In the fall of 2013 my friend and colleague, Paulius Grigonis who is the organist at St Joseph church here in Vilnius was preparing to play a recital at Vilnius Cathedral around Christmas time. He approached me asking for advice about the pieces he could be playing.
I offered him to compose a set of 6 variations on the famous Christmas tune Adeste fideles and he agreed too much hesitation (too bad).
I started working on the composition but got stuck at the end of the 5th variation. I used major and minor chords only. My goal was to create something colorful and modern and yet understandable to the listener.
Because of these simple chords the harmonies are very clear and transparent. What makes it sound modern though is that I avoid traditional chordal progressions of the perfect fourth and perfect fifth. This would imply tonic-dominant, dominant-tonic, tonic-subdominant, subdominant-tonic relationship.
But I didn't want this. I wanted to surprise my audience and my friend Paulius. So I chose all kinds of progressions - minor and major seconds, minor and major thirds, even a tritone to keep it fresh.
However, the result was too difficult to play for Paulius on a short notice and I got side-tracked with other projects. Although the idea of completing the variations never left me.
So last weekend I sat down and added the last variation with a CODA.
I hope you'll enjoy this piece which is dedicated to Paulius.
8 pages, PDF score. Advanced level.
I've just completed my Op. 36 - a set of 7 variations for organ on the hymn tune "O Master, Let Me Walk With Thee". You can watch and listen to the video with the music here. The score is also available on that page.
Have you ever wondered how to compose organ variations in a modern style?
I'm starting to work on creating a set of 6 variations on the hymn tune "O Master, Let Me Walk With Thee". This is a commission of my subscriber Judith Miller, who will play this piece as part of her recital in April.
Originally she wanted me to help find an organ piece on the topic of Service and Stewardship because her recital will be based on the stained glass windows in a church which has a 2 manual organ. These windows are dedicated to the elderly couple who served faithfully to this church.
As it often happens, because I couldn't find easily such a piece I decided to create my own. Judith wanted me to use a variety of rhythms, meters, tempos, registrations, dynamic levels, and textures. The variations should be about 5 minutes of duration.
In order to help other people learn to compose organ variations in modern style, I'm creating my Modern Variation Workshop (it's with 50% discount until the end of September). In this video program you will see my compositional process with detailed explanations which you can apply to the hymn tune of your choice to create your own variations.
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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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