Sounds like Canadian geese
Five octaves lower.
Dear Vidas and Ausra,
Can both hands play on the swell manual or is it usually the right hand which plays on the swell? I am studying a piece which needs Bassoon 16' for the left hand and on my home organ I do not have the Bassoon 16' stop on the great manual. I only have it on the swell so the left hand would play on the swell. Is it possible to just change hands and manuals at will according to the available stops?
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Vidas: Hi, guys. This is Vidas ...
Ausra: And Ausra.
Vidas: Let's start today's Episode 18 of #AskVidasAndAusra Podcast. Today's question was posted by Joanna. She writes, "Dear Vidas and Ausra, can both hands play on the Swell manual, or is it usually the right hand which plays on the Swell? I'm studying a piece which needs Bassoon 16’ the left hand, and on my home organ, I do not have the Bassoon 16’ on the Great manual. I only have it on the Swell, so the left hand would play on the swell. Is it possible to just change hands and manuals at will, according to the available stops?"
Ausra, do you understand this initial original situation? I think the piece that she's playing calls for Bassoon 16’ just for the bass, right?
Ausra: Yes, that's right.
Vidas: The right hand would play something different, right?
Vidas: Do you think that she could play it on manual or two manuals?
Ausra: I still think she must play it on the two different manuals. Simply what she has to do is to play it with her left hand on the other manual, which has 16’, and then on the Swell in this case, and then to play the right hand on the Great.
Vidas: Right. Bassoon 16’ is sort of a German Fagott in the Swell division, too, or Ruckpositive sometimes. It's not like a very loud Trumpet 16’.
Vidas: It's not a Trumpet or Bombarde 16’ like on the Great sometimes they have. It's sort of a reed, which can be played as a bass part, like for continuo part in Baroque pieces for the left hand for the bass, but one octave lower than normal 8’ pitch level, right?
Vidas: I imagine one particular piece which generally works for this is from Bach's Clavierubung III “Christ, unser Herr zum Jordan kam”.
Ausra: Of course.
Vidas: It has four parts, four voices, and the left hand has the running 16th-note motion.
Vidas: There are two voices in the right hand part, soprano and alto.
Vidas: They sort of imitate each other in 16th notes, more or less. That is obviously on another manual, maybe, with principal stops, right?
Vidas: The pedals then take eight foot trumpet for the choral tune.
Vidas: In larger note values. That's very common, I would say, even in the baroque type of choral prelude, this position, this type of Bassoon or Fagott 16’ for the left hand, for the bass part.
Ausra: Yes, that's true.
Vidas: Have you played it yourself sometimes, this type of registration, Ausra?
Ausra: Yeah, I believe I played like this quite a few times.
Vidas: How does it sound? Do you like it? Do you like it one octave lower for the bass sound?
Ausra: For the left hand, you mean, yes?
Ausra: Yes, I like it, actually.
Vidas: It's sort of a rumbling bass, right?
Vidas: Like a wind instrument playing lower, one octave lower. In my mind, it sounds very convincing.
Ausra: Yes. It sounds like you are playing pedals, basically, in your left hand. Of course, you can do much more with your left hand than with your feet, I assume, so it sounds very nice and exciting, that left hand voice.
Vidas: Yes. Even the famous choral prelude by Bach Wachet auf, BWV 645, could be played this way. The bass could be played with the left hand using 16’ stop.
Vidas: Then tenor Cantus Firmus could be played with the pedals, maybe the trumpet. Then, of course, the Principal 8’ would be played by the right hand in the soprano.
Vidas: You people can try this position. It's different. You have to get used to this.
How was your day so far, Ausra? Have you had the chance to touch the instrument?
Ausra: Yes, I did have a chance.
Vidas: What did you play today?
Ausra: Piece d’Orgue and I’m working on Mendelssohn’s Andante Variations.
Vidas: What's the most challenging thing for you right now in Mendelssohn?
Ausra: To play a legato, actually.
Vidas: Right, to use finger substitutions, probably?
Ausra: Sure, yeah.
Vidas: Yeah, that's a must in this style, I think, too. You have to be very precise and use all kinds of legato techniques, which are not used for Baroque style, for early music.
I went to church today to tune this organ, and our student, Arnoldas from Unda Maris studio helped me to press the keys, and I tuned the organ for tomorrow's recital that Weston Jennings will be playing, from America. He's visiting our church. Afterwards, we had lunch with Arnoldas. Actually, we had podcast conversation. So it will be very interest to find out for our listeners, probably, in depth what he is up to, what are his challenges, and things that he's working, and his plans for the next year, things like that.
Ausra: Okay. I'm looking forward to hear it.
Vidas: So, guys, I hope this conversation was useful to you. Send us more of your questions, of course. Please visit our website at www.organduo.lt where of course you will find lots of organ playing advice and inspiration and 10 day organ playing mini course. You can subscribe for that.
And remember, when you practice ...
Ausra: Miracles happen.