Vidas: Hello and welcome to Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast!
Ausra: This is a show dedicated to helping you become a better organist.
V: We’re your hosts Vidas Pinkevicius...
A: ...and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene.
V: We have over 25 years of experience of playing the organ
A: ...and we’ve been teaching thousands of organists online from 89 countries since 2011.
V: So now let’s jump in and get started with the podcast for today.
A: We hope you’ll enjoy it!
V: Hi guys, this is Vidas.
A: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start episode 665 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Bob, and he writes,
I was just wondering if articulate legato applies to all keyboards or just organs?
V: Bob is our Total Organist member, and he asked this question recently. And my short answer was that it is applicable to all keyboards. But there are nuances of course. Not only keyboards. All instruments playing music composed before the 1800s, like violin, flute, trumpet, etc. Unless written otherwise in the score by the composer. What do you think?
A: Yes, I couldn’t agree more. I think you answered his question. Short and clear.
V: Now we can expand, right?
A: Yes, you could a little bit.
V: So what’s the proof that all instruments played like that before Romantic Period?
A: Well you can check famous treatises written by famous musicians. Of course, we are not talking about organ now, because there are lots of treatises about how to play the organ. But if we are talking about other instruments, because the question was about other instruments, you could read the treatises by Leopold Mozart who was very famous composer and actually educator. We know that he was a perfect educator because Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was his son, but he also was a wonderful teacher of violin, and wrote a very important treatise about playing violin. So you could read that. It has German and English versions for sure, I don’t know into how other many languages it was translated, but you can definitely find it in English. Then if we are talking about flute, then you need to read the treatise by Joachim Quantz. He was a very famous flutist and he worked at the Prussian court.
V: So basically, violin treatise by Leopold Mozart applies to other stringed instruments obviously.
A: Sure, sure, to all the stringed instruments, not only violin of course.
V: And flute treatise by Quantz applies to let’s say wind instruments. I’m not sure about brass instruments, but probably also to some degree.
V: So even today, if you watch how string players play a melody, bowing up and down, up and down, up and down - they change the bow. What happens at the instant where the bow is being changed is a micro detachment between those two notes. Down-up. Stronger beats are usually down. So down-up, down-up, down-up - that’s how they play the scale let’s say. If it’s not written legato.
A: Yes, and if you are playing of course wind instruments, you need to use your tongue in order to do articulation.
V: Tonguing yes. Same with trumpet - also similar. Let’s say with flutes, you play legato only changing your fingering, but with one breath, with one tongue - without any tonguing. But if you play a little bit of tonguing, then those notes are a little bit detached.
V: That’s what we would call ordinary touch or articulate legato in keyboard technique.
A: Yes, and listening to the early music ensembles, how they perform let’s say cantatas by J.S. Bach, you can hear various instruments that use regular articulation.
V: That’s a good question, right? I like when people are wondering outside of their instrument and trying to make connections between other instruments in those periods.
A: Sure, and since the organ is also not only the keyboard instrument but the wind instrument, I think we can find close connection about articulation between organ and wind instruments.
V: And Bob of course was asking about keyboards in comparison to organs, right? And we’re expanding the question, not only about keyboards but other instruments as well. So Bob needs to know that this articulate legato could be applied to harpsichord, to virginal, to clavichord, what else?
A: Yes, to all the keyboard instruments. Except probably modern piano.
V: Except modern piano music composed after 1800s. So even playing Mozart let’s say, you could in certain cases play with articulation.
A: Yes, definitely yes.
V: Right? Probably fast passages of 16th notes.
A: Because this knowledge of articulate legato, it existed until I would say Franz Liszt. Don’t you agree?
V: Mid-19th century.
V: It started to decline during that time, but even Franz Liszt was complaining that in some villages in Germany, they still play with articulation on the organ.
A: So, because the tradition was still alive since so many instruments were preserved. I cannot imagine that you would sit down on the Baroque organ and you would play something really legato.
V: And in some cases, in some countries, this tradition probably extended even longer, because the instruments remained mechanical with slider chests all the way through the 19th century, like in the Netherlands.
A: Yes, you know the poorer church was, the further it was located from the big centers, the better instruments were preserved, because people didn’t have money to rebuild them or restore them, and they basically stayed untouched, luckily for us, that way we know what was at that time, and how the original instruments sounded.
V: It sounds like you mean Netherlands were a poor country.
A: Well no, but…
A: And actually I was not talking about Netherlands. What I meant more was probably France.
V: Yes. France and middle European countries which, for example, have wonderful Baroque organs, not necessarily in the capitals, but in small villages.
A: Yes, because like in the big cities if the war would come, all the organ pipes would be made into weapons.
V: Yeah, countries like Poland, Czech Republic, Slovenia - there are amazing instruments to explore, and largely unknown to the western world, but they are getting more famous because of virtual organ samples on Hauptwerk. So today you can upload or download those sample sets on your computer and play them on Hauptwerk using realistic sounds from various very exotic countries.
A: And it would be really nice to go to visit them, those instruments, and hear how they sound in the real surroundings, and to compare if those sample sets are really as good as you thought.
V: What was the first sample set that you discovered, Ausra?
V: So before that, you probably even didn’t hear, or haven’t heard of Velesovo town.
A: Yes, of course I hadn’t.
V: Where it was, in Slovenia. And now, if you ever travel through Slovenia or you happen to go with a concert to Slovenia, you would probably look Velesovo up and try to find that church.
V: You have a, like emotional connection.
A: Because this is one of my most favorite sample sets.
V: It sure is. All right guys. We hope this was useful to you. So keep practicing, keep expanding your musical horizons on all the keyboards - not only keyboards, but on stringed instruments, and wind instruments, and brass instruments. This is really fun. And keep sending us your wonderful questions, too. 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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