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Some more Details of the Piano:

The function of a damper is to stop the vibration of a string when the sound has continued long enough. As long as the player's finger depresses the key, the damper belonging to that key's strings remains lifted, and the strings are free to vibrate. When the key is released, the damper falls back against the strings, pressing soft felt against them to absorb the vibration. The highest strings on a piano usually do not need dampers, because the energy of their vibration is released so quickly, they stop sounding in a short time.


The pedal on the right is for the purpose of lifting all the dampers away from the strings at once, allowing the player to sustain a series of notes whose sound continues even after each key has been released. Furthermore, because strings can vibrate in sympathy with other strings whose vibrations are mathematically related to their own, lifting all the dampers allows strings to vibrate which have not been struck, but which are in harmonic relationship with those, which have been. This gives a fuller, richer sound. One does not want to use the damper pedal indiscriminately, or the result is something like using too much water in watercolor paints; the colors run into each other and become blurred and muddy. There are sounds, which do not blend well and should not be sustained together.

The pedal on the left is for producing a softer tone. On a grand piano, it shifts all the keys and their hammers to the right, just far enough so two things happen; the hammers strike fewer strings (two of a set of three, one of a set of two. The bass strings are so large they still are struck;) and

the part of the hammer's surface that has become firmly packed from repeated contact with the strings is moved over so a softer, less-used part of the surface strikes the strings. On a vertical piano, the soft pedal moves the hammers closer to the strings so they strike with less momentum.

The middle pedal on a modern piano (a comparatively recent American device) can be for lifting only the bass dampers, or on other pianos, for sustaining whatever note or notes were played at the moment the pedal was pressed. (Neither of these pedals has any historical relationship to European classical music.) On vertical pianos, the middle pedal sometimes activates a muting effect, placing cloth between the hammers and the strings for an extra soft sound. This is a very old device that was used on pianos in Beethoven's time.

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