Organ nightmares

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JW
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Organ nightmares

Post by JW » Mon Mar 11, 2013 11:01 am

We've all been there, but perhaps not quite so spectacularly!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1DBAoWr-imY
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Re: Organ nightmares

Post by Gwyn » Mon Mar 11, 2013 11:54 am

Ooo-er! :oops:

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Re: Organ nightmares

Post by musicus » Mon Mar 11, 2013 11:31 pm

One of my most embarrassing experiences happened while playing for Sunday Mass at an SSG weekend in Oxford. The church was St Aloysius', the celebrant Bishop Crispian Hollis, and the hymn was O Praise Ye The Lord. The hymn is in Bb and the Great Trumpet developed a B natural cipher just before the final verse! (The Bishop was kind enough to ask me afterwards if the organ needed money spending on it.)
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Re: Organ nightmares

Post by JW » Tue Mar 12, 2013 1:19 pm

I'm found out most Sundays! Last week for example:

1) We sang 'O God you search me and you know me' during the Offertory. We finished and as there was incensing I was quietly improvising on the hymn as you do when the PP launched into "Blest are you Lord God of All Creation". I found the music by the 2nd verse but he had intoned about a major third too low - so up we went - what were we saying about last verse transpositions on another thread?!

2) For the Eucharistic Acclamations, I was happily singing with the choir accompanied by the guitarists and flautists. After the Amen, I realised that I was supposed to be accompanying the 'Our Father'. Cue a sprint across the West Gallery and a very emphatic "as we sing" from the PP. Good job we aren't up the front!

3) I managed to avoid the stuck Mixture on the Great tenor F# except for once - during the meditative 'Deep Within' at the Entrance.
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Re: Organ nightmares

Post by JW » Tue Mar 12, 2013 1:25 pm

I think my worst ever was during a Confirmation about 30 years ago. I started a hymn at what I thought was the right place and time. The bishop yelled up to the West Gallery from the Presidential Chair: "We don't want any of that, thank you." I still don't know why he did it!
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Re: Organ nightmares

Post by promusica » Tue Mar 12, 2013 8:53 pm

Maybe I've posted this story somewhere else already: I used to play organ in Dublin Airport Church, a very nice digital (Viscount Toccata II to be exact) with great sound sampling and a host of interesting functions. However, for its first year, it seemed to be affected by the radio signals in the airport. On one occasion - I think it may have been the Crimmond The Lord's My Shepherd, in F major - the transposer suddenly kicked in, up a minor third, halfway through the verse, only to return to the original key for the last half of the last line. Coating the entire inside in tinfoil seemed to do the trick...

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Re: Organ nightmares

Post by alan29 » Wed Mar 13, 2013 10:45 am

JW wrote:I think my worst ever was during a Confirmation about 30 years ago. I started a hymn at what I thought was the right place and time. The bishop yelled up to the West Gallery from the Presidential Chair: "We don't want any of that, thank you." I still don't know why he did it!


The only possible response is a stern word in the sacristy after Mass.

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Re: Organ nightmares

Post by musicus » Wed Mar 13, 2013 11:05 am

These are all horribly wonderful! :lol:

Any more?
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Re: Organ nightmares

Post by VML » Wed Mar 13, 2013 12:02 pm

Twenty or so years ago, our rebuilt church was being opened and dedicated. The PP asked me to sing 'God be in my head' unaccompanied, in a two part duet,till he heard our run through and realised the other singer, though her voice was powerful, could not hold a tune. On the night, we had a good well practised group of musicians, but as yet no organ, and PP had decided that for such an important entrance we should play the whole verse as intro: Christ is made the sure foundation.However our very powerful voiced singer came in a good tone flat after two lines of intro, and the people tried to follow. We managed to rescue it after half a verse, but later realised the whole thing was being videoed for the Jesuit uncle of a parishioner, and the film was sent to Kenya.

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Re: Organ nightmares

Post by JW » Wed Mar 13, 2013 1:59 pm

Did you hear the one about the priest who used to preach for 30 minutes every Sunday?

One day he was suffering from tummy trouble. At the end of the Gospel he announced to the congregation: "I'm sorry but I really can't continue the Mass, let's just sing the final hymn and go."

The organist duly launched into "Now thank we all our God".
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Re: Organ nightmares

Post by musicus » Wed Mar 13, 2013 3:12 pm

Nice, JW - but off-topic :lol:
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Re: Organ nightmares

Post by JW » Wed Mar 13, 2013 5:49 pm

OK Bear, there's an organ in Cheshire with only parts of the pedal board playable, a "Mixture" rank that's actually a fifteenth made from a sawn off twelfth rank, the second rank for the Mixture has been stopped up with bluetack: see D08196 in the NPOR. Looking at a rival forum it seems that this church now uses a Clavinova instead. Nightmarish enough? :wink:
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Re: Organ nightmares

Post by musicus » Thu Mar 14, 2013 12:51 am

Positively scary!
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Re: Organ nightmares

Post by Southern Comfort » Fri Mar 15, 2013 11:10 pm

My few nightmares relate to putting down a pedal note that was supposed to be coupled to a soft manual but was instead coupled to the full Great chorus, or leaving a loud reed or mixture on accidentally. We have all been there. :(

Not to mention when the previous organist had the transposer on an electronic instrument turned down a whole tone and I did not notice before starting to play..... somewhat like the notorious Hallelujah Chorus clip that started this thread.

I did once, however, have to play Bach's Toccata and Fugue at the end of a wedding up a semitone in E flat minor because I had discovered before the service that bottom D on the pedals stuck down every time you played it. That was a different kind of nightmare, but it was the only practicable solution. I am happy to report that there was not a single wrong note.... :D

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Re: Organ nightmares

Post by JW » Sat Mar 16, 2013 5:24 pm

Crikey SC, that's impressive!

This afternoon I was playing for a wedding. When I arrived the warmer weather had seen off the sticking Mixture notes - fantastic. One of the pieces I played before the start of the service was the Bach Air from Orchestral Suite No 3 (you have to be quite old to associate this with Hamlet cigars nowadays, so its back in my repertoire). The church was full and noisy so I decided to solo out the tune on the Great Diapason rather than my usual Great Flute... only to find that the Soprano top A wasn't speaking. As I say, I get them all the time :roll:

I wonder if anyone noticed: certainly there was no comment from Mrs JW! However, the cheque I received is unsigned so perhaps the bride and groom didn't approve :cry:

It has ever been thus. In 1896, W H Rendle ATCL, organist of St Mary's Penzance wrote to the "Cornishman" describing the organ as "an antiquated monstrosity" and an "instrument of torture". He ends his letter: "
When, sir, will somebody come to our aid? Could not you send us a cheque for £400? Or, if not £400, could you give us £200 in order that the work of rebuilding may be commenced? You could pay the other £200 in a year's time."
I see from the NPOR that JW Walker had overhauled the organ in 1878. Rendle presumably got his money because extensive work was carried out by Heard of Truro in 1898.
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