V: Let’s start episode 143 of #AskVidasAndAusra Podcast. Listen to the audio version here. This question was sent in by Dan. And basically he comments after my question to him. I asked him ‘what is he struggling with in organ playing currently?’ And he wrote:
"With the Walther piece I find concentrating on the manual parts when the pedal enters, to be a challenge particularly, as in this piece, he’s got the melody in the pedal. I’m taking it way way slower then this at the moment though. With the Bédard suite, were doing things a little out of order, its a four movement suite. So I covered the first movement, and am working on the third right now. The third movement has a lot of suspensions in it, and I’m finding figuring out when parts move in those suspensions to be quite a challenge, but I’m getting it. And with the Dubois piece, its just a case of getting it smooth and polishing it up. I’ve almost got it."
V: So Ausra, his practicing I think Walter’s, choral prelude, one of the collections, and then French Suite by Bedard, and then Dubois toccata. And with Walter he finds it difficult to play the manual parts when the pedal enters correctly.
A: Well yes, that is often the case in Baroque music and Baroque pieces.
V: Because it’s mostly fugal writing, correct?
A: Yes, the polyphonic texture gives trouble to coordinate between feet and hands.
V: Imagine if it’s like a fugette or even fugal texture then, the alto enter first, then the tenor, then the soprano, and only then the bass. And the instance where the bass or the pedals enter, then it’s four part texture.
A: Yes, specific texture and you got a lot of things to do, to think, to listen to.
V: I think that people take the first tempo, practice tempo, according to the first line.
V: Yes? And in the first line you only have one voice, it’s very easy and they tend to play to fast.
A: That’s true and to know in general, I would suggest that if you have pieces like this, start to learn them and practice right away those hardest parts. Don’t play from the beginning. Then you see that texture is to fix that learning those parts, in combinations first, to play pedal separately. Then together, then start to learn those easier parts. Because, otherwise, you can play piece nicely, but not those parts where the pedals come in.
V: Hmm, hmmm.
A: So in order to make to make things even in the piece, throughout the piece, you need to start working from the hardest parts, from the beginning.
V: That’s very natural, right? Let’s say, let’s say if the pieces just one line, solo piece, we have some pieces like this, especially in contemporary music. I’m thinking about Messiaen and his movements from Les Corps Glorieux for a single Cornet stop.
A: Yes, yes.
V: Or a reed?
A: Mmm, hmm.
V: So, it’s still difficult to play but not as difficult as let’s say, two voices, right?
A: Yes, So true. The more voices you get, the harder it gets. Unless it’s a homophonic texture, then it’s another thing. But I’m talking about polyphonic texture.
V: So in the polyphonic texture, if it’s just one line, and for everyone it’s different, but let’s say you can play this one line piece, collectively slowly with a few mistakes, then you need to go back, correct them, and probably, probably play it a few more times, right Ausra?
V: So five or ten times for one voice short episode. What happens if you have two voices? You have to repeat not twenty times but thirty times. Because you have one line, the second line alone, and both lines together. Thirty times. And if you have three part texture, you have actually seven combinations. That’s why you have to play seventy times.
A: Your number scares me.
V: I know.
A: Stop counting.
V: And if you have four part texture (I’m not finished yet), if you have four part texture, guess how many combinations?
A: Too many, too many for me to count.
V: Fifteen combinations, and if you give each combination just ten run-throughs, then you have 150 uh, plays to do.
A: Well, you don’t have this so mathematical, exact or precise. But, the more you get the more you have to practice.
V: Ausra, does it sound about right, if you have four part polyphonic texture, chorale, prelude or fugue or fuguette, that you need to practice that many times in order to fully master it.
A: Yes, especially if you are a beginner.
V: Mmm, hmm. We’re talking about people who have beginner skills or early intermediate.
A: Yes. And another place he wrote about suspensions, my suggestion would be to lean more on those because suspensions always mark a dissonance in music and you have to lean more on dissonance. Because, after that resolution, usually comes. So that might help him too while practicing this piece.
V: Mmm, you’re right. Um, what to you mean by lean on dissonances?
A: Well, (chuckles) I didn’t mean like physically lean on them, but listen to them, and,
V: Make them longer.
A: Make them longer, yes.
V: A little.
A: A little bit, yes.
V: Uh, huh!
A: Not too much of course.
V: And play them legato
V: Suspension and resolution has to be played legato.
V: At least it has to sound legato.
V: In a very reverberant room maybe you could articulate a little bit. But if it’s dry acoustics, it definitely needs to be played legato. Those two notes.
V: And with the Dubois toccata, I think he is on the right track, right?
A: Yes. Although don’t practice that piece too fast too often because it might get muddy after a while.
V: So maybe then dotted rhythms and reverse dotted rhythms might help. Slowing down and playing, tum, ta-tum, ta-tum.
A: Yes, and know every time when you practice, play in a slow tempo too, not just that tempo.
V: Mmm, mmm. True.
A: That will help to keep things clean.
V: Okay. It’s just a matter of spending time.
V: And he will get it, eventually.
V: Thanks, guys. Please send us more questions. We love helping people, right Ausra?
V: 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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