Music is an art form whose medium is sound and silence. Its common elements are pitch , rhythm , dynamics, and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture...
is a term from Italian
Italian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, by minorities in Malta, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia, and by immigrant communities in the Americas and Australia...
which means "sustained." It occasionally implies a slowing of tempo
In musical terminology, tempo is the speed or pace of a given piece. Tempo is a crucial element of any musical composition, as it can affect the mood and difficulty of a piece.-Measuring tempo:...
, though more often it refers to a very legato
In musical notation the Italian word legato indicates that musical notes are played or sung smoothly and connected. That is, in transitioning from note to note, there should be no intervening silence...
style in which the notes are performed in a sustained manner beyond their normal values.
On a modern grand piano with three pedals
Piano pedals are foot-operated levers at the base of a piano which change the instrument's sound in various ways. Modern pianos usually have three pedals, from left to right, the soft pedal , the sostenuto pedal , and the sustaining pedal...
, the middle pedal is usually a sostenuto pedal
. It sustains only
those notes which are being held down when the pedal is depressed, allowing future notes played to be unaffected. It is commonly abbreviated "S.P.", "Sost. Ped.", or "ThP." (from the German equivalent "Tonhalte-Pedal").
The sostenuto pedal was invented by Albert Steinway.
On some upright pianos and lower-quality grand pianos, the middle pedal sustains all notes in the bass register, but this is not a true sostenuto pedal. On other uprights, the middle pedal is a practice pedal (with a locking option) which makes the sound extremely quiet beyond the standard soft pedal
The soft pedal is one of the standard pedals on a piano, generally placed leftmost among the pedals. On a grand piano this pedal shifts the whole action including the keyboard slightly to the right, so that hammers which normally strike all three of the strings for a note strike only two of them....
. This is often achieved by dropping a felt cloth between the hammers and the strings when the practice pedal is depressed.
Note that the sostenuto pedal should not be confused with the much more commonly used sustain pedal
A sustain pedal or sustaining pedal is the most commonly used pedal in a modern piano. It is typically the rightmost of two or three pedals. When pressed, the sustain pedal "sustains" all the damped strings on the piano by moving all the dampers away from the strings and allowing them to vibrate...
, which undamps all
the strings on the piano.