New Age Piano Playing and the Sustain Pedal
There are 3 pedals on most pianos. The one on the left dampens the strings and makes the sound come out softer. The one in the middle - I have no idea what that one does, but the one on the right - the sustain pedal - this one is the pedal I have my foot on when I play the piano.
I like to let the tones ring out, but if I keep the sustain pedal depressed for too long, the music turns into a mud puddle - hundreds of overtones coming out everywhere. Don't let anyone tell you that there is a proper way to pedal the piano.
Each style of music uses the sustain pedal differently. New age music, fortunately for us, is much more liberal with its use. Why? Because we usually throw the pedal "rules" out the window. The key to pedaling is to listen for the sound YOU WANT then pedal accordingly.
How do you think the great pianists and composers of the past did it? Do you think they asked themselves, "well maybe I should pedal here?" Of course not. They put pedal marks down where they themselves used it in a piece. You should do the same.
There's nothing like the ringing sound of overtones you get when you let the notes hang in mid-air. In fact, this is one of the charms of the piano - that mysterious echo barely discernible to the untrained ear, but there nevertheless providing warmth and realism to the music.
It's all accomplished through the use of the sustain pedal. When you want your music to breathe, use it. Experiment with it. Don't be afraid to keep it depressed for as long as you want to.
Edward Weiss is a pianist/composer and webmaster of Quiescence Music's online piano lessons. He has been helping students learn how to play piano in the New Age style for over 14 years and works with students in private, in groups, and now over the internet. Stop by now at http://www.quiescencemusic.com/piano_lessons.html for a FREE piano lesson!
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