Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start episode 311 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by David, and he writes that he is dreaming to play organs for fundraising concerts and for worship accompaniment, but obstacles in the way of his dream is a busy life, and that means that he cannot practice as often as he’d like. Ausra, have you ever played at fundraising concerts?
A: I don’t remember, now, actually. I might have played some in the United States, but that was a long way back.
V: I remember playing for Casparini organ in the Holy Ghost Church in Vilnius for members of a local Rotary club, and they tried to gather funds for the restoration of this instrument, but that was, I think, a small sum of money, in comparison to what was needed at that time.
A: Do you think such a concert is a sufficient way to raise funds?
V: It seems that everybody is doing them, right, like it’s a socially appropriate way of gathering funds involving community, congregation, perhaps. Why not? It’s one of the ways. David has a good idea for that. Of course, it depends how much a congregation is involved in general in the cultural life of the parish, of the church, and how much they feel ownership of the project, right?
V: If, for example, they are alienated by some politics going on inside of the congregation, people won’t bother joining in those fundraising efforts so much. I think the important thing is for them to feel welcomed and appreciated.
A: Yes, for example, in Lithuania, I don’t think you could raise money by playing an organ recital. Somehow, I doubt it.
V: In general, I think, in Lithuania, culturally acceptable ways to gather funds are somewhat different, right?
V: We always see on TV…
A: Usually it’s through pop music.
V: Pop music concerts, which are broadcast on TV.
A: Yes, and advertised all over.
V: Yes, and then people can call in, and a fraction of their….
A: Call would go to…
V: ...amount of the money that they would make on that call would go to that project, but I think it’s a very tiny fraction.
A: I’m not sure about that.
V: I’ve read it, that in general, some of those telephone companies are taking the big chunk. What else can people do to gather funds involving organs? How can we maybe think creatively in today’s environment with technology going across the board globally even, right? When you play a fundraising concert, this is just a local event. How many people will come? That many people will hear, and even a smaller portion of them will react and engage and give donations. But, what if people went globally with this, like.. platforms like Patreon, or Kickstarter, or Indiegogo.
A: Well, I don’t know. That might work, and may not.
V: It works for many other projects, right, for technology oriented projects. Let’s say you are a startup, you have some nice invention in your mind, and you want to gather funds to complete this idea, so you first create a prototype, and then show the people like a demo version, and then people get excited about that, and what happens later, they start to donate because the demo version is incomplete, and that way it could be done. But with organs, I’ve seen people do it for organ restorations, for example, and I’m not sure if David is planning to do fundraising for organ restorations, or just to play organ in fund raising concerts, which is different.
A: Yes, it is! Because, for example, I don’t think you would fund-raise in Lithuania for building an organ or restoring an organ, because in our country, it’s more common to raise funds for poor, for sick people. For example, we have this huge food gathering thing. I think at least 5 each year. There are more than, I think, 100 grocery stores that are involved, and there are two or three days that you can buy long lasting products and donate them.
V: Why do you think this campaign is so successful?
A: Well, I think it’s because it’s so widely spread, and nobody wants to be hungry, so I guess that everybody thinks that, “today I have food but maybe tomorrow I will not have it, and I will need support.”
V: Like, they have compassion.
A: Sure, because truly, we have too many poor people, especially elderly and of course lonely mothers with children.
V: Right. You know what I think, also? Social media might be a good catalyst for inspiring people to donate, but now, social media is no longer that effective as it was before, because Facebook and Twitter and Instagram, they all changed their algorithms in favor of paid advertisement, or communication between friends. So, what you see in your Facebook feed or what I see in my Facebook feed basically reflects my friends to whom I’m connected more strongly, right? I’m not seeing all those pictures and posts from all my network, just a fraction of it. So, if a person has a fund raising event, they might not involve their entire network, just a small portion of it, unless they decide to go the paid advertising way, and pay to Facebook to show the ads. But, somehow it contradicts the idea of raising funds, right, because they don’t have funds first of all to begin with?
V: What about those new platforms based on Blockchain? We’ve been using Steemit for a while now, and just recently, I think since October, we started posting on ONO network. O-n-o it is spelled, and the idea is that with every post, with every like, with every share and comment, you get back cryptocurrency called ONOT.
A: But it is worth nothing yet.
V: Yet… it’s worth nothing
A: So I think it’s like play for adults.
V: But wait until they allow people to trade on exchanges!
A: Well, let’s see. And I think you are judging false hopes.
V: Maybe. Could be. But imagine if I’m right, right? If people can really transfer those funds and convert them into real currencies somehow later on. That would change, a little bit, the landscape of fund-raising, too, because let’s say David wants to raise funds playing organs. All he has to do is just document his life, post in pictures and articles, and then people will like and share and engage, it could be with organ playing, of course, for organists, and he will start gathering cryptocurrency.
A: I don’t think he will get a sufficient amount.
V: We’ll see in the future, but that’s the idea, you see! The worth, of course, of that token “Onot” depends on the market itself—on demand—how many people will buy it.
A: So you see, this is optimistic, and I am pessimistic, or realistic.
V: So maybe the truth is somewhere in the middle, right?
A: I just believe that the world is full of social injustice in general, and some are very poor and the others are very rich—bloody rich.
V: The rich get richer with any system.
A: Yes. And I think we have more poor people with each year.
V: Right, but maybe that’s the reason they created such social Blockchain based networks, that people from poor countries could join in and become more financially independent.
A: Well, let’s talk about it maybe in two years.
V: In a few years. Yeah, we’ll see. Right. Every system has its own flaws, of course, it’s not perfect, and of course people, once they find out that it’s money involved, that you can gather money for your posts and likes, then they try to cheat the system, right, with spam comments, spam content, bots like software, posting instead of humans, and if the system itself cannot get rid of those fake accounts and abusers, then everybody suffers, you see?
V: We’ll see in a few years, how it develops. But, I think it doesn’t hurt to try, right? What if I’m right in a few years, and people will wait for a few years to see the results. Of course, the early adopters like we are will benefit more than late comers.
A: But, you know, if you have needs today, you cannot wait for a few years. So, that’s the problem. If you are rich enough to be able to live well today, you can do experiments and wait for a few years.
V: I read that people in Venezuela, for example, a very corrupt government, and it’s politically unstable, and financially basically very struggling country. People get a monthly salary of about $10 per month. Not per day, but per month! So, with this scenario, earning cryptocurrency, like $10 per month, is pretty easy actually. And I’ve seen people do that from poor countries as well. We’re not talking about hundreds of dollars, but just tens of dollars. So, that could really change the game for those people. And they are changing the game! Maybe there is hope, you see!
A: Well, let’s hope for it.
V: Thanks, guys, for listening. We hope this discussion raised a few more questions, right? Maybe more questions than answers, right now, which is nice, because with this, the more we think about this, the more we can take action and not be a passive observers, but take initiative and maybe take advantage of those new tools. Whatever happens in the future, we don’t know, of course. The value of those cryptocurrencies can go to zero, right? Or they can go to the moon! We don’t know. But, that’s the world. Nobody can predict the future. But, of course, if we sit on the couch, the real result will be nothing. Right? Those who never try, they never lose, of course. And as a disclaimer we have to add we are not financial advisers so you have to do your own due diligence.
A: And now, let's go and practice.
V: Yes, because when you practice,
A: Miracles happen.
SOPP264: What are the important aspects to know about liturgical music in order for the organist to select or improvise an appropriate piece of music for each?
Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start episode 264, of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by David. And he writes:
Dear Vidas and Ausra.
It seems to me that there are basically 5 types of music that the organist has to be ready to play in church other than accompanying hymns and choir anthems. They are: Preludes, Postludes, offertories, introits, and interludes. Perhaps interludes aren't so common in most churches now.
What are the important aspects to know about each of those in order for the organist to select or improvise an appropriate piece of music for each? Are Preludes usually longer, more meditative? Of course we know that Postludes must be played as loud as possible to prevent idle and rude chatter while the organ is playing (I'm joking, of course). But what makes a piece more suited for a Prelude, and another piece more suited for postlude. Do offertories have special characteristics? When a church uses them, what is appropriate for an introit? Are there any special guidelines that generally can be applied?
Obviously every church and denomination is different, and differing themes and seasons will affect this, but I'm looking for general principals for the average service or Mass.
V: What do you think, Ausra?
A: Well it’s a very broad question and as David said himself at the end of his question that everything is different in different church. Yes, different denomination, and different tradition, and depending on the season. But if we could give sort of general outline; I think what preludes differs from the postludes. I think preludes must be probably a little bit more solemn in character. And sort of not maybe as fast in tempo as postlude, because prelude is sort of preparation for the service itself. So it should not distract probably as much as postlude.
A: What do you think about it?
V: I agree. And usually, we can take a look at introit and it’s text and it’s melodies. And David here mentions introits. But introits usually are sung, right? So,,,
A: That’s right.
V: So, if before the mass you sing an introit, it’s a good idea to play a prelude based on those ideas, and melodies and texts, and characters, too. So, sometimes if a Sunday is solemn and festive, introits will be also more festive and preludes therefore will be more festive with loud registration, that’s possible. And depending on occasion, it could be meditative character too.
A: What about length? Do you think that preludes should be shorter, or the same as postlude?
V: It could be as long as you want, but you have to end in time for the singers to sing. So you have to collaborate with whatever choir is singing at the church, or maybe you are leading your choir too, so you have to count those minutes, how many stanzas there are in your introit, or if you are in protestant denomination, then opening hymn, you have to count how many minutes do you need for opening hymn and then improvise or choose a prelude to fit that timing and end on time. What do you think, Ausra?
A: Yes, I think that’s a very good suggestion. Well, then let’s proceed further.
A: What about offertory?
V: Offertory in Catholic Mass, has it’s own text and melodies, so if the choir is not present, you can improvise something based on those Gregorian Chant melodies, suited for that particular mass and liturgical calendar.
A: What if you are in protestant church?
V: In Protestant churches, I think it could be longer. Because the offerings are usually collected during that time, right?
A: But what about character? Should the offertory be loud or quiet or soft or meditative?
V: Remember in Baroque times, 18th Century, Cuperin and French classical composers created offertories very long…
A: Yes. I think the offering was the longest part of organ composition for the mass.
V: So that meant that at that time, before probably Vatican II, you were allowed to play almost non-stop during the mass, except perhaps for the Elevation, and then shortly picking up after that. So offertories could have been much longer and louder that way. Today, it’s different, right? I think today could be, depending on the length of the offering itself, you have to choose probably quieter character. What you think?
A: Yes, I think so. I don’t think it would be suited in church to play offering loud.
V: What about Ausra, communion?
A: Well, communion, well, could be I think a little bit maybe louder than offering but also quiet, not too loud.
V: I see what you mean. Because people are walking in the church, right?
A: Yes. So you need to sort of cover that noise.
A: Step noise.
V: And usually they’re longer than offertories because it takes a while for everybody to take communion.
A: Well, and if choir sings during communion, that often happens. organist has to fill in after that.
V: Right. So choir could sing a hymn or two, and organist could gently continue in the same mood as the last hymn.
A: Yes, I think the selection of repertoire suited for service is nice if you play for your all the parts of the service something related to the hymns of that day. I think it’s very nice.
V: Right. Can you play Gregorian Chant melodies during the communion?
A: Of course you can do it. Why not?
V: Like Ubi Caritas.
V: Or something suitable for that occasion. And every Gregorian Chant collection for the, from the Gradual of the mass, it has the place for communion too and you can choose the melodies and text for the service and liturgical calendar. And then, you could improvise, right? I always tend to look what Charles Tournemire did with his l'Orgue Mystique collection. He composed organ masses for every Sunday of the year, basically.
A: So you could just take his collection and use it.
V: You could. And Introit, Gradual, Offertory, Communion, four pieces are shorter and easier to play. And the last one, Postlude is long and elaborate, like fantasia.
A: Don’t you think it’s sort of pity that the postlude is place where organist can show himself, what he’s capable of, and not so many people will hear it because so many people after service just want to quit the church as fast as possible.
V: It is. And you have to sometimes get used to that congregation. Sometimes, make them, or help them trust you. Maybe talk to them afterwards in general, basically. Keep in touch with them. So then they will react to your playing more personally and don’t neglect it.
A: Yes. Hopefully. So let’s then conclude that preludes should be not as loud maybe and not as fast as the postlude. And if it’s occasion is solemn you could play a march too, solemn character. And then of course the all middle service might be played softer and slower.
V: And the postlude of course, has to be quite probably joyful, right Ausra?
A: Yes. Definitely! Of course if it’s Lent, maybe not as joyful, but anyway, it’s character must be more vivid than communion and offering.
V: Thank you guys. Please send us more of your questions. We love helping you grow. And remember, when you practice...
A: Miracles happen!
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Michael Hammer: "If you have something to say and you want to say it, then you don't really have a choice"
Welcome to episode 18 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast!
Today's guest is Dr. Michael Hammer, an American organist, pianist, composer, improviser, church musician, teacher, and a fellow blogger.
He is the creator of the blog "Pianonoise" and works as an organist at Faith United Methodist Church in Champaign, IL.
In today's conversation you will find out about Michael's experience of being a liturgical musician, creator of piano and organ music on the spot and in the written form, and also about what it takes to have a commitment to share stories on a blog about piano and organ music in a humorous and highly personal way.
Enjoy and share your comments below.
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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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