Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start episode 434 of Secrets ff Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Alan. And he’s a member of the team who transcribes fingering and pedaling from the videos, and prepares nicely done fingering and pedaling practice scores. So Alan writes:
Vidas and Ausra, I enjoyed this episode, thanks. You mention Sauer’s crescendo roller. We saw one of these demonstrated by Andreas Sieling when we toured the Berliner Dom last year. I didn’t quite understand this unique device ; perhaps you could explain exactly how it works in a future episode. Is it selectable to specific manuals? Does it change wind pressure or add/subtract from registrations?
Thanks and regards,
V: Well this is an easy question, right? Because those early crescendo pedals would work in a certain way that they add and substract from registration, nothing fancy.
A: True, yes. Simply, instead of adding stops by hand, you would use this pedal, and it would do it for you.
V: And it would work for all the manuals and pedals, in a predetermined manner by the organ builder.
A: And I think it’s very well suited for certain musics, like Max Reger for example. Because sometimes in his music you don’t have time to add or subtract anything, but you need to change dynamic most of the time, it moves going up and down in terms of dynamics, you know?
V: And other late romantic composers, sometime Brahms writes like this, Schumann obviously writes like this in his canons.
A: Then of course some pieces like Reubke Sonata.
V: Right. Not forgetting Liszt, obviously.
A: Yes, he does it sometimes in "Ad nos, ad salutarem undam" and other pieces.
V: Also Liszt lived a little bit earlier and he played Ladegast organs.
A: And you could tell sometimes that terrace dynamic is more used by Liszt than other composers.
V: Terrace dynamic means that you jump from manual to manual and that’s how you create crescendos. You prepare the first manual with one registration, the second with a second registration, the third with a third registration and you make dynamic changes like that. But of course with Sauer, they have not only crescendo roller but also those pistons with pianissimo, piano, mezzo piano, mezzo forte, forte, fortissimo, tutti, those pistons can be done with hands and they really facilitate the crescendo.
A: Yes, sometimes they’re easier to use because sometimes it’s hard to control your foot to open or close the roll pedal smoothly. And then if you can’t do that you might get too sudden crescendo or diminuendo.
V: What to do now for people who are living in the XXI century and don’t have the chance to play on an historical organ? Adjust, right?
A: Yes, you need to adjust.
V: Perhaps if your organ does have crescendo pedal, perhaps compare this pedal with historical pedal, listening or watching videos of people playing the Sauer or Walker organ and thinking about how it ideally should sound. And then when you have this image in your mind, then you transfer this image in your target instrument, which might be modern, and the capabilities of the crescendo might be different. If it’s pre-programmed in advance and you don’t like this sound, maybe don’t use it and use combination action, toe pistons and things like that to adjust the level of the dynamic. Some modern organs have the possibility of programming your crescendo pedal for your own use, which is really nice.
A: I remember myself as a young student, it was quite hard for me to register smoothly, to make my crescendo smoothly. Sometimes, instead of coming up gradually, it would come jumpy, suddenly into louder or softer registration.
V: Ok guys, always experimenting, use your taste. We hope this was useful to you and please try sending 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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