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In some pieces, there is a pedal designation along with staccato. How should this be played?

Staccato with a pedal

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Are the pedal markings there in the original, or are they editorial? Same goes for the staccato. I may be inclined to ignore editorial markings in this context. If neither of the two are editorial, then the earlier-suggested half-pedaling certainly seems the way to go. –  user12105 Jun 12 '14 at 4:16

2 Answers 2

up vote 11 down vote accepted

Great question.

The notation here seems pretty explicit. I would simply play them as if you weren't holding the pedal down, i.e., keep your finger motion the same as it would be if there was no pedalling. Note that this is "OK". The sustain pedal is not for legato, it's for sustain; playing staccato whilst pedalling will give you a unique effect, one that appears to be desired in this instance.

You could also try half-pedalling on each staccato note. This will help it sound more like normal staccato notes without totally breaking the sustain. Use your judgment.

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While I agree with most of your comment (it is indeed a great question), I don't entirely agree with "the sustain pedal is not for legato". It is certainly not only for legato, but creating a legato effect when it can't be done with the fingers is an entirely legitimate and important use of the sustain pedal IMO. (continued) –  BobRodes Mar 11 '14 at 21:22
I remember watching the great Jorge Bolet fly through a long passage of rapid octaves in the bass of a Mendelssohn fugue, pedaling every note perfectly (using "syncopated pedaling", where the pedal is lifting exactly as each note goes down, and then going immediately down again) and getting a legato effect that sounded as if it were a single-note legato passage. I can't imagine telling him that that wasn't what the pedal was for! –  BobRodes Mar 11 '14 at 21:23
@BobRodes That's a very interesting use! Thanks for sharing. –  Matthew Read Mar 12 '14 at 15:30

When Liszt wrote that music, the pedals didn't work as well as they do now, and hitting a short note with the pedal down sounded differently than holding the key down with the pedal.

I'd hold the pedal about half-way.

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I don't actually know how the pianos of Liszt's day worked but I'm a little suspicious that the pedal would have worked differently. That is, I don't see why the pedals wouldn't have lifted the dampers all the way up. Anyway, since the sound of those instruments in general was not as long-sustaining as today, I still agree that half-pedalling is probably the way to go. –  nonpop Jan 10 '13 at 22:27

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