pedal point

pedal point
1. a tone sustained by one part, usually the bass, while other parts progress without reference to it.
2. a passage containing it. Also called organ point, pedal note.

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      in music, a tone sustained through several changes of harmony that may be consonant or dissonant (consonance and dissonance) with it; in instrumental music it is typically in the bass. The name originates from the technique of prolonging a tone on the pedal keyboard of the organ; hence the occasional use, chiefly in England, of the synonym organ point. The pedal point is to a certain extent a harmonic focus, but only pedal points on the tonic and dominant notes (i.e., on the first and fifth notes of the scale) actually have harmonic value.

      The final measures of Johann Sebastian Bach (Bach, Johann Sebastian)'s Fugue No. 2 in C Minor from The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1 (1722), are an example of a tonic pedal point (on C) with triads on C (tonic), on F (subdominant), and on G (dominant) harmony moving above it. Dominant pedal points are typically used to prepare a sectional cadence (a progression marking the ending of a section); in the sonata form, for instance, the dominant pedal often appears in the passage preceding the return to tonic harmony at the beginning of the recapitulation section. A good example occurs in the first movement of Mozart (Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus)'s Symphony No. 41 in C Major (1788; Jupiter).

      A pedal point may be of long duration, even through an entire piece. Examples include the English composer Henry Purcell (Purcell, Henry)'s Fantasia upon One Note for strings (c. 1680), in which middle C is repeated throughout; Franz Schubert (Schubert, Franz)'s song "Die liebe Farbe" (1823; from the song cycle Die schöne Müllerin [The Maid of the Mill]), which uses a dominant pedal point; and the 36-measure-long fugal chorus "Der gerechten Seelen," in Johannes Brahms (Brahms, Johannes)'s Ein deutsches Requiem (1857–68; German Requiem), which has a tonic pedal point. A 20th-century instance is Maurice Ravel's "Le Gibet," from the suite Gaspard de la nuit (1909) for piano.

      The term pedal tone, which properly refers to the fundamental note in brass instruments, is sometimes incorrectly used for pedal point.

Mark DeVoto

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Universalium. 2010.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • pedal point — n. Music a single continuous tone, usually in the bass, held against the changing figures or harmonies of the other parts …   English World dictionary

  • Pedal point — For pedal point in the mathematical sense, see pedal curve. For the pedal concept in brass instruments, see pedal tone. Pedal tone example.[1] …   Wikipedia

  • pedal point — noun a sustained bass note • Syn: ↑pedal • Derivationally related forms: ↑pedal (for: ↑pedal) • Hypernyms: ↑note, ↑musical note, ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • Pedal Point —    A sustained pitch, usually in the bass, around which other voices continue to move at the speed normal for the composition. The term probably derives from the practice of organists improvising over a bass tone played on the pedal division,… …   Historical dictionary of sacred music

  • pedal point — ped′al point n. mad a musical tone, as the dominant or tonic, held by the bass while the other parts move independently above it Also called ped′al note . Etymology: 1875–80 …   From formal English to slang

  • pedal point — noun Date: 1852 a single tone usually the tonic or dominant that is normally sustained in the bass and sounds against changing harmonies in the other parts …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • pedal point — noun a sustained bass pitch …   Wiktionary

  • pedal point — англ. [пэдл по/йнт] органный пункт …   Словарь иностранных музыкальных терминов

  • pedal point — /ˈpɛdl pɔɪnt/ (say pedl poynt) noun Music 1. a note sustained by one of the parts (usually the bass) while other parts progress without reference to it. 2. a passage containing it …  

  • double pedal point — noun or double pedal : two pedal points sustained through a succession of musical harmonies (as tonic and dominant) …   Useful english dictionary

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