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#2023599 - 01/29/13 06:32 PM Using pedal in Baroque pieces
Debbusyist 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.
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HSC pieces:
Shostakovich Piano Concerto op 102. movement 1
Chopin 'Winter Wind' Etude
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#2023603 - 01/29/13 06:38 PM Re: Using pedal in Baroque pieces [Re: Debbusyist]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19708
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: Debbusyist]
JoelW Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 4763
Loc: USA
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
1000 Post Club Member

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: Debbusyist]
bennevis Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 4952
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.

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#2023646 - 01/29/13 08:08 PM Re: Using pedal in Baroque pieces [Re: Debbusyist]
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
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/28/12
Posts: 553
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
_________________________
"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
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 8841
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!
_________________________
Jason

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#2023745 - 01/29/13 11:51 PM Re: Using pedal in Baroque pieces [Re: Debbusyist]
FSO Offline
500 Post Club Member

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
_________________________
Sometimes, we all just need to be shown a little kindness <3

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#2023746 - 01/29/13 11:54 PM Re: Using pedal in Baroque pieces [Re: Mark_C]
outo Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/12
Posts: 582
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: Debbusyist]
Debbusyist 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 'Winter Wind' Etude
Slowly adding more on...

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#2023755 - 01/30/13 12:17 AM Re: Using pedal in Baroque pieces [Re: DanS]
BruceD Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 17917
Loc: Victoria, BC
Originally Posted By: DanS
[...] so I had to make due this" wink


??
_________________________
BruceD
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Estonia 190

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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...
_________________________
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: Debbusyist]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19708
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: Debbusyist]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7781
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: 19708
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: Debbusyist]
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: Debbusyist]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5454
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.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#2023807 - 01/30/13 03:42 AM Re: Using pedal in Baroque pieces [Re: Debbusyist]
stores Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/09
Posts: 6646
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: Debbusyist]
izaldu Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 1250
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
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/17/10
Posts: 897
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: Debbusyist]
bennevis Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 4952
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.

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#2023978 - 01/30/13 10:58 AM Re: Using pedal in Baroque pieces [Re: Debbusyist]
izaldu Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 1250
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
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/31/09
Posts: 763
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
Full Member

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
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/17/10
Posts: 897
Loc: UK
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
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19263
Loc: New York City
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
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/09
Posts: 6646
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: Debbusyist]
Keith D Kerman Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/03
Posts: 3308
Loc: Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...
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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