Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start episode 349 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. And Francois is writing:
I would like to ask about an exotic Pedal form, in German
Stummelpedal, impossible to find an adequate translation...
Well this pedal form, coming from Halberstadt over Böhms e-organs, to mention a better form than the ones on spinet organs, has some
advantages. One is that it is not so monstrous like a conventional
pedal, in an house organ.
I think of building one (long pedals, axis far behind. So my question,
did you had to do with historical pedal of this form? Or students who
could bring far their technique (at least till some romantic works)
practicing on this kind of pedals?
Thanks in advance,
Nicer and nicer you daily email, Thank You.
V: Oh this is really wonderful to hear that Francois is enjoying our daily conversations, Ausra.
V: Can you say some nice words to Francois at first?
A: I appreciate it. It’s nice that somebody finds us nice and useful. That’s why we are doing it.
V: Exactly. If nobody would pay attention or find them valuable we would probably would be doing something else. And concerning Francois’s question, the picture that he is sharing is basically looks like a pedalboard with very short sharp keys and it’s flat and some electronic pedalboards have that. 25 keys, midi organ pedalboard, suitable for jazz and Hammond, Clavia-Nord, PK-27 model. It looks like similar to historical instrument, right Ausra? But it has some differences too.
A: Well, for me it does not look like historical.
V: The only similarity of course is its flat.
A: Yes, that’s the only similarity as far as I can see.
V: And plus 25 keys are really not enough I think for today’s practice, you need 30 keys at least or sometimes 32.
A: And you know historical pedal board even is often as flat as this one is, it displayed sort of wider because the keys are wider too, and especially black keys, they are also wider in my experience. And on a keyboard like this you really have to play sort of like a ballerina.
V: I’ve played such a similar disposition before on Allen digital organ.
A: Me too. Some of Allen digital has this kind of pedalboard and it’s sort of pain in the ….
V: Pain in the neck.
A: Not only the neck but you know what I mean. I don’t want to swear.
V: It’s very inconvenient to play actually. You have to constantly think about where you are hitting and if you play historical pedalboards they are as Ausra says, wider.
A: And this kind of pedalboard, I don’t know what they are suited for. Neither for historical performance practice, nor really for modern music practice. It’s really not so comfortable.
V: And we have pedalboards with 25 notes in our church chapels, right? They go up until C. And I guess a lot of organs in baroque times had the compass until C, treble C, but today sometimes even in baroque organs need D, right?
A: Of course it’s better to have this kind of keyboard when don’t have any keyboard.
V: You mean pedalboard.
A: Pedalboard, yes. If you can manage such a pedalboard you will probably be able to manage any pedalboard.
V: So Francois is thinking of building one and maybe if he likes historical pedalboards maybe he could look at pedal clavichord layout.
A: But what I understood from his letter maybe he does not have so much space as a real pedalboard takes.
A: So I guess what he liked about this one that it doesn’t take so much space.
V: Yes, it’s smaller.
A: So pedal clavichord pedalboard takes a lot of space.
V: Probably the same space as a normal baroque organ pedalboard would take.
A: At least, maybe even a little bit more.
V: But in general he asks can you advance in organ playing not only playing early music this way but also romantic and modern.
A: Of course you can.
V: Using early type of pedalboard.
A: Well to play the modern music on the baroque, well, that’s a tricky question.
V: We heard this situation in Rochester, New York, remember in one conference when one student at Eastman School of Music, he practiced exclusively on the pedal clavichord, even sonata by Reubke and got really good with it, at least he said so. So people do all kinds of tricks I think. What do you think about that?
A: Well you can do that but when you get to another organ you will have to re-adjust.
A: But that’s the case for all organists with each different instrument.
V: Imagine if Bach wanted to create romantic music on his area organs what he would do.
A: I think it’s very unrealistic. He didn’t live in romantic era so he didn’t have to struggle with that and to solve that dilemma.
V: And composers influenced organ builders and vice versa in their discussions and meetings about what kind of music to create and what kind of instruments to build.
A: That’s right.
V: OK. This is interesting question, right? The one that people sometimes have to think deeply in figuring out the solutions and solutions might not fit every one, right? If Francois likes this kind of pedalboard there is nobody stopping him, right?
A: True, why not?
V: And he can do that and after he has done that and midified his pedalboard maybe he can then after six or ten months he can tell us his experience if he likes it or not.
A: True because it’s still better to have such a pedalboard than not having any.
V: Than practicing on the floor.
V: Umm-hmm. Yes. Thank you guys for sending these questions. We love helping you grow and remember when you practice…
A: Miracles happen.
Although much of classical organ music requires the full length of pedal board, not every organist have access to this kind of instrument, either pipe organ or electronic organ. Many people have Spinet electronic organs at home and they have to solve the pedal playing problem because Spinet organ pedal board have only 13 keys (C-c). For organists who practice on various kinds of electronic organs, such as Spinet, adjusting to the short pedal board is a very important question. In this article, I will give you 2 solutions for practicing classical organ music on the Spinet electronic organ with the short pedal board.
In general, it depends on what kind of music you are working on. There is plenty of organ music which was written for manuals only. Obviously, to play such music on the Spinet organ is no problem at all. In addition, a significant part of early organ repertoire was composed with a short pedal board in mind.
For example, Italian organs for many centuries didn't have a full pedal board so anything Italian would work fine on a Spinet organ. The question remains what to do with the classical organ music, like the music of Bach which often requires 27 note pedal board (sometimes even 30)
In general, for music which requires the full compass of pedal board you have only 2 options:
1) To arrange the pedal part so that it will fit the short compass of the Spinet. For example, notes in the pedal part above tenor c would have to be played one octave lower. Sometimes an entire excerpt might be played one octave lower.
If you have to play notes from c sharp up to f in the treble octave, you can lower them by two octaves. In doing so, you may also have to adjust the pedaling. For example, this could mean that using the right foot on the Spinet organ might be complicated so the majority of notes should be played by the left foot.
2) To play as written, imagine the additional pedals, and press the approximate spot on the floor. It is also possible to add a wooden board on the floor of approximate the same height as the Spinet pedals so that you will have the same feeling while playing with your feet. In addition, you can draw the missing pedals on this board so that you will know exactly where to play.
If you want to play classical organ music on the Spinet electronic organ, use the above tips for pedal playing. It is also a good idea from time to time to get access to the real pipe organ. Occasional practice on a full length pedal board will allow you to have the correct feeling for your feet.
By the way, do you want to learn to play the King of Instruments - the pipe organ? If so, download my FREE video guide: "How to Master Any Organ
Composition" in which I will show you my EXACT steps, techniques, and methods that I use to practice, learn and master any piece of organ music.
Some organists have electronic organs with one octave pedal board at home which they use for practice. While this idea is very practical, such organists have to face several difficulties with this kind of instrument. In this article, I will discuss what problems arise when organist has an electronic organ for practice purpose and how these difficulties might be overcome.
One octave pedal board may be the cause of the back pain, if used incorrectly. It might arise from playing with the right foot in the bottom of the pedal board of such organ. This kind of instrument is mean to be played with the left foot most of the time. And of course not that kind of music with the independent pedal part like most of classical polyphonic organ music. Incidentally, the right foot usually is busy operating the swell pedal and pressing the toe studs where available.
Originally, the electronic organs with the short pedal board were intended either for playing classical transcriptions from popular works or the arrangements of tunes from pop music. In both cases, the texture is rather homophonic with the melody in one hand (usually in the right) and chordal accompaniment in another.
The pedal part in such music is mostly the bass voice which only supports the chords and serves as harmonic foundation. Very seldom it is required to play an independent melodic line in the pedal part of such arrangements. Therefore, one can easily use only the pitches of the available one octave to play the harmonic foundation with or without some rhythmical syncopation.
Contrary to such arrangements, in classical organ music the pedal part is very often independent. The organist is required to use the entire compass of the two-octave pedal board, often playing the higher notes up to treble F. Naturally, performance of most of organ music on electronic organs with one octave pedal board is quite challenging.
The solution for this problem is rather simple. The organist could try to extend the short pedal board by attaching a wooden board with similar dimensions as the pedal board. One can go even further and draw the rest of the notes on this wooden board. This way it is possible to pretend and imagine the full pedal board very easily (and avoid dangerous tension in the back).
Some organists try to compensate the short compass of the pedal board by lowering the pedal part in various places of the music score. This is a possible solution to the problem but is rather inconvenient and might cause some frustration. Instead, it is probably better to extend the pedals with a wooden board.
If you will continue playing pedals on your electronic organ, it is best if you avoid playing with the right foot on the extreme left side of the pedal board while practicing. This may mean adjusting the pedaling when necessary. In addition, use the idea of extending your pedals. Otherwise, you could try to get some practice time in churches that have organs with pedals of at least two octaves in compass in your area.
By the way, do you want to learn to play the King of Instruments - the pipe organ? If so, download my FREE video guide: "How to Master Any Organ Composition" in which I will show you my EXACT steps, techniques, and methods that I use to practice, learn and master any piece of organ music.
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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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