Vidas: Let’s start Episode 138 of #AskVidasAndAusra podcast. Listen to the audio version here. This question was sent by Rivadavia. And she writes:
“I am studying at least 15 minutes a day as suggested and have discovered that sometimes laziness or tiredness goes away and I can study for at least 1 hour in all. I love reading your podcasts, because I learn a lot from the difficulties that advanced musicians have. As I said in another email, I am a beginner (some sheet music from Ana Magdalenna Bach's book is still a bit difficult for me…) and I am no longer a child, but I intend to study until the end of my life because I like to learn music more and more.
I am also very happy to be in contact with renowned organists, as well as you, since I am in an early stage and, in another circumstance, I probably would not even come close to musicians like you. Reading one of the last podcasts, the name of Bernard Winsemius was mentioned. I had the opportunity to watch a video on YouTube of this organist playing a work by Nikolaus Bruhns and found it very cool the way he played. The mastery over the instrument and the score. Sometimes when I'm too lazy, I'm out of work, I watch this video and I get motivated enough to do AT LEAST the fifteen minutes of practice.
I have a piano-type MIDI keyboard at home, and I use free "Grandorgue" software to simulate organ sound. If you have never used it, it is very interesting and there is also the "Hauptwerk", but the full version is paid for. Of course they do not replace the wonderful real organ, but it helps to fantasize a little and learn to use the stops. Well, in that regard, I have a question. I know that there is an infinity of stops, but of the 10 or 20 most important, which could not be missing, which are considered the most fundamental? Is it possible to answer this question?
Thank you so much for your generosity in helping so many people around the world, like me.”
So Ausra, first of all: ten or twenty most important stops--in your opinion, where do we start?
Ausra: Well, I would say the Principal stops are the most important.
Vidas: An organ, large or small, should have a principal, right?
Ausra: Well, unless it’s a practice organ like the one in our house. It doesn’t have principals because it doesn’t have enough space, and it would be too loud. But in general, yes; the Principal is the most necessary organ stop.
Vidas: And those principals can be of various length.
Ausra: Sure. You can have Principal 16’ in the pedal; sometimes manual, too, in a large organ; then 8’, 4’, 2’, and even smaller.
Vidas: Mhm. Let’s see...of course, we need some flutes, right?
Ausra: Yes, definitely; this would be the second most important stop.
Vidas: Out of the flutes, what would you like the most, to have?
Ausra: Out of the flutes? Well, you know...I don’t know, if I prefer like Chimney Flute, or Gedackt-colored flute. Which one do you like the most? Or organ flute like Flute Harmonique, French style. It depends on the concrete stop; I could not say that, for example, “This one is my favorite.”
Vidas: The most interesting stop in the flute family, for me personally, on the St. John’s Church organ, might be Flauto Major, from the first manual. And of course, Flauto Minor, which is one octave higher, at 4’ length. Um...yes, I do like the Rohrflöte, and Gedackts as well.
Ausra: For me, my favorite flute at St. John’s Church is the Flute 4’ on the second manual.
Vidas: They call it Jula, right?
Ausra: Yes. That is my favorite.
Vidas: True. And it’s so deep in the organ, so it’s a little bit muffled, and it suits very well to play it alone.
Vidas: Do we need anything else, or would it be enough, to have just flutes...?
Ausra: Well, actually, these would be enough, to have already the sense of organ.
Vidas: But you mentioned the Principal chorus with mixtures, imitations…
Ausra: Yes, yes, yes, then I said that you can have higher pitched, even than the 2’; so the mixture would probably be the most recognizable organ stop, for amateurs; because if you watch a movie, or any kind of, I don’t know, documentary--
Ausra: And if you would have organ playing, you would get pleno sound, with mixtures.
Ausra: That’s how people in general have recognized the organ.
Vidas: True, true. Let’s imagine we have some string stops, also.
Ausra: Yes. These are very nice too; but probably not as common as principals and flutes and mixtures. But also it’s important to have them, and they are nice string quality stops.
Vidas: Viola, Salicional...
Ausra: Viola gamba…
Vidas: And undulating stops, too, like…
Ausra: Like Unda Maris...
Vidas: Viola Celeste.
Vidas: They work very well.
Ausra: But also, you can have organ without it, and you still can play a lot of music. And, well, reeds are common, too; but also, not every organ has it. I would say in Lithuania it’s not such an often-encountered stop. Like in Italy, too.
Ausra: You would not find many reed stops on historic Italian organs.
Vidas: Alright, so...now let’s build a hypothetical organ with twenty stops for Rivadavia.
Ausra: Ok, how many manuals? Two?
Vidas: I would say with twenty stops, you would need two manuals.
Ausra: Two manuals, and pedals.
Vidas: Not three.
Ausra: Of course, not three. Yes.
Vidas: Two manuals. So on the first manual might be...what, seven? Or six. Or eight stops. Six, seven, or eight?
Vidas: Let’s divide it into the sections.
Ausra: Well, ok, let’s do eight stops.
Vidas: Eight on the first manual, and then eight on the second manual.
Ausra: Maybe seven on the second, and five in the pedal.
Vidas: And then five in the pedal, right?
Vidas: We’ll see. So, out of eight in the Great, of course...do you think that it could have 8’ Principal, or 4’ Principal foundation?
Ausra: Well, now I’m thinking about it, it’s not too small an instrument for 8’ Principal.
8’, I think.
Vidas: I think 8’ would be fine, yes.
Vidas: That’s one, right?
Vidas: Do we need 16’ Bourdon?
Ausra: That would be very nice, yes.
Vidas: Two. Uh, some kind of flute, of 8’.
Ausra: Definitely, you definitely have to have…
Vidas: Let’s see, maybe Gedackt?
Ausra: Maybe Gedackt.
Vidas: Gedackt. Three. Now, four: do you need some strings on the first, or no?
Ausra: Well, not necessarily, I would say.
Vidas: Ok, so let’s go to the 4’ level.
Vidas: Octave 4’?
Ausra: Octave, yes.
Vidas: And Flute 4’.
Vidas: So that’s five.
Vidas: Ohh...we’re using stops very quickly now!
Ausra: I know! So, we have three left, so I would say it should be...Would you put Principal to foot, or Flute to foot?
Ausra: Principal. Ok, then we have a nice Principal chorus. And then of course, mixture: what kind of mixture would you add? How many of those?
Vidas: Uh...I would say three or four.
Ausra: Yes. And then, would you add a reed?
Ausra: Trompette 8’? Ok.
Vidas: Mhm. So that’s eight stops in the great.
Ausra: Yes. Now let’s move to the second manual!
Vidas: Okay. Second manual should be a little bit smaller in size, right…
Ausra: Well, since we decided to have seven stops.
Vidas: Okay. So maybe it would be built on the foundation of 4’ Principal…
Vidas: Which means we could have a Rohrflöte.
Ausra: 8’? Principal 4’?
Vidas: 8’. Principal 4’. Of course, don’t forget the strings…
Vidas: Before the Principal 4’, we could have a Viola, right?
Vidas: Viola--just one, or two? Viola, and maybe Viola Celeste.
Ausra: So these would be 8’ stops, both of them, yes?
Vidas: Right, both of them. So...and the fourth would be Principal 4’.
Vidas: What’s next?
Ausra: So now we have three stops left.
Vidas: Do we need a flute 4’?
Vidas: Mhm. What kind of flute?
Ausra: Well...what would you suggest? Something like at St. John’s? Or not necessarily?
Vidas: This is atypical for a global audience, right? Maybe we could name a more typical stop, right? Something like Flauto Traverso, or something like that…
Ausra: Yes. But it would be 4’.
Ausra: And then I think you should add Flute 2’, too, not from the second manual.
Vidas: Yes, so that’s number 6.
Ausra: That’s 6, yes, and now we have to have some sort of treat. Maybe Oboe 8’, or Krummhorn 8’--what would you suggest?
Vidas: Oboe or Krummhorn, or Vox Humana?
Vidas: Hmm. Hard choice.
Vidas: Oboe...and Vox Humana or Krummhorn. Would this organ have a swell box? Not necessarily.
Ausra: Not necessarily, yes.
Vidas: So then, maybe...You go ahead!
Ausra: I would have probably an Oboe.
Vidas: Ok. That would be probably a more Romantic option.
Ausra: Since we have already those two string stops…
Vidas: Mhm. Good. So that’s seven. No mixture, right?
Ausra: No mixture.
Ausra: But that’s okay, I mean…
Vidas: But that’s okay, unless we could sacrifice one of the…
Ausra: Pedal stops?
Vidas: No. Maybe one string.
Ausra: Yes, that’s a possibility, too.
Vidas: And have a mixture instead of Celeste.
Ausra: Maybe you want to have a mixture on the second manual, too.
Vidas: Or sacrifice one pedal stop. Let’s go to the pedals now.
Vidas: What would be the lowest Principal based in the pedals?
Ausra: 16’, of course.
Ausra: Because we have the 8’ Principal in the first manual, so we have to have Principal 16’ in the pedal.
Vidas: Mhm. Ok. So that’s one.
Ausra: Or...you would not add Principal? I think it’s fair, to have 16’ Principal in the pedal.
Vidas: Yeah, let’s have 16’...
Ausra: Because our pedal division is not so big, not so large--we have only 5 stops. It would be nice to have a Principal 16’.
Vidas: And of course, then, Subbass 16’.
Ausra: Subbass 16’, yes. Which is a flute stop.
Vidas: What else? You would need, probably, Octavbass 8’.
Ausra: Yes, yes, Octavbass 8’. This is a Principal stop.
Vidas: And Flautbass 8’.
Vidas: Right? That’s four.
Ausra: And then what else would you do? An Oktave 4’, or…?
Vidas: Or reed?
Ausra: Or reed, yes. That’s a hard question. I probably would have Octave 4’.
Ausra: Because you know, you could actually couple the Trompette from the first manual.
Vidas: And I would choose the reed, because every division, now, would have a reed--
Ausra: Except pedal.
Vidas: And a different pitch level than the manuals. 16’ Posaune.
Ausra: And how the Pleno would sound without mixture?
Vidas: You could have a manual coupler, right?
Ausra: That’s right. Maybe--okay, and which reed would you choose, then? Posaune or Trompette?
Vidas: I would go with Posaune.
Ausra: Posaune 16’, yes.
Vidas: Mhm. So. We have five stops in the pedals, and seven in the second manual, and the first one, on the great--
Ausra: And of course you would add couplers, like you know, that you would be able to couple both manuals together, and to also add the pedal.
Vidas: Yeah, second to the first, second to the pedals, and first to the pedals.
Vidas: That’s it.
Vidas: That’s all we need.
Ausra: And actually, with such an organ, you could play a lot of music.
Vidas: True. Will it have mechanical action, or not? For you?
Ausra: If I would build an organ? Yes. The action would be mechanical.
Vidas: Mhm, because the touch would be more sensitive; you could have more connection to the instrument.
Vidas: Excellent. So guys, this is our sample 20-stop organ on two manuals and pedals; if you like it, you can build it for Rivadavia! Or build it for yourself! Alright; this was Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
Vidas: Don’t forget to send us more of your questions; we love helping you grow. 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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