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Topic: Proper interaction between sustain and sostenuto?

On a real piano, sostenuto holds the dampers off the strings when either keys are pressed or the sustain pedal is pressed (effectively holding all dampers off the strings). But on DPs and in Pianoteq, the sostenuto doesn't hold the [imaginary] dampers when the sustain pedal is pressed. I realized this when I went to play one of my own pieces on an acoustic and had the unpleasant surprise of all notes being held by the sostenuto pedal when I thought it'd only hold a few. roll

To the developers: could you make Pianoteq respond to sustain-sostenuto as on an acoustic?

Last edited by joshuasethcomposer (02-07-2011 08:34)

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Re: Proper interaction between sustain and sostenuto?

joshuasethcomposer wrote:

On a real piano, sostenuto holds the dampers off the strings when either keys are pressed or the sustain pedal is pressed (effectively holding all dampers off the strings). But on DPs and in Pianoteq, the sostenuto doesn't hold the [imaginary] dampers when the sustain pedal is pressed. I realized this when I went to play one of my own pieces on an acoustic and had the unpleasant surprise of all notes being held by the sostenuto pedal when I thought it'd only hold a few. roll

To the developers: could you make Pianoteq respond to sustain-sostenuto as on an acoustic?


Ahhh!!!  Are you aware that the sostenuto pedal works different ways on different pianos???

The "true" way a sostenuto pedal is supposed to work only functions correctly in decent grand pianos ... and Pianoteq.  Please note that the sostenuto pedal does not function this way in most bottom-of-the-line models of grands -- and essentially never in uprights!

Your opening sentence (about the sostenuto pedal holding dampers off the strings) -- and through no fault of your own -- demonstrates that you observed the workings of either an upright piano or a lower-end grand piano.  This is NOT the true function of a sostenuto pedal ... which Pianoteq does model correctly.  Please do not be offended:  I am not putting you down ... you correctly described what you saw, except that the piano you described -- does not contain a middle pedal that functions as a true sostenuto.

In the better grand pianos, if you were to press the sostenuto pedal (with no notes held) and look at the dampers ... and would see nothing happen!  Similarly, if you were to depress the true sostenuto pedal, and THEN play some notes ... none of those notes would be sustained!  This is because grand pianos with working sostenutos contain a strip of metal running the width of the piano (incidentally, called a "monkey bar") that actually slip beneath the damper rods of those notes that are held just BEFORE pressing the pedal.   The monkey bar (which slips below those held notes' raised dampers) then proceeds to hold only those held notes' raised dampers after you have lifted your hands off the keys.

The true action of a sostenuto pedal is comparatively expensive, and effectively answers  walk-in customer's question, "Why does this 4'11" piano cost $10,000 and yet this 5'3" piano cost $14,000?  Are you telling me that a 4" longer piano of the same brand costs an extra $4,000?"

A partial answer to the walk-in customer's dilemma is that the smallest 4'11" piano in the store is not equipped with a true sostenuto action.  In its place, the middle pedal simply lifts the lowest ~1-3/4 octaves' dampers as a group -- even when no notes are held beforehand.


In the case of essentially all uprights, the middle pedal (incorrectly called a sostenuto pedal, because it cheats and does the same thing as a lowest-end grand) only functions to move the lowest ~1-3/4 octaves' dampers as a group.  Since this is not a true sostenuto pedal action, some Pacific-rim piano manufacturers add a second function to the middle pedal -- it's called a "practice pedal", because the middle pedal can engage a strip of felt that swings in between the strings and the hammers and act to mute the whole sound of the piano.

* * * * * *
Now, what happens to the sound when either an upright piano or a low-end grand's middle pedal is engaged, if it only raises the lowest ~1-3/4 octaves' dampers???

Because all of the lowest ~1-3/4 octaves' dampers are released, those strings are free to vibrate in all of their sympathetic vibrational modes when ANY other notes are played, the effect is to muddy up the sound.  Of course, the originally justified reason for this pseudo-sostenuto pedal was to keep the bass notes sounding and supposedly leave the rest of the piano's notes quiet -- this simply does not happen.

In contrast, a true sostenuto sound of a good grand piano will only allow those intended notes to sound -- assuming the pianist knew how to pedal correctly with the sostenuto.


Enough of my rambling for now,

Cheers,

Joe

[EDIT:  Added the following postscript to the thread:]

P.S.   That Joe guy has much too much time on his hands!

Last edited by jcfelice88keys (02-07-2011 20:31)

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Re: Proper interaction between sustain and sostenuto?

By your own description, if you press and hold the sustain pedal, and then press and hold the sostenuto pedal, and then lift off the sustain pedal, all notes should sustain (all dampers should be held off the strings). Unless I'm missing something.

I found a few diagrams of it. Looking at the 3rd, it would seem that the sostenuto pedal should hold dampers lifted by keys AND/OR the sustain pedal (i.e., all dampers).

http://wichai.net/blogs/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/sostenuto_mechanism0.jpg
http://wichai.net/blogs/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/sostenuto_mechanism2.jpg
http://wichai.net/blogs/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/sostenuto_mechanism3.jpg

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Re: Proper interaction between sustain and sostenuto?

joshuasethcomposer wrote:

By your own description, if you press and hold the sustain pedal, and then press and hold the sostenuto pedal, and then lift off the sustain pedal, all notes should sustain (all dampers should be held off the strings). Unless I'm missing something.

Yes, Joshua, you are correct that the sostenuto pedal will hold up all of the dampers previously raised by a depressed sustain pedal.

In fact, when I wear my consultant's cap for a prospective buyer of a used piano, one of the first things I do to inspect the pedal action of the used piano ... is exactly as you described.  It is a quick way to tell whether the sostenuto pedal works on all of the notes, rather than hitting random chords and testing whether the sostenuto pedal works.

Joe

P.S.  By the way, in the drawings you posted, the so-called sostenuto rod is the same thing that piano technicians call "the monkey bar."

Last edited by jcfelice88keys (02-07-2011 19:44)

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Re: Proper interaction between sustain and sostenuto?

Just curious, on an acoustic piano, why would you press the sostenuto pedal after depressing the sustain pedal (apart the checking test, mentioned by Joe, that is used by tuners)? It makes no difference with holding the sustain pedal itself, the two pedals being redundant in that situation. The interest of the sostenuto pedal is to maintain a strict subset of dampers raised. For maintaining all dampers raised, the sustain works fine.

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Re: Proper interaction between sustain and sostenuto?

Philippe Guillaume wrote:

Just curious, on an acoustic piano, why would you press the sostenuto pedal after depressing the sustain pedal (apart the checking test, mentioned by Joe, that is used by tuners)?

Prelude in D minor, by Joshua Seth, bar 42. wink

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Re: Proper interaction between sustain and sostenuto?

OK, I need to work this nice prelude smile But still it doesn't answer my question: what is the difference between A and B (whatever notes are played after pressing the sustain):
A: press sustain, then press sostenuto, then release both (for example)
A: press sustain, then release sustain.

(besides, at bar 42, if you want to keep the A octave, you need first to release the sustain, unless you want to have all notes maintained also? But then again, no need of the sostenuto, the sustain pedal does it)

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Re: Proper interaction between sustain and sostenuto?

This forum can be incredible sometimes...

People here spot the most minucious or sometimes even imaginary things about piano behavior and effects, and in the same week, in a new version update.
I can see Modart creating a new feature... a option to change sustenudo do "second class sustenudo".

For other side...  Ivory (first version) was much talked about, but did not have even half pedal effect.

Last edited by Beto-Music (02-07-2011 21:39)

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Re: Proper interaction between sustain and sostenuto?

Philippe Guillaume wrote:

OK, I need to work this nice prelude smile But still it doesn't answer my question: what is the difference between A and B (whatever notes are played after pressing the sustain):
A: press sustain, then press sostenuto, then release both (for example)
B: press sustain, then release sustain.

(besides, at bar 42, if you want to keep the A octave, you need first to release the sustain, unless you want to have all notes maintained also? But then again, no need of the sostenuto, the sustain pedal does it)

(A) should be "press sustain, press sostenuto, then release sustain." Currently there's no difference between that and (B), I just thought there was a difference because on digital pianos and in Pianoteq, sostenuto does NOT hold dampers lifted by the sustain pedal.

That's the thing with measure 42, I should've put little bars above the right hand chords to emphasize legato. The problem with using the sustain pedal beyond measure 42 is that either the right hand chords will quickly turn into a mess, or they'll be cut short.

Basically, DPs and Pianoteq let me cheat. big_smile That might sound cool, and it is, but the downside is that you can't play it on an acoustic as written. I have to rewrite that part for acoustic piano, or just live with a prematurely cut-off chord.

Beto-Music wrote:

This forum can be incredible sometimes...

People here spot the most minucious or sometimes even imaginary things about piano behavior and effects, and in the same week, in a new version update.
I can see Modart creating a new feature... a option to change sustenudo do "second class sustenudo".

For other side...  Ivory (first version) was much talked about, but did not have even half pedal effect.

http://cdn1.knowyourmeme.com/i/000/069/965/original/Your-argument-is-invalid.jpg

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_e4T0gAOoxuo/TNOcFsHO5hI/AAAAAAAADpY/iknEVfxvFUA/s1600/Haters_Gonna_Hate_03.jpg

Last edited by joshuasethcomposer (02-07-2011 22:01)

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Re: Proper interaction between sustain and sostenuto?

joshuasethcomposer wrote:

That's the thing with measure 42, I should've put little bars above the right hand chords to emphasize legato. The problem with using the sustain pedal beyond measure 42 is that either the right hand chords will quickly turn into a mess, or they'll be cut short.

Basically, DPs and Pianoteq let me cheat. big_smile That might sound cool, and it is, but the downside is that you can't play it on an acoustic as written. I have to rewrite that part for acoustic piano, or just live with a prematurely cut-off chord.

Ah, now I understand: the additional possibility offered by pianoteq or DPs is tricky because it won't work on an acoustic. So the acoustic pianos have to follow the progress: allow this additional feature wink

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Re: Proper interaction between sustain and sostenuto?

Take easy fellow forum member...

Even a "second class" sustenudo can be interesting to someone, especially if it create a effect that you can add to your music, making a nine use of the effect. A matter of taste and creativity.

If you are able to make a fine use of a imperfetion of some piano models, using as a new effect, that's a good thing.
That's why I said the forum can be incredible sometimes, since people here spot many small nuances most people would never notice.

I didn't meant to offend you.  I wrote "second class sustenudo" but I meant as a effect of some pianos, and I wasn't refering to second class playing.

I had no sarcarsm, and I told that Modart it's fast in change small bits to refine pianoteq based in the forum members observations.

Last edited by Beto-Music (02-07-2011 22:13)

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Re: Proper interaction between sustain and sostenuto?

Philippe Guillaume wrote:

Ah, now I understand: the additional possibility offered by pianoteq or DPs is tricky because it won't work on an acoustic. So the acoustic pianos have to follow the progress: allow this additional feature wink

Agreed. But in the meantime, would it be possible for you to at least offer the option to have sostenuto react like on an acoustic?


Beto-Music wrote:

Take easy fellow forum member...

Even a "second class" sustenudo can be interesting to someone, especially if it create a effect that you can add to your music, making a nine use of the effect. A matter of taste and creativity.

If you are able to make a fine use of a imperfetion of some piano models, using as a new effect, that's a good thing.
That's why I said the forum can be incredible sometimes, since people here spot many small nuances most people would never notice.

I didn't meant to offend you.  I wrote "second class sustenudo" but I meant as a effect of some pianos, and I wasn't refering to second class playing.

I had no sarcarsm, and I told that Modart it's fast in change small bits to refine pianoteq based in the forum members observations.

My apologies then. It sounded like one of those "don't bother Modartt about some minute thing almost no one cares about" type rants. But I re-read it and now I see what you're saying. smile

Last edited by joshuasethcomposer (02-07-2011 22:28)

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Re: Proper interaction between sustain and sostenuto?

That's all ok Joshua.  cool

You topic it's very interesting.


May I ask a mp3 of music sheet ?

Last edited by Beto-Music (02-07-2011 22:31)

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