harpcolumn

practical news, for practical harpists

Forums » Teaching the Harp » pedal diagrams

About Forums

Welcome to the Harp Column forums. Please read the Terms and Conditions before posting. By using this forum, you agree to adhere to these terms.

Want to add links or emphasis to your posts? Read the Harp Column blog about posting shortcuts.

pedal diagrams

  • Elinor
    Elinor Niemisto

    I have a friend who is editing some harp music for publication.  She would like to know which you prefer:  pedal diagrams above or below the staff?

    - Sign in to comment
    replies to "pedal diagrams"
    • Catherine
      Catherine Rogers

      I think most people prefer to write in their own pedals, if you mean markings like Ab or F#, as opposed to pedal diagrams, which look something like a railroad track with vertical marks showing the actual pedal positions. (I tried to illustrate but it didn't line up properly when I previewed it.)


      Many people like the pedals marked below the staff. I wouldn't put the diagrams in at all. But that's just my preference. If you do put in pedal changes, please put right foot changes above left foot changes if they occur simultaneously.

      - Sign in to comment
    • Carl
      Carl Swanson

      I generally agree with Cathy. Somewhere here there was a thread that dealt with writing pedals. You might try to find that. Here is as much as I can remember from that thread.


      1) Pedal diagrams should be put in occasionally at places that would be logical starting points when practicing. They shouldn't be put in every time there is a pedal change. Diagrams(the Salzedo type diagram is what I'm talking about) should be put above the staff.


      2) If she is going to put in actual pedal changes, make absolutely sure that they are exactly where they should be. Someone should learn these pieces before they go to print to make sure the pedals are in the correct place. Often what looks correct will cause an unintended pedal slide or buzz and has to be moved slightly one way or the other. The only way to find this out is to actually learn the piece.


      3) Make the pedal letters as big as is feasible. I hate most printed pedal markings because they are too small to see easily.


      4) Put right foot above left and be consistent about it.


      5) If a pedal is changed and then changed again within a measure or two with no other pedal in the same foot, then put a line from the first change to the next one and just put the change(a flat, natural, or sharp sign) at the end of the line.


      6) If a pedal is changed and then changed again more than 2 measures away or on another line with no other pedal change in that same foot, then put a short line AFTER the first change and put a short line BEFORE the next change. Write the second change out completely(i.e., the first change is B flat and the second one is B natural, then write B both times).


      7) As much as is possible, the pedal changes should be written below the bass staff. Sometimes that's not possible and they can be written between the staves. They can be written in both places within one piece, as the need dictates.

      - Sign in to comment
    • Carl
      Carl Swanson

      One more thing occurred to me. Concerning the pedal diagrams: The diagram should reflect the pedal arrangement at the START of the measure, or stated another way, at the end of the previous measure. If there are any pedal changes within the measure where the pedal diagram is, they should not be reflected in the diagram, because they occur after the start of the measure.

      - Sign in to comment
    • Tony
      Tony Morosco

      Carl pretty much nailed it. I will only add that I generally don't like pedal diagrams. The only place I ever use them is at the beginning of the piece if it is starting in a key that I don't often use. Then it is just a reminder how the pedals should be set when starting for quick set up.

      Other than that I just mark the pedal changes, as Carl said exactly where they occur. I always try to get them as close to the note as possible, but that sometimes is just not possible so where ever the actual change occurs.

      Everything else that Carl mentions is pretty much exactly as I was taught in terms of notating pedal changes.

      - Sign in to comment
    • Carl
      Carl Swanson

      Tony- There are some pieces that are so complicated key-wise that you just have to have pedal diagrams all through the piece in order to practice in efficiently. The one that takes the cake on that score is Faure's Une Chatelaine en sa Tour... The pedals are almost never in a key and when I first learned that I put pedal diagrams at the beginning of every line of the piece! When I published my edition of that I left them in there. In that case, they also helped with the memorization process, because I could visualize the pedal arrangement at very specific points.

      - Sign in to comment
    • Catherine
      Catherine Rogers

      Carl, who carries your arrangement of Une Chatelaine en sa Tour?

      - Sign in to comment
    • Saul
      Saul Davis Zlatkovski

      Uh, no, Salzedo designed the pedal diagrams to go BELOW the staff, just as the pedal markings are, and as the pedals are at the bottom of the harp. They should never be above the staff, it isn't referential to anything.

      - Sign in to comment
    • Elinor
      Elinor Niemisto

      This is an experienced harpist and editor.  The diagrams would be for settings out of the key signature and for rehearsal purposes only.  Just a quick survey:  above or below the staff?

      - Sign in to comment
    • Carl
      Carl Swanson

      Mikki Henry, International Music carries my edition of Une Chatelaine en sa Tour...

      - Sign in to comment
    • Carl
      Carl Swanson

      ABOVE!

      - Sign in to comment
    • Tony
      Tony Morosco

      Carl,

      That's an interesting point. I guess I just haven't tackled anything quite that complicated that I felt the need. But I am not strongly opposed to the idea. Just so far most of what I play doesn't really need it. Besides, I mostly play Jazz so my concern for what is on the actual page only goes so far ;^)

      - Sign in to comment
    • Margot
      Margot Hayward

      BELOW

      - Sign in to comment
    • Carl
      Carl Swanson

      Tony- I don't play jazz or pop music(except for written out arrangements). But my understanding is that jazz players always keep the pedals in the key of the piece. If it's in E flat for example, then the pedals are always in E flat. If a G sharp is needed, then the player moves the G pedal to sharp but then immediately moves it back to natural, even if G sharp is needed again 3 measures later.



      I've noticed that those harpists who have written out some of their arrangements(Paul Baker, Stella Castellucci, John Escosa, Jack Nebergal to name a few) put the pedals in the way they do them, creating log jams of pedals. I know a few classical harpists that do the same thing. But most classical harpists prefer to plan out the pedals so that you don't have 4 pedals on one beat. That's what would happen in the Faure without very careful planning. So I understand why you probably don't use diagrams very often. Your pedals are always in the home key.

      - Sign in to comment
    • Tony
      Tony Morosco

      That's right Carl. Although in Jazz you might modulate from one key to another and back just for the hell of it, for the most part you center around the key, however you may keep the pedal in place when playing the head or certain parts of the melody.

      Basically I learn the melody the same way I would learn any other piece, and if appropriate I would keep a pedal for an accidental locked in place if that was appropriate.

      However when improvising that gets too difficult to keep track of, so for the most part yes, I would immediately put the pedal back. Mainly because I often don't know what note I am going to play until I am practically there. However even when improvising I might work in part of the head fairly unaltered, in which case I may lock the pedal in place if the section I was using was long enough.

      But in the end I always tend to get the pedals back in to the key, and in reality they don't get too far away from it at any point.

      - Sign in to comment
    • Saul
      Saul Davis Zlatkovski

      What's also really important is to move the pedals so you don't hear them. There are a lot of sloppy pop/jazz players, or used to be, whose pedals were very messy.

      BELOW!!!!

      If you want to do a diagram above, create your own design, Instead of lines, the pedal marks could be little feet.

      - Sign in to comment
    • Unknown
      Unknown User

      The way I've always seen pedal diagrams published (and my teacher write) is that at the beginning of the piece the pedal diagram may go above or below but otherwise it is explicitly above the staff. My memory could be wrong but I doubt that it is.

      - Sign in to comment
    • Tula
      Tula Ruggiero

      I was taught to write the diagrams in above the staff and can only remember seeing them published above. Putting them below would be distracting and difficult to read, possibly making it harder to play than having no diagrams at all. I cannot remember seeing anything published with them below, but I am going from memory. I doubt you will reach a consensus though with people shouting back and forth.

      - Sign in to comment
    • Mel
      Mel Sandberg

      I have never even heard that there was meant to be a specific place for the pedal diagram, (above or below) even if there are 2 greatly opposing schools who don't agree.  I have always put them in anywhere where there is room.  By default, for my own easy reading, I would put them above the staff rather than below, but sometimes I want one in a place where there is too much going on above, then I put it in the middle.  If music has large margins, I put one before each grand staff on the left, but +/- in the middle.  Sometimes, in something like the Damase Sonata for flute and harp, I had so many, that I would put one in somewhere where there would be room for it, and draw a circle around it, and an arrow pointing to in between 2 notes, or in between 2 pedal markings, to reflect what the pedal position would be right at that moment.  I am really quite shocked to hear that I have been so far off the mark, but fortunately, I can do whatever I want to.

      If there is really meant to be only on place for it, what do you do it if there is no room for it at that place?

       

      - Sign in to comment
    • Carl
      Carl Swanson

      I agree with you Mel. It's fine to have rules for writing pedals and pedal diagrams. But the goal has to be a piece of music that is easy to read and is uncluttered. So to that end, I would say my first choice would be to put the pedal diagram above the staff and the pedals below. But if that is just not possible then you have to write them in wherever it's possible.


      Something that bothers me much more, particularly on rental parts, are markings that are illegible, on a 45 degree slant, that are written over notes or other markings, or that are scrolly or curly. Pedals in particular should be written in CAREFULLY in straight up and down block letters, in dark pencil, with care that there is blank space around them and that they do not touch any other markings or notes. They should be written in, CAREFULLY, as large as space permits. If they are written in clearly like that, then anyone can read them at a glance.


      In printed editions that include pedals, the markings are almost always too small to read easily. Again, they should be printed in as large as space permits.

      - Sign in to comment
    • Misty
      Misty Harrison

      Hi, I'm Salzedo-trained and have always put the diagrams above the staff. I find the diagrams below the staff confusing because it's hard to tell what part of the music they reference. I think it's also standard to put them above the staff.

       

       

      - Sign in to comment