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Microphone Month 2

Sustain Pedal

Traditionally, a foot pedal on a piano that lifts all the dampers from the strings and allows them to continue vibrating until they decay to silence. On an acoustic piano, which contains either two or three pedals, the sustain pedal is located on the player’s right. An electronic synthesizer’s equivalent of a piano sustain pedal transmits a MIDI Controller 64 (pedal on or off) message to the synthesizer, keeping the envelopes of any currently playing or subsequently played notes at their sustain levels, even if the keys are lifted. Releasing the synthesizer sustain pedal usually also sends a “note off” message to any notes still sustaining. The behavior of the sustain pedal on a synthesizer is entirely dependent upon the sound being played and any programming associated with it. For example, a snare drum sample that has a rapid attack and almost immediate decay to silence can’t be made to sustain. In contrast, a synthesizer pad might be able to sustain “indefinitely,” with no decay, until you release the pedal.

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