The three pedals of the piano are great tools that can be used to add an incredible variety of color to piano playing. Let’s explore what each of these pedals can do!
The Sustain Pedal: (also called the damper pedal): The sustain pedal is the furthest pedal to the right and is the most commonly used pedal on the piano. When the sustain pedal is depressed all the dampers get lifted away from the strings to allow the notes to ring freely. This allows the pianist to sustain and connect notes that would normally be out of reach from one another. Check out PianoCub’s previous blog post for some more great tips on using the sustain pedal.
Una Corda Pedal: (also called the soft pedal): The una corda pedal is the furthest pedal to the left on the piano. When this pedal is depressed, the keyboard and all of the hammers get shifted slightly to the right so that the hammers that normally strike three strings are now only striking two. This causes the piano to sound slightly softer and have a more hushed tone quality. The words una corda are used to indicate when to depress this pedal and the words tre corde are used to indicate when this pedal should be released.
Sostenuto Pedal: The sostenuto pedal is the middle of the three pedals. Sostenuto means “sustained” in Italian and this pedal is used to sustain a selected group of pitches. This is done by the pedal mechanism holding up the dampers of only the keys that are currently being depressed. Try exploring this pedal by holding down a note or two, depressing the sostenuto pedal, and then lifting your fingers to find those notes still holding. All the other notes of the piano can now be played staccato and dry while those held pitches continue to be sustained.
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