/30/13 05:18 AM Re: Using pedal in Baroque pieces [Re: SamXu]
izaldu Offline
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Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 1255
Loc:
Pedalling for most players just blurs the counterpoint. Nail it first without pedal, then consider where you d add some. My favourite baroque recordings for piano lack pedal and i don t miss it at all. If ther perfect pedalling for Bach is Barenboim's use of it on the WTK, then no pedal, thanks. Ever.

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#2023842 - 01/30/13 05:27 AM Re: Using pedal in Baroque pieces [Re: izaldu]
chopin_r_us Offline
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Registered: 09/17/10
Posts: 1007
Loc: UK
Originally Posted By: izaldu
Pedalling for most players just blurs the counterpoint.
Something to really watch out for.

There was a pedal in those days, in a sense - some harpsichords had a swell - a kind of venetian blind under the lid that opened with a pedal. When the piano came along the pedal was used for just that effect and was actually called the loud pedal. Use it for that.

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#2023854 - 01/30/13 06:22 AM Re: Using pedal in Baroque pieces [Re: SamXu]
bennevis Online   content
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Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5547
Andras Schiff uses finger pedaling in the WTC, as he mentioned in a YouTube lecture. It's not clear whether he actually uses the sustain pedal occasionally as well (I think he did mention using it once).

But most other pianists who've recorded the WTC and other Bach keyboard music (like the Goldberg and the Partitas) on the piano use the pedal discreetly (some less discreetly than others grin) - Richter, Barenboim, Ashkenazy, Argerich, Perahia, Weissenberg, Nikolayeva, Fray, Bacchetti, Hewitt.....the list goes on.
_________________________
"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."

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#2023978 - 01/30/13 10:58 AM Re: Using pedal in Baroque pieces [Re: SamXu]
izaldu Offline
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Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 1255
Loc:
Interesting, chopin, i never heard of that.

I guess some pedal in certain very specific parts is ok ... but to use the pedal as an expressive tool, as part of the interpretation, always kills it for me when it comes to baroque. Can't really define it. To achieve it through fingering is the idea. Again, not bashing it, but that version of WTK by Barenboim ... the pedal just takes over, even with Barenboim's talent the results are disappointing to me. It doesn' t sound like Bach to me. I am very fond of Weissenberg s Bach, and if he uses any pedal, i definitely don t hear much of it. It still sounds pretty light and clear.

Compare Hewitt's and Tharaud's versions of Les barricades mysterieuses from the 6eme ordre. I like Tharaud, but his pedaling just makes the piece too piano and less baroque for me. Hewitt nails it , slower tempo and much clearer phrasing. Tharaud s too energetic and fast and blurry from all the pedalling.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FSlCZmxE_go


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=007UKwIhQiQ

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#2024026 - 01/30/13 12:31 PM Re: Using pedal in Baroque pieces [Re: chopin_r_us]
sandalholme Offline
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Registered: 12/31/09
Posts: 783
Loc: Dorset, UK
If I remember correctly, the Venetian swell and other devices were to provide a sort of cresc/decresc and were only a feature of late English harpsichords, to compete (and fail) against the fortepianos. The Venetian swell was also very heavy to lift right up, to provide maximum volume. So, nothing really to do with pedalling and Bach probably never came across one AFAIK. The one in Fenton House London is dated 1798, just a little late for our JS.

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#2024066 - 01/30/13 01:46 PM Re: Using pedal in Baroque pieces [Re: stores]
MathGuy Offline
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Registered: 12/06/09
Posts: 232
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: stores
Watch... this
Remarkably beautiful playing by Schiff there, and thanks for the link.

I'll venture to say that most pianos would sound drier than that without the damper pedal. I've read that Schiff isn't pedalling Bach at all these days, and will take it on faith that he wasn't doing so in that performance. However, without that information, I would have guessed that that the continuous resonant glow in the piano's sound was achieved through very light and judicious pedalling. Anyway, it sounds marvelous!

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#2024070 - 01/30/13 02:04 PM Re: Using pedal in Baroque pieces [Re: sandalholme]
chopin_r_us Offline
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Registered: 09/17/10
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Originally Posted By: sandalholme
If I remember correctly, the Venetian swell and other devices were to provide a sort of cresc/decresc and were only a feature of late English harpsichords, to compete (and fail) against the fortepianos. The Venetian swell was also very heavy to lift right up, to provide maximum volume. So, nothing really to do with pedalling and Bach probably never came across one AFAIK. The one in Fenton House London is dated 1798, just a little late for our JS.
Well, I think you got me there - Shudi patented his Venetian Swell in 1769. Still, I traced the Nag's Head Swell to 1754!

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#2024268 - 01/30/13 08:25 PM Re: Using pedal in Baroque pieces [Re: izaldu]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Originally Posted By: izaldu
Pedalling for most players just blurs the counterpoint. Nail it first without pedal, then consider where you d add some. My favourite baroque recordings for piano lack pedal and i don t miss it at all. If ther perfect pedalling for Bach is Barenboim's use of it on the WTK, then no pedal, thanks. Ever.
If you're talking about professionals who are known as good or great Bach players I think many/most would disagree.

My strong impression is that many/most of the great Bach players use at least some pedal in their playing, and the idea that they blur the counterpoint(whatever you mean by that)seems rather extraordinary to me. If you're talking about amateurs or very ordinary pros who play little Bach, then it's possible what you say could be partially true although certainly not as a broad generalization IMO.

To me the idea that a player on the level of Barenboim "blurs the counterpoint" is almost inconceivable. Perhaps you can post a YouTube example of piece where you think he does this so others can decide if they agree with you.

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#2024271 - 01/30/13 08:36 PM Re: Using pedal in Baroque pieces [Re: MathGuy]
stores Offline
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Registered: 12/28/09
Posts: 6648
Loc: Here, as opposed to there
Originally Posted By: MathGuy

... will take it on faith that he wasn't doing so in that performance.


If you watch long enough, you'll see his feet are nowhere near the pedals. He doesn't need them. I've heard/seen him many times and have never seen him engage the pedal with Bach, which, I must add, is very, very impressive.
_________________________

"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

♪ ≠ $


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#2024275 - 01/30/13 08:44 PM Re: Using pedal in Baroque pieces [Re: SamXu]
Keith D Kerman Offline
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To make a blanket decision to not use pedal in Bach is just lazy. Good pedaling is a very high level skill and quite difficult, so it is definitely much easier to just not pedal. Good pedaling requires intense listening.

Go ahead and feel free to use as much or as little pedal in Bach as you like. To make it even more complicated/fun, experiment with the shift pedal ( the one on the left ) and the sostenuto pedal ( the one in the middle ) and even with different combinations of the pedals. You might find some magic!
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#2024291 - 01/30/13 09:17 PM Re: Using pedal in Baroque pieces [Re: SamXu]
beet31425 Offline
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Registered: 06/12/09
Posts: 3836
Loc: Bay Area, CA
Perhaps there is confusion because "using the pedal" can mean different things.

I don't think the pedal should be used in Bach the way one uses it in a typical romantic piece, kept depressed most of the time, changed every few beats as dictated by harmony and melody. Certainly this would unhelpfully blur the counterpoint as izaldu (perfectly reasonably) says.

But that doesn't mean it can't be used occasionally, discretely, here and there, to add color, or help connect. The sustain pedal (and the soft pedal too for that matter) are tools of the modern piano that can work wonders to our audience.

Remember: the score is not the music. It's only one representation of the music. The sonic illusion we produce when we play is something entirely different.


-J
_________________________
Schubert Immersion: Bb Impromptu; C# minor and Ab Moments Musicaux; accompanying four songs (Suleika II, Rastlose Liebe, Du Liebst Mich Nicht, Im Fruhling); listening intensely to Die Schne Mllerin and Winterreise

Chopin: first Ballade; Mozart: D minor concerto;

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#2024422 - 01/31/13 03:20 AM Re: Using pedal in Baroque pieces [Re: Keith D Kerman]
stores Offline
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Registered: 12/28/09
Posts: 6648
Loc: Here, as opposed to there
Originally Posted By: Keith D Kerman
To make a blanket decision to not use pedal in Bach is just lazy. Good pedaling is a very high level skill and quite difficult, so it is definitely much easier to just not pedal. Good pedaling requires intense listening.





Certainly good pedaling IS, indeed, a high level skill and quite difficult to master, but laziness is not associated with any decision to not use the pedal. In fact, quite the opposite.



Edited by stores (01/31/13 03:21 AM)
_________________________

"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

♪ ≠ $


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#2024473 - 01/31/13 07:04 AM Re: Using pedal in Baroque pieces [Re: stores]
wr Offline
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Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 8027
Originally Posted By: stores

Certainly good pedaling IS, indeed, a high level skill and quite difficult to master, but laziness is not associated with any decision to not use the pedal. In fact, quite the opposite.



As anyone who has actually done it for any length of time will know.

The OP mentioned using the pedal to cover insufficient technique - I think many of us will know how that works. I played Baroque music using the sustain pedal for decades. Then I decided, as an exercise in self-discipline (and out of just plain curiosity), to not use it at all while playing through the whole of the WTC, focusing on one P&F per week.

What a shock!! Suddenly, there was no place to hide. It taught me a lot about how I had been trying to use the pedal to cover deficiencies I didn't consciously even know were there. And far from encouraging laziness, I think it has made me a much less lazy pianist than before.

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#2024492 - 01/31/13 08:18 AM Re: Using pedal in Baroque pieces [Re: beet31425]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Originally Posted By: beet31425
Perhaps there is confusion because "using the pedal" can mean different things.

I don't think the pedal should be used in Bach the way one uses it in a typical romantic piece, kept depressed most of the time, changed every few beats as dictated by harmony and melody. Certainly this would unhelpfully blur the counterpoint as izaldu (perfectly reasonably) says.-J
Yes but I think this almost goes without saying. No professional and I doubt even any beginning piano student who has a teacher would consider using the pedal in Bach the same as in Chopin.

Although I didn't agree with Izaldu, who I think was just expressing a his personal taste when he said Barenboim "blurred the counterpoint", I don't think he was talking about using the pedal this way. Even the most heavily pedaled editions from someone like Busoni don't indicate pedal the way it is typically used in Romantic music.

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#2024494 - 01/31/13 08:24 AM Re: Using pedal in Baroque pieces [Re: SamXu]
Andromaque Offline
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I have not seen anyone play Bach in concert without some pedal, except for Schiff. I remember thinking at the time that I am hearing rythms in the piece he played that I had not peviously appreciated. I did unfortunately miss his WTC tour where he apparently played the entire 2 books with feet flat on the floor.


Here is an excerpt from an iterview with the NYT last year:
His elimination of the sustaining pedal, which lifts the dampers on the piano strings and allows all the notes in a series to keep sounding together until the pedal is released, places far more emphasis on rigorously and sensitively shaping the line.

“I don’t want to be dogmatic,” he said, “but at this stage of my life I really feel that I don’t want to use pedal in Bach, because it’s a kind of cosmetic. I don’t feel that it brings anything. You can have arguments about it, and I’ve had arguments about it with some very distinguished colleagues who say you have to use pedal in Bach, because all the great pianists have used pedal in Bach. To me that’s not an acceptable argument.”

He notes that there was no sustaining pedal on the clavichord, an intimate keyboard instrument that Bach used for practice and composition. (“Well-Tempered Clavier” was originally written as a collection of student pieces.) Nor was there one on the harpsichord or on the organ, where the pedals have a different function.

“So for all those instruments,” he said, “if you want to produce articulation or you want to produce a passage in legato, you have to achieve that with your fingers. Modern pianists very often cannot do that, because it’s very difficult. It’s a musical but also a technical problem. And when you push down the pedal, you create legato, and it covers up for it, and this is what I’m opposed to.”

For Mr. Schiff, there are no such shortcuts. “I think that the sustain pedal is used even in later music, like Chopin, in a very indiscriminate way. They think it’s like an automobile, and your right foot is on the gas pedal permanently. It’s the same mistake as string players who vibrate every single note.”


Edited by Andromaque (01/31/13 08:25 AM)

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#2024506 - 01/31/13 08:59 AM Re: Using pedal in Baroque pieces [Re: wr]
bennevis Online   content
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Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: stores

Certainly good pedaling IS, indeed, a high level skill and quite difficult to master, but laziness is not associated with any decision to not use the pedal. In fact, quite the opposite.



As anyone who has actually done it for any length of time will know.

The OP mentioned using the pedal to cover insufficient technique - I think many of us will know how that works. I played Baroque music using the sustain pedal for decades. Then I decided, as an exercise in self-discipline (and out of just plain curiosity), to not use it at all while playing through the whole of the WTC, focusing on one P&F per week.

What a shock!! Suddenly, there was no place to hide. It taught me a lot about how I had been trying to use the pedal to cover deficiencies I didn't consciously even know were there. And far from encouraging laziness, I think it has made me a much less lazy pianist than before.



I use the sustain pedal only very selectively in Bach, but I think it's significant that Schiff talks about using finger pedaling when playing Bach, i.e. holding down notes far longer than written in the score to carry over their harmony. Is that authentic, or what Bach himself would have expected? After all, he is not averse to writing down what he wants, regardless of what finger contortions the player has to undergo to achieve it, if not using the sustain pedal. Many pianists in fact get around the problem by playing non-legato - including Schiff.....

Another point to consider is that the harpsichord and clavichord (as well as fortepianos and early grand pianos) have far less effective damping mechanism than the modern piano, which means that the player can release keys early to get to the next one, and the phrase will still sound 'connected'/legato.
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#2024539 - 01/31/13 09:56 AM Re: Using pedal in Baroque pieces [Re: bennevis]
outo Offline
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In a way my decision not to use pedal at all in Baroque is based on both my preference to the dry sound AND lazyness. Because using the pedal in a way that would be acceptable to my ears is much more difficult than getting the piece sound right with just my fingers.

But I also think it depends on the quality of the instrument. I have never tried to pedal baroque music with a good quality grand.

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#2024590 - 01/31/13 11:22 AM Re: Using pedal in Baroque pieces [Re: SamXu]
Works1 Online   content
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Two interpretations of the same piece, one with pedal one without, and both wonderful.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=5Qab_HtaLns

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tnWhE4kcWmc&feature=player_detailpage

case closed smile


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#2024614 - 01/31/13 11:56 AM Re: Using pedal in Baroque pieces [Re: SamXu]
trigalg693 Offline
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I'm no purist, I don't have the slightest clue about the Baroque music tradition, and I think the harpischord sounds like total crap, but I dislike using damper pedal in anything polyphonic that has much momentum to it.

With Bach I use sostenuto pedal to help with legato where it's not possible with fingers (5 part fugues, nasty finger twisters!). The damper pedal doesn't just blur the sound, it also introduces sympathetic vibration and such, and it's much too messy for my taste when there is as much going on as in a Bach Fugue. I'll admit though, I don't use the una corda because I'm too lazy to experiment and figure out if it would sound nice anywhere.

Just my 2 cents, I am only a novice of Baroque music.

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#2024647 - 01/31/13 01:26 PM Re: Using pedal in Baroque pieces [Re: SamXu]
likapaul Offline
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I used a lot of pedal in playing Bach, but it was years ago.
My ear told me not to use that much..... less, and then less.
And now, I don't use pedal, almost.
I think it is a matter of finger Technic.
Years ago if I don't use pedal, it won't sound right.
And now, I feel so good, so happy, using no pedal in playing Bach.
I don't have any rule on the issue, I just follow my ear, and my feeling.
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#2024676 - 01/31/13 02:36 PM Re: Using pedal in Baroque pieces [Re: SamXu]
Keith D Kerman Offline
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Of course, it is not as good to use pedal in Baroque music to cover an inadequate technique, in which the final result sounds inferior to playing the same passage without pedal but with an adequate technique. That should be self evident.

I would also add that if you are an artist at the level of Andras Schiff, and you decide to not use pedal in Bach, it is not out of laziness. Of course, the link to the Schiff playing the E major French Suite is on a piano with exceptional sustain, in a very wet acoustic. You could play the same music on a piano with much less energy, in a dry room, and use lots of pedal ( controlled, not random.........) and it might sound more dry than the link to Schiff. That is why everyone who knows the first thing about pedaling says "use your ears". You don't just pedal the music, you pedal based on the piano and the room acoustic.

I submit that most who insist on not pedaling Bach or Baroque music in general do not do so with the same credibility as Schiff.

Bennevis made this point earlier about Baroque keyboard instruments having less effective, or non existant dampening mechanisms. Should one choose to consider the way Bach works on one of these instruments while playing it on the piano, using pedal can be argued to be more authentic. Ever hear Bach on an Organ in a Church with lots of reverberation?

It is as lazy to make a blanket decision to not use pedal in Bach as it is to not use dynamics in Bach. Hey, that authentic harpsichord can only play at one volume, so I'm gonna only use one volume when I play Bach on the piano. There is so much more color and expression available with good pedaling in Bach than with no pedaling in Bach. Good pedaling in Bach does not preclude any other type of technique such as finger legato, etc. It is in addition to it. Yes, it is bad to blur counterpoint by not changing the pedal often enough or by using full pedal when 1/2 or 1/4 pedal would be better. Thank god this thread cleared it up that bad pedaling is bad.

And it is better to sound better using fingers than using pedal. Just like it is better to sound better using pedal instead of not using pedal. LOL....I am kind of a sucker for getting roped into this discussion, but not pedaling in Bach on the piano and thinking that is just how it must be done is a bit of a pet peeve of mine.

BLARGH!
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#2025085 - 02/01/13 06:21 AM Re: Using pedal in Baroque pieces [Re: pianoloverus]
izaldu Offline
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Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: izaldu
Pedalling for most players just blurs the counterpoint. Nail it first without pedal, then consider where you d add some. My favourite baroque recordings for piano lack pedal and i don t miss it at all. If ther perfect pedalling for Bach is Barenboim's use of it on the WTK, then no pedal, thanks. Ever.
If you're talking about professionals who are known as good or great Bach players I think many/most would disagree.

My strong impression is that many/most of the great Bach players use at least some pedal in their playing, and the idea that they blur the counterpoint(whatever you mean by that)seems rather extraordinary to me. If you're talking about amateurs or very ordinary pros who play little Bach, then it's possible what you say could be partially true although certainly not as a broad generalization IMO.

To me the idea that a player on the level of Barenboim "blurs the counterpoint" is almost inconceivable. Perhaps you can post a YouTube example of piece where you think he does this so others can decide if they agree with you.


Well, the whole recording of the WTC from Barenboim serves my purpose. I bought it, listened to it a few times, never listened to it again. It sounds to me like Busoni 's or even Liszt's Bach transcripstions. Too many notes together, too much resonance. I think Bach must sound "dry" on the piano. That music is supposed to give the pianist nowhere to hide. The quicker the attack and the decay on the sounds, all that better for the contrapunctal passages, that's how i like it. I liked Barenboim' s essay on Bach interpretation on the booklet. Sure anyone can play Bach the way they want. But i just don t care for his (considering he s an amazing pianist). Nowhere near Hewitt, Gould, Schiff ...

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#2025087 - 02/01/13 06:26 AM Re: Using pedal in Baroque pieces [Re: beet31425]
izaldu Offline
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Originally Posted By: beet31425
Perhaps there is confusion because "using the pedal" can mean different things.

I don't think the pedal should be used in Bach the way one uses it in a typical romantic piece, kept depressed most of the time, changed every few beats as dictated by harmony and melody. Certainly this would unhelpfully blur the counterpoint as izaldu (perfectly reasonably) says.

But that doesn't mean it can't be used occasionally, discretely, here and there, to add color, or help connect. The sustain pedal (and the soft pedal too for that matter) are tools of the modern piano that can work wonders to our audience.

Remember: the score is not the music. It's only one representation of the music. The sonic illusion we produce when we play is something entirely different.


-J


You just have much better language skills than me. That's what i mean.

Exactly that.

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#2025125 - 02/01/13 07:53 AM Re: Using pedal in Baroque pieces [Re: bennevis]
wr Offline
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Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 8027
Originally Posted By: bennevis
Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: stores

Certainly good pedaling IS, indeed, a high level skill and quite difficult to master, but laziness is not associated with any decision to not use the pedal. In fact, quite the opposite.



As anyone who has actually done it for any length of time will know.

The OP mentioned using the pedal to cover insufficient technique - I think many of us will know how that works. I played Baroque music using the sustain pedal for decades. Then I decided, as an exercise in self-discipline (and out of just plain curiosity), to not use it at all while playing through the whole of the WTC, focusing on one P&F per week.

What a shock!! Suddenly, there was no place to hide. It taught me a lot about how I had been trying to use the pedal to cover deficiencies I didn't consciously even know were there. And far from encouraging laziness, I think it has made me a much less lazy pianist than before.



I use the sustain pedal only very selectively in Bach, but I think it's significant that Schiff talks about using finger pedaling when playing Bach, i.e. holding down notes far longer than written in the score to carry over their harmony. Is that authentic, or what Bach himself would have expected? After all, he is not averse to writing down what he wants, regardless of what finger contortions the player has to undergo to achieve it, if not using the sustain pedal. Many pianists in fact get around the problem by playing non-legato - including Schiff.....

Another point to consider is that the harpsichord and clavichord (as well as fortepianos and early grand pianos) have far less effective damping mechanism than the modern piano, which means that the player can release keys early to get to the next one, and the phrase will still sound 'connected'/legato.


IIRC, finger pedaling is authentic in Baroque and also Classical era music. But issues of authenticity are put into a strangely ambiguous position when using the piano to perform Baroque, since the piano itself is not authentic.

The reverse of finger pedaling is also authentic, where notes are not held to their full value. I believe that C.P.E Bach talks about that practice. Another practice was the re-striking as needed of long-held notes to carry the tone.

The issue of legato playing has become more and more interesting to me, because it seems it is much more the norm these days than it was in the past. A while ago, someone posted a link to an article by Saint-Saens from the early 20th century in which he went on an anti-legato tear, saying he was old enough to remember that the incessant application of legato was something new, and he didn't like it. So apparently even within his lifetime, the style of playing had become much more legato-ized in general. I think that's still the standard, and I'm not sure why it is the case. To my ears, much music, but Baroque music in particular, often becomes more lively and interesting without the ever-present modern legato. Of course, to do that, pianists have to know how to make musical lines without relying on legato.

While it is true that the damping mechanisms of the early instruments you mention are not very efficient (or non-existent), I think the reason they aren't is because they didn't need to be. The decay of the tone was too fast to pose a problem, unlike the modern piano. As far as composers, performers, and listeners of the time depending on that lack of damping to connect notes, that idea is problematical because there was no control over which notes were not damped. For example, in fast polyphonic music, it's just a general background vibration.

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#2025142 - 02/01/13 08:40 AM Re: Using pedal in Baroque pieces [Re: wr]
bennevis Online   content
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Registered: 10/14/10
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Originally Posted By: wr


While it is true that the damping mechanisms of the early instruments you mention are not very efficient (or non-existent), I think the reason they aren't is because they didn't need to be. The decay of the tone was too fast to pose a problem, unlike the modern piano. As far as composers, performers, and listeners of the time depending on that lack of damping to connect notes, that idea is problematical because there was no control over which notes were not damped. For example, in fast polyphonic music, it's just a general background vibration.





Certainly in the case of fortepianos, the decay is much faster, but it's still noticeable that staccato notes don't sound very staccato, and detached notes not that detached. But even the Erards and Pleyels of Chopin's (and early-mid Liszt's) time had poor damping, and their decays weren't far off today's grands. I was at a lecture-recital given by Kenneth Hamilton two years ago, focusing on Liszt. He demonstrated on an Erard grand (c1850) a passage from Vallée d'Obermann to show how some of the effects Liszt probably intended (which today's pianists usually pedal through) are lost on a modern piano, because of its super-efficient damping.
_________________________
"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."

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#2025162 - 02/01/13 09:26 AM Re: Using pedal in Baroque pieces [Re: bennevis]
trigalg693 Offline
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Registered: 08/17/08
Posts: 686
Originally Posted By: bennevis

Certainly in the case of fortepianos, the decay is much faster, but it's still noticeable that staccato notes don't sound very staccato, and detached notes not that detached. But even the Erards and Pleyels of Chopin's (and early-mid Liszt's) time had poor damping, and their decays weren't far off today's grands. I was at a lecture-recital given by Kenneth Hamilton two years ago, focusing on Liszt. He demonstrated on an Erard grand (c1850) a passage from Vallée d'Obermann to show how some of the effects Liszt probably intended (which today's pianists usually pedal through) are lost on a modern piano, because of its super-efficient damping.


On that note, I've played a Bechstein that was provided to Liszt for some concert or practice or something, and yes the pianos from that period were definitely very different.

I would say that maybe it's not the damping that's pronounced, but rather modern pianos have much more power yet the damping will hush that louder sound just as quickly, I guess it's the same as saying the damping is more efficient.

The hammers and action are also incredibly light on that piano, so I don't feel bad when I can't play at the indicated speeds at the top of the page.

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#2025748 - 02/02/13 06:36 AM Re: Using pedal in Baroque pieces [Re: bennevis]
wr Offline
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Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 8027
Originally Posted By: bennevis
Originally Posted By: wr


While it is true that the damping mechanisms of the early instruments you mention are not very efficient (or non-existent), I think the reason they aren't is because they didn't need to be. The decay of the tone was too fast to pose a problem, unlike the modern piano. As far as composers, performers, and listeners of the time depending on that lack of damping to connect notes, that idea is problematical because there was no control over which notes were not damped. For example, in fast polyphonic music, it's just a general background vibration.





Certainly in the case of fortepianos, the decay is much faster, but it's still noticeable that staccato notes don't sound very staccato, and detached notes not that detached. But even the Erards and Pleyels of Chopin's (and early-mid Liszt's) time had poor damping, and their decays weren't far off today's grands. I was at a lecture-recital given by Kenneth Hamilton two years ago, focusing on Liszt. He demonstrated on an Erard grand (c1850) a passage from Vallée d'Obermann to show how some of the effects Liszt probably intended (which today's pianists usually pedal through) are lost on a modern piano, because of its super-efficient damping.


Yes, but once you start talking fortepianos and later instruments, you have moved beyond what Bach used and knew throughout most of his life (I know - very late in his career, he had some tangential experience with early fortepianos).

My experience with my own clavichord is that it simply doesn't sustain notes with enough strength to make a legato connection between notes in the way that my grand piano does (and, incidentally, I've heard that the clavichord was Bach's favorite keyboard instrument). And it has no damping mechanism at all. So physically, it's the equivalent of playing a piano with the dampers continuously raised. But it sure doesn't sound at all like playing a modern grand with the sustain pedal engaged at all times.

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#2025755 - 02/02/13 07:06 AM Re: Using pedal in Baroque pieces [Re: wr]
chopin_r_us Offline
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Originally Posted By: wr

My experience with my own clavichord is that it simply doesn't sustain notes with enough strength to make a legato connection between notes in the way that my grand piano does (and, incidentally, I've heard that the clavichord was Bach's favorite keyboard instrument). And it has no damping mechanism at all. So physically, it's the equivalent of playing a piano with the dampers continuously raised.
Surely it's the reverse? The strings are totally damped by the listing. It's only when the tangent comes in contact with the string that it becomes 'undamped'.

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#2025760 - 02/02/13 07:38 AM Re: Using pedal in Baroque pieces [Re: chopin_r_us]
wr Offline
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Registered: 11/23/07
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Originally Posted By: chopin_r_us
Originally Posted By: wr

My experience with my own clavichord is that it simply doesn't sustain notes with enough strength to make a legato connection between notes in the way that my grand piano does (and, incidentally, I've heard that the clavichord was Bach's favorite keyboard instrument). And it has no damping mechanism at all. So physically, it's the equivalent of playing a piano with the dampers continuously raised.
Surely it's the reverse? The strings are totally damped by the listing. It's only when the tangent comes in contact with the string that it becomes 'undamped'.


You are right. I was thinking in terms of how the damper mechanism on a piano affects all of the notes, and got confused.

I think the point is still valid - the tone just doesn't sustain with enough strength to be compared to a modern piano.

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#2025778 - 02/02/13 08:33 AM Re: Using pedal in Baroque pieces [Re: wr]
chopin_r_us Offline
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Dare I disagree just a little? I find the clavichord best for vocal music because it sustains, in it's own miniature world, for just long enough to have a vocal effect. My favourite music is Josquin Des Prez's keyboard intabulations for that very reason. I don't think it's a coincidence Mozart composed the Magic Flute and Requiem on one or that Haydn composed the Seasons on his. Fast music, where the sustain isn't important, doesn't seem suit it.

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#2025782 - 02/02/13 08:45 AM Re: Using pedal in Baroque pieces [Re: chopin_r_us]
wr Offline
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Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 8027
Originally Posted By: chopin_r_us
Dare I disagree just a little? I find the clavichord best for vocal music because it sustains, in it's own miniature world, for just long enough to have a vocal effect. My favourite music is Josquin Des Prez's keyboard intabulations for that very reason. I don't think it's a coincidence Mozart composed the Magic Flute and Requiem on one or that Haydn composed the Seasons on his. Fast music, where the sustain isn't important, doesn't seem suit it.


To me, it isn't the sustained sound that makes it seem vocal, but the exquisite sensitivity to touch, which can mimic vocal inflection to an amazing degree.

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#2025793 - 02/02/13 09:23 AM Re: Using pedal in Baroque pieces [Re: Andromaque]
wouter79 Offline
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Registered: 02/14/10
Posts: 3630
Originally Posted By: Andromaque

“So for all those instruments,” he said, “if you want to produce articulation or you want to produce a passage in legato, you have to achieve that with your fingers. Modern pianists very often cannot do that, because it’s very difficult. It’s a musical but also a technical problem. And when you push down the pedal, you create legato, and it covers up for it, and this is what I’m opposed to.”


+1. I also feel that baroque is very much about articulation and pedaling usually does not help for that. Maybe in a very few places, but mostly I feel pedaling does not help.
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#2025806 - 02/02/13 09:51 AM Re: Using pedal in Baroque pieces [Re: wouter79]
pianoloverus Online   content
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“So for all those instruments if you want to produce articulation or you want to produce a passage in legato, you have to achieve that with your fingers. Modern pianists very often cannot do that, because it’s very difficult. It’s a musical but also a technical problem. And when you push down the pedal, you create legato, and it covers up for it, and this is what I’m opposed to.”

I think this Schiff statement seems very exaggerated. No reasonable professional pianist uses a tons of pedal in Baroque and Classical composers. They don't hold down the pedal on scale passages. So I think that most pianists, especially the most advanced ones, have plenty of experience and skill playing legato only with their fingers. The only exceptions might be those who play very little Baroque or Classical music. Perhaps Schiff was thinking of certain Bach pieces(many voiced fugues?)where the legato requirements could be different from those in other Baroque pieces or in works by Mozart or Beethoven.



Edited by pianoloverus (02/02/13 10:47 AM)

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#2026160 - 02/03/13 02:56 AM Re: Using pedal in Baroque pieces [Re: SamXu]
Rotom Offline
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Registered: 12/24/10
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My opinion: pedal is not a problem when used well. I do use pedal in Bach. As others have said, use your ear, and do not get the harmonies blurred. I have used the sostenuto (middle) pedal when there is a pedal tone, and I find it effective, if ever you think that an extra octave below sounds nice.

For tone in slow parts of Bach's music, I feel pedal, when cleanly used, helps bring put more vocal tones. But most important, keep it clean.



Edited by Rotom (02/03/13 02:57 AM)

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#2027089 - 02/04/13 07:22 PM Re: Using pedal in Baroque pieces [Re: trigalg693]
jeffreyjones Offline
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Registered: 01/31/10
Posts: 2392
Loc: San Jose, CA
Originally Posted By: trigalg693
I'm no purist, I don't have the slightest clue about the Baroque music tradition, and I think the harpischord sounds like total crap, but I dislike using damper pedal in anything polyphonic that has much momentum to it.

With Bach I use sostenuto pedal to help with legato where it's not possible with fingers (5 part fugues, nasty finger twisters!). The damper pedal doesn't just blur the sound, it also introduces sympathetic vibration and such, and it's much too messy for my taste when there is as much going on as in a Bach Fugue. I'll admit though, I don't use the una corda because I'm too lazy to experiment and figure out if it would sound nice anywhere.

Just my 2 cents, I am only a novice of Baroque music.


I have played pretty much the whole of WTC I and II on organ, not to mention several of the movements of Art of the Fugue. Yes, you can indeed play Bach using only your fingers. But the piano is a difficult beast; I find it far easier to play most of his music on organ manuals than on a piano keyboard. Fingerings and combinations that I had stumbled over on the piano are suddenly easy and natural played on the great with 8' stops.. and I was exclusively a pianist until I suddenly had a job as a church organist. smile

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