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Fourth Piano Pedal

For Those Times You Need Staccato and Sustain at One Time
  [vote for,

I'm quite familiar with the Sostenuto (third) pedal, being a piano player. However, there are some times when it's just not enough.

For example, one of my sisters (who also play piano) plays a certain piece which requires staccato on the left hand and sustain for the right (I shouldn't say *requires*, but it more or less does; I'm only saying this for complete honesty). I'm sure there are other pieces which require same. For these, the Sostenuto pedal would not be enough; it would only sustain those notes that were pressed at its actuation.

I propose a fourth (yes, I know, it's gettin' kinda crowded down there) pedal, with left and right 'margins' which one would adjust beforehand to give sustenance (couldn't resist) to the desired range of keys, so that when it was pressed, the others could remain unsustained (hungry) without making the whole keyboard staccato.

galukalock, Mar 15 2003

Fazioli F308 http://www.fazioli-...com/production.html
An infuriating Flash site with very little real information. [bristolz, Oct 05 2004, last modified Oct 17 2004]


       One of the joys of playing guitar (as I've been doing for the last hour, much to the annoyment of neighbo(u)rs, no doubt) is muting some strings while others ring.
Likelihood is that desired sustain would be on the trebly side, and staccato on the bass, no?
thumbwax, Mar 15 2003

bristolz, Mar 15 2003

       Mmm, Italian food.
pottedstu, Mar 15 2003

       //desired sustain would be on the trebly side, and staccato on the bass, no?//   

       In this case, yes.
galukalock, Mar 15 2003

       Maybe I am mis-reading but this idea seems to assume that staccato and sustain are somehow mutually exclusive and they are not. Staccato notes in legato passages with pedal indicated are very common.   

       I think this is better described without reference to a particular musical requirement as a secondary damper control with provision for the player to adjust the width, across the compass, of the sustain, or damper, action. Perhaps the extents of the galukastain could be controlled by two sliding rods just above the keyboard?   

       I doubt it's a feature I would use as I think a well-prepped piano offers sufficient damper coloration and nuance to get through most anything but, hey, other people might think it's simply grand ;-)   

       My cryptic "Fazioli" anno, above, refers to the fact that the Fazioli 308 concert series pianos have a 4th pedal however it is used to reduce the key running for very quiet, or very fast, passages, a more open sound during cantabile play and better legato connection when needed. (Key running is the extent of key travel available).   

       Finally, I always considered the "third pedal" to be the una corda not the sostenuto but, I guess, when compared to those pianos that only have a damper and an una corda, or the abominable felt-curtain "quiet" pedal, sostenuto is, indeed, the third pedal.
bristolz, Mar 15 2003

       In a way, staccato and sustain are exclusive of each other, because if you're sustaining, then any notes you play staccato won't sound that way (although I realize that sometimes the composer intended that); similarly, if you have the pedal up for to play staccato, then by definition you're not sustaining.   

       //Perhaps the extents of the galukastain could be controlled by two sliding rods just above the keyboard?//   

       That's about what I was thinking. You'd adjust the left and right 'margins' beforehand to set the section to be sustained.
galukalock, Mar 15 2003

       I realy like this idea. I think that it would have to be done on an electric keyboard however. For 2 reasons. One, it's a lot easier and definetly possible using technology, and 2, it would be really hard to make this pedal on a real piano. Also, the mention of it getting too crowded with the pedals, 4 is nothing. I assume you've seen an organ? Also, try doing what I do with a synth and pedals. Its really confusing to me too at times. But This is a great idea and I'll actually start work on this b/c this is plausible (hehe, thats probably the biggest wordi know...)
Seafris, Mar 18 2003

       Which piece was this? bear in mind that it's most likely the 0.5B wasn't around when the work was composed ;)
LoneRifle, Mar 19 2003

       About the only piano pedal that's really consistent is the right hand pedal which is always the damper/sustain pedal.   

       The left-side pedal generally makes the instrument quieter, though on some units it does so by sliding the hammers sideways while on others it reduces their travel (which may or may not reduce key travel as well). As for the middle pedal, I've seen some pianos where it operates a felt "muffler", some where it operates a sostenuto mechanism, and some where it acts as a "sustain" pedal for the left half of the keyboard (below middle C IIRC) only.
supercat, Mar 19 2003

       //The only thing I find remarkable on this idea, is that nobody has suggested using the pedals to exercise or generate electricity while playing, yet.//   

       Well, on old parlor instruments the pedals were used to produce vacuum power; does that count?
supercat, Mar 19 2003

       This is an excellent idea. During Beethoven’s life the piano underwent many technological changes (keys added, new pedals, new materials, etc), which is reflected in his music. Recently the piano has been pretty much static. I think this, and similar innovations could usher in a new era of great piano composition.   

       While existing compositions obviously would not take full advantage of the capability, I can think of many improvisatory cases in which I would find it useful.
AO, Mar 19 2003

       Nice roundup, [supercat]. Most of the variations you describe are only found on uprights.
bristolz, Mar 19 2003

       Sorry I've been so long. I messed up my computer.   

       Rifle, this particular piece was a basically true-to-the-soundtrack version of 'Colors of the Wind' from Pocahontas. Also, I'm learning Lecuona's 'Cordoba' which has sections of legato on one hand, staccato on the other. I might add that I have to hold down one key and reach (stretcchh) to do some others staccato. That might be covered by sostenuto, though.   

       supercat, I've also seen what's called a 'practice' pedal, which is a soft pedal that slides and locks so you can practice without being too loud.   

       AO, it seems that about the only innovation that didn't happen in Beethoven's lifetime was the sostenuto pedal. I've heard also there were no pedals on the piano throughout Mozart's life.
galukalock, Mar 20 2003

       // I've heard also there were no pedals on the piano throughout Mozart's life.//   

       I believe that pianos of that time often did have a sustaining mechanism, but rather than taking the form of a pedal, it was a bar which extended across underneath the keyboard and which the player would push upward with the knee.
supercat, Mar 21 2003

       Dear lord, what IS the range for you people? A week ago, you were talking about quantum physics. Have you all been genetically altered by some mastermind overlord alien race or something?   


       Please continue with your regularly scheduled discussion...
Evil_Baron_Moustachio, Mar 21 2003

       Christofori built the first pianoforte in 1709 and it was equipped with a damper, or sustain, system. A few years later he added a crude una corda for a total of two pedals. Mozart was born about 40 years later. Beethoven played the Erard's and, later, the Broadwood pianos including one that was built especially for him.   

       As for innovation, Steinway's diaphragmatic soundboard in the late 1800s and Darrell Fandrich's vertical action patents in the 1980s are both innovative piano inventions.
bristolz, Mar 21 2003

       galukalok: The "practice pedal" is the thing I referred to with the felt muffler, though perhaps there are other methods of muffling as well.
supercat, Mar 21 2003

       I'm aware of three methods, which you described. What distinguishes the practice pedal, in my opinion, is that it locks in place by being slid to one side while being pressed.
galukalock, Mar 21 2003

bristolz, Mar 21 2003

       Pianos have pedals?
half, Mar 21 2003

       No, petals.
bristolz, Mar 21 2003

       ...and training wheels?
po, Mar 21 2003

       bristolz: Were there two PEDALs in Mozart's time, or were the damper and una corda operated via some other means?
supercat, Mar 21 2003

       Evil_Baron, I've often wondered that my 'elf. It's like I've stumbled upon some sort of universal nexus of alien superbeings, like the Q in Star Trek. Been some good education, I might add. I think a large part of what gets noticed around here is simply one's ability to expand concept discussion into areas previously unexplored. The Catch-22 is, that's becoming harder and harder to do, as the bakery reaches critical mass.
RayfordSteele, Mar 21 2003

       Critical?! I better get outta here...
galukalock, Mar 21 2003

       Yeah, well, don't believe everything you read here . . . for example, my explanation that the Christofori had two pedals when, in fact, it had none. I was confusing it with the Broadwood so, I think [galukalock] is right in saying that there were no pedals on the pianos in Mozart's time.   

       My bad.
bristolz, Mar 21 2003

       //Been some good education// Pretty humbling as well. I'm just glad that the 'bakery doesn't work like "The Weakest Link" gameshow.
half, Mar 21 2003

       // Have you all been genetically altered by some mastermind overlord alien race or something? //   

       You figured it out. Why else would we be so against genetic manipulation? (ans: we don't want anyone to create more like us that we'll have to share the power with when the revolution comes).   

       [bris], our secret's out. You remember the standard procedure for dealing with earthlings who know too much, don't you?
RayfordSteele, Mar 21 2003

       there have been some piano modifications in the past few decades... one pianist built a double lidded piano, top and bottom, allowing for the sound fo the piano to be reflected to boths sides of the instrument. it was promptly banned at lincoln center as an abomination.   

       as an occasional pianist, i think the variable-octave sustain is an excellent idea. count me in.
urbanmatador, Mar 22 2003

       While we're adding pedals to the piano, how about one that would sustain notes where the key was pulled slightly forward as it was played? Ultimate selectivity.
supercat, Mar 22 2003

       // standard procedure for dealing with earthlings who know too much //   

       *Gets some quick, over-the-counter plastic surgery, changes his name, buys a new identity, and hops a plane to Mexico*
Evil_Baron_Moustachio, Mar 26 2003

       It would be really cool if you could slide your finger vertically on the keys and get portamento.
Amishman35, Nov 01 2005

       //Nice roundup, [supercat]. Most of the variations you describe are only found on uprights.//   

       I don't think I've ever seen a grand piano where the center pedal wasn't a sostenuto, nor an upright where it was. Probably has to do with the difficulty of getting the mechanical hooky-thingies to work right.
supercat, Nov 03 2005

       It would actually be a fairly simple mechanical change to put in an damper-interrupter that affects only those keys that are pushed down when it sets.   

       Basically, you add a post sticking out of each damping pad. Then, above that you have a rod with a bunch of holes in it. In each of those holes is a matching peg. Either the posts or the pegs are cut with a ramp. There is a clamping bar along the top of the rod.   

       To set it, you push down the keys you want. This moves the damper for that key away from the strings. You then step on the pedal, which moves the rod. away from the strings.   

       The pegs in the rod ride up on the posts on the dampers below, but ONLY for those dampers which are not moved back. out of the way.   

       Pull the clamp-lever, and the clamping bar clamps ALL the pins in position. The bar now has a bunch of pins sticking out of it which matches your chosen keys. Since the pins are clamped now, every time you step on the pedal moving the rod, those pins will hit the posts on the dampers, and drag them away from the strings.   

       Presto, selective sustain.   

       Note that if you do a similar thing with the HAMMERS, you can code in a specific chord, and not only will those notes sustain if you step gently on the pedal, they will PLAY if you stomp it...
Goedjn, Nov 03 2005

       wouldn't it be easier to use a synthesiser and set a split, with one half responding to the sustain pedal and the other half not?
shernren, Nov 04 2005


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