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Several musicians I've seen play the piano use the far-most left pedal on an upright piano (una corda or soft pedal I believe) as a kick-drum. Below are two examples:

Is it safe to play a piano like this? Would the piano sustain (ha) any damage?

Thanks

  • Trying to work out what the point of doing it is, apart from percussion. – Tim Apr 1 '18 at 16:34
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    I dare say percussion is the point. Or to count it was one of those 'piano extended techniques' (such as picking the strings with a fingernail). – Woodman Apr 3 '18 at 10:42
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Definitely to be better safe than sorry.

The pedals on modern pianos were made to change the effect produced by the strings, not to add extra sounds. But that doesn't mean that there have been piano pedals made to produce percussive effects. Such instruments dates back to the early 19th century, with the rise of "Janissary", or Turkish-influenced music - think Mozart's Rondo alla turca. Here is a video of it being played, and here's a doc with some more background. This trend, of course, has died down. Nobody is making any acoustic pianos like this, likely due to the rise of electronic synthesizers and keyboards.

Back to topic now. I used to push the sustain pedal on my own upright acoustic pretty hard, and it started making creaking noises after a few months. When I later got it tuned in preparation for my piano exam, it suddenly felt much harder to push while continuing to make noise. And this wouldn't be tolerated in, say, a classical music concert (I got some marks docked on my exam for noisy pedaling). So, unless you are willing to pay for expensive repairs, don't floor the pedals. Just like how you wouldn't do it in your car and burn out your engine, don't burn out your instrument, too.

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Just going from logic here, the pedal was made to be stepped on, so if the piano is well-built it should tolerate a fair amount of this kind of use, even if the pedal wasn't intended for this purpose. I've never seen a piano with broken pedals.

Then again, while I'm not an expert on pianos, I know that any mechanical system will deteriorate with use, and pianos would not be an exception to this. I think you'd have to play it like that consistently for a long time but eventually it could wear out and break.

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