Well, in simple terms, the middle pedal is used to sustain only certain notes -- the ones that were pressed down while you pushed the pedal. Just like the name infers, the “half-blow” pedal on an upright piano causes the hammers to move down closer to the strings. In theory, this allows for more flexibility in dynamics. A thick piece of felt is lowered between the hammers and the strings, drastically reducing the volume of the piano (see example below). The left soft pedal (una corda pedal) was originally invented to modify the tone and color of notes played on a piano by hitting one (una corda) or two (due corde) strings instead of the typical three by shifting the action of the piano sideways. Keep the ball of your foot on the pedal so you have enough surface area to control it comfortably. Grand piano pedals: Shift (soft, left, una corda) pedal changes the sound volume and the tone; Sostenuto (middle) pedal allows sustaining selected notes; Sustain (damper, right) pedal sustains all played notes; Upright piano pedals: Soft (left) pedal reduces the sound volume Una corda means "one string". We see these pedals every day we sit down to practice and never really know what’s going on behind the scenes… until now! For additional information, please visit our Affiliate Disclosure page. On these pianos, the middle pedal generally serves as a practice pedal, sometimes called a “mute” or “celeste.” What this does, as per the diagram above, is lowers a piece of felt between the hammers and the strings. The pedal functions are different in these two models. Press the soft pedal and insert a strip of paper between the keyframe and the action stop block. These notes remain sustained until you let go of the pedal. It essentially lets the piano player selectively sustain certain keys or chords. This was done by literally shifting the action of the piano sideways (you would notice all of your keys literally shift whenever you pressed the pedal), causing the hammers to hit one or two strings instead of the usual three. But the middle pedal… ahhh yes the infamous middle pedal has been known to have 5 different usages. Playing with the una corda pedal depressed gives your music a softer tone with a different color. The sustain pedal does just what its name sounds like: It sustains (holds) notes until the pedal is released. In high-quality grand pianos, the middle pedal - the sostenuto - will keep the dampers raised on any note currently being played when the pedal is depressed. In upright pianos, the left pedal moves the hammers closer to thew strings, thus a quieter sound. If you found this pedal guide useful, bookmark this page for future reference! – Muffler pedal (middle pedal): Also called the practice pedal. And occasionally, I encounter pianos that have a middle pedal that simply isn't attached to anything at all! This means upright pianos don’t have a true una corda pedal, but rather, a pedal often called the “half-blow pedal” since it moves the hammers closer to the piano’s strings (creating a softer sound). Piano Hammers Hitting Strings & Dampers Active. The middle pedal is only standard on the American grand piano and is very rarely used. In an upright piano, the pedals are: – Soft pedal (left pedal): When pressed, all the hammers are moved closer to the strings, reducing the volume of the sound. The leftmost pedal is called the “soft pedal” or “una corda” pedal. Read on to learn how the three piano pedals work and how they sound. We see these pedals every day we sit down to practice and never really know what’s going on behind the scenes…, It’s also important to note that if you have an upright piano, you won’t have a, Then, as soon as you start playing some notes, instead of hitting each string full-on, the hammer only travels, Una Corda & Sostenuto: Video Demonstration. I knew the notes became “softer” and a bit quieter, but was missing the real reason behind the invention of the una corda. Let’s run through each pedal one at a time. Whenever you play a note while pushing the sustain pedal, it doesn't immediately stop as soon as you release the key -- the note is “sustained” until you let go of the pedal. And of course, some upright pianos don't even have a middle pedal at all. Soft pedal (left pedal): When this pedal is pressed, all of the hammers are moved closer to the strings, reducing the sound volume. For this reason, the leftmost pedal on upright pianos is called the “half-blow pedal”. The most common design lifts just the bass dampers, so anything played in that range is sustained, and scales will sound muddy. One day when I was sitting down practicing piano, I decided to test each of the three pedals out. Although the una corda and sostenuto pedals aren’t used much day-to-day, I’m making it a challenge to use them more on a daily basis (whenever the song I'm playing has a soft part or needs an 'overlayed' melody). In high-quality grand pianos, the middle pedal - the sostenuto - will keep the dampers raised on any note currently being played when the pedal is depressed. In other uprights, the middle pedal moves the hammers closer to the strings. This adds a rich tonal quality and smooth flow to the music being played. The middle pedal is called the Sostenuto Pedal. Anyways, on to the question at hand: What does sostenuto actually do? It is also called the damper pedal, forte pedal, or the loud pedal. The left pedal, the “una corda” pedal changes the dynamic (volume) level of the piano and/or the timbre of the tone – making it the soft pedal. Brandy Kraemer/Getty Images. It should be pretty familiar… but for most of us, still mysterious on the inside! MightyExpert.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. Copyright © 2020 MightyExpert. There are typically three pedals on modern pianos. DAMPER - on a piano, all of the dampers are lifted from the strings. I feel like this distracted me from being genuinely curious… since it was only a year or so after that point that I actually learned what the pedals did! Most high-quality grands do have true sostenuto, but it’s also common to see uprights and lower-end grand pianos that do not. It was almost like I was able to play quiet staccato notes whenever I had this pedal pressed. It simply lifts every single damper off of the piano keys while pressed, letting all of the strings vibrate freely. The one on the right is called the Damper Pedal (sustain pedal).