Showing posts with label Organ. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Organ. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

ORGAN MUSIC: About Toccata and Fugue in F Major, BWV 540 by JS BACH

A portrait which may show Bach in 1750
A portrait which may show Bach in 1750 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Although the most popular of all organ toccatas by Johann Sebastian Bach is the legendary Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565, perhaps even more masterful is the splendid and brilliant Toccata and Fugue in F Major, BWV 540. This composition might have been created in Weimar when the true compositional style of a master composer was formed. Virtuosic Toccata and Fugue in F Major usually is a true technical and mental challenge for many skilled organists. If performed well, it is a real treat for every organ music lover and listener. Otherwise, it has the potential to create a sense boredom.

The Toccata leaves the impression of a chase between voices and begins with a prolonged and playful two-voice canon over a long tonic pedal point (Idea A). After this canon, Bach writes another virtuosic episode - a pedal solo in the tonic key which leads to a cadence in the Dominant - C major. Now the voice parts switch places and the canon begins all over again, only this time in the Dominant key (C major). These two sections serve to establish both the Tonic and the Dominant keys and have a function, similar to the North German Passaggio in a Praeludium.

After this episode, the chase stops but all voices begin a long and tiring journey (for the performer, that is) through various related keys in descending and ascending sequences (Idea B based on arpeggio figure). Through the course of this Toccata, canonic idea A and sequential idea B alternate and create an intriguing structural balance. In developing the idea A, Bach evidently shows his mastery of a double and sometimes even triple invertible counterpoint at the interval of an octave. This basically is a technique allowing voice switching. It only works if the composer uses the suitable intervals (most of the time thirds and sixths, avoiding fifths which in inversion become a forbidden fourth). Suspensions of a second and seventh are welcomed in this technique, too.

Because of repeating two musical ideas, this Toccata shows the influence of the Italian Ritornello form. Bach learned to use this form in Weimar from transcribing for the keyboard the concertos of Vivaldi and his contemporaries.

The fugue, on the other hand, provides a welcomed relaxation for the organist from the technical point of view. However, Bach provides another challenge, e.g. old-fashioned "Palestrina" style fugue with alla breve meter (cut-time) in Style antico (the old style). This is a double fugue, which means that a composer has to develop two musical themes. Both of the themes must work in invertible counterpoint with each other. In the exposition and counter-exposition of the first theme, Bach develops the solemn, slow, and vocal musical idea in all four voices.


The second theme appears to be playful, dance-like, which reminds of a Baroque dance Gavotte. During this section, the pedal part remains silent and waits for its entrance until the powerful combination of both themes towards the close of a fugue. While listening to the fugue in this wonderful video, feel free to count the number of appearances of the first theme.



Thursday, February 1, 2018

ELECTRONIC KEYBOARDS - Their History and Development

English: Yamaha electronic keyboard Français :...
Yamaha electronic keyboard  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The term "electronic keyboard" refers to any instrument that produces sound by the pressing or striking of keys, and uses electricity, in some way, to facilitate the creation of that sound. The use of an electronic keyboard to produce music follows an inevitable evolutionary line from the very first musical keyboard instruments, the pipe organ, clavichord, and harpsichord. The pipe organ is the oldest of these, initially developed by the Romans in the 3rd century B.C., and called the hydraulics. The hydraulis produced sound by forcing air through reed pipes and was powered by means of a manual water pump or a natural water source such as a waterfall.

From its first manifestation in ancient Rome until the 14th century, the organ remained the only keyboard instrument. It often did not feature a keyboard at all, instead utilizing large levers or buttons that were operated by using the whole hand.

The subsequent appearance of the clavichord and harpsichord in the 1300's was accelerated by the standardization of the 12-tone keyboard of white natural keys and black sharp/flat keys found on all keyboard instruments of today. The popularity of the clavichord and harpsichord was eventually eclipsed by the development and widespread adoption of the piano in the 18th century. The piano was a revolutionary advancement in acoustic musical keyboards because a pianist could vary the volume (or dynamics) of the sound the instrument produced by varying the force with which each key was struck.

The emergence of electronic sound technology in the 18th century was the next essential step in the development of the modern electronic keyboard. The first electrified musical instrument was thought to be the Denis d'Or (built by Vaclav Prokop Dovis), dating from about 1753. This was shortly followed by the "clavecin electrique" invented by Jean Baptiste Thillaie de Laborde around 1760. The former instrument consisted of over 700 strings temporarily electrified to enhance their sonic qualities. The later was a keyboard instrument featuring plectra, or picks, that were activated electrically.

While being electrified, neither the Denis d'Or or the clavecin used electricity as a sound source. In 1876, Elisha Gray invented such an instrument called the "musical telegraph.," which was, essentially, the very first analog electronic synthesizer. Gray discovered that he could control sound from a self-vibrating electromagnetic circuit, and so invented a basic single note oscillator. His musical telegraph created sounds from the electromagnetic oscillation of steel reeds and transmitted them over a telephone line. Grey went on to incorporate a simple loudspeaker into his later models which consisted of a diaphragm vibrating in a magnetic field, making the tone oscillator audible.

Lee De Forrest, the self-styled "Father Of Radio," was the next major contributor to the development of the electronic keyboard. In 1906 he invented the triode electronic valve or "audion valve." The audion valve was the first thermionic valve or "vacuum tube," and De Forrest built the first vacuum tube instrument, the "Audion Piano," in 1915. The vacuum tube became an essential component of electronic instruments for the next 50 years until the emergence and widespread adoption of transistor technology.

The decade of the 1920's brought a wealth of new electronic instruments onto the scene including the Theremin, the Ondes Martenot, and the Trautonium.

The next major breakthrough in the history of electronic keyboards came in 1935 with the introduction of the Hammond Organ. The Hammond was the first electronic instrument capable of producing polyphonic sounds and remained so until the invention of the Chamberlin Music Maker, and the Mellotron in the late 1940's and early 1950's. The Chamberlin and the Mellotron were the first ever sample-playback keyboards intended for making music.

The electronic piano made its first appearance in the 1940's with the "Pre-Piano" by Rhodes (later Fender Rhodes). This was a three and a half octave instrument made from 1946 until 1948 that came equipped with self-amplification. In 1955 the Wurlitzer Company debuted their first electric piano, "The 100."

The rise of music synthesizers in 1960 gives a powerful push to the evolution of the electronic musical keyboards we have today. The first synthesizers were extremely large, unwieldy machines used only in recording studios. The technological advancements and proliferation of miniaturized solid state components soon allowed the production of synthesizers that were self-contained, portable instruments capable of being used in live performances.


This began in 1964 when Bob Moog produced his "Moog Synthesizer." Lacking a keyboard, the Moog Synthesizer was not truly an electronic keyboard. Then, in 1970, Moog debuted his "Minimoog," a non-modular synthesizer with a built-in keyboard, and this instrument further standardized the design of electronic musical keyboards.

Most early analog synthesizers, such as the Minimoog and the Roland SH-100, were monophonic, capable of producing only one tone at a time. A few, such as the EML 101, ARP Odyssey, and the Moog Sonic Six, could produce two different tones at once when two keys were pressed. True polyphony (the production of multiple simultaneous tones which allow for the playing of chords) was only obtainable, at first, using electronic organ designs. There were a number of electronic keyboards produced which combined organ circuits with synthesizer processing. These included Moog's Polymoog, Opus 3, and the ARP Omni.

By 1976, additional design advancements had allowed the appearance of polyphonic synthesizers such as the Oberheim Four-Voice, and the Yamaha series CS-50, CS-60, and CS-80. The first truly practical polyphonic synth, introduced in 1977, was the Sequential Circuits Prophet-5. This instrument was the first to use a microprocessor as a controller and also allowed all knob settings to be saved in computer memory and recalled by simply pushing a button. The Prophet-5's design soon became the new standard in the electronic keyboards industry.

The adoption of Musical Instrumental Digital Interface (MIDI) as the standard for digital code transmission (allowing electronic keyboards to be connected to computers and other devices for input and programming), and the ongoing digital technological revolution have produced tremendous advancements in all aspects of electronic keyboard design, construction, function, sound quality, and cost. Today's manufactures, such as Casio, Yamaha, Korg, Rolland, and Kurzweil, are now producing an abundance of well-built, lightweight, versatile, great sounding, and affordable electronic keyboard musical instruments and will continue to do so well into the foreseeable future.

    Preston Champion is an Internet researcher and consumer product and services, reviewer. He is also a musician and a music industry professional.
    Preston provides unbiased, informative product reviews of many of the most popular and best selling electronic keyboards on the market on his website: http://electronickeyboardsreview.com.
    Article Source: EzineArticles


Monday, August 7, 2017

How to Practice Classical ORGAN MUSIC on the Spinet Electronic Organ With the Short Pedal Board?

Hammond TR-200
Hammond TR-200 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Although much of classical organ music requires the full length of pedal board, not every organist have access to this kind of instrument, either pipe organ or electronic organ. Many people have Spinet electronic organs at home and they have to solve the pedal playing problem because Spinet organ pedal board have only 13 keys (C-c). For organists who practice on various kinds of electronic organs, such as Spinet, adjusting to the short pedal board is a very important question. In this article, I will give you 2 solutions for practicing classical organ music on the Spinet electronic organ with the short pedal board.

In general, it depends on what kind of music you are working on. There is plenty of organ music which was written for manuals only. Obviously, to play such music on the Spinet organ is no problem at all. In addition, a significant part of early organ repertoire was composed with a short pedal board in mind.

For example, Italian organs for many centuries didn't have a full pedal board so anything Italian would work fine on a Spinet organ. The question remains what to do with the classical organ music, like the music of Bach which often requires 27 note pedal board (sometimes even 30)

In general, for music which requires the full compass of pedal board you have only 2 options:

1) To arrange the pedal part so that it will fit the short compass of the Spinet. For example, notes in the pedal part above tenor c would have to be played one octave lower. Sometimes an entire excerpt might be played one octave lower.

If you have to play notes from c sharp up to f in the treble octave, you can lower them by two octaves. In doing so, you may also have to adjust the pedaling. For example, this could mean that using the right foot on the Spinet organ might be complicated so the majority of notes should be played by the left foot.




2) To play as written, imagine the additional pedals, and press the approximate spot on the floor. It is also possible to add a wooden board on the floor of approximate the same height as the Spinet pedals so that you will have the same feeling while playing with your feet. In addition, you can draw the missing pedals on this board so that you will know exactly where to play.

If you want to play classical organ music on the Spinet electronic organ, use the above tips for pedal playing. It is also a good idea from time to time to get access to the real pipe organ. Occasional practice on a full length pedal board will allow you to have the correct feeling for your feet.

    By Vidas Pinkevicius
    By the way, do you want to learn to play the King of Instruments - the pipe organ? If so, download my FREE video guide "How to Master Any Organ Composition" http://www.organduo.lt/organ-tutorial.html in which I will show you my EXACT steps, techniques, and methods that I use to practice, learn and master any piece of organ music.

    Article Source: EzineArticles



Friday, June 30, 2017

Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring - BACH's Most Loved Work

Even non-musicians around the world are undoubtedly familiar with one of Johann Sebastian Bach's more famous compositions, Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring. Usually, this song is played in a slow, almost reverent style during weddings or in religious and liturgical services. However, many music lovers aren't aware that this recognizable tune was actually intended to be played in a much more upbeat manner.

The song was originally composed for accompaniment of voices, as well as traditional orchestral instruments, particularly woodwinds, strings, and brass. Today though, it is more often performed on piano and organ. It's difficult to say whether or not Bach might be rolling over in his grave every time the slower version of Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring graces someone's nuptial ceremony. Nevertheless this piece has won the affections of both aficionados and non-musicians alike. In fact, of all of Bach's compositions, this one is his most recognized.

The German-born composer originally wrote his composition in the early 1700's. It was performed publically for the first time on July2, 1723 as part of Bach's cantata: "Herz und Mund Tat und Leben" ("Heart and Mouth and Deed and Life"). What is perhaps less known about this fondly-loved composition is that the underlying choral melody was actually composed by violinist Johan Schop.



Schop was something of a pioneer in the music world during the early 1700's. Considered to be a virtuoso, his technical ability was largely unsurpassed by his contemporaries, and certainly unequalled by his predecessors. Despite his immense talent, Schop has since faded into the background. Today, Bach himself is attributed most of the credit for Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring.

The piano arrangement of Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring that is most familiar to listeners in the 21st century was actually transcribed by British pianist Myra Hess, well over 100 years after its composition. It is this adaptation that has stood the test of time as far as popular recognition goes, and is how the song is most often publicly performed today. When it does happen to be accompanied by English-speaking voices, it is sung to the words that were translated from the original German to English by the prominent 18th century English poet Robert Bridges. The English version, though, diverts somewhat from the original German. Bridges obviously did what poets do best, creating a poem that still echoes the sentiments of the original work, but contains flowing rhyme which is easy to sing in its translated English.



Since its first public performance nearly three centuries ago, Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring has been adapted and performed by hundreds of other musicians and artists. Even modern artists, such as Josh Groban, continue to make this song one of classical music's most renowned and adored tunes.

Even though Bach did not consider this piece his favorite or best work, it is probably the most widely recognized of all of his compositions. Because of its mainstream popularity, this song will undoubtedly continue to surface at weddings and other public performances for hundreds more years.



Thursday, June 22, 2017

6 Steps in Arranging Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring by Bach for the ORGAN in 4 Parts

Have you tried to make an organ arrangement of a popular aria or a choral work? If not, it is worth giving it a try because not only you will have a lot of fun in the process, will be able to create a new organ piece that you will love to play but also you will learn a lot about the composition itself. In this article, I will describe how to make a 4 part arrangement of the famous Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring by Bach for the organ in 6 easy steps.


1. Take a music staff paper and write the treble clef for the right hand, the bass clef for the left hand, and the bass clef for the pedals. Connect the 3 staves into a system.

2. Add a key signature (F sharp) and a meter signature (3/4).

3. Write the Violin I part in the right hand with the stems up in triplets.

4. Write the Violin II part in the right hand with the stems down. Be aware, that according to the usual practice in Bach's time, in the original score this part is notated using dotted eight notes and sixteenths which should be played together with the last note of each group of three notes in the top voice. When you transcribe it in the right hand part, you can use groups of quarter and eighth notes in triplets.

5. Write the Soprano part in the left hand one octave lower. This way the chorale tune will sound in a tenor range. The chorale tune will sound well on a solo registration, such as a soft reed.

6. Write the Cello part in the pedals which will be played using soft 16' and 8' stops.

The Violin II part will fit nicely to the right hand part. Although there are some voice crossings between the two violins, in general, the right hand can play these two voices very easily. You can play this part using flutes 8' and 4'.

Because in this arrangement you have to play 2 voices in the right hand, for some people who have little proper organ training experience it might not be as easy as it may seem. If you are at the beginning stages of organ playing, I recommend the 3 part version which will also sound very well. Just omit the step 4.



After the process of arranging this fantastic piece for the organ you will know how the piece is put together on a much deeper level than before which will also help you to advance in the field of music theory.

You can play your arrangement from the written down version on paper or you can use your favorite music notation software to transcribe it. Choose whatever is more comfortable for you but do not forget to treat your arrangement as a genuine organ composition while you play and practice it.


    By the way, do you want to learn to play the King of Instruments - the pipe organ? If so, download my FREE video guide "How to Master Any Organ Composition" http://www.organduo.lt/organ-tutorial.html in which I will show you my EXACT steps, techniques, and methods that I use to practice, learn and master any piece of organ music.

    Article Source: EzineArticles


Saturday, June 3, 2017

ORGAN CONCERTO in F major, “The Cuckoo and the Nightingale”

A concerto is different from a concerto grosso in that it is written for one soloist, rather than a group of soloists, and orchestra.

One of Handel’s most popular concertos for organ and orchestra is known as “The Cuckoo and the Nightingale”, because the second movement imitates the sounds of these birds.


This work provides a good example of how Handel used previously composed music in his compositions.  It contains material from his Concerto Grosso Op. 6, No.9, and from his Trio Sonatas N . 5 and 6. Concerto Grosso in B flat major, Op.3, No.2

A concerto grosso is a musical composition written for a group of soloists (concertino) and orchestra (ripieno).  The concertino and the ripieno sometimes play in unison, but more often they play in contrast with each other.

In or about 1720, Handel produced a series of six concertos for string instruments.  One of them was the Concerto Grosso in B flat major,

Op.3, No.2. In this piece, the concertino is made up of two oboes and one bassoon, which introduce the melody or theme.  Throughout the piece, this melody is passed on to other instruments and transformed into different variations.



While Handel did not invent this style of music, he developed it to a new level of sophistication.



Friday, May 19, 2017

ORGAN MUSIC: About Ballo Del Granduca by Jan Pieterszoon SWEELINCK

Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, Kupferstich von J. ...
Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck (1562-1621) was a legendary Dutch Master organist, composer, and pedagogue of the 17th century. He is most renown for not only for his great polyphonic choral writing but also for being a founder of the North German Organ School. He is also frequently called "Maker of German organists" because of his influential teaching activities that helped propel and flourish the renown North German Organ School. His most famous students include Samuel Scheidt, Heinrich Scheidemann, Melchior Schildt, Jacob Praetorius II, and Anders Duben among many others.

Sweelinck's keyboard style was influenced mostly by two major trends: Italian vocal polyphony and English virginal composers. From Italians the composer inherited beautiful linear counterpoint writing with mostly constant number of parts in the composition. From the English virginalists, he took over their virtuosic figurational writing which consisted of frequent passages, runs, arpeggios, flourishes, diminutions and various other types of figuration.

Ballo del Granduca is one of today's favorites pieces by Sweelinck. Its authenticity is doubtful as it might have been composed by Samuel Scheidt. The title of the piece refers to the Balleto (or little dance of joyful character of the Renaissance) of the Great Duke. It is a set of theme on a dance tune and 4 variations, although the opening section is called variation 1. Variation 1 consists of many colourful and joyfully sounding chords with a characteristic long-short-short rhythms. It contains 5 sections each one with a duration of 4 measures and ends with strong closed cadences at the end of each phrase. The cadences are in G major (the tonic key of the piece), C major, A minor, G major, and G major. The first and the fifth phrases are repeated.



The second variation features many passages and runs in the right hand part with eighth or sixteenth notes rhythms while the left hand plays chordal accompaniment in two or three voices. In variation 3, the hands switch: eight note diminutions are transferred to the left hand part and the accompanimental role is given to the right hand part. The 4th variation contains most of the virtuosic sixteenth note passages and diminutions in the right hand part which are so characteristic of Sweelinck's style. The variation cycle ends (variation 5) with eight note motion in the right hand part (in double thirds and sixths). Technically speaking, this is the most challenging variation and therefore a culmination of the entire set of variations.



Saturday, April 8, 2017

How to Make a 3 Part ORGAN Arrangement of Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring by BACH?

Johann Sebastian Bach (aged 61) in a portrait ...
Johann Sebastian Bach (aged 61)

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the most popular movements from the cantatas by Johann Sebastian Bach is the famous "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring". This work was originally composed as a choral part from the Cantata No. 147 sung at the end of parts I and II of this cantata. Many organists love to play this work for weddings and other joyful occasions. Because of the popularity of this work, there are so many organ versions available which are not necessarily perfect for you. In this article, I will show you how to make an organ arrangement of this composition for organ in 3 voices which will sound very well and will be comfortable to play.

Before we can make an organ arrangement, we have to become familiar with the orchestral instrumentation. If we take a look at the original scoring, we will discover that this work is notated in 9 staves. The harmonized chorale tune is performed by the 4 part SATB choir which in Bach's time might have been sung by the 4 soloists, too. The top soprano voice is also reinforced by the Trumpet in C.

The bass line is performed by at least 5 people: vocal bass, cellist, harpsichordist (or organist), the double bass, and perhaps the bassoonist as well. The vocal bass joins in choral phrases. We can imagine Bach himself playing the harpsichord or the organ and conducting at the same time. He would have been playing the bass line in the left hand and adding chords or another fully worked out solo voice from the basso continuo notation with the right hand. The double bass player would be playing the cello part one octave lower (at 16' pitch level).

The 3 instrumental parts are meant for two violins, viola, and also 2 oboes doubling the violin I part. The viola player would have to play from the alto clef. Note that the meter of the violin I part is 9/8 while other voices are notated in 3/4 meter. This is probably done to avoid triplets in the violin I part.
As you can see, it must have been quite an ensemble of at least 14 people. In order to make an organ version of this piece, we have to decide which parts are most important because naturally we can't play every part on the organ at the same time. Obviously, there are 3 most important lines in this composition - the chorale tune, the violin I part playing orchestral ritornellos, and the cello part giving the harmonic foundation.



By playing these parts on three separate divisions, we could make a very nice and satisfactory organ version in a trio texture. The violin I part could be played using 8' and 4' flute combinations in the right hand. The chorale tune would sound best, if played in the tenor range (one octave lower) in the left hand on the solo registration, perhaps using a soft reed stop, such as an oboe. We can take the cello line in the pedals using 16' and 8' soft stops.

The 3 part version of Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring will sound very well on the organ and it will not be too difficult to learn. Just make sure you treat this arrangement like a real organ composition, and practice slowly with correct fingering, pedaling, articulation, and phrasing. It is best to practice repeatedly one small fragment at a time.

    By Vidas Pinkevicius
    By the way, do you want to learn to play the King of Instruments - the pipe organ? If so, download my FREE video guide "How to Master Any Organ Composition" http://www.organduo.lt/organ-tutorial.html in which I will show you my EXACT steps, techniques, and methods that I use to practice, learn and master any piece of organ music.
    Article Source: EzineArticles


Monday, March 6, 2017

Organ Practice: Problems of ELECTRONIC ORGANS With Short Pedal Compass

Some organists have electronic organs with one octave pedal board at home which they use for practice. While this idea is very practical, such organists have to face several difficulties with this kind of instrument. In this article, I will discuss what problems arise when an organist has an electronic organ for practice purposes and how these difficulties might be overcome.


エレクトーンSTAGEA ELS-01
STAGEA ELS-01 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
One octave pedal board may be the cause of the back pain, if used incorrectly. It might arise from playing with the right foot in the bottom of the pedal board of such organ. This kind of instrument is mean to be played with the left foot most of the time. And of course not that kind of music with the independent pedal part like most of classical polyphonic organ music. Incidentally, the right foot usually is busy operating the swell pedal and pressing the toe studs where available.

Originally, the electronic organs with the short pedal board were intended either for playing classical transcriptions from popular works or the arrangements of tunes from pop music. In both cases, the texture is rather homophonic with the melody in one hand (usually in the right) and chordal accompaniment in another.

The pedal part in such music is mostly the bass voice which only supports the chords and serves as harmonic foundation. Very seldom it is required to play an independent melodic line in the pedal part of such arrangements. Therefore, one can easily use only the pitches of the available one octave to play the harmonic foundation with or without some rhythmical syncopation.

Contrary to such arrangements, in classical organ music the pedal part is very often independent. The organist is required to use the entire compass of the two-octave pedal board, often playing the higher notes up to treble F. Naturally, performance of most of organ music on electronic organs with one octave pedal board is quite challenging.

The solution for this problem is rather simple. The organist could try to extend the short pedal board by attaching a wooden board with similar dimensions as the pedal board. One can go even further and draw the rest of the notes on this wooden board. This way it is possible to pretend and imagine the full pedal board very easily (and avoid dangerous tension in the back).



Some organists try to compensate the short compass of the pedal board by lowering the pedal part in various places of the music score. This is a possible solution to the problem but is rather inconvenient and might cause some frustration. Instead, it is probably better to extend the pedals with a wooden board.

If you will continue playing pedals on your electronic organ, it is best if you avoid playing with the right foot on the extreme left side of the pedal board while practicing. This may mean adjusting the pedaling when necessary. In addition, use the idea of extending your pedals. Otherwise, you could try to get some practice time in churches that have organs with pedals of at least two octaves in compass in your area.

    By Vidas Pinkevicius
    By the way, do you want to learn to play the King of Instruments - the pipe organ? If so, download my FREE video guide "How to Master Any Organ Composition" http://www.organduo.lt/organ-tutorial.html in which I will show you my EXACT steps, techniques, and methods that I use to practice, learn and master any piece of organ music.
    Article Source: EzineArticles


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

ORGAN MUSIC: About Piece Heroique by CESAR FRANCK

Français : « Monument à César Franck » 1891, s...
« Monument à César Franck » 1891
(Photo credit: 
Wikipedia)
Cesar Franck (1822 - 1890) was the composer, organist, and pedagogue of Belgian and German descent who lived in France. He is considered as one of the most influential figures of the late Romantic period in the second half of the 19th century. In 1858, he became the organist of the famous Basilica of Saint Clotilde where he worked until his death.

The first compositions of this composer were published only in 1868 when he was 46 years old. From 1872 until his death Franck was professor of organ at the Paris Conservatoire. Among the most famous of his students are Vincent d'Indy, Ernest Chausson, Louis Vierne and Henri Duparc.
As an organist, Franck was mostly appreciated because of his notorious improvisational talent. Although he wrote only 12 major organ works, Franck is considered by many as the most important organ composer after J.S.Bach. His compositions layed the foundation of the French symphonic organ style. Among his organ compositions perhaps the most influential was Grande Piece Symphonique, which paved the way to the organ symphonies of Charles-Marie Widor, Louis Vierne, and Marcel Dupré.

Piece heroique, M. 37 was composed for the organ of the concert hall of Trocadero. For this reason it is not a religious composition. It continues the tradition of Beethoven, Berlioz, and other Romantic composers. Two major thematically contrasting ideas dominate the piece: the first is written in minor (the heroic theme) and the other is in major (lyrical theme).

At the beginning of the work, these two themes are presented one after the other. In the middle of the piece, these two different ideas have a musical fight. Franck develops the themes and reveals their true melodic, rhythmic, and harmonic potential. At the last major episode, or Recapitulation, both themes are brought back, only this time the second theme becomes a triumphant and is performed with a Tutti registration.



Because of the clash of the two themes, this composition has many similarities with the Sonata form. However, in a classical sonata concept, at the exposition the second theme is presented in a secondary key, usually in the Dominant (or in the relative major). It is important to point out that both themes here first appear in the Tonic key of B minor.

Nevertheless, Piece heroique fascinates listeners and organists because of its chromatic harmonic language, sudden modulations which explore the range of major-minor scale, and very balanced form.



Tuesday, January 10, 2017

KEYBOARD INSTRUMENTS - Organs, Harpsichords, Pianos, Keyboards & Synthesizers

Even non-musicians are familiar with keyboard instruments. Few people reach adulthood without having had at least one opportunity to bang on a keyboard of some type. However, many people (including musicians) aren't aware of the history behind keyboard instruments. Their evolution is both fascinating and surprising.

Keyboard instrument in the Musical Instrument ...
Giovanni Battista Boni, Cortona, 1619 - clavecin. 

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Many people mistakenly believe that the harpsichord was the earliest keyboard instrument. Harpsichords were undoubtedly a precursor to the piano. However, the pipe organ actually predates the harpsichord by some 1100 years. In fact, the pipe organ was the only keyboard instrument until the invention of the clavichord and the harpsichord.

The earliest pipe organs were massive structures. Upon their emergence, few companies actually made pipe organs. Even fewer people were trained to install and repair them. Their size and complexity made them difficult to work with, although the sound they produced was magnificent. Pipe organs often contained multiple keyboards to operate the many pipes and produce the rich sounds that the instrument is associated with. Naturally, this was not the type of instrument that the average person played at home. Most pipe organs were located in churches and concert halls.

Eventually, more compact versions were invented. Pipe organs evolved into regular organs, which most people of today are familiar with. They were more easily afforded by smaller parishes and even private owners. They were also much more compact and easier to repair.

Keyboard instrument in the Musical Instrument ...
Various keyboard instruments (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The clavichord entered the scene in the early 15th century. It first emerged as a "practice instrument." Since not all musicians could afford or had easy access to an organ, the clavichord became a convenient alternative. It provided organists a means for practicing at home without having to go to a church or other location to find an organ. Clavichords were smaller than today's piano and may be compared to today's smaller keyboard synthesizers, minus the need for electricity.

It was likely very shortly after that the harpsichord was invented. The harpsichord more closely resembled today's piano. This may be part of the reason that people believe the harpsichord was the first keyboard instrument. Modern pianos are based on a very similar design to its predecessors. Harpsichords, however, were much smaller (though larger than the clavichord). The harpsichord had many variations that operated on the same basic musical principles. Some of these include the virginal, the spinet and the clavicytherium.

Keyboard instrument in the Musical Instrument ...
Hieronymus Albrecht Hass, Hamburg, 1734 - clavecin.
 (Photo credit: 
Wikipedia)
Like music trends always do, the harpsichord fell out of fashion upon the advent of the piano. The piano, though usually a bit larger, produced a cleaner sound. Harpsichords became all but obsolete within just a few decades. Ironically, harpsichords have come back into fashion in recent years because of their unique and distinctive sound. They are often heard as part of the backup for many contemporary songs, though relatively few people actually own a genuine harpsichord.

The piano is by far the most common keyboard instrument today. They are found in nearly every school and church in North America, as well as in millions of private homes. Most every music student has at least some piano training. They are one of the easiest instruments to learn to play and provide a good musical basis for learning other instruments.

Of course, with an electronics-loving society came the natural evolution of the piano to a plug-in version. These are commonly referred to as synthesizers. Aside from the obvious difference from the piano in the requirement of electricity, synthesizers are capable of mimicking many different instruments. Even the most rudimentary of synthesizers usually have several different instrument modes. The more complex the machine, the more sounds it is able to reproduce. More expensive models are extremely complex and technical. Their technology is of such quality that it can be difficult to distinguish their sound from the actual instrument they are mimicking.

New advances in technology, especially in computers, are being made every year. How this will affect the further evolution of keyboard instruments remains to be seen. It appears, though, that the good old fashioned piano is here to stay for awhile.

    Duane Shinn is the author of the popular online newsletter on piano chords, available free at Exciting Piano Chords & Chord Progressions! [http://www.playpiano.com/WhyYouShouldTakeDuane]
    Article Source: EzineArticles


Tuesday, December 27, 2016

What Are the Top 5 Easy and Quality Collections for the ORGAN From the Romantic Period?

Many famous organ pieces from the Romantic period are inaccessible for organists whose technical skills are not yet fully developed. Such works usually have the advanced pedal part, thick chromatic texture requiring constant use of finger substitution which is necessary to achieve the perfect legato touch. Yet many organists are in need to identify the compositions which could easily be played after a little practice. In this article, I will provide a list of 5 collections from the Romantic period which are easy to learn and wonderful to listen to.


Photo of Jeanne Rongier’s 1885 painting “César Franck at the console of the organ at St. Clotilde Basilica, Paris, 1885”. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


1) “Practical Organist” by Alexander Guilmant. A superior collection by the “Alexander the Great” of the organ which can be played either on the organ with or without the pedal division, as well as on the harmonium. Here organists will find fine short compositions suitable for liturgical organ playing, such as communions, versets, offertories, marches, postludes etc. Every piece is skillfully composed and could also be used for recitals. Perfect as a preparation for more advanced organ sonatas by Guilmant.

2) “L’Organiste” by Cesar Franck. This collection contains 7 suites of 7 pieces each intended to play on the organ or harmonium. Every suite uses different major and minor keys. Shorter works are wonderful for liturgical service playing while the larger concluding pieces at the end of each suite might sound very well during recitals as well. Perfect as a preparation for longer works of the founder of the French symphonic organ school.

3) “Heures Mystiques” by Leon Boellmann. In this collection you will find a wealth of easy and delightful short versets which you can use at various places in liturgical setting. If you like the Suite Gothique of this French composer, these versets will serve perfectly as a preparation.


4) “Music for Organ” by Jacques Lemmens. This Belgian composer is responsible for creating the first modern highly influential organ method “Ecole d”Orgue”. He methodically presents his system of playing legato on the organ which was successfully used by the later French composers, such as Franck, Widor, Vierne, and others. Like other authors of the time, Lemmens provided many versets, pieces for offertory, communion, and other liturgical occasions.

5) “Organiste Moderne” by Louis-James-Alfred Lefebure-Wely. The music of the favorite organ demonstrator of the most significant French organ builder of the period, Aristide Cavaille-Coll is very charming. The composer employs the popular harmonic language of the time which is similar to the operatic style. For today’s audiences, his music is very delightful to hear. At the same time, these pieces are easy enough to be playable by organists who have a small amount of piano background. Pedal part is easy as well.

If you regularly practice the pieces from the above collections, you will improve your legato technique and prepare for more advanced compositions from the Romantic period.


By Vidas Pinkevicius

By the way, do you want to learn to play the King of Instruments – the pipe organ? If so, download my FREE video guide “How to Master Any Organ Composition” http://www.organduo.lt/organ-tutorial.html in which I will show you my EXACT steps, techniques, and methods that I use to practice, learn and master any piece of organ music.
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Sunday, December 18, 2016

How to Play ORGAN Chorale Fantasy "Komm Heiliger Geist", BWV 651 by BACH in 9 Steps

Johann Sebastian Bach (aged 61) in a portrait ...
Johann Sebastian Bach 
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Would you like to learn to play organ chorale fantasy "Komm Heiliger Geist, BWV 651 by Bach? If so, you will need to know the exact steps which will help you master this fantastic composition. In this article, I will share with you my recommendations on how to learn to play this piece and be ready for public performance.

Step 1 - Analyze the piece. In this step you will have to analyze the key, the texture, compositional techniques used and tonal plan of the piece. This will help you to understand how the piece is put together.

Step 2 - Write in fingering. Writing in fingering will help you to know exactly which fingers to use.
 This will definitely prevent many mistakes which would occur, if you play with accidental fingerings.

Step 3 - Write in pedaling. In this step, you will need to know the rules of Baroque pedaling techniques. Early pedaling for Baroque pieces is different from the Romantic and modern pedaling techniques.

Step 4 - Ornaments. This step is very crucial if you want to play this piece in the Baroque style.

Step 5 - Articulation. Even more than the previous step, correct articulation will make your playing sound stylistically appropriate. Note that Baroque music generally is not played legato.

Step 6 - Tempo. With this step you have to understand the correct ideal tempo for performance of this piece and for practicing this composition. You have to also take into consideration the acoustics of the room which will determine the exact tempo for performance.

Step 7 - Registration. In this step, you will need to know which stops to use both for practicing this piece and which kind of stop combinations to use for concert performance or church service. The registration will be different on various types of organ - large or small.

Step 8 - Practice the piece. In this step, you will actually start practicing this composition. You will have to figure out the way to practice efficiently and effectively. This will allow you to learn this piece and be ready for public performance in the shortest amount of time possible.



Step 9 - Memorization. Memorizing this piece is optional and you don't need to perform this piece in public from memory. However, I strongly recommend for you to memorize it because this will help you truly perfect this fantastic composition and advance to a whole new level of mastery even if you choose to play it from the score.

Apply my tips in your practice and this will help you to master organ chorale fantasy "Komm Heiliger Geist", BWV 651 by Bach. I am sure you will have much fun perfecting the piece. This will definitely help you to advance in organ playing.



Monday, November 7, 2016

ORGAN REGISTRATION: 9 Tips for Registering BACH - Prelude and Fugue in B Flat Major, BWV 560

Playing the Prelude and Fugue in B flat Major, BWV 560 with convincing registration will result in more authentic performance. Organists who practice this piece should know general rules for choosing which stops to use. With this piece, the registration for public performance should be different than for practicing alone. If you are searching for the best ways to register this prelude and fugue, read the following 9 tips.

Cesar Franck
1) Do not change the registration in the fugue. Although it is possible to add a reed stop in the two-part cycle, such as this, the length of the piece does not suggest the need for stop changes after the prelude. Since this prelude and fugue last only about 3 minutes, it is better to play with one registration throughout.

2) "Organo Pleno" registration. The traditional way of registering a prelude and fugue in the German Baroque style is to use "Organo Pleno" registration or a principal chorus. This concept means that you should build a pyramid of principal stops, starting with the principal 16' or 8' and building upwards (4', 2 2/3', 2 etc.)

3) Use mixtures both in the manuals and the pedals. Try out the mixture alone on the main manual and see if it is based on the 16' (starts at 5 1/3' level) or 8' (starts at 2 2/3' level or higher). If it is based on the 16', then use 16' stop in the manual together with it. Otherwise, playing with 16' is optional.

4) Add flutes if the mixtures are too harsh. Check your mixtures and see if you like their sound. In some Neobaroque-style organs, the mixtures are really high-pitched and sound harsh. In such case sometimes it is OK to omit the mixture and use higher principals and mutations instead (1 1/3' and 1').

5) Check if the principals are not too narrow. In many Neobaroque-style instruments, the principals are quite narrow in diameter. In such case, try to add 8' and 4' flutes for more rounded sound. However, under normal circumstances, principals and flutes should not mix in the Organ Pleno registration.

6) Couple the manuals if you want. If you have more than one manual which has a principal chorus as well, you can couple them both. This way your registration will be even more powerful.

7) Add pedal reeds for more spice. Use the powerful 16' and/or 8' reeds in the pedal division, such as Posaune and Trompete. If you decide to use only one reed stop, the first reed you should add is Posaune 16' and not Trompete 8'. This is because in Central Germany in the Baroque period, even relatively small organs very often had Posaune but not Trompete.


8) Check the balance between manuals and pedals. Once you choose the manual and pedal stops, try to listen to the overall sound ensemble. Since it is a polyphonic composition with highly independent parts, both manuals and pedals should be clearly audible but not too loud in comparison with each other.

9) Practice registration. It is best to practice using only the soft stops, such as 8' and 4' flutes with 16' in the pedals. This way your ears will not become tired and you can practice for a longer period of time.

Remember these tips when you practice or perform the Prelude and Fugue in B flat Major, BWV 560 in public. It is a good practice to listen to different recordings of this piece on historical organs and to compare the registrations in each. Since every organ is different, try to follow your taste and ears based on your idea of the "ideal Baroque sound" for this composition. This way your playing will become more authentic and you will use your organ more convincingly.

    By Vidas Pinkevicius
    By the way, do you want to learn my special powerful techniques which help me to master any piece of organ music up to 10 times faster? If so, download my FREE Organ Practice Guide.
    Or if you really want to learn to play any organ composition at sight fluently and without mistakes while working only 15 minutes a day, check out my systematic master course in Organ Sight-Reading.

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