Welcome to www.Livingpianos.com. I’m Robert Estrin. The subject today is about what Chopin sounds like without the pedal. When I talk about the pedal I’m talking about the sustain pedal. It’s the one on the right that holds all the notes when you put it down. It’s a glorious thing! It makes everything sound better, doesn’t it? And louder too! It helps you to connect what you can’t connect with your fingers.

What is the job of the pedal in music in general, and in Chopin specifically?

The pedal actually has two distinct functions. One is to connect notes you can’t connect with your hands. For example, you will see music where you have a whole note in the lower register and other things going on in the upper register. You can’t possibly hold that whole note because you’ve got other notes to play. Pedal to the rescue! There is no way to hold those notes with your hands. So sometimes music is written in such a way that you depend upon the pedal to play what’s written in the score. But there’s also the tone enhancement that the pedal affords you in your musical performance.

When you play a note with the pedal, you get a different sound than without the pedal.

If you listen to a note with no pedal compared to the same note played with the pedal down, you will hear that it gets more of a reverberant sound with the pedal down. When you depress the pedal the dampers lift off of all the strings so they are free to vibrate sympathetically, enhancing the tone. And indeed, when you depress the pedal it will have an effect upon the tone, the envelope of the sound. That is the shape of the decay. You can enhance the sustain by judiciously using the pedal just at the point at which the tone might be dying away. But that’s a subject for another day.

What does Chopin sound like without the pedal? Of course it depends upon what piece of Chopin. The famous E-flat Nocturne Opus 9 no. 2, for example, doesn’t really have notes you can’t hold in terms of what’s written in the score, but it’s implied to use the pedal.

When I play without the pedal I strive to connect as much as possible with my fingers.

I can’t connect everything I want to with just my fingers. But I try my best so that the pedal can enhance the sound and not be used as a crutch for things that I can connect with my fingers. You want to strive for your playing to be as legato as possible with your fingers before putting the pedal in. Because if you practice it with the pedal right from the get-go, you might not use the ideal fingering in order to connect as much as possible. So you want to connect with your fingers everything you can. Then it becomes obvious where to pedal. And of course, adding the pedal gives you a much more beautiful sound. Plus you can hold the bass notes to get a richer sound and a more linear quality to bass notes, and indeed the inner voices as well. With the pedal, you get the sense of the line instead of just the chords. The bassline has enough sustain from note to note, instead of just being sporadic.

With the Chopin G Minor Ballade indeed, you not only need the pedal to get the sense of the lines, but there are notes you just can’t possibly hold without it. This is the genius of Chopin! It’s amazing that he could conceive of, and write down music that would work so incredibly well with the pedal. Without the pedal it practically sounds like a whole different piece!

So that’s what the pedal adds to Chopin!

There’s a richness to the quality of the sound you get with the pedal. You get sustained harmonies and a linear aspect of all the lines, from the bass all the way to the treble. Not to mention the enhancement of the tone. Because you can use the pedal to get little gradations of tone in the melody to make one note kind of meld into the next by enriching it with sympathetic vibrations that the other strings allow for when you release the dampers with the sustain pedal.

I hope this has been interesting for you! Thanks so much for joining me, Robert Estrin here at LivingPianos.com, Your Online Piano Resource.

For premium videos and exclusive content, you can join my Living Pianos Patreon channel! www.Patreon.com/RobertEstrin

Contact me if you are interested in private lessons. I have many resources for you! Robert@LivingPianos.com

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What Does Chopin Sound Like Without the Pedal?

 Welcome to www.Livingpianos.com. I’m Robert Estrin. The subject today is about what Chopin sounds like without the pedal. When I talk about the pedal I’m talking about the sustain pedal. It’s the one on the right that holds all

Welcome to LivingPianos.com, I’m Robert Estrin. The subject today is about how to use the pedal on the piano. This is such a deep subject. I have other videos on the finer points about pedaling, how it imparts changes in tone, when to use it, when not to use it, and how to use the sustain pedal in conjunction with the soft pedal. But today I will cover the fundamentals. If you’ve ever wondered how the pedal works, you’ve come to the right place!

The interesting thing about the pedal is that it does not go down rhythmically.

If you’ve just started using the pedal the hardest thing about it is that it is not used rhythmically, because you want to tap your foot on the beat. It’s the most natural thing in the world! Yet that doesn’t work on the piano. It doesn’t work because if you push the pedal down when a note plays, you will capture the harmonies of the previous notes that were down. It’s a mess. Why is that? The fact of the matter is, when you push the pedal down, whatever notes are held down are going to continue holding down. When you play a note, you’re still holding down the previous notes to some extent, particularly if something is slurred.

How do you create a slur on the piano?

A slur is a glide between notes. A singer or a French horn player does it very naturally and the notes between the slur are all there. On the piano, you can’t do that. So you tend to overlap notes, and that’s the way you create the illusion of a slur. But what happens when you pedal on the beat is the previously played notes are going to be held. If I play middle C and then a C sharp and I pedal at the same moment as I play the C sharp, you’re going to hear the C and the C sharp together. You will hear dissonance. The pedal must go down right after notes plays.

But here’s some good news for you, the pedal comes up exactly on the beat!

The pedal goes up exactly when you play a note. But the pedal goes down right after the note, arrhythmically. It’s important that you understand that, otherwise, you’re going to hear dissonance. It’s the nature of the pedal.

There’s so much more to the pedal. As a matter of fact, I will put links in the description of some other videos I have on pedaling. Decades ago, I made 50 hour-long presentations live on the internet, for a company in Irvine. My show was called Keyboard Kaleidoscope. One episode is an hour long show on the pedal that I will share with you in the notes below, in the description, and on LivingPianos.com! I hope this is helpful for you. Thanks so much for joining me, Robert Estrin here at LivingPianos.com, Your Online Piano Resource.

For premium videos and exclusive content, you can join my Living Pianos Patreon channel! www.Patreon.com/RobertEstrin

Contact me if you are interested in private lessons. I have many resources for you! Robert@LivingPianos.com

HOW TO USE THE PEDAL ON THE PIANO – KEYBOARD KALEIDOSCOPE – ROBERT ESTRIN

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How to Use the Pedal on the Piano

Welcome to LivingPianos.com, I’m Robert Estrin. The subject today is about how to use the pedal on the piano. This is such a deep subject. I have other videos on the finer points about pedaling, how it imparts changes in tone, when to use it, w

Welcome to LivingPianos.com, I’m Robert Estrin. Today’s subject is, “Why Does A Soft Pedal Make No Difference on Some Pianos?” On many pianos, the soft pedal creates a nice tonal change. Other pianos, it doesn’t seem to do anything at all! Are they broken? I’m talking about the una corda pedal. On grand and baby grand pianos, the left pedal shifts the entire action. So, the hammers don’t strike the three strings directly. Una corda, as a matter of fact, means one string. A long time ago, pianos only had two strings for each note. So, shifting the action made the hammers hit only one string. Modern pianos are a little bit different. The hammer doesn’t actually strike only one less string. The entire hammer hits at a different point.

The hammers on a piano that’s been played a lot will have grooves where the strings make contact.

Therefore, the felt is compacted, which gives a more brilliant tone than the softer felt surrounding. So, when you push down the soft pedal, you’ll hear a dramatic change on pianos that are broken in. Of course a piano with brand new hammers will have a minimal difference in tone when using the soft pedal, because the hammers are barely broken in. If there is a tonal change, it is extremely subtle, which is what you would expect.

Play your piano, and the soft pedal will make a bigger difference over time.

After six months or a year of playing a piano, the hammers will get grooved and the tone will brighten up. This is normal on all pianos. However, the soft pedal will engage a part of the hammer that isn’t normally played, and you’ll hear a dramatic difference in tone when depressing it. For example, a couple of months ago I was at a good friend’s house. He has a Yamaha that he plays a good deal. The hammers were pretty hard. So, pushing down the soft pedal sounded like a completely different piano! You wouldn’t believe the difference. The compacted felt of the grooves were bypassed just a fraction of an inch, and the fresh part of the felt hit the strings. That’s why on some pianos you won’t hear much difference with the soft pedal. A certain amount can be voiced or regulated. However, time is your best cure for a soft pedal that doesn’t do much.

‘m Robert Estrin here at LivingPianos.com, Your Online Piano Store.
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Why Does A Soft Pedal Make No Difference on Some Pianos?

Welcome to LivingPianos.com, I’m Robert Estrin. Today’s subject is, “Why Does A Soft Pedal Make No Difference on Some Pianos?” On many pianos, the soft pedal creates a nice tonal change. Other pianos, it doesn’t seem to

Hi, I’m Robert Estrin, and this is LivingPianos.com. Today’s topic is, “Do All Piano Pedals Feel The Same?” I’m not talking about if the three pedals on a specific piano feel the same as one another. They might feel different from one another. But the question is, is there a standard way that all pianos’ pedals should feel? Believe it or not, the answer is no!

Pedals can feel drastically different from one piano to another.

Let me give you a great example. Growing up, my father Morton Estrin had several pianos. We had three or four pianos in the house through most of my childhood. Early on, there was a Steinway model S baby grand from the 1930s as well as a Baldwin L which was a more recently produced 6′ 3″ grand piano. Sitting down at the Steinway, if your foot was even leaning on the sustain pedal, it would start to hold notes. It had a very small amount of travel and it was quite hard to push. Comparing that to the Baldwin sustain pedal, which was easy to push and had a lot of travel to it, it responded completely differently! So why isn’t there a standard?

Whatever piano you play becomes your new normal and you compare all other pianos to it.

So, be sure that if you’re ever performing anywhere, try out the pedals to see how hard they are to push. See how much travel they have and at what point in the travel they start to respond. And not just the sustain pedal. The una corda, or soft pedal, for example, may seem like it isn’t even working. You may not notice any perceptible difference in sound. On other pianos, you push the pedal down, and hear a drastic change of tone! That is something that can be regulated to some extent, but there’s a certain amount that has to do with how much the piano’s been played and how it’s been voiced.

The pedals on pianos are all unique and you must be able to adjust.

Anytime you get an opportunity to play pianos, just for fun, try out the pedals so that when you have a performance, you can adjust quickly for a satisfying musical performance.
I hope this is helpful for you. Send your questions to Robert@LivingPianos.com so I can answer them in upcoming videos. See you next time here at LivingPianos.com, Your Online Piano Store

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Do All Piano Pedals Feel The Same?

Hi, I’m Robert Estrin, and this is LivingPianos.com. Today’s topic is, “Do All Piano Pedals Feel The Same?” I’m not talking about if the three pedals on a specific piano feel the same as one another. They might feel diff

I’m Robert Estrin and this is LivingPianos.com. The question today came from a reader who asks, “How do you know when the pedal markings are written by the composer?” So, the fundamental question is, “Do composers write in pedal markings for the piano?” The simple answer is, the vast majority of the time, no. You might wonder why not? Why do they do it sometimes and not all the time? Here’s the long and short of it.

Pedaling on the piano encompasses so many decisions that are made not only from an artistic and personal expression standpoint, but also the acoustics of the room. For example, let’s say you are performing a concert in a church or a chapel that has very live acoustics. It is almost like putting the pedal down with an echoing effect. In a room such as that in order to not get a muddy sound, you would use much less pedal than in a dry room with carpeting and drapes where there is no natural reverberation.

Pianos also differ. When you play a high note like the third E above middle C on a Mason and Hamlin piano, there is a damper which stops the sound as soon as you release the key. The note ends very quickly. The F right above has no damper and rings on even after you let go of the key. Some pianos have dampers all the way to F sharp and G is the first note that rings on after the release of the key. If you were playing a Steinway or a Baldwin, the E has no damper! So, it rings on long after the key is released.

You have to be able to determine where to use pedaling based upon the specific piano and acoustics of the room.

Where do composers write pedal markings in? If there is a place where you wouldn’t expect the pedal to be used, they may write it in to guide you so you’ll understand the composer’s intentions. However, oftentimes you’ll see pedal markings all over the score.

How do you know if pedal markings are written by the composer?

I recommend getting editions that are referred to as “urtext”. Urtext editions are only what the composers wrote. If there are other markings, they usually will have them in a different typeset. They may be in grey or have footnotes telling you what is original and what the editor has added.

Composers almost never wrote fingerings in. Whenever you see fingerings on your score on your piano, those are written in by the editor, not the composer.

Pedal markings and sometimes expression markings can be added by the editor.

You want to know what the composer actually wrote, which is no easy task. This is why you want to have an authoritative edition that goes through all the old autographed editions and early printed scores. This way you can determine what is actually authentic from the composer.

You have to use your own judgment with pedaling. The guides you see are only editorial suggestions the vast majority of the time. It gets even trickier still. For example, Beethoven sometimes wrote pedal markings in. If you have ever had the opportunity to play a Beethoven era piano, you will hear how drastically different they are from modern pianos.

You may not pedal the same on a Beethoven era piano as you would on a modern piano.

You have to take it all with a grain of salt. A good teacher will guide beginners and intermediate students writing in pedal markings so they will understand the nature of how to deal with pedal changes. It is generally where harmonies change, however, it can get much more complicated in music that has different lines and notes you can’t possibly hold with your fingers.

There is an art to pedaling just as there is to fingering and other aspects of playing the piano. A great teacher and good authoritative editions serve you well. Thanks for the great question! We’ll see you next time here at LivingPianos.com, Your Online Piano Store.

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Do Composers Write in Pedal Markings for the Piano?

I’m Robert Estrin and this is LivingPianos.com. The question today came from a reader who asks, “How do you know when the pedal markings are written by the composer?” So, the fundamental question is, “Do composers write in pedal m

Robert Estrin here at LivingPianos.com, Your Online Piano Store, with a great question. When do you use the soft pedal on the piano? The una corda pedal is the left pedal on grand and baby grand pianos. It is an amazing device for expressive playing because it changes the tone. Those of you who practice on upright pianos, the left pedal does not do what it is supposed to do.

What does “una corda” mean?

Una corda translates from Italian as “one string”. What does this mean? Originally, pianos had two strings for each key. By depressing the una corda pedal, the hammers would only strike one of the two strings giving a softer, delicate tone. Modern pianos have three strings for each note through most of the piano. So, depressing the una corda pedal makes two of the strings hit directly. Depending on how the piano is voiced, it may even hit all three strings with softer parts of the felt of the hammer.

The fundamental thing about soft pedals is that every piano is different.

Think about this: on one piano the hammers may strike two of the strings. On another piano, the hammers may strike all three strings, but a little off-axis. The grooved part of the hammer with the hardened felt does not hit the strings. So, you get a more delicate tone. I’m telling you all this so that you understand how different the impact is on depressing the soft pedal on different pianos.

The answer to the question is: it depends not just upon the music, the performance you are after, or the acoustics of the room, but on the specific piano and the way its soft pedal affects the tone. Naturally, a great deal has to do with how you approach the piano with your hands. In some pianos I’ve played, every time you put the soft pedal down it creates a drastic tonal change.

On other pianos, you depress the una corda pedal and you don’t even notice any difference at all!

On this type of piano, you might use the pedal very liberally. On such a piano, if you want a little change of color, you might as well push the soft pedal just to make it easier to play softly.

Perhaps you’ve worked out all of the places you want to use the soft pedal. Then, as soon as you start playing with the soft pedal, the tone gets swallowed up completely. You may find that you are not going to use the soft pedal except very sparingly, in the most delicate sections on a piano like this.

That’s the long and short of it:

When playing a performance, it’s so important to have an opportunity to try the piano beforehand. Not just for the soft pedal, but all the pedals. It is remarkable how different the pedals respond on various pianos! I would go so far as to say that in trying out a piano for a recital, an audition, or just to play for someone, checking out the pedals is probably the most important thing because they vary more than any other aspect of each piano.

I hope this has been helpful for you. Again, I’m Robert Estrin at LivingPianos.com, Your Online Piano Store.

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Secrets of the Soft Pedal on Pianos

Robert Estrin here at LivingPianos.com, Your Online Piano Store, with a great question. When do you use the soft pedal on the piano? The una corda pedal is the left pedal on grand and baby grand pianos. It is an amazing device for expressive playing