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Pedal in Baroque Repertoire (Read 4713 times)

Offline williampiano

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Pedal in Baroque Repertoire
« on: June 24, 2012, 11:29:32 PM »
I'm sure there are quite a few threads discussing this topic already, but I'm curious as to what you all think right now about pedal in Baroque keyboard music.
I've heard some other musicians mention how most of the keyboard music of the Baroque composers was written for keyboard instruments with no pedal, such as harpsichord and clavichord, so therefore no pedal should be added when played on the piano. I've heard others say that its okay to have a different pianistic interpretation of Baroque music and that its appropriate add pedal. What do you think? Do you take a minimalist approach and use very little, or no pedal at all, or do you believe it is acceptable to use pedal in Baroque music?
I personally avoid using pedal in Baroque music, especially Bach.

Offline j_menz

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Re: Pedal in Baroque Repertoire
«Reply #1 on: June 24, 2012, 11:47:35 PM »
The purists really frown on it, so probably best avoided for exams/auditions.  I don't mind a little discrete pedaling in a final result, and if I'm just sight reading through a piece I find the pedal a great friend.
"What the world needs is more geniuses with humility. There are so few of us left" -- Oscar Levant

Offline 49410enrique

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Re: Pedal in Baroque Repertoire
«Reply #2 on: June 24, 2012, 11:50:03 PM »
i use it whenever the music 'tells me to' that is even in bach there are places where it can be carefully (and conservatively used). i'm not talking about using it as a subsitution or bandaid for poor legato and finger control but in addition to .  i'm of the school that sincerely believes that would the modern instrument have been available to Bach, he would have written for it and used it (this is also stemming from my music school in struction, my previous piano professor (and also today w  my new current prof) really challenged me for many years to explore and find ways to use the pedal in Baroque/i.e. Bach and make it sound like it 'belonged', bloody difficult, but ultimately very satisfying).

also im not just talking about flooring the thing to the bottom here and there but things like partial pedaling, i.e flutter pedaling, etc to eek out different colors and effects, etc.

others will adamantly disagree, that's fine. it's just how i  roll, and inmy 'rolling' i do my best to express myself as an artist while still honoring the composer and having high musical integrity.

Offline ajspiano

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Re: Pedal in Baroque Repertoire
«Reply #3 on: June 24, 2012, 11:51:34 PM »
Quote
I personally avoid using pedal in Baroque music, especially Bach.

depends on the context doesnt it? - C major prelude sounds nice enough with a bit of pedal..

Generally I do use it, minimally - not because bach wouldnt have used it, but because it just doesnt sound good to use heavy pedaling in a lot of that music. Best let your ears guide you.

Offline 49410enrique

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Re: Pedal in Baroque Repertoire
«Reply #4 on: June 24, 2012, 11:52:53 PM »
depends on the context doesnt it? - C major prelude sounds nice enough with a bit of pedal..

Generally I do use it, minimally - not because bach wouldnt have used it, but because it just doesnt sound good to use heavy pedaling in a lot of that music. Best let your ears guide you.

yep yep.

Offline cmg

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Re: Pedal in Baroque Repertoire
«Reply #5 on: June 24, 2012, 11:58:23 PM »
This whole issue of a "dry" approach to the Baroque literature and the use of pedal, or the "wet" approach is really rather nonsensical. It's a matter of personal taste.  If you want to sound like Gould with the emphasis on articulation, go right ahead, but you better have his genius to keep it all from sounding like a typewriter on steroids. 

If you favor the coloring and shading of music, then use the pedal.  Judiciously and correctly, and in any period of music, you can't go wrong. Blurring harmonic changes in Baroque or Classical (unless, in Classical, such as Beethoven, where he wants it) is just poor musicianship.  Your ear should tell you what to do:  clarity with a nice wash of supported, resonant sound is what the piano does, right?  Use it that way.  Bach wouldn't complain, certainly.  Scarlatti won't sue.

And, then, again there's the complication of a resonant hall:  use your ear and decide whether pedal hampers your sound by making it flabby or enhances it.  So many variables and so few rules.  Just listen to yourself.  Make it clear, but make it beautiful.     
Current repertoire:  "Come to Jesus" (in whole-notes)

Offline williampiano

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Re: Pedal in Baroque Repertoire
«Reply #6 on: June 25, 2012, 12:05:19 AM »
i use it whenever the music 'tells me to' that is even in bach there are places where it can be carefully (and conservatively used). i'm not talking about using it as a subsitution or bandaid for poor legato and finger control but in addition to .
I certainly agree, as long as its used in moderation.

i'm of the school that sincerely believes that would the modern instrument have been available to Bach, he would have written for it and used it
I've heard other people say that, and I don't necessarily agree that is a reason to use pedal. Although I agree that using pedal in Bach is ok, as I also use it sometimes, I do think if Bach had had the pedal available to him and he had used it in his keyboard works, then his music would have been much different than it is today. His pieces would most likely have a different texture and feel to them if he used the pedal in writing them.

Offline ajspiano

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Re: Pedal in Baroque Repertoire
«Reply #7 on: June 25, 2012, 12:11:37 AM »
I certainly agree, as long as its used in moderation.
Although I agree that using pedal in Bach is ok, as I also use it sometimes, I do kind of disagree with that mindset. It seems if Bach had had the pedal available to him and he had used it in his keyboard works, then his music would have been much different than it is today. His pieces would most likely have a different texture and feel to them if he used the pedal in writing them.

Yes, but compositions are not stagnant like photographs - the melody/harmony stays the same but the inner sensations and meaning behind them change, consequently how you execute them changes.

Bach composed these pieces without pedal, and he would probably play the same compositions from time to time on the modern piano if he were alive today - with the pedal, because he'd have access to a greater range of tonal colour within the same melodic and harmonic context.

He'd probably also have written some works that were much more resonant and made use of the pedal in depth.

Offline williampiano

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Re: Pedal in Baroque Repertoire
«Reply #8 on: June 25, 2012, 12:18:22 AM »
I know towards the end of his life the piano was invented and he did try playing on it. So, do any of you know if he wrote any pieces for it specifically, or did he stick with the harpsichord? Just curious to hear them if he did.

Offline cmg

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Re: Pedal in Baroque Repertoire
«Reply #9 on: June 25, 2012, 12:38:43 AM »
I certainly agree, as long as its used in moderation.
I've heard other people say that, and I don't necessarily agree that is a reason to use pedal. Although I agree that using pedal in Bach is ok, as I also use it sometimes, I do think if Bach had had the pedal available to him and he had used it in his keyboard works, then his music would have been much different than it is today. His pieces would most likely have a different texture and feel to them if he used the pedal in writing them.

If you're so adamant that Bach's works would be tainted by pedal use, then, perhaps you're a harpsichordist at heart.  It's a wonderful instrument.  I don't know why you even started this thread given you've already made up your mind.
Current repertoire:  "Come to Jesus" (in whole-notes)

Offline williampiano

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Re: Pedal in Baroque Repertoire
«Reply #10 on: June 25, 2012, 12:49:07 AM »
If you're so adamant that Bach's works would be tainted by pedal use, then, perhaps you're a harpsichordist at heart. 
Except that I mentioned that I'm fine with the use of pedal and that I also use it in Baroque music from time to time. I just stated that I disagree with the reasoning some people give for their use of pedal in this music.
It's a wonderful instrument.  I don't know why you even started this thread given you've already made up your mind.
I started this thread because I was interested in what other people thought on the topic.

Offline cmg

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Re: Pedal in Baroque Repertoire
«Reply #11 on: June 25, 2012, 01:07:19 AM »
Except that I mentioned that I'm fine with the use of pedal and that I also use it in Baroque music from time to time. I just stated that I disagree with the reasoning some people give for their use of pedal in this music.I started this thread because I was interested in what other people thought on the topic.

Williampiano, you sound like a thoughtful, sensitive musician.  A bit of advice:  don't solicit opinions from others.  If you know, as an artist, what you like, pursue it.  If it fails to give you the results you desire, alter it.  Listen only to yourself, sir.  You're the best judge. 
Current repertoire:  "Come to Jesus" (in whole-notes)

Offline camille101

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Re: Pedal in Baroque Repertoire
«Reply #12 on: June 25, 2012, 06:55:23 AM »
An interesting concept that I've been lectured on is that pedal should be used discretely in Baroque music simply because the harpsichord's notes will have a longer reverberation than a dry piano.  Basically, when a note is struck on a harpsichord and the finger is released, the note will continue to sound for a moment due to the higher vibration rate cause by the plucking of the strings as contrary to the piano's hammers.  In effect, the slightest amount of pedal can be used to imitate this feature of the harpsichord, barely noticeable to the listener but in comparison to a dry piano recording, may sound more unified if played correctly.
Camille

Offline chopantasy

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Re: Pedal in Baroque Repertoire
«Reply #13 on: June 25, 2012, 07:01:16 AM »
In the Baroque period you created a forte by adding more instruments or strings.  The sustain was known as the loud pedal until at least the early 1800's.  Use it for that purpose. 

Offline iansinclair

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Re: Pedal in Baroque Repertoire
«Reply #14 on: June 25, 2012, 04:28:21 PM »
No surprise -- I agree completely with j_menz, ajspiano and 4910enrique.  Basically, you are the musician and a part of what makes you a musician is the ability to take what is written it and interpret it.

But just to add a bit of fun to the discussion -- in the case of organ music (any era!) it is vital to take the acoustics of the space -- particularly reverberation time -- into account.  IMHO, some pieces are simply unlistenable in spaces with long reverb times -- they turn into hopeless mush -- while others seem to me to have been specifically written with long reverb times in mind (some modern French, particularly).
Ian

Offline starlady

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Re: Pedal in Baroque Repertoire
«Reply #15 on: June 26, 2012, 08:59:49 AM »
According to Bakura-Skoda's book 'Interpreting Bach at the Keyboard', there was something called a pedal-harpsichord .  Mainly used, it is thought, by organists (like JSB) who needed a way to play at home.  I wonder what it sounded like?

--s. 

Offline iansinclair

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Re: Pedal in Baroque Repertoire
«Reply #16 on: June 27, 2012, 01:31:27 AM »
According to Bakura-Skoda's book 'Interpreting Bach at the Keyboard', there was something called a pedal-harpsichord .  Mainly used, it is thought, by organists (like JSB) who needed a way to play at home.  I wonder what it sounded like?

--s. 

There was -- and is -- such a beast.  And it was (and is) useful for organists to practise at home.  If they don't have an electronic or pipe organ at home that is!  However, the "pedal" refers to the usual full pedal keyboard, such as an organ has, and not control pedals, such as a piano has.  The pedal keyboard usually -- but not always -- operates on a separate rank of strings, just as the two manuals on a two manual harpsichord operate on separate rands of strings.

Sounds just like a harpsichord...  :)
Ian

Offline starlady

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Re: Pedal in Baroque Repertoire
«Reply #17 on: June 27, 2012, 06:43:15 AM »
There was -- and is -- such a beast.  And it was (and is) useful for organists to practise at home.  If they don't have an electronic or pipe organ at home that is!  However, the "pedal" refers to the usual full pedal keyboard, such as an organ has, and not control pedals, such as a piano has.  The pedal keyboard usually -- but not always -- operates on a separate rank of strings, just as the two manuals on a two manual harpsichord operate on separate rands of strings.

Sounds just like a harpsichord...  :)

Thank you for the information!--I've been wondering about that. 

--s

Offline mozart_to_go

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Re: Pedal in Baroque Repertoire
«Reply #18 on: June 27, 2012, 07:15:18 AM »
There was -- and is -- such a beast.  And it was (and is) useful for organists to practise at home.  If they don't have an electronic or pipe organ at home that is!  However, the "pedal" refers to the usual full pedal keyboard, such as an organ has, and not control pedals, such as a piano has.  The pedal keyboard usually -- but not always -- operates on a separate rank of strings, just as the two manuals on a two manual harpsichord operate on separate rands of strings.

Mozart had a pedal board fitted to his brand new Walter piano.

Offline rachmaninoff_forever

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Re: Pedal in Baroque Repertoire
«Reply #19 on: June 28, 2012, 01:21:04 AM »
My teacher says only to use pedal if you have to play legato but is physically impossible to do.  Like for instance, in Bach's fugue in A flat major from like book 2, there are some places that are impossible to play legato, so you use pedal to glue two notes together.
Live large, die large.  Leave a giant coffin.

Offline j_menz

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Re: Pedal in Baroque Repertoire
«Reply #20 on: July 02, 2012, 12:59:09 AM »
My teacher says only to use pedal if you have to play legato but is physically impossible to do.  Like for instance, in Bach's fugue in A flat major from like book 2, there are some places that are impossible to play legato, so you use pedal to glue two notes together.

Haha, that's cheating! I do it all the time when I'm sight reading fugues, but you should be able to manage without it once you've gopt it perfected.  That said, if you like it, use it, just not to excess.

On an earlier matter, Bach was actually the Leipzig agent for one of the early piano manufacturers (not Cristofori, but Silbermann, who actually invented the damper pedal). He didn't specifically write for piano, but improvised a 3 part fugue on one for Frederick of Prussia on a theme by the King which, in a slightly altered version was used as the basis for the Musical Offering.
"What the world needs is more geniuses with humility. There are so few of us left" -- Oscar Levant

Offline timothy42b

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Re: Pedal in Baroque Repertoire
«Reply #21 on: July 02, 2012, 06:12:16 PM »
There was -- and is -- such a beast.  And it was (and is) useful for organists to practise at home.  If they don't have an electronic or pipe organ at home that is!  However, the "pedal" refers to the usual full pedal keyboard, such as an organ has, and not control pedals, such as a piano has.  The pedal keyboard usually -- but not always -- operates on a separate rank of strings, just as the two manuals on a two manual harpsichord operate on separate rands of strings.

Sounds just like a harpsichord...  :)

Beast is right, that thing is huge. 

Wish I had one.......er............make that wish I had room for one. 
Tim