I am trying to play the part where Emaj7 is followed by E7-9.

The piece is Poverty "Once upon a time in America".

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The right hand plays the highest G# and the left hand plays E (bass), then the left hand plays the two chords. As far as I understand I should use the pedal to make E (bass) sound during the whole measure, because neither of the hands can reach the chords without the pedal use. But this causes dissonance due to Maj7 and Min7 sounding simultaneously. If the pedal is released to avoid dissonance the lowest E will not sound as it is written.

Is it possible to play it exactly as written without dissonance?

  • ...and this is a score for piano with no pedaling marks? – Michael Curtis Jan 21 at 18:43
  • this is for piano. No pedaling marks. – alexsms Jan 22 at 5:23

This is an opportunity for the sostenuto pedal to be used. On some pianos, there's a middle pedal that, when pressed, will hold only the notes that are being played at that time. Unlike the damper pedal, which will hold everything played at the time it's pressed.

There are pianos that have three pedals, but the middle one is a practice pedal, which quietens the whole piano down using a felt curtain in between the hammers and the strings. That won't do the same job.

  • Thanks. At least I see that with "sostenuto" pedal the written text makes sense. (my acoustic piano has 2 pedals) – alexsms Jan 21 at 8:04

While the sostenuto pedal could be used if present, it's unnecessary here.

The damper pedal is not a binary device: it is not simply either on or off. Finer gradations are possible. You can catch a bass note like this and retain it through harmony changes by partial release. You need to experiment with the instrument to get a feel for this yourself.

  • Good luck. Don't give up searching if it doesn't work immediately. It's a very important technique to acquire. – user48353 Jan 21 at 8:20

If you don't have the sostenuto pedal forget the prolonged E in the bass. just hold it a dotted quarter , or play the last 3 8ths in the lower staff with the right hand and let dropping the G#

  • Yes, it's possible not to play E in the bass when chords change from Maj7 to Dom7, i.e. the lowest E will sound only half of the measure (not as written) but the dissonance will be avoided. And you are right that errors happen (this sheet for example is obtained from an amateur source, not published literature). – alexsms Jan 21 at 10:15
  • sorry, I just mixed and confused something in the chords above. – Albrecht Hügli Jan 21 at 10:19
  • I see. Someone downvoted. I voted up. Your answer makes sense to me. – alexsms Jan 21 at 10:20
  • yes, but I edited just meanwhile your commentating. – Albrecht Hügli Jan 21 at 10:22
  • I also edited the comment. In fact yes I tried playing it as you say - for the dotted quarter, so your answer supports my understanding of this case. – alexsms Jan 21 at 10:25

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