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Sostenuto Pedal

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Sostenuto Pedal

Postby GilesAnt » Tue Jun 25, 2019 4:00 pm

Is this pedal supported in MIDI at all. My StudioLogic keyboard has a sustain pedal only.

As I understand it you can sustain selected notes with it - a background chord basically, but then carry on playing as normal (including using the sustain pedal). I have never actually used one myself though, but I think it was used a lot by Debussy and his contemporaries.
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Re: Sostenuto Pedal

Postby The Elf » Tue Jun 25, 2019 4:48 pm

Yes, it's supported in the MIDI spec. Sostenuto is cc66.

A quick search on 'MIDI spec sostenuto' gave me this: https://www.midi.org/forms/midi_chart-v2.pdf ;)

IME many, if not most, receiving devices either don't recognise cc66, or treat it as cc64 - in much the same way that many receivers treat cc7 and cc11 as the same thing, which they most definitely are not :protest:. My Kurzweil keyboard has separate inputs for both sustain and sostenuto, treats them correctly and also cc7/11 correctly. Would that they were all like this...
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Re: Sostenuto Pedal

Postby Folderol » Tue Jun 25, 2019 4:55 pm

The Elf wrote:Yes, it's supported in the MIDI spec. My Kurzweil keyboard has separate inputs for both sustain and sustenuto. Sostenuto is controller #66.

A quick search on 'MIDI spec sostenuto' gave me this :https://www.midi.org/forms/midi_chart-v2.pdf ;)
Interesting.
I'm guessing that reduces velocity, and maybe adds some low pass filtering.
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Re: Sostenuto Pedal

Postby The Elf » Tue Jun 25, 2019 4:57 pm

Folderol wrote:I'm guessing that reduces velocity, and maybe adds some low pass filtering.
:?:

Sostenuto sustains notes that are held at the time the pedal is pressed.
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Re: Sostenuto Pedal

Postby GilesAnt » Tue Jun 25, 2019 6:32 pm

Isn't that what the sustain pedal does. Do you play the notes first and then press sostenuto or the other way around.
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Re: Sostenuto Pedal

Postby Logarhythm » Tue Jun 25, 2019 6:51 pm

It's more like a selective sustain pedal - play notes and press the sostenuto pedal, and those notes are then sustained (or undamped, in the case of an actual physical piano) for the duration that the pedal is pressed, but other notes played subsequently will not sustain.
By contrast, the sustain pedal will sustain all notes you play, including those played after you press it, for as long as it's pressed.
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Re: Sostenuto Pedal

Postby GilesAnt » Tue Jun 25, 2019 7:00 pm

Got it I think. So if some notes are held on sostenuto can you still use the sustain pedal normally?
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Re: Sostenuto Pedal

Postby Sam Spoons » Tue Jun 25, 2019 7:19 pm

Yup, that's about the size of it.
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Re: Sostenuto Pedal

Postby Folderol » Tue Jun 25, 2019 9:19 pm

The Elf wrote:
Folderol wrote:I'm guessing that reduces velocity, and maybe adds some low pass filtering.
:?:

Sostenuto sustains notes that are held at the time the pedal is pressed.
Ah :oops:

I was mixing it up with the soft (damper) pedal.
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Re: Sostenuto Pedal

Postby The Elf » Tue Jun 25, 2019 10:09 pm

Logarhythm wrote:It's more like a selective sustain pedal - play notes and press the sostenuto pedal, and those notes are then sustained (or undamped, in the case of an actual physical piano) for the duration that the pedal is pressed, but other notes played subsequently will not sustain.
By contrast, the sustain pedal will sustain all notes you play, including those played after you press it, for as long as it's pressed.
:thumbup:
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Re: Sostenuto Pedal

Postby GilesAnt » Wed Jun 26, 2019 12:28 am

but other notes played subsequently will not sustain

That's the crucial difference then. All a bit academic unless I can manage to actually play some Debussy. I guess it isn't widely used/supported these days.
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Re: Sostenuto Pedal

Postby tercathian » Wed Jun 26, 2019 12:36 am

In acoustic pianos the Soft and "Damper" pedals are NOT the same. The Damper pedal is more correctly called the Sustain, and is the pedal on the right. Its function is to lift all the dampers away from the strings to allow vibrations to continue until pedal release.

The Soft pedal is the one on the left, and applies mainly to upright/vertical instruments, though low-cost or player mechanism-equipped grands may employ this mechanism as well. The soft pedal moves the hammer rest rail towards the strings, introducing lost motion to the action, and reducing the velocity attainable by the hammers. In some pianos the soft pedal is augmented by the middle pedal operating a muffler bar which lowers a strip of felt between the hammers and the strings to absorb force. This type of middle pedal is useful for practicing without disturbing sleepers or neighbors.

Most grand pianos have a Una Corde as the left pedal. Depressing this pedal shifts the entire keyframe (which supports the keys and action) slightly to the right, causing the treble hammers which normally strike 3 strings simultaneously to only strike 2 strings. Being a sliding mechanism allows different parts of the hammer felt to strike the strings, which can give subtle timbre shadings. Some pianos are voicing regulated to the extent that where the hammer felt doesn't typically strike string metal, those areas of felt are needled to be softer in texture than the grooves, but doing so requires esoteric voicing skills that most technicians don't aspire to. Most pianists simply push down fully on the una corde, if they do indeed employ it.

The Sostenuto pedal (the middle pedal) is, as previously posted, best thought of as a selective sustain. Key(s) are depressed, sometimes silently, then the pedal goes down. The damper levers have a small movable tab on them which the sostenuto lift rod catches, but the sustain lift rod of a vertical action does not. The sustain trapwork of a grand pushes up a damper lift tray which lifts all dampers away from strings. Ghosting the keys silently then pressing the sostenuto allows one to play notes higher up to cause sympathetic ringing. Notes played regularly (making sound), then caught by the sostenuto, will continue to sustain until sostenuto pedal is released. The sustain and soft or una corde pedals may be used while sostenuto is in effect without disturbing soste's notes.

Vertical pianos may have true sostenuto, but most imitate it by dividing the sustain lift rod at the bass-tenor break, with the middle pedal lifting dampers away from only the bass section strings, while right pedal lifts across the full range of dampers (which typically end at around F6 ((key 69))). Wessell-Nickel-&-Gross (US action manufacturers of the late 1800s/early 1900s) vertical actions often had the sostenuto feature, plus lost-motion relief rod for the soft pedal. WN&G have been revived recently, and produce superb carbon fiber and anodized aluminium action parts.

Claude Debussy's "La cathédrale engloutie (the Sunken Cathedral)" and "Mouvement (from Images, Book 1" are prime examples of sostenuto. Bass tones are played and held with sostenuto while both hands play melody and harmony above. It's akin to holding a pedal tone/chord while riffing or jamming.

It is indeed rare to find a modern digital keyboard or synth that utilizes sostenuto or una corde correctly.
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Re: Sostenuto Pedal

Postby Folderol » Wed Jun 26, 2019 10:24 am

Thanks again for this clarification. Very useful information indeed! :thumbup:
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Re: Sostenuto Pedal

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Jun 26, 2019 10:44 am

Superbly detailed reply, tercathian. Excellent! :clap: :thumbup:
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