Vidas: Hi guys! This is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start episode 568 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Paulius. And he writes,
Hello! Vidas, do you have the pedaling of D major scale in the Baroque style?
L L R L R L R R
D E F# G A B C# D
R R L R L R L L
D C# B A G F# E D
V: Do you know what he’s talking about, Ausra?
A: Who doesn’t know the famous prelude by J.S. Bach?
V: Do you think that he…
A: With passage of D Major scale in the pedal.
V: Do you think that Paulius is playing this piece himself?
A: I don’t think, I think he is asking how to pedalize the scale for his colleague and friend.
V: Uh huh. Could be.
A: It’s sort of very interesting sounding when you are asking people for other people.
V: Yes. I would suspect that, too. You know, Lithuanians sometimes, they never ask us questions directly, or never truly engage with our content online. Have you noticed that?
V: I’m sure they can read English, or understand English, or hear our voices. We don’t talk complicated English, they could understand most of it, right? Plus, it’s organ-related stuff, so it’s not that difficult. But for some reason, Lithuanians, I would say, ignore us, right?
V: Or not?
A: That’s, you know, envy.
A: That’s always, that’s the main feature of Lithuanian folks, we are just very envious.
V: Mm hm. For people who are more successful than them?
A: Well, yes, I guess maybe even for people who are different.
V: Mm hm.
A: Who think outside of the box. And see outside of the box.
V: Sure. And we are not talking about Paulius now.
A: Yes. Definitely not.
V: Paulius is our friend. So, playing D Major scale. I suspect it’s for D Major Prelude and Fugue, BWV 532, and the principle that I usually apply here, I hold this principle for every baroque piece, every baroque, up to, let’s say, 19th century. So, I don’t play everything with one foot, or with another foot, or with heels. The system is that you use alternate toes whenever possible, left-right, left-right, left-right, or right-left, right-left if in descending motion. But there are exceptions. Sometimes you play with the same foot. And the system was described in very easy terms by Harald Vogel in his preface, I think, to Tabulatura Nova by Samuel Scheidt. And I read it, and it made sense. Then later, of course, Richard Stauffer Organ Method book applied this extensively, and that’s where we had learned our early technique from.
A: So basically, it’s common knowledge for people who are thinking about historical performance, or accuracy of historical performance.
V: Mm hm. So, you play with the alternate toes, right-left, right-left, most of the time. But play with the same toe, same foot twice, let’s say, when there is change of direction, if the melody moves upward and then downward, you play with the same foot. Or, when there are longer note values, you can play with the same foot if there are half notes, let’s say. It’s nothing to worry about, you don’t have to play in alternate toes unless you want. And you play with the same toe when there is an upbeat before the stronger beat. It doesn’t have to be beat 1 of the measure; it can be beat 3 in 4/4 meter. Or in faster notes, like sixteenth note passages, like in D Major scale, it could mean every, it could be, the first note could be played with the same toe. D, E, those 2 notes of the scale, I would play them with left-left. And then alternate toes. It would be left-left-right-left-right-left-right-right. Because the last note is the strongest beat. Does this make sense, Ausra?
A: Yes, and because the last 2 notes are already very high up…
V: Mm hm.
A: On the pedalboard.
V: Of course, in this piece, there is no descending scale, but I wrote to Paulius anyway, I would start the same way, but from the right toe. Right-right-left-right-left-right-left-left.
A: It makes sense.
V: So, ascending will be D E F# G A B C# D, Or left-left-right-left-right-left-right-right. And descending will be D C# B A G F# E D, or right-right-left-right-left-right-left-left. Would you do this the same way, or a little bit different?
A: Yes, I would do it the same way. I think it’s very adequate.
V: This is not the same if you want to play D Major scale legato, in a modern style.
A: Of course. It would be completely different. You will use heels as well.
V: I would play, I would start with the heel, D, then the toe of the same foot, left foot, E, then F# would be right toe, then G would be left heel, A would be right heel, and then B would be left toe, C# would be right toe, and then heel on D. It’s like a heel, toe, toe, heel, heel technique mostly. You keep your heels together. That’s very easy then. Does it, is it something you would apply yourself, Ausra? I see your hidden smile.
A: Well, you know, if you would have such short legs as I do, I don’t think you would be able to keep all time your knees together. So that’s, you know, we have different physiology. And for example, if I would have to play in romantic style, the D Major scale, the three upper notes I would play with my right foot. I would do the heel on the B, then the toe on the C#, and then finish with the heel.
V: I see. You need longer legs.
A: Yes. Could you buy them for me?
V: Um (laughs) good question! I’m just looking at YouTube videos that I did, and it looks like my video on how to play the C Major scale with pedals on the organ has 75,000 views. It’s my most viewed video. But, D Major scale, D Major pedal scale has, guess how many views?
A: Less than C Major of course.
V: How much less?
A: A lot.
V: Only 4,737 views.
A: Very few people care for D Major scale.
V: Yes. It pays to play with zero accidentals. So, you can look it up, by the way, if you are interested in looking at my feet and seeing how I play D Major scale. But this is in legato style.
A: Yes, definitely. So you would not apply it for playing…
V: Mm hm.
A: Bach’s D Major Prelude and Fugue.
V: And by the way, if you need guidance and you need to perfect your organ playing pedal technique, I really recommend Pedal Virtuoso Master Course. We have exercises in playing arpeggios and scales over one and two octaves, and what it gives is, provides you, helps you create, develop your ankle flexibility. And this is the secret sauce of having perfect pedal technique in any style, of course. It’s based on legato style, so it doesn’t work for toes only technique. But just think, just something to keep in mind if you want to perfect your pedal technique. It’s really worth it. Okay, guys. This was Vidas.
A: And Ausra.
V: Please send us more of your questions. We love helping you grow. And remember, when you practice,
A: 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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