Appreciating the Omega’s damper pedal action

One of the things that I had doubts about was the very short travel in the Omega’s damper pedal. If you’ve ever played on the Omega you will know what I mean. It of course has the usual two-stage action:

  1. Initial travel with no damper movement. This allows you to (a) rest your foot on the pedal and keep it ready for instant use; and (b) operate the dampers without allowing the pedal to make clunking noises when it is fully released.
  2. Commencement of damper lift, from a lot of damping to no damping at all.

The initial travel is about 8mm (measured at the tip of the pedal), at which point the pedal comes up against a very distinct change in resistance when the mechanism engages the dampers (but does not lift them). Subsequently, from full damping to no damping there is about another 5mm of travel.

The very short action is disconcerting at first, particularly if your pedaling technique is sufficiently advanced that you do partial pedaling. It took a while, but I finally got used to it, and now I understand why the travel is so short. I am now able to much more easily do things like half-pedaling very quickly between legato chords to thin the texture between chords, but with enough sustain to give my fingers enough time to reach the next chord.

It’s quite amazing — I think ‘want sustain’, and a little bit of extra downward pressure of the right foot gives it to me, even though I don’t feel as if the pedal has moved at all. Then I think ‘clear some texture but retain some sustain’, and my right foot eases of the pressure a tad just before the next chord is played and then reapplies pressure with the chord. Again I don’t feel as if the pedal has moved. It just feels like a rapid wiggle of the right foot with seemingly no movement, but with the desired result. Of course the sensation of no movement is due to the fact that I am concentrating on what’s happening on the keyboard and therefore am not consciously aware of what the foot is doing. But it’s uncanny nonetheless.

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2 responses

  1. Sounds ideal for things like first movement of Beethoven Sonata 14, where I really want to follow the directions to leave dampers off throughout but at times feel it nevertheless needs the tone clearing just that little bit 🙂

  2. That’s a good example.

    I forgot to mention that the very rapid pedal changes possible mean that it is also less difficult to do things like play staccato in lefthand, while still being able to use the damper pedal to assist legato playing in the righthand.

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