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#971216 - 12/19/07 02:25 PM Pedaling help needed.
Eternal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/06
Posts: 1285
Loc: Posts: 80,372
I've had my Casio for over a year now, and it seems its pedal implementation has been fooling me for quite some time.

Method A:[/b]
I was always under the impression that (when pedaling) one is supposed to let go of the pedal at the end of one measure, and depress it as soon as the new measure starts. That seemed to work fine with my Casio.

I noticed the problem with that method, when I installed Ivory on my PC to improve Casio's sound. With Ivory, I could no longer get smooth transitions between measures using my previous technique. Whenever I would let go of the pedal at the end of a measure I would end up with this brief moment of relative silence, until the new measure started. The music would no longer flow together.

Method B:[/b]
The workaround I found was to not let go of the pedal at the end of the measure. Instead, I would keep holding the pedal down, and only release it once I'd play the first note in the new measure. I would then immediately press the pedal in again. If I do it that way I do get smooth transitions.

Here's the picture illustrating the two methods, and the problem:


Here are my questions:
1. When are you supposed to press/release the pedal (assuming every measure requires it).
2. Is the fact that I get that brief discontinuity (using my original method), just a nature of digital implementation, or would I get a similar problem on an acoustic?
3. What is half-pedaling, and does it relate to this situation?

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#971217 - 12/19/07 03:41 PM Re: Pedaling help needed.
Mr Super-Hunky Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/17/05
Posts: 4240
Loc: Arizona.
Eternal:

I had just switched over to an acoustic from playing a digital (Roland KR-7) and to be honest, the digitals pedal response sort of messed me up!.

The transition from pedaling *my* digital to an acoustic is a bit of a re-learning process.

I am not saying that all digitals do not pedal accurately (or at least like an acoustic does), but a digital lacks the resonance given off such as an acoustic does.

I ended up WAY and I mean WAAAAY overpedaling on my digital and now I am paying the price on the acoustic. My pieces now sound very *boomy* and the notes can sound all mushed together if I am not VERY careful with my now heavy foot!.

Others have said that their digitals pedal fine but I'm wondering if they had played a tune back to back from a digital to an acoustic.

More than likely, my terrible pedaling is due to pilot error and not a malfunction or charactoristic of all digitals. Its just that I'm having a lot of trouble with transitioning from my digital to the acoustic.

Room acoustics could and probably also have a lot to do with it as my digital was in a carpeted room and the acoustic is on a wood floor.

Anyway, I am not the one to tell you how to pedal correctly as I probably don't, but I thought I would share my experiences with pedaling these two different pianos with you.

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#971218 - 12/19/07 03:43 PM Re: Pedaling help needed.
little-big-man Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/11/07
Posts: 114
Loc: Berkshire, England
It is not a fact that you must release the pedal at the end of every bar/measure.

Most good sheet music will tell you when to release the pedal, and when to pedal again.
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#971219 - 12/19/07 03:49 PM Re: Pedaling help needed.
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8483
Loc: Ohio, USA
some music has pedal/release marks ('Ped' & '*'), which is the place you press or release pedal.

to learn to pedal if you don't have a teacher, you need to find sheetmusic with pedaling marks first and follow it, and learn to listen how it sounds with or without pedal to see why pedal is applied and why it is not.

you don't need to pedal every note, or every phrase, or every bar. it depends on music and what sound effect you want to produce, and you apply pedal accordingly. usually, pedal change (release before pedal again) must occur when harmonic change occurs in the music, or else you risk blurring the harmony.

take Fur Elise for example (first few bars), you pedal only on the lowest arpeggio bass note and release it at the end of arpeggio, which create a clear sense of phrasing or grouping of the notes. it definitely is not pedaling by bar.

i wouldn't worry about 'half-pedal' yet if i were you, since you don't even know how to do full pedaling yet. but the 'half-pedal' basically means you pressing pedal half-way, which would create some special effect on the note being pedaled (and thus is sustained only on that) and the notes followed (which will not be sustained). (hope i'm right about it...)

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#971220 - 12/19/07 03:55 PM Re: Pedaling help needed.
packa Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/05/05
Posts: 1397
Loc: Dallas, TX
The two different pedal techniques you describe should sound different. They do on every acoustic and digital piano I have ever played.

Neither one is right or wrong. Sometimes, you want a small discreet silence between releasing and re-applying the pedal. Sometimes, you want the smoother transition afforded by overlap pedaling, the second technique you describe. It depends on the nature of the music and sound you are trying to get.

On an acoustic piano, the pedal is an analog mechanism, not a discrete on/off switch. With different degrees of pedal application, you can go from lifting the dampers completely from the strings, to just barely lifting the dampers while they still brush the strings, to letting the dampers seat fully on the strings. This can result in different kinds of sounds especially if a light brushing touch is applied very quickly to already undamped strings by half-releasing the pedal at some transition.

Many high-end digitals try, with varying success, to imitate the acoustic piano's ability to half-pedal but frankly none of the implementations I have tried are really as delicate and flexible as a real acoustic.
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#971221 - 12/19/07 04:25 PM Re: Pedaling help needed.
Eternal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/06
Posts: 1285
Loc: Posts: 80,372
 Quote:
Originally posted by little-big-man:
It is not a fact that you must release the pedal at the end of every bar/measure.

Most good sheet music will tell you when to release the pedal, and when to pedal again. [/b]
That's not my problem. My question is when to press/release when the sheet music indicates to press at the beginning of a measure. I added a picture in the original post to illustrate the problem better.

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#971222 - 12/19/07 04:50 PM Re: Pedaling help needed.
mahlzeit Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/24/06
Posts: 1910
Loc: Netherlands
Your "method B" is also called syncopated pedaling. It's what I always do, but I don't have an acoustic so I couldn't tell if that would work on an acoustic too. The few times that I did play an acoustic, I did have to get used to the pedal for a few minutes.

There is an old thread here somewhere with a link to an article that studied how various pianists did pedaling. The conclusion was that pedaling was pretty inconsistent, even for a single pianist.
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#971223 - 12/19/07 05:04 PM Re: Pedaling help needed.
Eternal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/06
Posts: 1285
Loc: Posts: 80,372
 Quote:
Originally posted by mahlzeit:
Your "method B" is also called syncopated pedaling. It's what I always do, but I don't have an acoustic so I couldn't tell if that would work on an acoustic too. [/b]
That's my main issue here. I already spent 1 year pedaling the wrong way (Method A), and it's a pain switching to Method B right now. I don't have an acoustic either, so there's no way for me to know if what I'm doing is right. I don't want to waste another year doing it the wrong way.

Thanks for the term "syncopated pedaling" by the way - at least now I have a way of googling for some answers.

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#971224 - 12/19/07 05:04 PM Re: Pedaling help needed.
jazzwee Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/25/07
Posts: 7096
Loc: So. California
At first I would have said Method B but then I looked at your music and normally I would NOT pedal over a melody. You'll make it muddy. Pedaling is best for chords. In this case the melody notes are all notes of the chord so you can get away with it but overpedalling removes the clarity of the melodic line. I would focus on making the notes legato from actual playing and not via pedal.

Just something to think about...
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#971225 - 12/19/07 05:18 PM Re: Pedaling help needed.
little-big-man Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/11/07
Posts: 114
Loc: Berkshire, England
sometimes, holding a note for a split second longer with a digit will cover the gap that you hear.

I do not like the pedal.

I do usually choose pieces that do not require it.
_________________________
Life without Piano is Death

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#971226 - 12/19/07 05:21 PM Re: Pedaling help needed.
Eternal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/06
Posts: 1285
Loc: Posts: 80,372
 Quote:
Originally posted by jazzwee:
I would focus on making the notes legato from actual playing and not via pedal.

Just something to think about... [/b]
I agree. Part of the problem is that digitals are much more forgiving with the pedal than acoustics. There's not as much blurring going on. Most of the time I can just go through the whole piece with the pedal depressed, and it won't sound too bad. I know that wouldn't be the case on an acoustic (I've heard some examples on youtube). But as it is - I'm stuck with a digital for a while.

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#971227 - 12/19/07 05:23 PM Re: Pedaling help needed.
Eternal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/06
Posts: 1285
Loc: Posts: 80,372
 Quote:
Originally posted by little-big-man:
sometimes, holding a note for a split second longer with a digit will cover the gap that you hear.

I do not like the pedal.

I do usually choose pieces that do not require it. [/b]
I'm spoiled - I just like the spatial "echo" effect I get from using it. But I'm talking digital here - it's very possible I'd get sick of it on an acoustic.

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#971228 - 12/19/07 05:25 PM Re: Pedaling help needed.
jazzwee Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/25/07
Posts: 7096
Loc: So. California
You can simulate a little bit of the pedal by doing what little-big-man says (overholding), and do it on each note. In other words, you hold the note from the prior note and release only after pressing the next note. As it is this music already has the drone of the bass note on the bottom.

I overpedal too sometimes and I have been consciously trying to correct it.
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Hamburg Steinway O, Nord Electro 4 HP
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#971229 - 12/19/07 05:50 PM Re: Pedaling help needed.
Alexander Hanysz Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/12/07
Posts: 141
Loc: Adelaide, South Australia
 Quote:
Originally posted by Eternal:
Here are my questions:
1. When are you supposed to press/release the pedal (assuming every measure requires it).
2. Is the fact that I get that brief discontinuity (using my original method), just a nature of digital implementation, or would I get a similar problem on an acoustic?
3. What is half-pedaling, and does it relate to this situation? [/b]
The problem is that different (acoustic) pianos will respond differently to the pedal, so it's hard to give a consistent answer to this one. Your best guide is to listen carefully: are you getting the sounds you want? From your descriptions, it sounds like you've been doing some good listening!

1. For the example you give, your method B is the one that's most likely to give a good result.

2. It depends on the piano, and on the room you're playing in. On a piano that's not in good condition, the dampers don't always work properly (especially on upright/vertical pianos), so there's a bit of echo that covers up the gaps. Likewise if you're playing in a very resonant room. But on a good piano in a room with a clear acoustic I would expect your method A to produce those gaps.

3. Half-pedalling won't work on most digitals. It can mean one of two things. Remember that with an acoustic piano, the pedal works by lifting the dampers so that the strings are free to resonate:

(a) If the pedal is depressed part way, the dampers will be touching the strings lightly, but not firmly enough to totally damp the sound, so there will be some resonance;

(b) With the pedal depressed all the way, if you let go of the pedal and then depress it again very quickly, the dampers come into contact with the strings for only a short time, not long enough to damp all of the sound.

Some people will tell you that one of these is correct and the other wrong--I've heard both points of view--but you can get very similar results either way.

In the example you give, I might make a half pedal change in the middle of each bar, depending on how blurry the harmonies sounded. It would depend on what piano I was playing on: listening is your best guide!

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#971230 - 12/19/07 05:50 PM Re: Pedaling help needed.
Taibu Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/17/07
Posts: 25
Loc: Estonia
Eternal, actually I believe your casio is emulating an acoustic better than Ivory does in this respect. On an acoustic releasing the pedal wont instantly kill off the notes like Ivory does. With that said, my piano teacher has taught me to use method B from your choices and in most cases this method seems to be the correct approach. This way you will get the smoothest transition at the potential cost of a split second of muddy sound. She has me doing an excercise of playing: chord in root position->press pedal-> 1. inversion->release and redepress pedal-> 2. inversion-release depress->root-release depress and so forth.

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#971231 - 12/19/07 06:02 PM Re: Pedaling help needed.
Alexander Hanysz Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/12/07
Posts: 141
Loc: Adelaide, South Australia
(edit: oops, double post, please ignore)

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#971232 - 12/19/07 06:13 PM Re: Pedaling help needed.
Taibu Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/17/07
Posts: 25
Loc: Estonia
Oh, and in the examle you give, I would release the pedal in the middle of the 3. bar beacause this looks like it would sound like a beehive with peadal depressed.

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#971233 - 12/20/07 12:08 AM Re: Pedaling help needed.
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8483
Loc: Ohio, USA
your method B is syncopated pedaling, which is usually used for 'legato' sound and yet maintains harmonic clarity. from the music, since the pedaling occurs during a phrase, you want to use syncopated pedaling to connect the phrase and therefore you use method B.

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#971234 - 12/21/07 04:28 PM Re: Pedaling help needed.
Wing Fat Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/22/07
Posts: 41
Eternal: I have to agree with Alexander. Part of the art of being a piano player is adapting to the instrument that's presented to you in a given situation. I'm often jealous of trumpet and other horn players; they get to choose their specific instrument and are always able to play the instrument they are intimately familiar with in any situation. However, as piano players we don't have that luxury.

That said, I know one of your concerns is practicing the "right" way. Honestly I would forget about using Ivory for everyday practice. I think tools like Ivory are best used for recording. For practice purposes, I would stick to the default sound of your Casio. I know it doesn't sound as "real" as Ivory, but I think it gives you the best response and feedback when you're trying to learn.

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