What do we do when we play hymns on the organ? Do we perform or create?
Hymn playing is performance when we play SATB hymns as written in the hymnal, just like any other written down organ composition.
But it's creating when we:
1. Play the hymn tune from the hymnal and supply our own harmonization.
2. Use different registration for every stanza, paying attention to the text.
3. Put the hymn tune in any other voice besides the soprano.
4. Place the tune with the feet, playing any part in the pedals.
5. Add non chordal notes, such as passing notes, neighbor tones, and suspensions.
6. Play the hymn in 2, 3, 5, or 6 parts.
7. Supply our own descant.
8. Create an introduction, interludes, and a coda between the hymn phrases (Ritornello technique).
9. Create a set of variations on the hymn tune.
10. Play a fantasia by choosing each phrase of the hymn tune and treating it in imitative counterpoint in various voices.
Performance is sure to work, safe, and risk-free. Creating might not work, is risky, and requires a leap from the perspective of both the creator and the receiver.
In a world of unlimited possibilities, which one would you choose to play? Which one would you choose to listen to or sing with?
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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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