SOPP678: I also bought that organ this year but I don't know what registrations you played the music with
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A: ...and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene.
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V: Hi guys! This is Vidas.
A: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start episode 678 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Hubertus, and he writes,
Heard your demo of the Alessandria organ with interest. Thank you for hearing you play on that. However, I am 75 and do not yet have enough experience to distinguish what those sounds for registrations entail, because I only started playing about 13 years ago, the total overview is missing.
I also bought that organ this year, but I don't know what registrations you played the music with.
Is it possible to use the "Simple" screen for a next demonstration instead of the Console, so that it is possible to follow your choice of registrations, in order to be able to try them out by myself, because it sounded very nice, but my knowledge falls short.
Hope you can/will comply with my request.
Thanks for listening to me.
Best regards. Hubertus
V: So, very nice that Hubertus enjoyed your presentation of Alessandria sample set, and as I understand, he wants to see the stops on the screen.
A: Yes, that’s what I understood too.
V: After that I think we changed the layout of the stops, and now…
A: Yes, and now all the demonstrations that I do have the simple view of organ stops, and definitely you can see them much better.
V: Visually it’s not that pleasing to the eye, right? Because the console view was colorful and similar to the original organ. But now, simple view is just stop names, right? Very very simple layout so that your eyes would understand and see what happens on the screen. But maybe it’s for the better.
A: Yes, sure. And now I have a question. Is it possible to go back to my old recording and to do a switch between the consoles, or not?
V: Oh, let’s see. Let’s see. In your old recording, you used, what do they see? They see your hands, right?
A: Yes, my hands.
V: They see your hands from above.
A: What else?
V: Keyboard view from above. They hear the sound, right? But they don’t necessarily see on the screen what’s in front of them, so…. Right?
A: We can check that recording and see how it works.
V: But Hubertus means that he cannot see the stop names, yes? No?
A: Well I understood that he would like to see the simple view of the stops.
V: So that has to be a new recording, not the finished one. Because it’s done already and you cannot manipulate the old one.
V: How can you go to YouTube video…?
A: I don’t know.
V: It’s…no, no.
A: But definitely I cannot redo that old recording, and I don’t remember already what I have played.
V: That’s exactly right. Maybe next time, for example, next round when you do a demonstration of Alessandria, will be different material, different music, right? You might remember to do Alessandria sample set or any other sample set.
A: But actually I have recorded already more music on Alessandria. Maybe he can check those registrations.
V: Yes, and sometimes we write in the description, too.
A: Yes, what we use.
V: Mm hm. And he could look at my recordings as well, although I don’t do demonstrations of these sample sets, but sometimes I show on the screen, switch camera angles basically, what stops I am using. And even if I’m not using the stop layout on the big screen, right, entire screen, having this sample set at home, you can actually look at the stops that I’m using from the distance and kind of guess what they are in terms of where they are positioned.
A: Yes, that’s what I do sometimes, too.
V: Yeah. If you see that camera layout where the organist is from the side, and our computer screen is visible, and we see the stops. They are bigger to us because we are closer to the screen, but camera also captures the screen as well. For regular people who don’t have this, so it’s probably difficult, right, to guess what stops we’re using. But if he has a sample set to compare…
A: Sure. It shouldn’t be so hard.
V: Visually it’s possible, definitely. And as Ausra said, of course in the future, we are using simple layout all the time for future demonstrations.
A: That’s right.
V: Can you tell us a little bit about, what did you enjoy the most in Alessandria?
A: Tuba, of course!
V: Did you use tuba in demonstration?
A: Well, you are asking now - I recorded this demonstration last year. But I’m sure I did. Or if I didn’t in the demonstration, I definitely recorded with the tuba.
V: Someplace else.
A: Some pieces. And I even have done of my improvisations, you know…
A: …on tuba of Alessandria. So you can definitely find that in my playlist on my channel.
V: Fun fact: people who join our little community on YouTube, become fans or friends of SOP, like channel members, can have a special emoji in their comments or live chat, whenever I do a live stream or a premiere. And for example, one of them is tuba. A special designed sticker called “tuba.” Whenever I use tuba, I see my members write or place that emoji, tuba. It’s very beautifully designed and makes a great impact - their comments stand out.
A: Sure. And in general, it’s nice to have a sample set with a tuba. It’s a very rare case.
V: Yeah, it’s an English stop, but the organ is not English, it’s Italian Mascioni Company, but the style is more French of course. So it’s nice to have English feature in it, too, but with beautiful French sounds.
A: Yes. And beautiful tremulants that Vidas loves so much.
V: Yes, and do you know why?
A: I don’t know the older you get, the more you get the more tremulants you love.
V: Maybe because my voice trembles, too.
A: Could be.
V: When I sing.
A: It doesn’t tremble as much as my voice when I talk before my demonstrations.
V: Maybe you are being too serious.
V: Okay guys. What else can we say about Alessandria organ? Definitely worth having if you’re into Hauptwerk stuff. Piotr Grabowski releases this, his sample sets with great care, and they are amazing sample sets. Most of them are very, very realistic, and especially the newest ones. Maybe he has improved his equipment over the years, or maybe recording strategy of every pipe, but they’re definitely sample sets that we enjoy. Besides Alessandria, what else? Nitra?
A: Yes, and many many others. But when talking about making registrations on Alessandria, just don’t be afraid to experiment and listen to what works for you and what you like. Because of the wonderful acoustics of this sample set and beautiful stops, you can hardly make something really really wrong. So just trust yourself, trust your intuition.
V: Right. Registration is actually one of the weaker points for organists, right? When we discover or get questions from people, they often ask what kind of stops we are using, or what are the principles of using registration, and this is such a broad topic.
A: It is. It’s very broad. Well, my advice would be never use mixtures alone.
V: Unless…you’re playing a specific piece designed for mixtures.
A: Yes, but in general you are not using mixtures alone.
V: Maybe, I think people could check out Piotr Grabowski’s site and get familiar with many many sample sets that they have, that he has on the website. The newest one, for example, is Nitra, but before that was Święta Lipka, and we recently received a present from Piotr Grabowski, and Ausra is going to do a demonstration on it very soon.
A: Yes, I’m going to.
V: I already tried it out during one of the “On the Bench with Vidas” live streams, and it sounds very very nice for German Romantic music, late 19th century music.
A: Yes, it works well for that.
V: Okay. This was Vidas.
A: And Ausra.
V: Please send us more of your questions. We love helping you grow. And remember, when you practice,
A: Miracles happen.
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Rien Schalkwijk, Friend of SOP and very prolific youtuber organist friend asked me a question about how to use mutations (stops, like 2 2/3 or 1 3/5 etc.) in music from the Baroque times. And how is it different from Romantic period? This video tutorial is for Rien (and others who might be wondering about the same things).
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SOPP535: Over the years, I have basically settled for just a handful of different basic registrations for hymns
Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas!
Ausra: And Ausra!
V: Let’s start episode 535 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by James, and he writes:
“Thank you for your podcast, it has been a great help. I have played the piano for 25 years and the organ at my church for 17, but was only able to take organ lessons for the first 2 years, the rest has been essentially self-taught. Your podcasts have been very informative.
1. my dream for organ playing: I know I will never be a concert organist, but I would like to be able to really make my church organ sound great, and select unique registrations throughout the Mass.
2. The 3 most important things holding me back:
a. over the years, I have basically settled for just a handful of different basic registrations for hymns, etc. without much variety
b. my church has a relatively small, 22-rank, 2-manual Zimmer pipe organ, installed in 1999, which is almost completely enclosed inside an alcove, and doesn't "sing" very well. The church is the size of a cathedral, but I'm afraid the organ is too small for the space.
c. I have never had formal instruction in the theory of organ registration, other than what I have learned on my own. I know the basics of building a principal chorus, understanding overtones and harmonics, etc., but my registrations are still very "boring" in my opinion.
Again, thank you for your podcast and teaching, and I look forward to any advice you can give me.
V: So, Ausra, James has a problem with registration. He wants to make his organ sound great, and his registrations to be unique, so to say.
A: Well, don’t we all want to do something beautiful, and to register nicely. But the problem is that I think that when you are asking about registrations and about how to register a certain piece, or in general how to select the best registration, actually, you need to give us the specification list of your organ. Because otherwise, you know, we might be talking about different things, because it’s sort of hard to suggest something without seeing the actual stops. And even when having the list of stops, you still might need to adjust something, because you really need to listen to the organ in the real situation. But, I guess if his church is the size of a cathedral and he has only 22 stops, it might be too small for such a room. Another thing, you know, when you register, you also need to think about reverberation—if the room is reverberate or not. It also means a lot. But I thought about his asking how to increase sound of the organ, so basically what you could do, either to add the manual couplers, or in some cases, you would probably need to play things an octave lower. That also might help sometimes, because, for example, we have so many organs built in Orgelbewegung style, that have these screamy, ugly, sound mixtures… not all of them, of course, but most of them actually have them. So it sounds nice when you play things an octave lower when it has more of a sort of a round and nice sound.
V: Yeah, I’m not sure if this applies to him, because we don’t know the specification. We don’t even know the composition of the mixture—if it’s a low mixture or if it’s a high mixture. But in general, what he can do is to thicken the texture a little bit. Play with… I don’t know how his organ technique is—well advanced or not—but he could play in more than four-part texture. More parts per chord. Right? Is that necessary?
A: That’s a possibility, but it doesn’t always work. But, you know, he thinks that he sort of registers pieces the same all the time, like hymns. But I think it’s not a bad idea. You know? Because, I think when you are working as a church organist, you develop some sort of routine, and this is good. Maybe you don’t want to experiment every time, and you need to be ready in advance. But of course, what you could do, and we have talked about it, actually in our previous podcasts, that you could project, let’s say, the Cantus firmus, on one manual, and play other voices on another manual. And your Cantus firmus could be either in the Soprano, as most hymns are written, but you could also play it in the tenor voice, and even in the bass sometimes works, too. That would be also a possibility to do something different.
V: Yes, not only his registration should change, but maybe the manner of playing!
V: Spice things up. Make it more colorful and interesting. Maybe add some non-chordal notes, like passing tones and neighbor tones, suspensions, re-harmonize.
V: I don’t know if he has some skill in that or not, but that could certainly be a possibility, and a 22 rank 2 manual organ might sound like eight stops per manual plus additional stops in the pedals. So, if you have something like 8 stops in the manual, this could be something like 8’ Principal, 8’ Flute, maybe a Gamba, maybe 4’ Principal like Octave, maybe a 4’ Flute, then maybe a 2’ Principal, probably (a Super Octave), Mixture, and a Trumpet, probably. What else… maybe instead of a string stop, he might have a fifth stop (2 2/3’) instead of that on the first manual. I’m just guessing, of course.
A: Yes, this is just a hypothetical thought, because we don’t see the specification lists. What else could he do, because he wants to find new registrations? Sometimes you might use only 4’ Flute alone in some soft interludes, for example. It works nicely if you have some sort of canzona-like piece, which is a little bit polyphonic, and it has a joyful character—a joyful, sweet character. You might try the 4’ flute alone.
V: Or 4’ Principal.
A: Yes. Or sometimes 4’ and 2’ stops, if they are soft enough—if the 2’ is not too screamy.
V: If it has a Trumpet, you could play the harmony with the Trumpet, as well, in a festive situation.
V: Or, if you have a Cantus firmus in the soprano, you could solo it out, take it on another manual with a reed stop, or a Cornet stop would work on the second manual, for example, in general, taking it on two manuals, not on one, gives more colorful options. Then, of course, your solo stop could be played in the tenor range, with the left hand.
A: That’s right. And we don’t know if he has a 16’ stop on the manual, but if he does, he might play some music also on two manuals, and he could accompany with his left hand, with the 16’ and 8’, and then add some higher pitched stops on the other manual for solo voice.
V: Or even re-harmonize the four voices or three voices, soprano alto and bass, and play the pedal with the reed, if he has an 8’ Trumpet, and in the tenor range, not in the base range.
A: And in general, if he has some assistance, it would be really nice if he could go to listen to his organ from the side.
V: Record himself.
A: Or yes, if he doesn’t have help, he might record himself, and to listen to those various combinations, and then he might decide what works, and what does not, and in general, if he has a big hall during Mass, for example, then of course, he needs to consider that he needs to use more stops than if playing in church alone, because people will just eat up the sound.
V: Right. He doesn’t say that he wants to be a concert organist, but it doesn’t hurt to play pieces that could be supplemental to the liturgy in addition. That could be part of the concert repertoire, but that could be liturgical chorales, or chorale preludes. And with these, you could experiment with even more colorful registrations.
A: That’s right. So, I think that a 22 rank instrument is fairly enough for experiments.
V: Yes. Hopefully, he can take advantage of this, and share his music with the congregation, and hopefully get feedback—nice feedback.
A: I know, but also, you don’t have to do experiments like play with mixture stops alone. That definitely wouldn’t work.
V: No. People hearing it will scream.
A: So, I guess the organ in general is quite a conservative instrument, so you need to apply certain rules, and not experiment too much.
V: Alright guys! This was Vidas,
A: And Ausra,
V: Please send us more of your questions; we love helping you grow. And remember: When you practice,
A: Miracles happen.
On Monday I went to Vilnius Cathedral to assist my friend @pauliakaz where he was preparing for a lunchtime recital on Thursday. On the program - music of 3 composers - Prelude and Fugue in C Major, BWV 545 by Johann Sebastian Bach (German Baroque), Fantasie on Lithuanian hymn "Jezau, pas mane ateiki" by Juozas Naujalis (Lithuanian Romanticism) and Suite Gothique by Leon Boellmann (French Romanticism). This was the first time I heard him play all of these pieces together. @pauliakaz had some rehearsals here before to set up his registrations but I wanted to double check them, of course.
This organ is from 1960's, a Neo-Baroque instrument by East German firm Alexander Schuke. It has some characteristic sounds of this period which are high-pitched mixture sounds and lack of low-pitched foundation stops. For some music, such as French Romantic having many foundation stops is a must but when he started to play the opening of the Chorale by Boellmann from his Suite Gothique, it really sounded too light and actually harsh.
So I suggested to @pauliakaz to play entire piece one octave lower in the hand part. This should give it more gravity and create an impression that there are lots of 16' stops in this organ. Usually if you do this, you have to check the left hand part if it doesn't descend lower than tenor c which an octave lower would become bass C - the lowest key on the keyboard. In this particular piece it was OK.
Then you have to omit 16' stops in the manuals because one octave lower they would sound like 32' stops. We tried this and compared it to the regular height and it already sounded better.
In the end we chose to use 16' stops in the manuals as well. In this particular acoustical environment it sounded just like at Saint Sulpice in Paris.
PS The photo above is from yesterday's organ recital by Dr. Cristiano Rizzotto at St Casimirus church. @laputis and I came in 30 minutes earlier and the church was already full.
SOPP340: I recall having seen (or heard) that when you use a very low fifth stop (10 2/3' for instance) along with a 16' you get the effect of a 32'
Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start episode 340 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. Today we have two comments which we would like to discuss. The first was sent by Irineo and he writes:
“Nice post as usual, maestro.
But I recall having seen (or heard) that when you use a very low fifth stop (10 2/3' for instance) along with a 16' you get the effect of a 32'. Trouble is that there isn't any 16' stop left over there. So I guess the only solution lays in calling the technician. Could that be caused by the bellows having ruptured or collapsed and not being able any more to deliver the necessary pressure for the heavier stops? What do you think maestro?
V: And the second question was sent by John. He writes:
“I frequently quint bass notes on the Subbass - no other stops drawn, as it sounds unpleasant. It only works (as far as I can tell) from bottom C to F - after that it doesn't sound good. This idea of playing the tonic + its fifth on the pedals goes really well with string combinations and 8' - 4' flutes. This gives a quasi 32' effect. Of course when you are playing full organ you can use this method as well (but probably only once at a climax or the last chord).”
V: So Ausra these two questions are related because they talk about the 32’ effect.
V: Umm-hmm. And in one post Irineo sometimes uses a low fifth stop plus 16’ to get the effect of 32’ and John uses just the Subbass but playing fifth interval on the lowest notes from bottom C to F. Do you think that in liturgical organ playing it’s nice to have this effect?
A: I think yes, because I think if you want to play pedal in fifths definitely but not play repertoire music. It would be more suited for hymn playing.
V: And not always entire verse but just the last few chords probably.
A: Yes, I think it adds a nice effect.
V: A cadence.
A: Yes, in a cadence.
V: Would you use it?
A: Well yes if I wouldn’t have enough stops in the pedal or it would sound nice I would probably use it. And I like how people are creative in a way to get a nice effect on the organ. It’s very nice.
V: I just remember when I played organ works by Teisutis Makacinas in Armenian Notebook he had one episode with C chords in the hands and intervals of the fifths in the pedals in the bass range E flat to B flat, D flat to A flat, and C to G, the last few notes of the cadence and I didn’t use 32’ stops. It adds gravity.
A: Yes, it’s really nice, nice to gravity in the pedals.
V: In symphonic orchestra the basses divide and cellos also play divisi and play in fifths too.
A: What about that low fifth in the pedal? Do many organs have it do you think? 10 2/3' as Irineo says...
V: Let’s see. Normally we have the lowest fifth 2 2/3’. So that is based on the principal of 8’ level. If it’s based on 16’ level then it is a fifth from the 5 2/3’ I think, right? Sometimes its written 6’ in baroque organs in the pedal. If it’s based on 32’ then yes, 10 2/3’.
A: But if you have 32’ stop in the pedal then you don’t have to get the effect of 32’ because you already have it. But if your organ doesn’t have 32’ stop then you shouldn’t have that low quint.
V: It should only have 5 2/3’.
A: And I mean not quint of fifth.
V: I think this is too low for normal organs.
A: That’s what I was thinking too unless it’s some sort of experimental organ. You can find things like this too around the world.
V: Let’s see. 10 2/3’ organ stop. Where is it organ stop in Wikipedia? Major Quint it’s called in Encyclopedia of Organ Stops. It’s a pedal mutation stop. It has been made in a variety of forms. Wood or metal. Open or stopped. Irwin reports that it is usually of diapason tone. Audsley says that open pipes “are to be desired in all cases.” This stop reinforces the 32’ harmonic series, but it often appears in a pedal division that has no 32’ stops: when drawn with a 16’ stop, it produces a resultant 32’ tone.
A: Just as Irineo said in his letter.
V: Umm-hmm. So yes, there are examples in German its Grossquitenbass, right?
A: Yes, I have seen it.
V: And it has it in Atlantic City the great organ in the convention hall, John Wanamaker’s store in Philadelphia, Liverpool Cathedral, Royal Albert Hall in London. Monster organs, right?
A: Yes so it’s not a stop that you could find every day on each organ. But I think when talking about organ in general you always need to listen to what sounds well on a particular instrument. Because I think these suggestions cannot be taken for granted because what works well on one organ may not work at all on another one so you always need to check.
V: I can read between the lines what your saying and correct me if I am wrong. For example if you are playing a relatively small instrument and you are playing fifths in the bass and trying to do this resultant in the bass which would sound an octave lower. It might sound muddy because there is a reason why this organ is small in such a place, right?
V: There is no enough reverberant acoustic. No place for the echo to spread.
A: Because in an ideal world and it’s not always the case in our world when a church is built and an organ is built in it, it needs to be sort of in a nice resonance with the room. So the organ builder has to know to calculate how the organ will sound and according to that to put a specific stop list for a particular instrument.
V: And intonation of the stops also that happens in the room itself.
A: Yes but of course I would see that sometimes the money is the main cost of the things and you just calculate how much you can afford to put into the instrument and it might also be designed not maybe as it should be.
V: But it’s good that people are thinking about that.
A: Yes, it’s very good.
V: Thank you guys for sending us these questions and remember when you practice…
A: Miracles happen.
Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start episode 336, of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Denham. And he writes:
My dear Vidas,
I hope you and Ausra are doing well.
My name is Denham and I live in Sri Lanka and I am about to start learning the First Final from Louis Vierne’s No.1 for Christmas this year.
I’m hoping to learn one page a week in order to master it well. The question that is in my mind is I am unsure of how to register the organ to play it. Please are you able to provide some insight into this? As in can you please help me with the registration?
I’d be more than grateful to you. And I am willing to pay you for your trouble!
Thank you so much
V: So, Ausra, what do you think? Would Vierne’s Symphony No. 1, especially the Final, sound well in Sri Lanka?
A: Yes, I think everybody would just love it.
A: It’s one of my most favorite organ pieces.
V: What kind of organ would you need for that?
A: Well, when ideal, French symphonic.
A: Not French classical.
V: Dom Bedos?
A: No, no, no, no.
V: Clicquot, no?
A: No. Cavaillé-Coll
A: But anyway, I think any instrument which is large enough would do for this kind of piece.
V: It’s written for three manual instrument, but…
A: You could do it, I think, on two manuals too.
V: Could you do it on two, with couplers? What kind of stops you would need for minimum to have? Principles, probably…
A: Principle chorus of course, reeds.
A: I think reeds are very important in French music, in general.
V: Mixtures. Mixtures in both manuals and pedals, reeds in every manual.
V: Trumpets. Even if you have a Posaune in the pedals, that would be great.
A: So when we perform this kind of piece the larger organ you have, the better it is.
V: Mmm-hmm. And we’re looking now at the score, and by the way, I have created the fingering and pedaling for that if you want to master this piece faster, you know, without spending too much time and too many hours while working out correct and efficient fingering and pedaling. So now looking at the score, the first registration is given in French, GPR. What does it mean, GPR, Ausra?
A: Well, this is the three manuals.
V: Mmm-hmm. G is like Grand Orgue.
A: Yes. Positif and Récit.
V: Récit is like Swell…
V: Positif is like choir in English or..
V: American system. And Grand Orgue is like Great.
A: True. And for the beginning, for the opening of this piece you need to couple all those manuals together.
V: Because it’s written GPR—it’s together.
A: Yes. So if you have three manuals, then couple them all together. If you have only two then couple those two together.
V: And in all those manuals, you need Fonds, which is foundations, which is stops of 16, 8 and 4 pitch level, right? So that’s Principle, Flutes of that pitch level. And Anches in French means…
V: Of 16, 8 and 4 too. 16, 8 and 4 foot level. 16 probably Bombarde, 8’ Trumpet, 4’ Clarion, if you have one.
V: I think 4’ is not necessarily used, right? We don’t use it too often in our church.
A: Yes, because it doesn’t sound very nice in our church, but it might.
V: On the French instrument.
V: And in the pedals—before we talk about the pedals, we probably need to have mutations too, right? Anches.
A: Obviously, yes.
V: Anches in French, is system involves both reeds and mutations, which means Mixtures also, and a 5th, 2 2/3 at least for that.
A: Would you add also a Tierce if you would have at, or not?
V: A Tierce would sound more like a Cornet. You have to check. Those, some Tierce’s are powerful, some more like a Flute—you have to check for balance. What about the pedals, Ausra?
A: Well, also lots of stops. You need again, all those foundations, and the score even requires 32’.
A: Not every organ has it, but if you have it so it add. So 32’ Foundation stops, 16’, 8’ and 4’ foot.
V: And Mutations and Reeds—16, 8 and 4 too.
V: Mmm-hmm. And GPR is in the manuals which means three manuals coupled, which means the first, second to the Great, then Récit to the Great, and Récit to the Choir as well.
A: That’s right. Not every organ also has that kind of coupler but if yours does, so you need to use it.
A: And you also need to couple I guess, the manuals to pedals.
V: Yes, all three of them if you have. So it starts very powerfully with three Forte, dynamic level, and then it diminishes. You change manuals from time to time, R is Récit, or Swell in this case. And then when it’s softer, then you only need the foundation stops on the Great, and on the Positif, which is without the Reeds and Mutations.
V: Mmm-hmm. So like this. And most of the time you could do French music like this, with like setting combinations in advance and just pushing the buttons.
A: So, if you have combinations, you know, pistons, in your organ, please use them. It will make things easier.
V: What does it mean Piano here, sometimes when Vierne uses?
A: Well it means Piano—soft.
V: No, but I mean, Piano, does it mean you need to have less stops, or you have to close the Swell box?
A: Well, usually you have to close the Swell box because now we are looking at one line where you play on the Récit, and it says diminuendo and then there is that Piano sign. It means that when you have diminuendo, you start to close the Swell box.
A: Until you have Piano. So you have actually to use quite a lot of swells, swell pedals.
V: Because you those bubbles—crescendo and decrescendo a lot.
A: So I guess in music like this, your left foot really needs to work on the pedal board…
A: And your right foot really needs to work with the swell box—swell pedal.
V: Yes. And then, in the further up episode, the left hand starts to play on the Great, with manuals coupled, GPR, right, and then again Piano Subito. Subito means sudden.
A: Sudden, yes. Sudden change.
V: Closing of the box. Right. And then gradually poco a poco crescendo, opening the swell box.
A: And I think gradually all the former registration comes.
V: Mmm-hmm. Remember that in the beginning you need the reeds of the Grand, of the Great, and of the Choir. But in the middle you don’t need those reeds, only foundations. And then, and then recapitulation and Tierce...
A: When you add, that…
V: When you first add…
A: Reeds, in the Positif
V: And then…
A: And then, in the Great.
V: And, also, the reeds…
A: In the pedal.
V: In the pedals.
A: Because that opening theme comes back.
A: With all its power in the pedal board.
V: Yes, and I think this continues until the very end, like this, without any extra adding of stops. Well sometimes if people play Neo-baroque organs, very sharp sounding, Mixtures, it’s very high, very high textures sometimes, makes squeaky sounds. Not French at all.
A: And sometimes you have to omit something if you are not playing on the French organ, so always you have to listen to the result, what comes out from your organ.
V: Check if any of those episodes have a note lower than tenor C, like B and below. If it doesn’t, I think it could be played one octave lower this way. But without 16’ in the manuals, because then your music sound like with 16’. That’s very suitable for organs which don’t have a lot of foundation stops.
V: But too many mutations and sharp mixtures. Then your mixtures would sound lower and much more powerfully.
A: And that’s also the case with Neo-baroque organs.
V: Mmm-hmm. I think you could do this, this way. I’ve played this Final like that before. So that’s our registration and some of the stop changes solutions for this piece. We hope you will find it useful. And of course, check out our score with fingering and pedaling. It will save you many, many hours, at least, and will help you start practicing the most efficient way, right away.
Thank you guys so for sending these questions. We love helping you grow. And remember, when you practice...
A: Miracles happen!
SOPP324: I have heard it is possible to create the illusion of a 32' by playing two notes on a 16' in the pedals
Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start episode 324 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Dieter and he writes:
Good evening Ausra and Vidas.
Just recently something electrical malfunctioned on our Churches organ. As a result we lost the 32' and 16' ranks in the pedals. Only 8' and 4' left.
I have heard it is possible to create the illusion of say a 32' by playing two notes on a 16' in the pedals. I am not averse to playing a two note chord in the pedals, as long as it is not too complicated for hymn accompaniment, a bit like a drone.
Question is which two notes?
V: Which two notes, right Ausra?
A: Yes, that’s right.
V: Have you heard about that anywhere?
A: I have heard with my one ear.
V: And what did that ear tell you?
A: I think from what I know I think it might be a similar effect as we have in our church at St. Johns’. That we have that historical timpani stop. There are two wooden pipes, one is slightly higher than the other and then you pull out that timpani and they both sound at the same time and reverberate with each other and this gives that effect of a drone.
V: But not very low drone.
V: What about trying to play an interval of the fifth?
A: With these kind of things you need to experiment and see what really happens because I think it might differ from one church to another depending on the organ, depending on the acoustics. But you know he wrote that actually he doesn’t have 16’ anymore in the pedal too so how would he achieve?
V: You’re right, only 8’ and 4’ are left.
A: So I think the best solution would be to call a technician. That’s why I don’t like these electrical things because you never know what might happen and you cannot be able to fix them for yourself. Because when you have mechanical instrument somehow you will find out what is wrong with your organ.
V: Even pneumatical organ you can figure out.
A: Yes, but not an electrical.
V: Unless you are good with electricity.
A: Which we are obviously not.
V: You should be really experienced with electricity just to try to fix it because if you’re not good and inexperienced you might die, right?
A: So don’t do it yourself.
V: Unless you really know what you are doing. Unless you take all the precautions.
A: Actually I know even some professionals who actually died doing their job.
V: Right. And if you don’t know what you are doing with mechanical organ the worst that could happen is that you might break things, right?
V: Of course this is also nasty and maybe you could break things and nobody could repair them, right, especially if it’s a historical instrument. So you need also to know what you are doing with mechanical organs. And to tell you the truth real organ builders don’t like organists looking and figuring out in the organ themselves. They would rather you call professionals to do this and I understand them. But, sometimes technicians and organ repairmen and organ builders are so far away, and maybe you just have one tiny cipher you just need to screw one small thing and it will be fixed if you know what you are doing, right Ausra?
A: Yes, that’s right.
V: Maybe you don’t need the entire cavalry of organ builders working on your little cipher.
A: Now, let’s go back to the question. Do you think it’s possible to make that illusion of 32’ sound with only 16’ stop?
V: On Monday when I go to our church in the morning I will definitely try to play an interval of the fifth with the stop of 16’, not with 8’ obviously because if you play with 8’ that would probably be illusion of 16’ (one octave lower) or not?
A: Well, I’m not quite sure if this would work.
V: You know what would happen probably a very rich foundation.
A: I think you would rather create illusion of 32’ with 16’ but not illusion of 16’ with 8’.
V: Umm-hmm. Maybe this will only sound muddy.
A: Could be.
V: Uhh-huh. When you don’t have 16’ in the pedals what about 16’ in the manuals? Maybe he should have 16’ in the manuals because originally this organ had 32’ in the pedals.
A: Well then the possibility would be to put the 16’ in the manual and couple it to the pedal. That way you would have 16’ in the pedal until your organ would get fixed.
V: Oh, that’s right. That’s possible.
A: That’s what I would do if I was in his shoes.
V: But if he is only playing hymns, right, so why don’t he even to play with hands only.
A: Yes, that’s a possibility too but then everything would be with 16’, soprano and alto and tenor and bass. And if you want to diversify more then actually it would be probably better to put 16’ in the pedals and to play your hands on another manual if you have at least two keyboards.
V: And definitely he should have more that one keyboard with that kind of disposition.
A: That’s right.
V: Nice. Nice solution Ausra, I haven’t thought about that.
A: Thank you.
V: I hope Dieter will get help from this and other people who are struggling with this question today or in the future.
A: So, and which two notes he also asks. Which two notes would you try to play in the pedal to get that illusion? You said you would do a fifth.
V: Open fifth, yeah. Like C and G, D and A, E and B, F and C, G and D.
A: Don’t you think another interval would fit better?
V: If you’re playing C and you’re suggesting a third for example, right?
V: Or which one, a fourth?
A: C and D. (laughs.) Or C and C#.
V: That would be like a drum, like a timpani.
A: I know, that would be like a timpani. Well I guess you just need to experiment.
V: Umm-hmm. I might be able to tell you more on Monday when I go to church.
A: We will see.
V: Thank you guys for sending those thoughtful questions. Sometimes we don’t always know the answers, right? But maybe your questions raise even more questions to us.
A: That’s very good. We like that.
V: It’s an exercise for our brain too.
A: That’s right.
V: To improve our memory. I keep forgetting things, Ausra. Are you forgetting things too?
A: Not as much as you do.
V: Are you forgetting my name, Ausra?
V: Are you forgetting your name?
V: Not yet.
A: Not yet.
V: Wait and see. If you are eating that much cheese you might forget your name too.
A: I’m not eating much cheese.
V: So who has eaten all that cheese from our table?
A: What cheese?
V: OK, that was me. Sorry guys, family investigation about the nonexistent cheese is developing but remember when you practice…
A: Miracles happen.
Vidas: Hello guys, this is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start episode 298 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Anne, and she writes:
Could you help me out a little with registration? I am quite confused about how one should register for many compositions by Bach, in particular his Trio Sonata in E flat (BWV 525). I understand that it was not common practice in his time to list out particular stops one should pull for each piece, and that it depended rather on the organist himself and the place he was in. But I don’t know where to start. If it doesn’t trouble you too much, I’d definitely appreciate your help.
V: So, Ausra, how could we help Anne for starters?
A: That’s a very good question! Actually, a very deep question, and this question actually was discussed a lot in the past, and I think will be discussed in the future, because there are so many possibilities and so many ways how people register Bach’s Trio Sonata. Well, I remember myself as being a student at the Academy of Music in Lithuania, and I and other students often registered Trio Sonatas without a 16’ stop in the pedal, and I think that was the first mistake that we did.
V: Why is that?
A: Well, when thinking about Trio Sonata, I always think about Baroque ensembles.
V: Like instruments—instrumental ensembles.
A: Yes. Especially those string ensembles. And usually, for lowest voice, you have a low instrument.
V: Like Double Bass.
V: Or in baroque times it was called Violone.
A: That’s right. Or Bassoon, too. So I think you need to have a 16’ stop in the pedal. Although, then it provides sort of a problem, because when you add 16’ in the pedal, you need to articulate and to be very precise with how you press the pedals down, because otherwise, they might drag you down. And another think that I did then that I wouldn’t do now, I used actually gap registration a lot for my hands. And by gap registration, I mean adding 8’ and 2’ stop for the right hand without 4’. Now I probably wouldn’t do that, either.
V: Or 4’ and 1’ but playing one octave lower.
A: Yes, that’s right.
V: I think gap registration came into fashion a lot with Neo-Baroque style after the 1960s, maybe. But if we compare all treatises and performance editions from the 18th century, obviously, gap registrations were not prominent at all. One of the nice places to look is this collection of chorale preludes by Kauffmann, “Harmonische Seelenlust,” and every piece there has a registration, which is quite rare.
A: That’s a very rare case that we have real compositions with real registration suggestions.
V: So there, you can find all kinds of interesting elements: doubling the same pitch level stops, a lot of flue registrations, reed registrations, too. You can be quite creative then, and to our ears, that sounds quite strange.
A: Yes, because I remember in my youth playing a Trio Sonata, I would never double stops. I would never use, lets say, two 8’ in one hand.
V: It’s completely acceptable, I think, especially in a slow movement.
A: Another good source to look at would be, probably, the book by Barbara Owen about baroque registration in general. It’s a thick book, and it’s very thorough, and you can find very good suggestions in it.
V: If you were playing E♭ Major Sonata today, for example, how would you register the right hand?
A: Well, probably 4’ and 2’, but it depends on the organ, truly.
V: You have so many options there. If the organ is nice and each stop is so characteristic, you can build, maybe, ten versions of the same registrations.
A: That’s true, but let’s say, for example, you could do, maybe, principle 8’, and then flute 4’ and 2’. Because if you would take all the three principals, that might be too loud. Or, if you don’t have principal 8’, maybe add flute 8’ and then principal 4’ and flute 2’. So, you need to experiment and to find out what suits you. Maybe you don’t want to have a 2’. Maybe it’s too high pitched for you.
V: Maybe 2’ pitch is just for the third part.
A: That’s right. Maybe then just use a couple of 8’ stops and one 4’. And then, for the last hand, of course, I wouldn’t put, probably, the 2’ for the left hand. I would only limit myself to 8’ and 4’.
V: I like, very much, if the organ is nice, and those sounds can be quite colorful, I like to play with 8’ and 4’ stops quite often. That can be two flutes, 8’ and 4’, in both hands, but different characters. One of them can be principal either 8’ or 4’. Do you think two principals, 8’ and 4’ would sound good?
A: Well, it depends on how skilled they are. They might be just fine.
V: In a small organ.
A: True, true. And then in the pedal, I would add 16’, 8’, would you add a 4’, too?
A: Me, too. I think it would be just too much. So probably, principal 16’ and principal or flute 8’, I think should work.
V: Yes. Sometimes Subbass 16’ works well.
A: That’s right.
V: In our Saint John’s Church organ, I can put two 16’ stops, too. That reinforces the bass. I like heavy bass sometimes.
A: I know. I like it, too. And I remember that Dr. George Ritchie always...the only adjustment he would make to my registration, he sometimes omits some of my pedal stops, because I also like heavy bass.
V: It’s because the bass is the foundation of harmony, and listeners should hear it quite clearly.
A: True. And, because if they are thinking about larger church acoustics, if you would listen to the choir singing, the higher voice it is, the better it sounds—the louder it sounds. And, with the low voice, it’s very hard to project them in a big room with large acoustics.
V: And low voices sound good when they sing softly.
A: That’s right.
V: What about the reeds? Would you use reeds in Trio Sonatas?
A: Well, that’s also a good question for discussions.
V: Nice. If you imagine Trio Ensemble playing the Sonata, maybe an oboe would play one part,
A: Oboe. I think in some cases Oboe or Krummhorn would probably work quite well. Probably maybe for the right hand, then.
V: What about mutations?
A: Well, I don’t know. I probably wouldn’t use them. What about you?
V: Maybe in one hand, it could sound colorful, like 2 2/3’
A: But you really need to listen to what mutation you have, because some of them sound quite unnatural and sort of squeaky.
V: Maybe in one hand you could have 8’, 4’, and 5th (2 2/3’) and in another hand, you could have 8’, 4’, and 3rd (1 3/5’) or a high pitched 3rd (1 1/3’). Both hands would play with mutations of different pitch levels. That could work.
A: What about strings?
V: But that’s my second choice. With strings, I especially like them for probably a slow movement.
A: Yes, for the middle movement, I think, it would work just fine.
V: Because they need a slow tempo to be able to speak.
A: Yes, and then for the solo in the middle movement, of course, you would have to use strings, flutes—soft stops. And then, of course, for the last movement, I would play it a little bit louder than the last movement.
V: Yes, something similar, but maybe with 2’.
A: That’s right.
V: Or even 1’.
A: Sometimes it might work.
V: If the organ is nice, you can have so many colors, right? If it’s not nice, you’re limited. Sometimes, you could use just one principal: 8’ in one hand and 4’ in another hand but an octave lower.
A: That’s a possibility, too, but you need to check the Diapason, if it will fit.
A: Compass, yes.
V: If the left hand part doesn’t go below tenor C, then you can play one octave lower.
A: Yes, then it should work.
V: You have to check. And since, I think, both upper parts are triple parts, I think that should work, playing an octave lower.
A: I think, yes, in the E♭ major Sonata.
V: Alright, so that’s, I think, enough to Anne for starters, to think about.
V: Thanks, guys, for sending us these questions. Please send us more; we love helping you grow. And remember, when you practice,
A: Miracles happen.
SOPP288: My biggest challenges over the last six months have been pedal playing (which I basically have not done, except for harmonic pedal-point use) and registration
Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start episode 288, of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Neil. He writes:
Wow—it is so kind of you and Ausra to reply! I'm honored. My biggest challenges over the last six months have been pedal playing (which I basically have not done, except for harmonic pedal-point use) and registration. My wife and I keep looking for suitable organ shoes, but my feet are wide and I don't know what to buy. So far I play in my left sock for pedal-points. Or I'll play Bach's "Jesu, Joy..." with a G pedal point, and then reach down for a low C and D for the cadence back to G (may J.S. not strike me down with a lightning bolt!). But my church only seats about 200, so the pedals don't seem to be necessary.
As far as registration, I have a 2 manual Allen electronic organ, and I'm getting pretty good at finding the colors that I want, but I am not able to change colors between verses of hymns, which I would like very much to do. I think you can use the piston-buttons for that, perhaps, but I haven't figured them out yet.
You see, I don't have much time at all to practice on the church's organ. I work many different jobs to support my wife and children, mainly as a librarian, and I wish I had a small practice pedal with organ to play at home. I love your phrase "the miracle of practicing"—it's so true!
By the way, my grandfather, who's mother was Lithuanian, lived to 103 years old. He loved America, but he used to say "America is a business country, but Poland and Lithuania were religious countries". He was a very devout and forgiving man, and when a Polish priest told him, after the war, that his brother Peter, back in Poland, was shot on the firing squad by the Nazis for being a spy, he just said "You have to forgive them". Makes me weep just to tell that story. Grandpa's name was Hendryk Kapowicz. Great guy.
V: Ausra, what are your thoughts about the ending of this question about his grandfather who was Lithuanian, who has Lithuanian heritage?
A: Well, that’s really amazing and that the end of his story makes me cry, want to cry.
V: Right, because the history is so alive in our country. We still can remember through the ancestors those terrible days.
A: And also in Poland too. And our two countries are very closely related historically. So, and Kapowicz, that could be Polish last name, but if you would add ending Kapovicius, it would be Lithuanian, just like yours—Pinkevicius.
V: Right. I guess we could start discussing Neil’s situation about pedal playing, right? He’s hesitant to start playing the pedals except for pedal points. Maybe because of lack of shoes?
A: Well but, you know since Neil is a man, I don’t think it’s that hard for a man to adjust shoes for the organ. For women usually it’s harder.
A: But, if you take any classical mans shoes, you could almost play organ with them.
V: Or dance shoes.
V: Classical dance shoes. So, of course we buy our shoes from OrganMaster shoes, but you could buy them from basically almost any other shoe store that has similar variety of shoes.
A: And OrganMaster shoes, they have a variety of wideness of shoes. Not only sizes but you can buy little wide shoes.
V: Narrow and wide, you can choose whatever fits your feet.
A: That’s right.
V: Right. It’s interesting that he plays Bach’s "Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring" with three notes in the pedal: G, C & D.
A: Do you think Bach is happy about that?
V: Certainly not very angry because Neil is still alive, and Bach is dead.
A: (Laughs). That’s right.
V: I don’t think he can punish Neil very much for that.
A: Yes. Now, let’s talk a little bit about changing registration between verse of hymns. Do you think it’s very hard if you have pistons?
V: Not necessarily very hard, you just have to practice a little bit, maybe five to ten times, changing the desired piston after each verse, and do it sort of rhythmically, right? Basically counting. You hold the last chord, and you mentally figure out where that next button is, and still keep counting. If you need to slow down because it was the end of the verse, and in the same rhythm, when you release, you press the next button, and you’re ready to go to the next verse.
A: And Neil said that he has trouble setting the pistons.
A: Is it hard to do? To set those combinations?
V: On Allen electronic organ, and I guess on most modern electronic organs, and basically even pipe organs, if they have solid state system, it’s kind of just one system to get used to, right? On the lower left side of the first keyboard there is this Set button, and then in the middle of that keyboard there are many combination pistons, right? One, two, three, four, five or more, right? So all you have to do, is to do what, Ausra?
A: To press Set, then to press the right piston number.
V: While holding that,,,
A: While holding that Set button too.
V: Mmm-hmm. But you first have to select the desired stops.
A: Of course. You select the desired stops, and then you are sure that this is a combination that you needed, you just press Set, and then the right piston number.
V: Uh-huh. In the far right hand side of the lower keyboard, there is a Cancel button. If you press the Cancel button, what happens?
A: All the stops will disappear.
A: They will get off. And if you will press the next combination, the next piston, well, you get the next combination. And in that case you will not have to press Cancel button.
V: You mean like sequencer?
A: Not necessarily. Let’s say your organ has six stops, six pistons buttons, yes? Six combinations. It means that if you will press a second button, yes, that’s all button combination set of the first button will disappear, and it will change to the second combination.
V: When you’re playing too.
V: But when you’re setting the second combination, do you need to cancel before that or not?
A: Yes, of course. Unless you want just to add some stops to the first combination.
A: Or do something new, yes.
V: Uh-huh. So general idea is if the next combination is rather similar to the previous one, you don’t need to cancel the first one. And if it’s contrasting, rather different, then you cancel and select the stops from scratch. That’s how it’s done on most modern solid state system organs.
V: Mmm-hmm. Good. Then Neil writes that he doesn’t have much time to practice on the church’s organ because he has to support his wife and children working as a librarian, right? Do you think, Ausra, if there any moments in librarian’s work, where he could incorporate, at least mental practice, while looking at the score? When the readers are not asking for new books, right?
A: Sure, that possible I think, but I don’t know if many people would want to mix their job with something else.
A: That might not be good. For example, when I teach at school I cannot think about anything else. What about you?
V: Uh-huh. I don’t think it would be a big problem for me, because I would bring some, at least one score into work. And if nobody is looking, right, if nobody is looking for me, I am sort of just sitting. And what do I do when I sit? Either I scroll my phone, or search for information online, right, which is also not related to the actual job. What can I do next? I could write, right, a blog post, I could draw a comic strip, whatever, right? Because I’m must waiting. So maybe Neil could incorporate those breaks that he sits. I don’t know if he sits but if he does maybe that would be something to consider. Just mental practice, on the table, while looking at the score.
A: Yes, that’s one of the possibilities.
A: But you know, life is so busy for everybody. That’s usually the practice is the first thing to suffer, because of course you have to do so many other things first.
V: And then of course, as a librarian, maybe his job is not only sitting at the desk, waiting for books, but maybe he has to take those books manually. Maybe he as to walk around.
A: Plus many librarians, we have to do catalogs all the time, and refresh them, and all other things too.
V: Right. So just, I guess maybe, he has to find some other time after work, maybe early in the morning or late at night, when everybody is asleep.
V: Wonderful. So we hope this was useful to you. Please continue sending us those wonderful, thoughtful questions. And we love helping you grow, right Ausra?
A: Yes, that’s right.
V: Answering your questions is one of our favorite activities in the day, right?
V: So, this was Vidas.
A: And Ausra.
V: And remember, when you practice,,,
A: Miracles happen!
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AVA226: Could Jesu Meine Freude, BWV 610, be setup with a big registration, which includes reeds and mixtures?
Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start Episode 226, of #AskVidasAndAusra Podcast. And this question was sent by Daniel. He writes: “Vidas: In your opinion, could Jesu Meine Freude, BWV 610, be setup with a big registration, which includes reeds and mixtures?”
V: So, this is a narrow question, quite Ausra?
A: Yes, it’s a very narrow question.
V: But we could talk a little bit about what type of pieces requires reeds and mixtures, right?
V: So, first of all, I don’t think Jesu Meine Freude would work well with a big registration, because, for several reasons: We have this score in front of us. Maybe the first reason is the slow tempo, Largo.
V: What do you think about it?
A: Yes. Of course some Largo could work with reeds and mixture, probably not this one. Because when I have the free works, then you know, I register them as the free works. But when I have the choral-based works, I always try to look at the text—what it means. And I don’t think the meaning of choral Jesu Meine Freude, or Jesus my Joy, you know, requires reeds and mixtures.
V: I agree with you Ausra. And plus, if you look at the mode, it’s another thing. It’s written in basically in C minor although in the original notation, Bach didn’t use three flats.
A: That’s because that’s C dorian, so it has the six scale degree.
V: And only two flats are required.
A: That’s right.
V: So in any case, it’s a minor mode, rather somber character. And for that reason I think, more quiet registration would work well. What do you think about Principles 8 and 4, for example?
A: Yes I think that I would not go louder than the principles. Even I think it’s possible to play this choral on the flutes too. It wouldn’t hurt, but definitely not a big registration, with mixtures and reeds. Not the Organo Pleno.
V: Could it be, maybe a mixture of two stops? Maybe a Gedacht and a Quintadena.
A: Yes, could be.
V: If your organ has Quintadena. Very soft nasal sounding stop.
A: Yes. And for example with like some smaller organs, they have Principal 8. You could Principal 4, but Flute 8.
A: Yes, and you know, experiment with the softer stops.
V: And after I wrote down suggested registration for this piece, I took a look at the recording that George Ritchie made.
A: So what did he use?
V: Principles 8 and 4.
V: Somehow we’re both intuitively agree with this concept.
V: So in general, Ausra, if you want to use mixtures and reeds, what kind of piece would you choose for that?
A: If we are talking about J. S. Bach, I would choose, you know, his Preludes and Fugues, or you know, Passacaglia, Fantasias and Fugues, or Toccata and Fugue.
V: Free works.
A: Yes, free works basically.
V: But not trio sonatas!
A: True. Not trio sonatas, and probably not all of the choral based works also would work with Organo Pleno. Some of them yes, maybe. But not as often as free works.
V: The thing about Organo Pleno and mixture sounds that are included in Organ Pleno, is that Bach frequently indicates his choice, right?
V: For example; in the first choral fantasia from 18 Great Choral Preludes or the Leipzig collection. It’s called Komm, Heiliger Geist. It is written for organ, Organo Pleno.
V: For Organo Pleno. Which means, yes, you need full principle chorus, and probably 16’ reed in the pedals too, emphasize the Cantus Firmus in the bass. If you have a 32’ stop, it wouldn’t hurt there too.
A: True. True.
V: Because it moves in slower note motions.
V: Excellent! So in other cases, let’s say you’re playing In Dir ist Freude, BWV 615 from Orgelbuchlein. Would that be nice with mixtures?
A: Well, yes, I think it would suit the character of that particular choral.
V: And it’s different, right, from Jesu Meine Freude.
A: Yes, it’s very different in character.
V: And mode is joyful, the rhythm is repetitive, and the tempo is quick.
A: True. Or you know Herr Christ, der einge Gottes-Sohn, BWV 601 from Orgelbuchlein, I think it would also work nicely with the mixtures. It’s also has a joyful pattern, you know, of trust, fast tempo.
V: Mmm. Yeah, so Orgelbuchlein collection there are a number of those pieces suitable for playing with Organo Pleno.
A: Yes, but not so many longer chorals. Not so many, you know, light chorals, or other.
V: Mmm-hmm. So the main idea basically is to look at the character,
V: At the tempo,
V: And the text. Right?
A: That’s right.
V: Excellent! What about the soft registrations? What are the type of things you have to look for?
A: Well, you need to look if the choral or the piece is written or manual or pedals, or two different manuals and pedals, and that makes a big difference, you know, if you have a solo voice in one of your hands, then you need to register it on the separate manual. And sometimes you could use reeds for a solo voice or you know, other suitable stops would be, probably Cornier, or you could do you know, combination of various stops. Maybe Quintadena as you mentioned before, work nicely too, sometimes.
V: We don’t have a Quintadena in our church, so I haven’t used it for quite a while. The last time I used Quintadena, was probably in Sweden, in Stockholm.
V: St Gertrude’s church.
V: On the Duben Organ, a modern-day replica of the organ from the 17th century.
V: What is the last piece that you played with mixtures, Ausra?
A: Well, good question. Probably E Flat Major, Prelude and Fugue, BWV 552 by J. S. Bach.
V: Mmm-hmm. So it fits the idea very well. Free work and it’s even written I think for Organo Pleno.
A: Yes. Although you do some softer stops in the prelude, that Bach indicates himself. But you also use the Pleno but on the other, you know, manual.
V: Exactly. So maybe the second level of Pleno would be less thick without 16’ in the manual. Sometimes even without the mixture you could, if the mixture is too fierce and too harsh. My piece that I recently played with mixtures is probably, I think, one of the free works too. Mmm-hmm. That could be B minor Prelude and Fugue, BWV 544.
A: Yes. It’s very sad piece I would say, tragic piece. Don’t you think so?
V: It is tragic piece, exactly.
A: It has all of dramatic descending lines all the time, you know, throughout the Prelude. And I think that the theme of that fugue, it has sort of like sign of cross.
V: I think I first learned this piece at the Lithuanian Musical Academy.
A: Had you played it? I don’t recall it. I played it, at the academy.
V: With Gediminas Kviklys.
A: So it was much later, yes.
V: In our masters degree program. And only yesterday I understood why I played this piece. Because Gediminas Kviklys himself loved this piece and plays it all the time.
V: Wonderful, guys. So please send us more of your questions. We love helping you grow. And we hope that this question was useful to you. This was Vidas.
A: And Ausra.
V: And remember; when you practice…
A: 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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