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What dose it mean to pedal?

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by Gjbl, Feb 10, 2014.

  1. Gjbl


    Nov 24, 2013
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    "Pedal on the bass in D- for four measures" example:: not bass pedals

    For years and years I always thought pedal meant kind of a sustained note with maybe some rhythmic variation and praising. Someone at a gig today told me it was playing the five chord on 2 & 4 of the beat.

    Is this true? I so by the five chord dose that mean the 5th interval of the chord that the measure falls under?

    I should know this stuff but I just wanna be sure.
  2. Violen

    Violen Instructor in the Vance/Rabbath Method Supporting Member

    Apr 19, 2004
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    Endorsing Artist: Conklin Guitars (Basses)
    Pedaling the Dominant of the Key of Resolution. A good example would be to pedal the Dominant on the last four bars of Someday my Prince Will Come. If played in the real book key this would be a pedal for four bars on the note F. I think the rhythmic device you would use would depend on the situation, in the above, the tune is in 3/4, so using 2 & 4 wouldnt work. (but using a dotted quarter would be fantastic.)
  3. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
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    I know you said "not bass pedals", but that's actually where the term comes from, an organist holding down a single note on the foot pedals that would underpin the harmony that (generally) would shift over it. Look at a lot of baroque organ music.
    In a jazz context it doesn't necessarily imply using the dominant, it doesn't necessarily imply a specific rhythm. So you need to be aware of what a specific arrangement calls for (if someone calls FIRM ROOTS, they're pretty much going to play Cedar's arrangement of his own tune). If it's a tune that doesn't really have a "standard" arrangement, you can respond in pretty much whatever fashion your ear and musical aesthetic lead you.
  4. iona bass

    iona bass Supporting Member

    Dec 30, 2012
    Likes Received:
    One way to think of an Ostinato is as a "rhythmic" Pedal Tone. A Pedal Tone, (as Edward has pointed out, previously), is named for the "pedals" on Pipe Organ - these pedals are played with the feet of the Organist and are used to play the lowest notes of the Organ. A Pedal Tone is usually a single, held low note, over which the harmony/chords occur.

    In a jazz setting, this device is explored with the addition of a rhythmic component added to the "Pedal Tone". This is usually used to create a harmonic and rhythmic "tension", which at some point is "released"- the bassist usually then chooses notes/rhythms more in line with the harmony and feel- ( see bars 9-16 and 25-etc). A thorough knowledge of the harmony will ensure that your "Pedals/Ostinatos" will make sense to the piano/guitar.

    It is also common to have an arrangement of a tune that utilizes a preconceived Ostinato - A great example is Miles Davis 1958 version of "On Green Dolphin Street", (below), where the arrangement is an Ostinato on Eb for the first 8 bars of the form, (the first A section), and on the second A of the form, as well- ( bars 17-24).
    (Here is the harmony that occurs both times over the Eb Pedal/Ostinato : Ebmaj7 / Ebmin7 / Fmaj / Emaj / Ebmaj7).

    Thanks for your time and interest.

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