What Are the Foot Pedals On A Piano For?

The pedals in the piano are the improvised levers that are available at the base of the piano and are used to alter the sounds of the instrument in many different ways. Generally, the modern-day pianos have three pedals that are arranged from the left to the right, and these three pedals, from the order of their arrangement, are,

  • Soft pedal (or una corda)
  • Sostenuto pedal
  • Sustaining pedal (damper pedal)

There are chances that in some pianos there are only two pedals, the right side pedal will be the sustain pedal and the left-sided pedal will be the una corda pedal or the soft pedal. 

Of the three pedals that the piano has, most of the pianists and students getting their lessons will be using the damper pedal often in almost all music pieces they play. The other two pedals however are not used as often as the sustain pedals, but they are capable of adding a lot of color, texture, and variety to the music that one plays. 

Location and the Functions of the Major Piano Pedals

Piano Pedals
Source: Wikipedia

Most of the modern digital or acoustic pianos feature three pedals and the older acoustic pianos have only two pedals. Read through for the location and the function of the three pedals of the piano.

1. Sustain Pedal

The sustain pedal is the right pedal in the piano. The main functions of this piano are that it joins sounds that the fingers alone cannot play. The pedal helps in adding lots of dimension and resonance to the musical chord and it also helps in blending diverse layers of music in a unified texture.

This damper pedal is essentially a piece of felt that is connected with a piece of wood that is connected with a string. When a note is played on the piano, its hammer comes up. When it hits the strong, the damper will raise and will stay in that position, until the pedal is lifted. 

2. Una corda pedal

This is the left-most pedal in the piano and it is used predominantly to change the timbre or the quality of the sound, by reducing its percussiveness. It helps in creating a more muffled sound and is generally recognized as a practice pedal, for a pianist who wishes to play quieter notes.

When this pedal is depressed on a grand acoustic piano, then the action of this piano gets slightly shifted to the right, and this allows fewer strings to get stuck with each of its hammers. As the entire action gets shifted, the strings that remain are stuck with each other and make contact with that part of the hammer, which is not often hit. Thus when this pedal is used, it results in a duller sound.

On the upright piano, when this pedal is depressed, then a single thin strip of felt gets lowered between the strings and the hammers, to muffle the sound. Both these types of pedals have similar and different results. But this pedal is not designed to help you play softly, as it sounds, and the pianist should play softly while depressing this pedal, to yield the best effect and the best results.

3. The Sostenuto pedal

This is the middle pedal in the entire pedal set of the digital piano and the main function of this piano is to sustain the selected notes in the piano, while its other notes remain unaffected, which helps to sustain the bass notes, while its upper melodies stay un-muddled.

When this pedal is depressed, the pedal will catch and hold any dampers that are fully raised from the strings already. It can be used in conjunction with both the other pedals. If the pianist can pull this pedal off successfully, the results will be highly effective. The Sostenuto pedal can be of tremendous help in playing advanced classics much efficiently.

Uses of the Pedal

The pianist should sit appropriately with their feet flat on the floor. The big toes of both the foot should stay in line with the left and the right pedals. The right food should be used for the sustain pedal and the left foot should be used for the soft and the sostenuto pedals. Many techniques can be used to play these pedals efficiently, such as half-pedaling, delayed or legato pedaling, preliminary pedaling, and simultaneous pedaling. Introducing such techniques to the playing can alter the way that the players play a piece of music.

But pianists should be very sure, not to overuse the pedals and make sure it suits the music. Pianists have to remember that even a fast song can be ruined by holding down the sustain pedal too much. Pianists should also learn to read the pedal notations that the composers have intended in their notes. The pedal markings will show where to place the foot down and where it rises again and is generally denoted as * in the notes.

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Being in love with music, Larry started this website to help piano lovers get the most detailed and accurate information with his 5 Years of experience of working in a music store.

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