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As [the] pedal - also [the] pedals (singular; from Latin pedalis , literally " belonging to the foot ") or generally [the] foot lever  - is a mechanical device that can be operated with the foot (see for the manual operation also manual ).

Areas of application

Pedals are particularly popular in the following areas:


In the case of musical instruments , the term has been used since the 16th century for the foot levers on organs and other keyboard instruments . Today there are two different versions: as individual foot levers or in the form of complete keyboards.

Individual foot levers

  • on the piano and the vibraphone , these serve to influence the sound
  • the harpsichord pedals to change the register used
  • With the pedal harp , the pedals are used to quickly retune the strings by one or two semitones while playing
  • In the case of the timpani , the pedal affects the pitch by changing the tension of the head
  • In the case of percussion instruments such as the large drum , the mallet is operated by a pedal

Complete keyboards

Complete keyboards for the feet can be found on organs and earlier also on harpsichord , clavichord and grand piano , see Pedal (organ) .

Turning notes

Since the advent of tablet computers , digital sheet music has been used instead of paper-printed sheet music among orchestral musicians or in chamber music. To change the page of music , an electronic foot pedal is used.


  • When car the fußgesteuerten levers are clutch , brake and gas used.
  • In the bicycle , the term for the device for transmitting power from the feet has established itself. Here, however, it only refers to the parts that serve as a support for the feet, see bicycle pedal .
  • In the case of pedal boats , as in the case of bicycles, the term refers to the device for transmitting power from the feet.
  • In the tram , the foot-operated levers are used to control the speed (brake, travel) and partly as a safety function ( dead man's device ). Examples are the VBZ Ce 4/4 (pedal) or the PCC car .
  • In the aircraft , the rudder is controlled with two pedals located in the footwell of the cockpit . This is deflected in the direction of the pressed pedal, while the opposite pedal - due to mechanical coupling - moves against the direction of flight towards the pilot. In addition, on many aircraft, tilting a single pedal causes the wheels on the main landing gear to brake . Because said tilting movement usually takes place at the upper edge of the pedals with the help of the toes of the human foot, this variant of brake actuation is also called toebrake (from English toe brake , literally " toe brake "). But there are also aircraft types in which the wheel brakes are operated with separate pedals (e.g. Piper J-3 Cub ).
  • In the case of a helicopter , two pedals located in the footwell of the cockpit generally control the vertical axis - as is the case with an airplane. The implementation depends on the respective configuration of the helicopter. In the classic tail rotor configuration , the thrust of the tail rotor is adapted indirectly by adjusting the collective angle of adjustment with the pedals (here antitorque pedals ) .

more details

In addition, there are the actually contradicting words finger pedal and hand pedal .

Web links

Wiktionary: Pedal  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Pedals . Duden .de, Bibliographical Institute, 2016
  2. Pedal . Duden, Bibliographical Institute, 2016