Victor Borge was once asked what the function of the middle pedal of the piano is, and he replied saying the middle pedal was used in separating the first and last pedal. He also said the middle pedal separating the first two pedal meant a bad news for people with three feet, but we all Victor was trying to pull a joke off. What does the middle pedal do is one question pianists are asked constantly from time to time, and this article will address that today.
So many people are of the opining that designing a piano to have three pedals is not necessary, but piano manufacturers have never for one day considered removing the middle pedal of the piano. This has prompted questions like what purpose does the middle pedal on a piano serve? What are its main functions? These questions and more have been left unanswered for a very long time, but this article will be providing you with answers today.
We cannot look away from the fact that people especially piano beginners are constantly asking what role the middle pedal plays on a piano, but it will interest you to know that the piano is designed to have four pedals. These pedals are the practice pedals, silent pedals, bass sustain pedals, and sostenuto pedals. The bass sustain pedal is tasked with sustaining the lowest, while sustaining notes is the function of the sostenuto pedal.
Interestingly, the job of the practice pedal is to soften the piano, while muting every other pedal on the piano is the role of the silent pedal. In the next section of this article, we will be discussing the role of each of these pedals. We encourage you to come along with us as you will find all the answers to the questions you have been asking inside of you.
What Does The Middle Pedal On Piano Do
Let us take a look at the role and functions of the four pedals we mentioned earlier in this post.
Bass Sustain Pedal
The bass sustain pedal is tasked with sustaining lower octaves, but how is this pedal used when playing the piano? Playing the piano sometimes will requires fast moving melodies compared to the bass line, and playing the bass line will cause the pianist to hold down a note for a long time. Holding down bass notes so that muddy sounds are not produced is the function of the bass sustain pedal.
According to history, pianist consider the sostenuto pedal to be the original middle pedal on a piano. Almost every pianist prefers the sostenuto pedal as the middle pedal, and this tells you why so many piano will call the middle pedal the sostenuto pedal even when the sostenuto pedal is missing from the piano.
In some cases, most people also refer to the sostenuto pedal as the selective damper pedal, and this pedal helps the pianist in sustaining and dampening notes when necessary.
Using The Sostenuto Pedal
So many people who are new to playing the piano but have learnt about the importance of the sostenuto piano will be puzzled about how to use the sostenuto pedal. It isn’t as difficult as people think it to be as all that is required is striking and holding a key before pressing the sostenuto pedal. The note will continue ringing as long as the sostenuto pedal is still pressed down.
This isn’t the same as the function of a damper pedal, as the damper pedal will fail to sustain but go ahead and play other notes. So the right time for anyone to make use of a sostenuto pedal is when you are required to hold down base notes for a long period.
Creating a fully sensational sostenuto pedal on an upright piano can be a little bit difficult, and this is why you will find bass sustain and practice pedals on an upright piano. The practice pedal is designed to make piano produce soft and warm sounds, and a piece of felt will be experienced when lowering between the strings and hammers of the practice pedal. The practice pedal is what you need when practicing where you need since it produces warm sounds.
The way some pianos are designed, the middle pedal is tasked with activating the silent pedal. Once the silent pedal is activate, the hammer will be unable to strike strings. However, the silent pedal will ensure that all velocities of the hammer gets picked up by electronic sensors. This pedal will also translate these sounds to digital sounds, and pianists might have to make use of a headphone when practicing to avoid disturbing anybody.
How The Sostenuto Pedal Functions
You will need to make use of a sophisticated and well designed mechanical system if you want to operate the sostenuto pedal, and this will make you curious about learning how the sostenuto pedal functions. The truth is there so many videos on the internet that will explain in details how a sostenuto pedal functions, and we will recommend a YouTube video by Nature Sol. We will show you some vital points you should note about the sostenuto pedal below;
- When playing other notes, sostenuto rod will fail in catching a corresponding damper
- You will find a sostenuto tab on any damper pedal
- Sostenuto rods are designed to have a blade shaped running close to the damper
- When lowering a pedal, underneath the raised sostenuto tab is where a sostenuto rod will spiral
- Lowering a key causes a damper tab to get lifted, and the damper tab gets lifted above the sostenuto rod
Invention Of The Sostenuto Pedal
The first sostenuto pedal was designed by Waldo Hanchett back in May 1874, and the sostenuto pedal designed then is very similar to the sostenuto pedal pianists make use of today. Few months after designing the first sostenuto pedal, Waldo Hanchett sent his son to the Steinway family to show them his invention. After a while, a journal released by the Steinways disclosed how pleased they were with the new pedal Hanchett designed.
Surprisingly, the Steinways designed to make their own sostenuto pedal using Hanchett’s design instead of buying from Hanchett. In about two weeks, the Steinways were able to come up with a sostenuto pedal design, claiming the one sent by Hanchett wasn’t patent enough. Hanchett went ahead to sue the Steinways after they revealed again they were displeased with his design, and there are several other mysteries surround the invention of the sostenuto pedal.
Conclusion – What Does The Middle Pedal On Piano Do
Judging from everything we have said in this article, you can tell the middle pedal is influential and it serves a lot of purpose. Pianos on the other hand are designed to come with several pedals which carry out variety of functions, and these pedals are the sostenuto, practice, silent, and bass sustain pedal. Having a good idea of what each and every of these pedals do will help in getting the best out of them.
You can rely on every information this article has provided you with to make good use of these pedals, and experimenting with any of these pedals will also help you get better with playing them. Good luck.