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Microphone Month 3

Half Damper

A piano pedal technique in which the damper (sustain) pedal is only partially pressed down. Some classical piano pieces call for this technique, which raises the felts (dampers) only partially off the strings. Half damper capabilities have (in recent years) been developed for electronic keyboard instruments, particularly digital pianos.

On an acoustic piano, the degree to which you depress the sustain pedal affects the amount (or “shape”) of sustain produced. For many years, electronic keyboards were limited to a simple “on/off” sustain pedal function. MIDI continuouscontroller 64 was assigned o handle sustain and, unlike other continuous controllers, only recognized “on” (usually 127) and “off” (usually 0) values. This simple pedal approach may hamper pianists who are trained to use multi-pedaling techniques on a piano.

Half-damper pedals still send MIDI controller 64 messages but also transmit standard MIDI control changes ranging from 0 to 127. Provided the instrument itself is programmed to respond to these values for example, with additional samples, amplitude envelope adjustments, or modeling a variety of sonic responses beyond a simple sustain on/off are possible.

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