characterized by loud kinda unnatural sounding "stab" followed immediately by a softer sustain. my working theory is that it involves playing a chord staccato then pressing the sustain pedal shortly AFTER releasing the keys (as described by op here http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthreads.php/topics/1229910/pedal-technique-stab-key-release-hit-pedal.html)

I want to instruct a player to use this technique, but I can't find much info about it and I'm not sure it is widely known/practiced. any ideas?

thank you!!

EDIT: to add that I hear it occasionally, more subtly in the intro of "now he beats the drum, now he stops" and maybe "gemini" off of the album "now he sings, now he sobs", also by chick. that pianoworld thread points out a place where bill evans uses it on kind of blue. so it's not just this one tune! but it does seem to be quite rare.

2 Answers 2


Usually this is a way to achieve a fortepiano on a piano. As you said it is done by playing sforzato and timing the lifting of your fingers the sustain pedal in such a way that the dampeners just slightly attenuate but not completely stop the vibrations of the strings. It is not particularly easy to get perfectly right and the timing might differ with different pianos.

Of course Chick Corea being the monster he is uses this not for a simple fortepiano, but as some sort of articulation, combining a bright staccato with a mellow sostenuto. I doubt there is a canonic name for this particular articulation. As I said, this would be used for a fortepiano, but that term does not really work for what Chick Corea is doing here.

  • I've seen the word "fortepiano" most commonly for the reduced-range, lighter piano of Beethoven's time. Try putting a hyphen in between "forte" and "piano".
    – Dekkadeci
    Commented Dec 3, 2021 at 13:47
  • @Dekkadeci That is true only in the context of historic instruments. I’m sure no one is going to confuse a fortepiano (isntrument) with a fortepiano (fp) if we are talking about technique and articulation.
    – Lazy
    Commented Dec 3, 2021 at 17:37
  • I already confused the two even with the (later) realization that you were talking about technique. I had to edit my comment to remove the suggestion to use the word "pianoforte" instead.
    – Dekkadeci
    Commented Dec 4, 2021 at 14:20

I asked exactly this question here several years ago, with no 'official' name forthcoming. Someone suggested catch-pedal.

It's something I found by accident (rather than design), and I find I use it a fair bit. Play a staccato chord (or note), quite loudly works better, particularly while learning, and 'catch' the sound with the sustain pedal before the staccato disappears. Slightly different from the technique in the other answer to date, in that full pedal 'catches' more sound.

The closest term would be forte-piano, which is easily played on strings and wind instruments, although it's not really the same effect, but close.

This may well, therefore, be a dupe question...

  • ah yes! I saw your question shortly after I posted mine but I figured the clear audio example (the same one, I imagine, jdjazz who answered your post was thinking of) made it worth keeping up. and I hoped that some new convention might have arisen in the past years, but that does not seem to be the case. I suppose the answer is to just write out detailed instructions to the performer on my sheet.
    – jaxcheese
    Commented Dec 3, 2021 at 16:52
  • 1
    @jaxcheese - that's probably best. Can't vouch for how many piano players will understand - I rarely play with any these days - I'm the only one on the gig! Half- pedal sometimes works, but it's finding that sweet spot - like the bite point on the clutch pedal.
    – Tim
    Commented Dec 3, 2021 at 17:04

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