Pedal Point

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pedal point

[′ped·əl ‚pȯint]
The fixed point with respect to which a pedal curve is defined.
The fixed point with respect to which the pedal coordinates of a curve are defined.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Pedal Point


(organ point; pedal), a sustained bass note, against which the upper voices move freely, often into distant keys. Its harmonic concord with the other voices is established at or not long before its cessation.

The term “pedal point” (or “organ point”) reflects the frequent use of the device in organ music. It originated in folk instrumental music. The pedal point heightens or diminishes the tension in a composition and unifies diverse elements in the development of the upper voices. The tonic (I) and the dominant (V) are most commonly used as pedal points. Characteristic of the folk music of various peoples is a pedal point that sounds the tonic and the dominant simultaneously (volynka basses). Pedal points are also encountered in the middle and upper voices. A pedal point may consist of a repeated sound or a short melodic phrase, as well as a single, sustained note.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.