Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start episode 347, of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by David. And he writes:
Thank you for telling me about this "mini-life" concept. It helps me to know that there are other people who do this, and that it's not some crazy idea that only I do.
I am trying to work on "On This Day, Earth Shall Ring" arranged by Gustav Holst (Personent Hodie). I wonder, since this is originally written before the Baroque era but arranged by Holst in the 1800s (modernist? Romantic period?), if you might have suggestions on registration, articulation, etc. I'm looking at doing this for congregational singing, choir accompaniment, or processional, depending upon what happens this season (if the pastor picks it to sing, it will be played as a congregational hymn. If the choir sings it, I will accompany them, and if neither occurs, I will pick it as a prelude or processional).
At this time, I'm trying to play the right hand quite detached, the left hand is mostly mirroring the pedals an octave higher and I am playing it only with toes. But I'm not satisfied completely with the results.
Is it better to register the pedals as 8' and 16? Should reeds be used in the pedals? Should I double the pedals? Should I use mixtures instead of reeds? Maybe couple the Great to pedal and add a 16' stop? Maybe play with 32' on the electronic instrument and 16' on the pipe organ (because it doesn't have 32')?
What is the best thing to do with registration for the high descending notes starting at the end of the 3rd line? I almost thought about playing octaves in the pedals (2 pedals an octave apart), playing the lower two notes on the Great, and playing those descending notes on chimes on the solo manual on the pipe organ, but on the electronic 3 manual organ, I'm not sure what to do with those notes. I don't like them played on the same manual as the lower two because of clarity.
(Here is a link to the score from which I am playing:
And if that link doesn't work, here is a link to another score 1/2 step higher.
Thanks for your advice on this,
V: And, David includes a link to this hymn, which we are looking at right now. And this is arrangement by Gustav Holst. Let me analyze it… And it starts with descending scales starting from E in octaves, in the left hand part. Do you know, Ausra? I don’t know this hymn.
A: Neither do I. But I think as David has so many questions about this, and he’s not quite sure who will perform it—if congregation will sing it, or choir will sing it, or he will play it as a processional only, processional.
A: I think the final performance on it and registration of this hymn will depend on which of these versions will be done. Because if he will play it alone, he can use entire organ....
A: And do whatever he wants. If he will sing it with congregation, accompany it with congregation, he can also probably use many of stops and reeds and other loud stops—if the congregation is bigger. But if only choir will sing it, then he of course will have to not play so loud. What do you think about it?
V: I agree, and I also think that this arrangement that he sent the link to us, is for piano, not for the organ.
V: And if you play double octaves with the pedals, it’s just too powerful.
A: I wouldn’t do it. Then I would play the lower part, the lowest voice with the pedal, but maybe I even wouldn’t do the octaves on the organ. Because already, since we have, let’s say, in the pedals, 16 and 8’ stops, it’s already doubled. It already sounds in octaves.
V: Maybe sometimes it’s 4, 4’.
A: Yes, and even four, 4’. So I wouldn’t do that.
V: And if it’s a loud registration, maybe you would have, maybe I would say, mixtures too, so it doubles in fifths too. What about playing the lower part as you say with the pedals, but I just think sometimes the range is below key.
A: Definitely you have to arrange it. Of course.
V: Mmm-hmm. And then the right hand is free to play the chords but maybe divide them between the hands.
A: True. And for me, all this kind of arrangement, it looks a little bit dull.
V: You need I think, space it out, I think, maybe open position chords. Especially when the melody goes upwards.
A: That’s right. Because again, look at the accompaniment, that top voice of accompaniment. It doubles the melody that congregation or choir will sing.
V: Mmm-hmm. Is this a good thing?
A: Well, yes and no. It might be nice for one verse but then it will get boring.
V: For congregation, yes, I think, good.
A: Yes. It will be easier for them to follow. But if you are only doing it with choir, then choir knows already the melody very well, so, you could do something else maybe.
V: Maybe invert the right parts and play in a different melody…
A: I think that might work. Definitely.
V: Tenor in the soprano.
V: We see the right hand chord at the beginning is G, B, E, but you could start, for example, as B, E, G, or even E, G, B, like that.
V: But splitted between the hands, I think. That’s more work of course.
A: That’s right.
V: And one word about, Ausra, the pedaling and articulation? Do you think it’s a Baroque type of piece or not?
A: Well, anyway if I would play it, I would articulate it.
V: Would you use heels?
A; Well, if I would decide to play those double octaves, then yes, I would probably use the heels too.
A: But if I would play only one melody, then maybe not.
V: I’m just thinking about the style of the accompaniment—it’s modal. It begins and ends in E, but it has two sharps. What is it, what is this mode? E, with two sharps?
A: You don’t know, that you are asking me. I know.
V: Can you tell us?
A: Yes I can.
V: Don’t hesitate.
A: If you pay me.
V: In which currency?
A: In Euros.
V: I only have a Steam.
A: Okay. I’m just making fun out of you and out of myself. If it’s E and it has two sharps, it means it’s a Dorian mode.
V: Dorian! Okay.
A: It’s type of minor mode, which has comparing to the minor mode, natural minor mode, it has the sixth scale degree raised. So like in E minor, scales you wouldn’t have C# but here, you have it.
V: Uh-huh. Doesn’t it remind you of a little bit of 20th Century writing?
A: True. A lot.
A: Because there was a time when it was very popular to sort of imitate early music like middle age music, Gregorian Chant.
V: So should we play then this type of style in the early way, or the later way? Modern way? Legato or regulated way? I’m not sure sometimes.
A: Well, it depends. It depends on the piece and it depends on the place. Well, if you want to imitate Gregorian Chant then you probably wouldn't articulate as in the Baroque type. But again, if you want to play this kind of thing with a large registration as David wrote, then if you wouldn’t articulate at all, it might get really messy.
V: Mmm-hmm. You’re right! You always listen to what’s sounding—what the congregation is hearing, not what you are hearing, but down in the pews.
A: But, anyway, I guess in this kind of a piece, you will be sort of forced to do some articulation, even if you will intend to play most of it legato, because it has so many repeated notes. And since the top voice of the accompaniment doubles the melody, hymn melodies, so, you will have to articulate too because it has repeated notes.
V: Mmm-hmm. Okay. I hope this has been helpful to David who is also on the team of podcast conversation transcriptions. He helps us to provide you written text of the MP3 files. This is really helpful. And this is the only way we can produce so much material suitable for both listening and reading and in-depth conversations, right, because that’s a lot of words what we talking today, right, Ausra?
V: A lot of transcribing. So we’re really grateful to David and others on the team. Okay! Please send us more of your questions. We love helping you grow. 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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