Vidas: Let's start the episode 37 of #AskVidasAndAusra podcast. Today's question was sent by Maik. He writes:
"Hi Ausra and Vidas. I listened to your last podcast, and then a question came to my mind. When or how to use Bourdon 16' in the manuals? Greetings, Maik."
That's a very interesting question, right, Ausra?
Ausra: Yes, that's a very good question.
Vidas: Do you often use Bourdon 16', or any other 16' stop, in the manuals when you play?
Ausra: Yes, actually. I use it quite often because I like it.
Vidas: I think it's a good stop to add the gravity to the sound, right?
Ausra: Sure. There are a few cases when I use it in the manuals. For example, when I have Pleno, and if I have 16' in the manuals, I usually add it, because it gives to the Pleno this nice sound of gravity.
Vidas: Exactly. There is a specific instant in the Pleno with the mixtures when you must use 16' in the manuals. This is when the mixture is very low, has very low foundation. Maybe 4' basis. Basically, the lowest pipe in the mixture is 4'.
Vidas: Does that make sense?
Ausra: That's right, yes.
Vidas: Like at St John’s here in Vilnius, where we work, this mixture on the first manual is based on 4' level. A lot of organists who don't know this sometimes use 16' in the manuals when they see the need, but sometimes not, with the Pleno, with the mixture. I think on this particular manual they have to use it, because the mixture is very low.
Ausra: Also, another case to know when you can use Bourdon 16' in the manuals is, for example, imagine that you have no time to practice hymn playing for your service, and you still want to have some lower sound and don't want to use the pedal at all. You can just play, add the Bourdon 16' in the manuals and play it on the manuals.
Vidas: Exactly. It's much easier this way, but you have to understand, we are not advocating for omitting pedals. It's just for emergencies.
Ausra: Yes, it's just for emergencies. Yes. Another thing, when you know you can use the Bourdon 16' in the manual, for example imagine let's say, some kind of romantic piece, where you also have only manuals. Written for manuals. You have to have accompaniment in the left hand and, let's say, a melody in the right hand. You're playing on two different manuals. It would be very nice to have Bourdon 16', maybe Flute 8', in your left hand on one manual, and then to have something solo in the right hand.
Vidas: It's like a Bicinium, right?
Vidas: Bicinium. Two separate melodic lines. In the right hand you have this chorale melody, Cantus Firmus. Maybe without ornaments, or with ornamentation. You need this maybe a soft reed, or even a trumpet, or even mutation combinations. Even Cornet for the solo in the right hand. Then, as Ausra says, you need to have foundation in the bass with the left hand, so we add Bourdon 16' with the Flute.
Ausra: Sure. There might even be some interesting trio texture in the piece, where your left hand might play as a pedal line. Then you could also use Bourdon 16', and maybe have a solo voice in the pedal played by, let's say, 4'.
Vidas: Or 8'.
Ausra: Or 8'.
Vidas: The reed.
Ausra: Yes, reed.
Vidas: In the tenor basically.
Vidas: The lowest voice in this chorale setting would be the left hand.
Vidas: The left hand.
Ausra: I think in the literature you can find cases like this.
Vidas: You can even try to play Wachet Auf by Bach from Schubler Chorales. This way, basically the left hand would play the lowest part and the pedals would play the tenor chorale melody with the trumpet, let's say.
Ausra: That's a possibility. Also there are composers who write their registration down, so if they were to ask for Bourdon 16', you definitely use it.
Vidas: Excellent. Do you think that Bourdon 16' alone would sound well without any other stops on the manual too?
Ausra: Well, sometimes yes. That's not often, but yes, I think so.
Vidas: Sometimes when I improvise I need some dark textures in chords, and juxtaposed with some virtuoso melodic lines, flourishes in high pitch level at 4' registration, then I need to contrast it with darker sounds like to depict some different, darker moods. I use Bourdon 16', perhaps alone even. In the depth. In the bass register, so that listeners could get this dark feeling.
Vidas: Great, guys. I hope this was useful to you. Please send us more questions. The best way to do this is actually through email. Subscribe to our blog at www.organduo.lt if you haven't done so already. Just reply to any of our messages that you would get as a subscriber. Remember to practice, because this is the most important thing, because when you practice-
Ausra: 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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