SOPP470: Playing an Eminent digital organ in a local church last night, I discovered that by pressing a couple of buttons I could bring up Netherlands tonality and Kirnberger III tuning!
Vidas: Hi, guys, this is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra
V: Let’s start episode 470, of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by James. And he writes:
Playing an Eminent digital organ in a local church last night, I discovered that by pressing a couple of buttons I could bring up Netherlands tonality and Kirnberger III tuning!
V: This is James Spanner, an English organist, who visited Vilnius and played his recital in our church, number of years ago. And from time to time he writes updates about his like and work. So we keep in touch. And I thought of including his feedback here in the podcast as well. Do you like, Ausra, Dutch organs?
A: Yes. I like them. It amazes me actually, most of them, because they are so big and have a very narrow keys, but very high pipes. And sometimes, it’s hard to imagine how could we fit all those pipes in such a narrow organ case.
V: It’s been a while since we visited the Netherlands, but last time I heard Dutch organ sound, it was not long ago. It was recently submitted a video for our Secrets Of Organ Playing Contest by Partitura And he has several samplers on his digital organ, and he uses Dutch Deventer organ sound.
A: And it’s very nice.
V: Absolutely gorgeous.
A: Yes. But I think that if you wouldn’t see the side of it you might not, that you wouldn’t recognize it’s a real organ, though it’s a digital organ. So I guess nowadays technique makes miracles. Although of course, if you could choose the real thing, you would probably choose the real thing. But nowadays the Netherlands are selling the instruments to Africa and South America. It makes me sort of sad, because those great historical instruments might diminish.
V: Mmm-hmm. We’ve been just talking about that the other day—how European churches tend to be emptier and emptier.
A: Shrinking, basically.
V: Yes. Attendance in liturgy, liturgies of various denominations are shrinking. I’m not sure about organ concerts but the most direct usage of the organ for church services is on decline because of people going to the church less and less.
A: And of course government cannot support each single church’s historical monument. So it’s a big dilemma what to do.
V: And in many countries, they don’t pay taxes—people don’t pay taxes for churches, like in Germany. In Germany you have to choose either you are a Catholic or Lutheran, and then…
A: That’s right.
V: your portion of the tax goes to the church. But in other countries it’s divided. The state doesn’t support the church.
A: Actually we were surprised so much when we were in London last summer, and gave a recital in St. Pauls Cathedral. Basically it’s really one of the best known Cathedrals in the world. And they also said that it is difficult for them to make a living and they have to take donations.
V: Yeah. Government support for keeping the building as a historical monument is not enough for their activities.
A: That’s right.
V: Obviously they have to get additional funding. And they usually get it from donations, from visitors, and from members of their congregation, probably, who are proud to support such a church, such a cathedral. But we’ve been talking about the Dutch organ quality, right, and to me, I kind of marvel at their pedal towers. And that is very significant for German organ building as well.
A: I think they have many similarities…
A: Netherlands organs and German organs. Basically, it’s still, you could call it the same region.
V: Mmm-hmm. And Kirnberger III tuning, is in our church too.
A: Yes, at St. Johns. It’s a nice temperament because you can change so many keys. Basically everything up to three flats or sharps sound well on this temperament.
V: Much more, I would say.
A: Hmm, well, yes.
V: Much more, but what is still present is individuality of the keys. Like C Major is a little bit different than D Major—sounds a little bit different. And D Major is a little bit different than F Major, let’s say.
A: So that’s a nice temperament.
V: Yes. I guess those digital organs which have samples of various important historical instruments from around the world, make people easy, allow people to have easy introductions to historical sounds, and let people to have those sounds at home.
A: That’s very often, when you start to talk about tuning, and temperaments, people cannot comprehend it.
A: Because if you are only talking about it and you cannot play examples, it doesn’t make sense, most of the case. I think mainly string performers can understand what you are talking about, but others not so much.
V: It only saddens me a little bit that James heard this organ, or played this organ at the local church. Not at somebody’s home or his house, but at the church, because usually churches invest in pipe organs.
A: Well, not so much anymore.
V: Or should.
A: Not so much anymore.
V: I would say ought to invest in pipe organs—quality pipe organs. And digital organs could be best used for private use.
A: But I think it’s all about money.
V: Of course. Thanks 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!
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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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