SOPP432: I recall when I started to think of pedal exercises in order to achieve as close a legato as possible
Vidas: Hi, guys, this is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start episode 432, of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Irineo, and he writes:
Now that WAS an interesting post.
I recall when I started to think of pedal exercises in order to achieve as close a legato as possible. I took a long look at the pedalboard and imagined which pedals would turn out to be most comfortable for each foot while playing scales upwards. Then downwards.
It became clear rather soon that the bottom C would be perfect most of the time for your left foot while the upper C for your right. But when I started playing pieces a bit more demanding, I realized that not all the time that would be the case.
For instance, when I played my own arrangement to Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition", there's a measure where you should interchange your left and right feet at bottom C [while playing C(left)-F(right)-G(left)-C(right)-F(left)-G(right)-C(left)].
Afterwards I thought about what would happen if I turned things around while playing the "regular" or "standard" order while rehearsing scales/arpeggios.
What I'm getting at is that maybe inverting the apparent "standard order" of playing could help Terry with his problem, because I'm of the opinion that NOTHING should warrant undergoing surgery (especially regarding your feet) only to solve a purely mechanical challenge, because you might actually create a bigger problem.
Hope this helps him.
V: Remember, Ausra, we talked about Terry writing that certain passages on the pedal, would require surgery of his feet. Probably he was joking, obviously, but now, Irineo has his own experience to share.
A: Well, if you will do something really stupid, while playing pedalboard too much—you might really need surgery. Because I’m trying to picture how would I play my right foot with the lowest C note in the pedal keyboard, and I cannot imagine that. I would probably really need surgery if I would to that regularly, or I would simply just fall down on the pedalboard.
V: I guess you need to have long legs, first of all, and then you have to shift your lower body to the extreme right. And then, maybe, maybe, it’s possible, I don’t recommend it.
A: I don’t think any composition is worth hurting yourself too much. So what I would do, I would rearrange that transcription, since it’s not original piece for organ—it’s piano piece. So you could easily arrange things your own way. Anyway, it’s not original so why not to do some more, take some more liberty…
A: and do things more suitable for yourself, and not torture yourself. That’s what I would do, because anyway, maybe it’s not a case with the men so much, but for women, usually women clothes are sort, of made of slippery fabric.
A: And then you are on the wooden bench, you would simply slide down on the pedal if you would move to extreme…
A: sides of the organ bench, or try to reach the extreme, with your left or right feet.
V: Mmm-hmm. So guys, always try to maybe use the things that you have at hand creatively, and not to torture yourself, not to think that you have to take the score to the letter and play everything that is written, in the way it is written—especially if it’s an arrangement; especially if it’s a hymn; especially if it’s a choir piece; especially if it’s an accompaniment of some sort. Sometimes composers don’t have good grasp of organ capabilities and tend to write things that are simply not playable. So we as organists have the responsibility to adjust things. And never, ever, do something that is hurtful to your body.
A: True! Plus when you are playing arrangements or transcriptions, always think that organ has so many stops, and you can manipulate a lot by just changing them. Because, let’s say if you are playing pedal, you might, and you need to know that, let’s say lower note, you could substitute something by just adding or changing stops.
A: Or manipulate in different octaves.
V: Correct. Excellent! We hope this was useful to you guys. Please send us more of your questions. And we love helping you grow. And remember, when you practice…
V: 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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