Pedal notes


The pedal note is the lowest of the series of notes that can be sounded on a brass instrument with a given setting of any slide or valves. The lowest octave of the compass of the serpent and the ophicleide consists of pedal notes (C2to C3for the most common size). On the B-flat trombone, the pedals are B-flat1down to E1. On french horns with shorter tube lengths (such as the B-flat side of the double horn) the pedal notes can be sounded easily; they are difficult on longer tube lengths such as the horn in 12-ft F. Pedal notes are frequently used on tubas and euphoniums, less frequently on trumpets and cornets. For instruments with a high proportion of cylindrical tubing such as trombones, the air column does not have a mode of vibration at the correct frequency to support the fundamental (first harmonic) of the pedal note, which can be sounded only because of a co-operative regime (q.v.) in which its higher harmonics are supported by higher modes of resonance of the tube. As a result, these pedal notes have a bright but hollow tone quality