#AskVidasAndAusra 26 - What to do with the pedals in songs that don't have pedals like most hymns?
Adding pedal part
To songs comes easier, if
You'll have strawberries.
Today's question was posted by Ugochukwu. Here's what he writes:
Currently I play on keyboard, I was privileged to play an
electronic pipe organ during my undergraduate days, then I only played the manuals (3), not knowing exactly what to do with the pedals. I sometimes try to play the pedal during "unserious" music like Benediction, Amen and Doxology with left foot. I want to know what to do with the pedals, in songs that don't have pedals like most hymns.
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Vidas: Let's start Episode 26 of #AskVidasAndAusra Podcast. Today's question was sent by Ugochukwu, and here is what he writes. "Currently, I play on the keyboard. I was privileged to play an electronic pipe organ during my undergraduate days, then I only played the manuals, three manuals, not knowing exactly what to do with the pedals. I sometimes try to play the pedal during "unserious" music, like Benediction, Amen and Doxology with the left foot. So I want to know what to do with the pedals, in songs that don't have pedals like most hymns.”
Okay, so basically Ausra, as I understand, Ugochukwu deals with him playing, right?
Vidas: But sometimes he is struggling with adding pedal part.
Vidas: Well, this should be simple, because if you play from four-part harmony, you could play the bass line.
Ausra: Sure, if you're doing that, but I don't know what his hymnal looks like.
Vidas: Maybe just one line.
Ausra: And a guitar based chord progression with signs.
Vidas: A lot of hymn notes do that. In this case, Ausra, What's the best way to think about adding the bass part from having just the soprano line.
Ausra: Then you will have to know how to harmonize. And maybe to write down for yourself a bass line and to play it with the pedal.
Vidas: Like on a separate music sheet notation, you add two voices, soprano voice and in the bass clef you add the pedal part.
Ausra: Or you could harmonize in four voices, as it’s common.
Vidas: How many notes do you absolutely need to have for the bare minimum in the bass?
Ausra: 3, I would say.
Vidas: 2 or 3?
Ausra: Probably 3.
Vidas: 3 better than 2, right?
Vidas: Because when we think about 2 then it would be tonic and the dominant.
Ausra: But for hymns, you definitely would have to add a sub-dominant.
Vidas: So 1st scale degree for the tonic, sub-dominant would be 4th scale degree.
Ausra: And dominant would be 5th scale degree.
Vidas: And then of course in the right hand you would play the soprano part. What would the left hand do?
Ausra: Well, if you're harmonizing for four voices when you will have to add alto-voice to the soprano voice in the right hand, and you would play tenor voice with your left hand.
Vidas: That's a little bit advanced technique, right?
Ausra: Yes, it is. Well, what could you do? If you are just a beginner, you could harmonize everything in a closed position so that you could play 3 top voices, soprano, alto and tenor with your right hand, and then you would just have to play bass with the pedal. This would be very easy.
Vidas: For example, in C major chord you would play C with your pedal-
Vidas: -In the bass line. And then E, G, and C with your right hand.
Vidas: Left hand would be silent.
Vidas: For now.
Ausra: Yes. Because in a closed position, it's very comfortable to play 3 voices with one hand.
Vidas: It's like basso continuo notation.
Vidas: Then your actually left hand is free to add any type of variations, figurations, even solo part in a separate manual if you know what you're doing. So guys, try like this if you need to add an extra pedal line in your hymns and you don't know what to play, if your hymn notes are not in 4-part notations. That might be an easy way out.
Vidas: Okay guys, so please send us your questions. We would really like to help you grow as an organist, and remember to practice today, right? Will you be practicing today, Ausra?
Ausra: Sure, I will.
Vidas: What will you play today?
Ausra: Sonatas by Franz Seydelmann.
Vidas: Oh, with me?
Vidas: For four hands, it’s fun, but it's not very simple, actually, we play a lot of these sonatas but today we're practicing for our upcoming recital in Stockholm, a German church where the organ is a reconstruction of the 17th century instrument and it has short octave and split semitones and basically very antique looking keyboard. So a lot of our repertoire will fit nicely. But Seydelmann’s sonatas were not created for this type of instrument specifically. It was Mozart's time, not 17th century. So what we did-
Ausra: We have to adjust a little bit.
Vidas: What did you do for the treble range sitting on the right side of the bench?
Ausra: Well, I have to play some things an octave lower.
Vidas: Because the range of this keyboard is until C.
Ausra: And I have D in many places, so I have to rearrange it. But I think it will work nicely.
Vidas: And I circled some bass notes, which also have to be readjusted because of the short octave in the bass, right? And those additional accidentals in the bass. So there are C, D, E and there are no C sharp and D sharp in the bass octave, you have to adjust this in my part too.
So that's what we’re working on today. And this will be fun.
Thanks guys, this was Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
Vidas: And remember when you practice ...
Ausra: ... Miracles happen.
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Drs. Vidas Pinkevicius and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene
Organists of Vilnius University , creators of Secrets of Organ Playing.
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