Although alternate toes technique was the most popular type of pedaling used in Renaissance and Baroque organ music, quite often we have to use the same foot technique as well. It is important for an organist to recognize the differences of alternate toes and same foot technique because it affects our pedaling choices. If you know in which type of passages playing with the same foot is the best choice, you will quickly learn to see the familiar patterns in your pedal lines. In this article, I will give you the most important instances of using the same foot technique in early organ music.
Same Foot before Changing Direction
On passages in quarter, eighth, and sixteenth notes sometimes we use same foot instead of alternate toes technique. Here applies the general rule: use same foot before changing direction. This means that in a passage like C D E D we play with the same foot notes D and E because after ascending notes D and E the melody changes direction downwards. So the entire passage, such as C D E D E F G F G A B G would be played left, right, right, left, left, right, right, left, left, right, right, left, and left.
Same Foot on Long Note Values in Extreme Edges of the Pedal Board
In Baroque and Renaissance organ music, chorale-based compositions often employ cantus firmus technique – placement of the chorale melody in long note values (half and whole notes). Cantus firmus method can be used in any voice. Instances of cantus firmus in the bass were especially common because they could be played on a separate pedal division with a different sound color. Moreover, if cantus firmus was used in any other voice, it could still often be played with the pedals. The normal way of pedaling such melodies was alternate toes technique. However, in extreme edges of the pedal board one could play long notes with one foot because the traditional alternate toes technique is uncomfortable.
I recommend that you write in pedaling in every piece you play on the organ, at least in the beginning. This will prevent you from making accidental pedaling choices which will not necessarily be correct and efficient. With experience, however, you will start to notice familiar patterns in pedal lines of your organ music and gradually your pedaling choices will become automatic and natural. In other words, if you practice writing in the correct pedaling regularly, with time your pedaling will become instinctive and you will not need to write in any of it.
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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