My musical partner and editor Ron Erickson is caught between two devils in deciding where to place pedal marks in his editions with respect to notes that require an adjacent string alteration. After several years of observing and conferring about available editions, he concludes that for solo pieces which need learning time as well as practice time, the standard is to center marks
How much agreement is there on this? NOT MUCH!! There were several discussions of this on the HC forums a while back. Here are the links:
No matter what your editor does, harpists have so many ways of writing pedals that most of them are going to want to write them in themselves in their own particular way, which is a shame, because it makes a mess of rental parts. The one thing that I would tell your editor is to make the letters as large as possible. One of the main reasons people rewrite printed pedal markings is that they are too small to read. I think that if they are large enough, most harpists will be content to read what’s printed and not feel compelled to rewrite what is already there. I would also suggest that there be pedal diagrams along the way, especially where the pedals have not been in any key for a while. The diagram should reflect the pedal arrangement at the beginning of the measure where it is written. In other words, there may be a pedal change on the second beat of the measure where the diagram is written, but that change is not included in the diagram because the diagram reflects only the pedal arrangement at the beginning of the measure.
I think that the pedal change(i.e. the letter) should be just before the note that requires the change. If for example the note requiring the change has a # in front of it, then the letter should be under the #.
Yes, either leave them out completely or put them under the note to which they apply. It’s better to leave them out because sometimes it’s necessary to change pedals in advance because of multiple changes for one chord, and the player is the best one to figure out how he or she wants to do that. Just my two cents, which isn’t worth much in today’s economy!
I understand why the above posters like to have no pedals written in at all. I’m a harpist too, and it can be a major pain in the %$# to undo pedals that just don’t work. On the other side though, I would say that if the pedals were put there, or at least corrected and checked by a good professional harpist, who has played the piece in performance and KNOWS the the pedals written in really work, then I’d prefer to have them there, if only as a starting point.
When I learned Faure’s Une Chatelaine en sa Tour… the only copy available was the original, with absolutely no pedals written in. It took me close to a month of real labor to get all the pedals written in, enharmonics figured out, and planning which hand would play what. just to get a working copy so I could actually start learning the piece. Over the next several years, every time I performed it, harpists came up to me afterwards and told me that they had started learning that piece, but got so bogged down in the unwieldy pedaling and other issues, that they just gave up and put it away. That is why I published my edition, which has all the pedals written in, suggested fingering in places where it is not clear what will work, and with enharmonics that help to avoid pedal slides. I insisted on including a forward to explain what I had done and why I had done it and I said in that forward that I did not expect anyone to play it exactly as I had edited it. But even changing some of what I wrote in would save weeks of work in planning out the piece.
Before it went to press, I asked Emily Mitchell, who had just recorded it, if she could send me her copy and if she would look at mine. I told her that I didn’t want to find that I was doing anything that most harpists would find very awkward or unplayable. We exchanged copies and then had a telephone conference comparing the two versions.
As we went through the piece, she would point out here and there that something that I had stuck in the right hand she had put into the left. “But you have to remember,” she would say, “I’m left handed.” The biggest compliment she paid me was in the middle of the piece at the listesso Tempo. The pedals there are JUST AWFUL. My solution at that place was to rewrite a great deal of it enharmonically, making the pedals much safer and easier to remember. “Your listesso tempo is pure genius,” she said. “I’m going to relearn that page using your solution.” “Your kidding!” I said. “No I’m not!” she answered.
I’m telling you all of this to simply point out that this piece is one of the worst in the repertoire for ornery pedals, and many harpists would just give up on it in it’s original unedited form. I think that even making substantial changes to my edits is much easier than starting from scratch.
One final little story about this piece. The title comes from a poem by Paul Verlaine. When Emily was preparing the liner notes for her recording, she did what I had done, which was to go to the public library, get a copy of Verlaine’s poetry, and look for the poem that the line comes from. And like me the first time around, she couldn’t find the poem. She called me in total frustration saying that she had gone through the book twice and couldn’t locate the poem, and did I know where the poem was? I told her she didn’t find the poem because the line Une Chatelaine en sa Tour… is the second line, not the first.” Oh for Pete’s sake!” she said. It’s poem number 7 or 8 (I can’t remember any more) from the series called La Bonne Chanson. The first line is Un ange en son auriole(an angel in his halo).
The most important thing is to put in all pedals or none, but never do only some of them!
The accidental of a pedal change should be under the notehead that is changing or slightly before.
If you write a pedal change earlier than that, then you need to be sure there won’t be a noise if it is changed early.
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