The piano pedals — a wee guide

Here’s a brief definition list for the curious:

  1. The damper or sustain pedal: Lifts the dampers from the wires and allows the sound to sustain until it is released again.
  2. The sostenuto pedal: Lifts the dampers from the wires of the keys that are down at the time, allowing for some special effects.
  3. The una corda pedal: Lifts the eyebrows of the listener in direct proportion to their opinion of themselves, and allows them to completely discount your playing.

It is vitally important to never, ever use the una corda pedal. Ever. It’s not really meant to be used. It’s a trick pedal. It’s there to trap and subsequently “weed out” players who are undeserving of the precious and priceless admiration of those who fancy themselves piano experts. If you absolutely must use it, please be sure to present a research thesis of no fewer than 350 pages to support your contention that you can’t plausibly avoid using it.

Well … unless you are actually willing to entertain the idea that a control lever that has been placed on a device is actually meant to be used from time to time, clearly a dangerously uncontrolled notion held only by reprobates who have no business going anywhere near a piano.

I don’t suppose this needs a sarcasm alert. For fuck’s sake, it’s right on the front of the piano. If you want that nice fogbound sound it can impart, then use it.

“But what I’m saaaaaaaying is that you shouldn’t use it if y–”

Oh, shut the hell up.

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