I have just written a series of three articles on pedalling for Pianist Magazine, the first of these (Issue 83) hit the newsstands this week and should be available internationally. The videos that accompany the first article are on Pianist’s YouTube channel already, so I thought I would share them with you here and offer a few additional resources on the subject of pedalling.
I had the idea of a designated camera locked onto a section of dampers for close-up shots of flutter and fractional pedalling. We called this the dampercam – I don’t think it has ever been done before! I was very pleased to be able to demonstrate these advanced techniques, and watching the footage (no pun intended) surprised me because I myself had never seen the dampers working in this way before.
Pedalling Waltz Accompaniments
Chopin’s pedal markings are examples of rhythmic (direct) pedalling, where the hands and foot are synchronised to go down and come up together. This may surprise you, but syncopated (legato) pedalling did not come into general use until Anton Rubinstein started doing it – in the second part of the 19th century! Liszt said the discovery of syncopated pedal was “the most important event in the history of piano playing”.
Most pianists nowadays wouldn’t think to take Chopin’s pedal markings literally in all instances. I have just checked this out by listening to recordings of celebrated pianists playing the opening of the B minor Waltz, op 69 no. 2, and everyone pedals it slightly differently.
Pedalling depends on personal choice and the resonance of particular pianos and performance spaces. It is often not possible to say precisely how we will pedal because it will vary.
In the first video, I give a practice suggestion for pedalling waltz accompaniments, such as the LH of this Chopin Waltz.
Practise each one carefully and then see what you want to do. You’ll probably find you go in and out between these three different ways of pedalling – and this is a good thing.
Video No. 1
An overview of what the dampers do; how to control resonance using the right pedal; the first type of pedalling we teach – direct pedal.
Video No. 2
Legato pedalling, including how long to stay at the top of the pedal before we depress it again.
Since I have written quite a bit about pedalling on this blog before, I’m not going to repeat myself – please see the list of resources at the end of this post.
Books on Pedalling
The Pianist’s Guide to Pedalling by Joseph Banowetz (click here)
The Art of Piano Pedalling: Two Classic Guides by Anton Rubinstein (click here)
The Art Of Pedaling – A Manual For The Use Of The Piano Pedal by Heinrich Gebhard (click here)
A History of Pianoforte Pedalling by David Rowland (click here)
Sandra P. Rosenblum’s review of the above (click here)
Pedaling the Piano: A Brief Survey from the Eighteenth Century to the Present by Sandra P. Rosenblum (Performance Practice Review: Vol. 6: No. 2, Article 8. DOI: 10.5642/perfpr.199306.02.08) (click here and then click the download button)
York Bowen’s book Pedalling the Modern Piano Forte (London, 1936) is now sadly out of print. I did manage to find a pdf download but since I don’t entirely trust the site, I am not going to supply a link to it here. The book is quite short and to the point and even though it feels a bit dated, the information is excellent. Get hold of a copy if you can find one.
My Blog Posts
The Dance of the Dampers (click here)
Look, No Feet! (click here)
Ad Hoc Pedalling (click here)
More on the Pedal (click here)
Practising the Piano eBook Series Part 4
I am delighted to announce that Part 4 of my eBook Series is now available. You can purchase Practising the Piano Part 4 (priced at £9.99) directly from my website. It is also available on Amazon Kindle and for pre-order on the Apple iBookstore (click here for the full series catalogue which contains links to the individual volumes on all platforms).
The full series (Parts 1 to 4) can now be purchased for £35.99 (a discount of 20% off the individual part prices). If you already own one or more parts of Practising the Piano you can also take advantage of further discount bundles to complete your collection. These can be viewed on the series catalogue page here.
If you would like a video introduction and more information on the contents of Part 4, please follow this link.
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