Today's question was posted by Sandra, our Total Organist student and she asks if all verses of the hymn must be played at the same tempo.
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Vidas and Ausra
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Vidas: Hello guys, this is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
Vidas: Welcome to #AskVidasAndAusra podcast, number 9. Today's question is posted by Sandra, and she asks whether all the verses of the hymns have to be played at the same tempo. Basically, can you play a verse or two in a different tempo, like slower or faster. What do you think Ausra?
Ausra: You know, I would play it all in the same tempo.
Ausra: I think that's the way it should be.
Vidas: Do you think that congregation would be confused if you changed the tempos?
Ausra: Yes. And I see why she would want to do it, in order to change tempo. Maybe because of the text. But still, I think you have to keep everything tempo.
Vidas: Remember when we were studying, let's say choir conducting, right?
Vidas: In the early days, sometimes we would conduct maybe folk songs. Harmonized folk songs. Lithuanian harmonized folk songs, and they would have like several verses. Like three, four, or five verses. And I remember, and I don't know if you had the same experience. My teacher once told that, "Well you could conduct one particular verse slower". Did you do that with your teacher?
Ausra: No, I didn't do it, but I remember, let's say when going from loud verse to a soft verse. Sometimes I would slow down myself. But when I remember what my teacher would tell me, that it's wrong way to do it, because piano doesn't mean that it should be slower.
Vidas: Yeah, that's probably the most appropriate thing, unless ... Here is the exception. I think in Sandra's case could apply to the situation. I think the congregation should remain silent during this particular verse. For example, if Sandra would play an interlude. Interlude between the two different verses, and this interlude would be in minor key. You could change the key of the mode, right? The mode from major to minor when you play interludes. Do you think that in this situation, the tempo might be slower?
Ausra: We're still keeping though to my opinion that you need to keep a steady tempo during hymn, because it's based on the congregation singing, and I think you need to keep the same tempo. That's my opinion.
Vidas: But you know why I'm telling this, it’s because you know they have, sometimes, in the Baroque times those Chorale Partitas and some of the verses of the partitas, some of the variation, like by Johann Pachelbel, for example, or Brahms. Some of them are in minor key and they have chromatic movements downward, for example, or upwards sometimes.
Ausra: But still, I think we have to keep the same tempo. At the beginning you have to take tempo which will be steady throughout the piece in all the variations. That's my opinion.
Vidas: What about if the meter changes?
Ausra: Well that's an interesting question.
Vidas: Meter changes and then the verse also has in a different mode.
Ausra: You know, I think you could write a doctoral dissertation about this topic, like meter changing and keeping tempo.
Vidas: So all of these are very advanced situations, right? Very unlikely that anybody will try, right? Chromatic variation in the middle of the congregational singing. Changing the mode, and then maybe changing the meter.
Ausra: And you know JS Bach got fired because of his accompanying congregational singing, doing probably too many interludes between verses. So be careful, you know.
Vidas: Right. Not all the pastors want and like artistically interesting performances.
Vidas: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Well we will talk about that in a later episode. What does it mean to perform, and what does it mean to simply present a hymn. That's for another day I think. Okay, so guys I hope that this was useful to you. If you want to send us your questions, Ausra, how should they post it? Should they use hashtag?
Ausra: Maybe not necessarily.
Vidas: You could just simply send an email to us, right? I think we will find it. It's not like we will get a million emails a day. A little less I think.
Ausra: Sure, definitely. Yes. Less than a million.
Vidas: So far. Good. So send us your emails, or just comments. If you want you can use hashtag. It's easier to organize this way. And if you want more advice, if people want more advice and inspiration, where should they go Ausra?
Ausra: Just to visit our website.
Vidas: www.organduo.lt. And you could subscribe to get daily doze of organ playing inspiration, and practical advice. And you can get notified anytime we post new advice and answers. This way this will come to your email inbox. Okay, guys this was Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
Vidas: And remember, when you practice ...
Ausra: Miracles happen.
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Drs. Vidas Pinkevicius and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene
Organists of Vilnius University , creators of Secrets of Organ Playing.
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