Vidas: Let’s start Episode 112 of #AskVidasAndAusra podcast. Listen to the audio version here.
And today’s question was sent by Hubertus. He writes:
Dear Vidas, thanks for the Boellmann Carillion fingering and pedaling score. One question please. What means the –o and the o in the pedal part, is it the heel position? I’ve never seen this. Awaiting your comments, I thank you. Please tell me how to use the both feet in the first two measures. Thanks. Hubertus. PS Just ordered the Memorization instructions, for hopefully better approach.
So Ausra, have you seen my score of Boëllmann’s Carillon?
Ausra: Yes, I have seen it.
Vidas: And I notate pedaling in 2 ways. The toes are like a pointed tip; that’s regular, everybody knows about this notation. But the heel, I notate instead of letter U, I notate as a circle, or O.
Ausra: Actually, that’s a common practice, especially in the United States. So whoever has some American scores, I’m sure they have noticed such type of pedaling.
Vidas: And sometimes--not in my scores, but in English scores in the 19th century--they used another system, where, I think, the pedalings were marked above the notes, even the left foot pedals.
Ausra: Yeah, but that must be very uncomfortable…
Vidas: Quite confusing.
Vidas: Because then they would write L for left, R for right, and then you would have to figure out sometimes heel, sometimes toe. I guess back in those days it was common for organists...
Ausra: Could be. I don’t think that English organ music used so much pedal that it was a [problem].
Ausra: Maybe they didn’t have much pedaling.
Vidas: But I’ve seen the English edition of Mendelssohn organ works…
Ausra: Oh, I see. That’s another story.
Vidas: Yeah. It’s confusing. So now we use a more comfortable system; but heels could be used interchangeably: letter U, or a circle.
Ausra: That’s right.
Vidas: Or O.
Ausra: And if, you know, the letter U or letter O is above the staff, that means you have to press that note with your right heel; and if it’s below the lines, it means the left heel.
Vidas: And how do you usually notate your heels--O or letter U?
Ausra: I usually use letter U.
Vidas: Would it be confusing for you to see O?
Ausra: No, it wouldn’t be confusing.
Vidas: Mhm. The reason I chose to use Letter O for the Carillon by Boëllmann, is that when I do this sometimes on the computer, is that letter U--if it’s not a capital, but small letter u--it has a curious tail to it, the letter. And it’s not the exact sign of “heel,” right?
Vidas: For heel we use capital letter U. If I use the capital letter U, then it would be a much larger font than the toe sign.
Ausra: Yes, that’s not good either.
Vidas: So I would be constantly having to adjust both heel and toe signs. Therefore I chose letter o, small letter o; and therefore toes and heels would be of a similar size.
Ausra: So maybe in the future, you just have to add a little note about how you’re pedaling--which sign means what.
Vidas: Exactly. Or I could write it in my handwriting; then I don’t have to worry about capital or small letters anymore.
Ausra: Yes. So now could you explain to Hubertus about the next half of his question?
Vidas: He writes, “Please tell me how to use both feet in the first 2 measures.” So, the principle of the pedaling this piece is very simple, because a lot of time it’s repeating 3 pitches: D, F♯, and E, D, F♯, and E. It’s like a carillon sounds in the pedal. So I start… First of all, I play everything in those 2 opening measures in the left foot.
Ausra: Why do you do this?
Vidas: Because it’s very low register, in the extreme left. Would you do this differently?
Ausra: Well, I might try to hit that F♯ with my right foot--toe.
Vidas: Mhm. But then you have to shift your position entirely to the left--your lower body should be facing the F♯.
Ausra: Yes I know, I’m looking now at the manual part. It seems that it’s very high notes, especially in the RH...
Ausra: So that way, it would be very uncomfortable to sit.
Vidas: Plus, I believe in some cases, you have to push the pedals and add some pistons, right? Or swell pedals. So it’s better to reserve the right foot for that, I guess, especially later. So the way I notated the first 2 measures is like, I begin the D with the toe, but substitute right away with the heel; and then go to F♯, to the toe again of the same foot; and E will be with the heel; and then the next measure too: D, F♯, E, toe substituted to heel, toe, and heel. And this goes on and on.
Ausra: Yes. Is it hard for you to play the same figure over and over again in the same pedaling?
Vidas: Um, you have to get used to this. Of course, it’s a fast tempo--Allegro giocoso. What does it mean, giocoso? Jokingly?
Ausra: Or playfully.
Vidas: Playfully, yeah.
Vidas: So basically it’s a joyful tempo, and brisk pace. Therefore, yes, you have to get used to this low bass line…
Ausra: And I believe it might be hard to substitute in such a fast tempo, don’t you think so? On that D--toe to heel?
Vidas: I thought about that; but what else could you do? If you cannot use the right foot, you see? Any suggestions?
Ausra: Well, yes, try this pedaling, and if you don’t succeed, then maybe just really play that F♯ with your right toe.
Vidas: Mhm. So guys, if you have this score of Carillon by Boëllmann, and you’re struggling with playing only with your left foot, see if Ausra’s suggestion helps you--to use both feet. For me, it wasn’t comfortable to shift my lower body that far to the left while the hands would be playing in the upper register all the time, or most of the time. But your physique might be different than ours. You might have longer or shorter legs than I have, so I don’t know. It depends. What do you think, Ausra?
Ausra: Well, try all ways, and just see what works for you.
Vidas: Exactly. And please send us more of your questions; we love helping you grow. 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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