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Hello dear music community!

Since the beginning of the year, I am learning how to play the piano. I have a digital piano with 88 keys and a sustain pedal. The piece I'm currently learning includes this part:

How to play the bass line?

For me, it is not clear how to play this part, especially the bass line. Since the two A's in the bass line are quite far from the other three notes, I assume I should use the pedal. But if I press the sustain pedal for the whole bar, it sounds wrong, everything except the two A's should be quite crisp and not sustained (I listened to this part on musescore).

I would be very glad if someone could point me in the right direction for further investigation/learning.

Thank you very much in advance!

2 Answers 2

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The Problems

There are several issues involved here:

  1. The score as written isn't playable without pedal.
  2. The MuseScore playback doesn't need pedal, because it's a computer realization, not a human one.
  3. The clean execution desired can't be achieved with sostenuto pedal, because that pedal will also sustain the first note of the first and fourth measures shown. In the second measure, it will also cause the left hand's final A to ring out undesirably.
  4. The original song (below) clearly uses pedal for the piano, and the orchestra also contributes to a "sustained" effect not present in the MuseScore arrangement.

Solution 1

Use sustain pedal. This is what most any pianist would do as a matter of course. The MuseScore "recording" is misleading; the original is a better guide. Pedaling once per measure should be sufficient, but some measures, such as the fourth shown in the question, might require half-pedal or flutter pedaling.

Solution 2

For someone with a large enough hand span, it could be played without pedal, but with some compromise, by playing most of the inner voice with the right hand. Here's a rewrite of the four measures shown in the question to illustrate how this might be done.

Rewrite of middle voice to RH staff

Unfortunately ...

Both of these solutions are imperfect, so choices have to be made about the sound that comes closest to what the performer wants to hear. The first solution is how most pianists would play it and is most in accord with the original. The second — or a similar variation — gives closest to the MuseScore playback, but with some compromise required and, depending on the specifics of the rearrangement, may require a wide hand-span (this, too, could be overcome with further compromise).

Note regarding the Yamaha P-145

The only pedal function is sustain; however, half-pedaling is possible. The keyboard also has a split operation, but this appears not to have sufficient flexibility to help in this situation.

Christmas Truce by Sabaton

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On a lot of digital pianos, there's the facility to make a pedal sostenuto. That means when it's pressed, it only sustains the notes that are being played at that moment. Find that on your piano, and you'll find that the last three notes in each bar l.h. will not be sustained, while the octaves will be. Obviously you'll have to re-pedal at the beginning of each bar.

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  • This will also sustain the first right hand note in the first and fourth measures.
    – Aaron
    Commented May 24 at 16:56
  • @Aaron - of course it will. What difference will that make? Is it worth a dv?
    – Tim
    Commented May 24 at 17:38
  • Do you know if this is possible for the entry level Yamaha devices? I couldn't find an option like this in the Smart Piano app. Thanks!
    – CaptnCora
    Commented May 24 at 17:45
  • You state you have an 88 digital piano, not a piano app... What do you have?
    – Tim
    Commented May 24 at 18:07
  • Sorry if I was unclear. I have a digital piano (Yamaha P145), but the piano itself doesn't have the option to change my pedal function (I have a sustain pedal). Yamaha offers an app to control additional functions but I couldn't find anything concerning the pedal, so I was wondering if maybe you knew something :)
    – CaptnCora
    Commented May 24 at 18:20

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