What Are The Piano Pedals Functions?

Depending on the model, the piano can have two or three pedals. Each with different functions and mechanisms, which help in the interpretation and in the search for the desired tone. The piano is a musical instrument whose development has taken place little by little. The first specimen was built, around 1709, by the carnation maker Bartolomeo Cristofori, and called Gravicembalo col Piano e Forte.

More than a modification of the sound generation form – in which the strings. Instead of being clamped, were hit by hammers – the Italian developed a new type of mechanism. Capable of allowing the pianist to control the dynamics through the action of the fingers on the keyboard.

During the history of the instrument, several innovations were incorporated to it, seeking an improvement of the interpretative technique. One of the most important was the implementation of the pedals, patented by the manufacturer John Broadwood in 1783.

The aim of this innovation was to increase the range of dynamics that can be played on the piano. That is, to improve the differences between the strongest and weakest sounds. The evolution of their use, however, went hand in hand with a greater exploration of the instrument’s capabilities. And allowed specific techniques to be developed and new sounds to be sculpted.

What Are The Types Of Piano Pedals?

Pianos can have two or three pedals. The right, also called “sustain”, is the most used. It moves away the mufflers, responsible for stopping the movement of the strings. This allows them to continue vibrating, which causes a prolongation of the sound and often facilitates the interpretation of notes on mode, when it is not possible to do so by typing.

In addition, the loose strings vibrate sympathetically to those of the played notes, enriching the instrument’s timbre by adding harmonics. But this feature must be used correctly, at the risk of compromising all interpretation.

Piano Pedals

The exaggerated use of the right pedal results in a lack of melodic clarity, jamming of harmonies and indiscriminate chaining of phrases and subphrases. The unrestrained use of the pedal also leads to an expansion of the sound mass, since softly played passages end up adding to each other, with the pedal, quickly transforming a delicate ‘piano’ into a ‘very strong’ vehement one.

Often, at the beginning of his studies, the pianist “forgets” his foot on the pedal. This addiction is very common and can cause great discomfort to the most attentive listener. The left pedal is called “una corda” and its primary function is to “muffle” the sound of the instrument. The mechanism works differently when it comes to grand pianos or cupboards, the so-called vertical ones.

In the former, its activation causes the entire mechanism, including the keyboard, to move to the right of the pianist, causing the hammers to hit only one of the two or three strings referring to each key, or, in the case of the sticks, not to hurt them completely.

Pedals On Verticals Pianos

In addition to a reduction in volume, the use of this feature promotes a change in tone coloring. On vertical pianos, the action of this pedal brings the hammers closer to the strings, which results in a smaller action of them, reducing the sound volume. The change in tone quality, however, is not the same as for tail instruments.

The third pedal on some pianos, located in the middle of the other two. It has very different functions depending on the instrument. In the top-of-the-line models – most notably the tail models and, rarely, the vertical ones – it has the function of a “tonal pedal”, also called “sostenuto”.

The result of triggering it is similar to that of the sustain pedal. But it acts, just, on the keys that are lowered at the time it is pressed. This complex mechanism allows some banknotes to be prolonged while others remain unchanged.

Pedals On Piano

Depending on the make and model of the instrument, however, there may be changes in the way it works. On many models, the left pedal works identically to the sustain pedal, but only in the low region of the keyboard.

In vertical models, the most common use of the third pedal is that of damping. Its activation results in the placement of a felt blanket or foam between the hammers and the ropes, reducing their action. This causes a strong damping in the sound.

Equipped with a lock, it is used for the study, because it avoids the probable discomfort. Caused by the excessive repetition of passages and exercises to compulsory listeners. Its use, however, results in the distortion of the tone, already little audible, and, consequently, in the lack of control of the sound by the pianist.