Many modern and eclectic organs are equipped with a crescendo pedal which is sometimes a necessary tool in creating dynamics in certain type of organ music, especially from German Romantic period, such as music by Liszt, Reger, Rheinberger, Karg-Elert and others. Some pieces from the modern times also are suited for crescendo pedal. Although you can perform this music without the use of this pedal quite successfully, knowing how to employ it can be very beneficial to the organist. The crescendo pedal facilitates the registration changes that can be achieved by the organist alone. In this article, I will give you 8 tips on using crescendo pedal on the organ.
1) Prepare in advance. Because the use of crescendo pedal is a new skill that an organist has to learn, it is best to plan your practice and include the necessary drills in advance. I do not recommend taking it for granted during the recital or any other performance in public.
2) Practice repeatedly. Locate the place in your music score which requires the crescendo pedal and play it over and over in a slow tempo to gain automation and freedom.
3) Imagine crescendo pedal and practice. If your organ does not have this pedal, you can also pretend that it is there, put the right foot in place and push it back and forth when appropriate as if it was for real.
4) Practice using any foot. Although the right foot is the most often used foot for making crescendo, sometimes there is a need to manipulate a pedal with the left foot as well. It depends on which foot is busy at the moment.
5) Adjust the pedaling. If the pedal line allows, it is a good idea to write in your pedaling for the left foot so that the right foot would be free to use the crescendo pedal.
6) Avoid sudden movements of the foot. When you press this pedal, try to be sensitive and feel how much movement you have to use because the more force you use, the more dynamic contrast you will create.
7) Aim for gradual crescendo during a single passage. Very often there is a need to make gradual dynamic changes when there are no sudden changes in texture over the course of the piece. However, during section breaks, according to the wish of the composer, contrasts, such as FF-pp often are quite necessary.
8) Programmable crescendo pedal. Some organs with electro-pneumatical action are equipped with the pedal you can program in advance according to your taste. This means that you can even adjust the way and order this pedal adds the stops and make your crescendo and diminuendo even smoother.
If your organ music requires the use of crescendo pedal, use the above tips to incorporate it in your practice today. By learning how to manipulate this pedal you will gain the necessary freedom on the organ bench and there will be no need for an assistant to change the registration for you in many cases.
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Don't have an organ at home?
Download paper manuals and pedals, print them out, cut the white spaces, tape the sheets together and you'll be ready to practice anywhere where is a desk and floor. Make sure you have a higher chair.