Music theory is a fascinating subject that has been studied and explored by musicians for centuries. One of the most interesting concepts in music theory is the pedal point. A pedal point, also known as a drone, is a sustained note or series of notes that are played throughout a musical passage.
What Is a Pedal Point?
A pedal point is a sustained note or chord that is played underneath other music in order to create tension or stability. The pedal point can be any note or chord, but it is usually the tonic note of the key that the music is in. The term “pedal” comes from the fact that the sustained note or chord acts like the pedals on an organ.
How Is a Pedal Point Used?
A pedal point can be used in many different ways in music. It can create tension by providing a stable foundation for other notes to play over. For example, if you have a piece of music that uses a lot of dissonant chords, playing a sustained tonic note underneath those chords can help to create a sense of stability and resolution.
On the other hand, a pedal point can also be used to create tension by providing an unstable foundation for other notes to play over. For example, if you have a piece of music that starts with a sustained dominant note (the fifth note in the scale), it will create tension because it sounds like it wants to resolve back to the tonic (the first note in the scale).
One famous example of a pedal point is found in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5.
In this piece, there is a famous four-note motif (da-da-da-dum) that repeats throughout the entire symphony. However, underneath this motif, there is also a sustained dominant seventh chord that creates tension and anticipation.
Another well-known example of a pedal point is found in Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2.” In this song, there is a repeated riff that is played over a sustained D note. This creates a sense of stability and allows the riff to build tension as it progresses.
In conclusion, a pedal point is a powerful tool that can be used to create tension or stability in music. It can be any note or chord, but it is usually the tonic note of the key that the music is in. Whether you are composing your own music or analyzing the works of others, understanding how pedal points work can help you to better understand and appreciate the beauty of music theory.