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

Friday, November 9, 2018

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

Cesar Franck
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.

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 to 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.

    Article Source: EzineArticles


Saturday, October 20, 2018

HARMONIUM - The Pipe Organ-Like Instrument

A harmonium. Operation of the two large pedals...
A harmonium.
Operation of the two large pedals at the bottom of the case supplies wind to the reeds.
(Photo credit: 
Wikipedia)
A Harmonium is a musical instrument, a self-standing musical keyboard, similar to a Reed Organ or Pipe Organ. It consists of free reeds and the notes are produced by air being blown through reeds that produce a sound similar to that of an accordion. The air is supplied by a hand-operated bellows alternately depressed by the player.

Description of the Harmonium
Harmoniums are in the family of free-reed aerophones. Harmoniums look like pipe organs, a rectangular-sized box with a key on the upper length. Each harmonium has a bellows at the back that is pumped with one hand while the other hand plays the keys. Inside they contain multiple compartments. There are different sections of free reeds in each compartment. The dimension of each reed in the bank produces a different pitch. Engaging Stops directs the pumped air to various compartments. Each playing Key and each Drone controls the air through the reeds within a compartment. When the Drones are engaged, they provide a lasting harmony note and are played in unison with the keyboard.

They used to be popular in churches and chapels where a pipe organ could not be used due to being too large or too expensive. Harmoniums are lighter than similarly-sized pianos and are not as easily damaged in transportation, thus they were also preffered throughout the colonies of the European powers in this period- not only because it was easier to ship the instrument out to where it was needed, but it was also easier to transport overland in areas where proper roads and railways were not existent.

The British introduced harmoniums to India during their ruling period. The instrument quickly became popular there: it was portable, reliable and easy to mater. Its popularity has increased to the present day, and the harmonium is an important instrument in many types of Indian music. It is commonly found in Indian homes. Though derived from the designs developed in France, the harmonium was developed further in India in unique ways, such as the addition of drone stops and a scale changing mechanism. A popular usage is by practitioners of different faiths, who use it in the devotional singing of prayers, called bhajan or kirtan.



There is at least one harmonium in any mandir (Hindu temple) around the world. The harmonium is also commonly accompanied by a drum known as the tabla or by the mridanga. Many Hare Krishna devotees have mastered this instrument and offer their services by playing beautiful music during the kirtana services and ceremonies at the temples.

    By Victor Epand
    Victor Epand is an expert consultant for Krishna art, religious gifts from India, and Hare Krishna books.
    Article Source: EzineArticles


Wednesday, September 26, 2018

What Is the Secret to a Good ORGAN PEDAL Technique?

English: A 30-note pedalboard of a Rieger organ.
A 30-note pedalboard of a Rieger organ. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Playing organ pedals can be a challenging task. All these fast-moving passages with our feet can give the organist much trouble and it can be frustrating to learn difficult pedal lines. However, there is one secret to overcome challenging pedal parts and develop a superb pedal technique.

Perhaps the most famous organist of the 20th century, the Frenchman Marcel Dupre once wrote that the secret to the perfect pedal technique is the flexibility of an ankle. Here I would like to tell you a little story about Dupre when he was a teenager. This story is, of course, related to pedal technique, as you will see.

In his youth, Dupre used to practice a lot on the piano. In fact, the very first piano pieces that he learned was a collection called "Musical ABC". It consisted of as many little pieces as there are letters in the alphabet. So Dupre learned them all during one summer.

When he started to play the organ, one time he cut one of his wrists on the broken glass. The cut was quite dangerous - only millimeters away from the main nerves of the hand. So for some months, he could not play the organ with his hands. Did he give it up? No, he started practicing the pedal playing. In fact, he was so furious that he could not play with his hands and as he wrote later, he started playing the pedals with vengeance.

By the way, all these months he practiced pedal scales and arpeggios. He became so good at them that he could play any musical passage with his feet on the pedals. Later in his life, he even published a collection of all major and minor scales and arpeggios as a help for organists to perfect their pedal technique.

Of course, we all know about how good are scales and arpeggios for our finger technique. Some people practice them regularly. However, pedal scales are underused, and not too many organists know their real value: they help to achieve the flexibility of an ankle.

No wonder why organists of the French school develop an unbeatable pedal technique. We all have heard of French women organists playing with an incredibly high heels unbelievably hard pedal line with ease and elegance. This is how they achieve that level of mastery: they practice pedal scales.
So this is the secret how to achieve a perfect pedal technique: practice pedal scales and arpeggios regularly and you will have no difficulty with your challenging pedal parts.



Friday, May 4, 2018

The Grand Old CHURCH ORGAN

Small church organ
Pipe Organ - Photo by quinet 
The organ is one of the oldest instruments in European classical music with many heralding it as the grandest musical instrument in terms of both its size and range. The most common type of organ is the pipe organ so called because the sound is produced from groups of pipes the sets of which are called ranks. Organs are the mainstay of many large venues pipe organs are found most often in Churches, Synagogues, Concert Halls and Theatres to name the most common ones.

A pipe organ produces sound by driving pressurized air through pipes that they player of the instrument selects via the keyboard of which there are sometimes one or two. Referencing back to the sets of pipes on the organ which are in sets called racks, each pipe produces a certain pitch. The groups or racks as they are known all offer a different sound in terms of how loud, the pitch and the timbre. The racks are operated via the stops which are the controls of the organ and you can opt to play the pipes singly or as part of a combination. As I said before a pipe organ has either one or two keyboards which are obviously played by the hands and there is a pedal board which is operated by the player's feet.

One main difference or advantage to a pipe organ is that the pipes can sustain a note for as long as the player has the corresponding key pressed, unlike the piano where the sound dissipates off. The other well-known type of organ is the electric organ which you may have heard of before, especially the Hammond organ which was used prolifically by many bands in the sixties.

Church organs were first recorded as early as the 7th century and Pope Vitalian has been recorded as the one who introduced the organ to religious services. It has also been recorded that even earlier or in some other religious sects that organs or indeed musical instruments did not exist in churches as they were viewed to be secular (which means with no religious or spiritual basis). Pipe organs are not only found in Christian churches but also in Jewish Synagogues and all throughout Europe, America and Australasia.

Throughout the United Kingdom in many churches, the organ one of the main focusses in the building. The organ traditionally is incorporated in many different types of services throughout the church including Christenings and weddings.




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.



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.



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.