High esteem for the pipe organ?

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justMary
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High esteem for the pipe organ?

Post by justMary »

contrabordun wrote:
Sacrosanctum Concilium wrote:120. In the Latin Church the pipe organ is to be held in high esteem, for it is the traditional musical instrument which adds a wonderful splendor to the Church's ceremonies and powerfully lifts up man's mind to God and to higher things.

:twisted:
Maybe you could settle for holding the organ itself in high esteem while just hoping it never gets used? (Or maybe you've just never heard it played well? Sadly, that's all too likely.)


Oh I've heard it played well - and enjoy singing to it when my secular church choir performs classical choral works (including sacred ones)

But unfortunately when God was creating my body & mind, s/he forgot to add in the bit that is supposed to be lifted up at the sound of organ music during liturgy. Instead I got an almost visceral reaction to the sound that I often perceive as pompous, exclusionary and difficult to sing to.

If this impairment was unique to me, then it would behove me to shut up and put up. But the evidence suggests I'm far from alone.

Hare
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Re: More from Mgr Wadsworth

Post by Hare »

justMary wrote:
contrabordun wrote:
Sacrosanctum Concilium wrote:120. In the Latin Church the pipe organ is to be held in high esteem, for it is the traditional musical instrument which adds a wonderful splendor to the Church's ceremonies and powerfully lifts up man's mind to God and to higher things.

:twisted:
Maybe you could settle for holding the organ itself in high esteem while just hoping it never gets used? (Or maybe you've just never heard it played well? Sadly, that's all too likely.)


Oh I've heard it played well - and enjoy singing to it when my secular church choir performs classical choral works (including sacred ones)

But unfortunately when God was creating my body & mind, s/he forgot to add in the bit that is supposed to be lifted up at the sound of organ music during liturgy. Instead I got an almost visceral reaction to the sound that I often perceive as pompous, exclusionary and difficult to sing to.

If this impairment was unique to me, then it would behove me to shut up and put up. But the evidence suggests I'm far from alone.


"Difficult to sing to" can be for a variety of reasons:

Inaccurate, unrhythmic, or unimaginative playing
Poor choice of registration
Poor tonal make-up of the instrument
Acoustics of building / inadequate organ for size of building. *
Etc

None of these are the genearic fault of the organ per-se.

* With regard to the latter, how much worse would a flute and guitar do? (Sorry - someone's been in trouble for saying that before!)

nazard
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Re: More from Mgr Wadsworth

Post by nazard »

justMary wrote:...my secular church choir...


A fascinating idea. Is it the choir which is secular or the church?

justMary wrote:...the sound that I often perceive as pompous, exclusionary and difficult to sing to.

If this impairment were unique to me, then it would behove me to shut up and put up. But the evidence suggests I'm far from alone.


Now you worry me. I find the organ the easiest instrument to sing to, far easier than a piano or guitar. I wonder if there is some reason for your problem. The most common reason I know for people finding it difficult to sing to an organ is the organist using mutations and mixtures when accompanying singing. These need to be kept back for the loudest fffs. I have heard organists who accompany by selecting a relatively complicated registration on a manual with expression and then closing the swells on it: this produces a muffled, confused tone which can be well nigh impossible to sing to. If this is your problem try to suggest to your organist accompanying solo or small group singing on just a single 8' flute, possibly with the swell half closed. The other big sin for an organist which can make life difficult for singers is the phrasing: people like to breathe.

If your problem really is widespread, then we organists need to know about it in some detail, so please tell us at length exactly what upsets you. Some examples of pieces which you find pompous and/or exclusionary would be very interesting. We also need to know a little about the acoustic of your building: how much echo does it have?

Is your organist actually trained as an organist, a would like to get to ARCO if ever I can find the time to practice 168 hours every week type, or a pianist who gets by on a Sunday because someone needs to do it?

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VML
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Re: More from Mgr Wadsworth

Post by VML »

In other words, sympathetic accompaniment is what is required if you want people to sing. The tune needs to be heard until it is familiar to a congregation, and the church does not need to shake with the bass pipes for every part.

johnquinn39
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Re: More from Mgr Wadsworth

Post by johnquinn39 »

justMary wrote: ... I got an almost visceral reaction to the sound that I often perceive as pompous, exclusionary and difficult to sing to.


I honestly don't think that the sound of the organ is the above.

I have received very high praise, for example, when I have accompanied 'Eagles wings' to Craig Kingsbury's arrangement -- I play the chorus of this on the great with an 8' diapson with 4'flute, and a minimal pedal registration. The verses I play on light flutes & diapasons on the swell.

What is pompous about this?

The congregation sing their hearts out! -- How does his exclude people?

How is this difficult to sing to?

I accompany psalm tones with a light flute gedackt with the box closed. This works well!

Hare
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Re: High esteem for the pipe organ?

Post by Hare »

Don't forget that there are mixtures and there are mixtures! I played a Conacher on Saturday; if you didn't know the mixture was on, you couldn't tell. On the other hand, the one time I played the Rieger at Clifton Cathedral, the Great Mixture virtually doubled the power of the entire organ. It really is a case of knowing your instrument, and what it sounds like in the building.

alan29
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Re: High esteem for the pipe organ?

Post by alan29 »

Any instrument played badly or unsympathetically will hinder congregational singing. Something to do with workmen and tools?

Peter Jones
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Re: High esteem for the pipe organ?

Post by Peter Jones »

I just note that in the Constitution (SC) the word "pipe" was deliberately included. Electronic organs did not sound nice in the early 1960s. In the Chirograph of 2003, the deliberate use of "pipe" is retained. So perhaps Rome does not care for digital technology today.
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Hare
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Re: High esteem for the pipe organ?

Post by Hare »

Peter Jones wrote:I just note that in the Constitution (SC) the word "pipe" was deliberately included. Electronic organs did not sound nice in the early 1960s. In the Chirograph of 2003, the deliberate use of "pipe" is retained. So perhaps Rome does not care for digital technology today.


No doubt there were ructions after Cofton Park (etc) then!

Personally, I feel that the latest digital technology produces results on a par with pipes. Perhaps Rome feel the same, but want to draw a distinction against things with staggered manuals and stick pedals....?

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musicus
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Re: High esteem for the pipe organ?

Post by musicus »

Hare is probably correct: only last month I encountered a "Philishave" in a church!

However, before we lapse into the usual digital v acoustic debate, let's take this topic's title at face-value and continue to discuss the status of "the organ" in the liturgy.
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Peter Jones
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Re: High esteem for the pipe organ?

Post by Peter Jones »

musicus wrote:Hare is probably correct: only last month I encountered a "Philishave" in a church!


Dom Gregory Murray recommended one of those for a Benedictine Priory in the 1960s. I wonder if it still works.
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John Ainslie
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Re: High esteem for the pipe organ?

Post by John Ainslie »

Peter Jones wrote:Dom Gregory Murray recommended one of those for a Benedictine Priory in the 1960s. I wonder if it still works.

He used one himself at Downside to accompany the office from his choirstall.

There's a real choirstall pipe organ in Bratislava cathedral, which still works. One manual, three octaves, if I remember rightly.

organist
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Re: High esteem for the pipe organ?

Post by organist »

I agree with so much that has been said. Rhythmic playing is the answer even staccato pedals. Make sure the gap between verses is consistent. I have sometimes been accused of playing too fast but it's important to give time to breathe. When I see a 6 verse hymn I think this needs momentum to get through this. Interestingly a piano is not always better than an organ for moving things on.

justMary
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Re: High esteem for the pipe organ?

Post by justMary »

Goodness! I never expected my little sideline comment to spawn a whole new thread.

To respond to a few points:

The "secular church choir" was of course an elongated typo - I meant "secular community choir".

The reaction that I have is not to one particular building, organ, or organist or style. I'm in my 40s, and have been a member of four parishes and visited dozens if not hundreds of others. I've heard a few organists etc - enough to distinguish my reaction to an individual situation vs the overall instrument.

And I very much do acknowledge that many people do find that the organ lift their spirit to God during liturgy. But my point is that some of us do no - and there's a place for us too. We need cathedrals and grand churches - and we need humble sports halls on the edge of new suburbs and the moderate suburban churches that they will grow into - and we need a variety of instruments, sounds and voices.

Interestingly, in my humble community hall the other week we had a new musician who put our electronic keyboard onto "organ" mode, instead of the piano mode she'd used at practise. Again, it just didn't do it for me, and the very sound reminds me of churches where "welcome" is a rare quality indeed.

I don't think that there's anything which organists can do about people like me - except not get upset when I firmly-but-politely say that I won't be needing your for my wedding or funeral, or when I actively support the alternative instrument folks in getting involved with regular pastoral / liturgical music.

And one last thought about the pipe-organ and its pride of place: one church-sound mailing list that I read has recently had posts from people in the north of Australia and in Puerto Rico. Both of them have pointed out that the cost and difficulty of maintaining a pipe organ in their levels of heat/humidity would be ridiculous, and vastly outweigh any benefits they might get.

Hare
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Re: High esteem for the pipe organ?

Post by Hare »

justMary wrote:Goodness! I never expected my little sideline comment to spawn a whole new thread.

To respond to a few points:

The "secular church choir" was of course an elongated typo - I meant "secular community choir".

The reaction that I have is not to one particular building, organ, or organist or style. I'm in my 40s, and have been a member of four parishes and visited dozens if not hundreds of others. I've heard a few organists etc - enough to distinguish my reaction to an individual situation vs the overall instrument.

And I very much do acknowledge that many people do find that the organ lift their spirit to God during liturgy. But my point is that some of us do no - and there's a place for us too. We need cathedrals and grand churches - and we need humble sports halls on the edge of new suburbs and the moderate suburban churches that they will grow into - and we need a variety of instruments, sounds and voices.

Interestingly, in my humble community hall the other week we had a new musician who put our electronic keyboard onto "organ" mode, instead of the piano mode she'd used at practise. Again, it just didn't do it for me, and the very sound reminds me of churches where "welcome" is a rare quality indeed.

I don't think that there's anything which organists can do about people like me - except not get upset when I firmly-but-politely say that I won't be needing your for my wedding or funeral, or when I actively support the alternative instrument folks in getting involved with regular pastoral / liturgical music.

And one last thought about the pipe-organ and its pride of place: one church-sound mailing list that I read has recently had posts from people in the north of Australia and in Puerto Rico. Both of them have pointed out that the cost and difficulty of maintaining a pipe organ in their levels of heat/humidity would be ridiculous, and vastly outweigh any benefits they might get.



A "keyboard" in "organ mode" is not going to improve anyone's perception of organs.

I am not now being deliberately "nasty" or "provocative" but, the Catholic Church seems to have more than its fair share of bad organists. Sorry, but it's true. How many "paid" organists/directors of music are there? I'd wager not as many as in other denominations............

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