Organ nightmares

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musicus
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Re: Organ nightmares

Post by musicus » Tue Mar 19, 2013 9:43 pm

Watching a recording of this morning's inaugural Mass from Rome, I am fairly sure that the organist mistakenly played-over the Te Deum - twice! - and was ignored by the choir, before correctly introducing the Salve Regina. We've all done it (even if we haven't been there).
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HallamPhil
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Re: Organ nightmares

Post by HallamPhil » Tue Mar 19, 2013 10:45 pm

yes, musicus, I am sure you are correct.

I watched it myself and the sign of peace accompanied by the Agnus Dei jarred with me. I wondered if others have found it tricky to avoid a hiatus as clergy have the sacrament distributed to them prior to the 'behold the Lamb of God'. The use of additional verses can underpin this extended fraction but this is not always welcomed.

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Re: Organ nightmares

Post by HallamPhil » Tue Mar 19, 2013 10:52 pm

Back on topic, In the early 1980s I was accompanying the University Choir doing Evensong at York Minster at the end of which the choir leaves the worship space and sings the final sentence from a side aisle having received a subtle note from the organ. Unfortunately I had not spotted that the Tuba Magna was still drawn!

I have never had an embarrassing moment since ... ahem!

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Re: Organ nightmares

Post by JW » Thu Apr 18, 2013 8:09 pm

From the Yorkshire Gazette, 21 Mar 1840:

"WHITBY. A regular flare-up took place at the Roman Catholic chapel, in this town, on Sunday morning last. When Mr. Conaty, the priest, entered the pulpit, the choir was engaged in singing, which being terminated, he began to find fault with the organist for playing out of tune, and said it was all for want of practice; that it cost him (the priest) two or three shillings a-week keeping fires in the chapel, for the organist to practice, and that he never attended. Mr Lawson, on behalf of the organist, who is his son, said it was for want of fires being kept that the organ was out of tune, the pipes had got wasted. The priest denied it and told him to sit down and hold his tongue. Mr. Lawson said he would not. A scene now occurred which passed all description. The singers left the chapel, the congregation was all in confusion, and Mr. Lawson declared that neither he nor any of his family should ever assist the choir again. In the afternoon the priest went to Mr. Lawson's, (who is the head of the most respectable Roman Catholic family in Whitby), and apologised for his conduct, and after much-ado we hear the apology was accepted, and in the evening the choir was kept up as usual."
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VML
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Re: Organ nightmares

Post by VML » Thu Apr 18, 2013 9:22 pm

:D :D

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Re: Organ nightmares

Post by dmu3tem » Mon Apr 22, 2013 1:46 pm

Here is an experience I encountered only yesterday - I would not be surprised if others have had it; but it does contain a useful lesson.

We picked 'Be Thou My Vision' as the opening hymn. As this was Anglican All Age Worship with Baptism we used Mission Praise as our hymnal. However as its setting used a vile key I depended on the musical version given in Hymns Ancient and Modern Revised. I checked to make sure the opening two or three lines tallied and assumed all would be well.

On the day in question the church was packed. Instead of a congregation of about 20 we had about 120 (not large by Catholic standards I admit),so I thought: 'Right! I can use more or less full Organ for once.' As we started, to my consternation, I realised that virtually noone was joining in. When we got to the end I checked to make sure the right hymnal had been issued and the hymn numbers were correctly advertised. These all seemed to be in order. I therefore concluded that non-participation was caused by the fact that most of the people were not regular church goers and therefore had not heard 'Be Thou My Vision' (this sort of thing has been known!). It was only after the service that I discovered that later parts of the text in Mission Praise were different from that given in Hymns Ancient and Modern and the melody had been altered accordingly.
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Re: Organ nightmares

Post by VML » Mon Apr 22, 2013 4:07 pm

Something to do with an anacrusis version, or something completely different?

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Re: Organ nightmares

Post by dmu3tem » Wed Apr 24, 2013 3:04 pm

Yes, the anacrusis version certainly had something to do with it but, Mission Praise being what it is, there were other issues with the text and the way the music was adjusted to fit it.

My main point was really to do with the dangers arising from using other hymnals than the one used by the congregation to provide 'better' versions of the music. I have nearly fallen into this sort of trap on several occasions before.
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Re: Organ nightmares

Post by JW » Tue May 14, 2013 4:24 pm

As reported in the 'Royal Cornwall Gazette' 26 March 1891

"A PUZZLED ORGANIST. - A curious contretemps somewhat disturbed the equanimity of preacher and congregation at St Michael's Folkestone, a little while ago. The organ in that church is provided with kettle-drums, which are brought into action by the organist's pressing against an electric knob fixed to the back of his seat. This arrangement was not explained to a strange organist, who had no sooner leaned back to hear the sermon comfortably than a startling uproar began in the recesses of the instrument. Looking up in astonishment, the unsuspecting artist only pressed the knob the harder, and faster and more furious became the action of the drums. This went on for a considerable time, till somebody with presence of mind rushed up and explained the secret, so stopping the noise of the tympani and the giggling of the congregation."

In case anyone thinks this is a wind-up, the organ concerned is listed in the National Pipe Organ Register. The builder was Henry Jones. It had an Orchestral Dept. The effects were played from a small fourth manual above the Swell. One of the drum effects was brought into use by a large piston on the cross bar at the back of the organ seat which was operated by the organist leaning back against it. A "wind and rain" effect was produced by dried peas turned in a barrel.

Orchestral Department:
Bass Drum
Side Drum
Kettle Drum
Cymbals
Carrillons
Timpani

The church and organ were largely paid for by Rev. Edward Husband, a lifelong friend of Henry Jones, who was a gifted musician and gave half hour organ recitals every Sunday morning before the main service

Probably not the most reverend way of preparing for a service but it sounded like great fun. I wouldn't mind an organ like that!
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Re: Organ nightmares

Post by JW » Wed Jun 05, 2013 6:23 pm

Probably an organist's nightmare rather than an organ nightmare:

From Bristol Chronicle 28 Jul 1832 (slightly edited by me for modern readers):

ENGLISH CONGREGATIONAL SINGING. - There is scarcely any regular attendant on the service of the Church of England, who, if endowed with a sensitive organization and competent knowledge, has not frequent reason to deplore the manner in which the musical part of the service is performed; for while a portion of the laity esteem it a mark of good breeding to show, by their close mouths, their contempt for this part of divine service, and others, as if to make up the deficiency, join in with redoubled enthusiasm and "praise the Lord" in loud and rancid tones, that carry everything before them, while the chorus is swelled by schoolchildren, and the gruff and dreadful bass of obese churchwardens, men whose very abdomens convict them of impropriation of the parochial funds, and of furtive feasts at the Green Man, who notions of music are confined to some rattling bass song or rousing tune to make the glasses shake upon the table, what is to be done? The poor organist often sits before the keys, dissolving in cold and clammy horror at the hideous uproar which he hears but cannot stop, except by that last unwelcome expedient of drowning it by the whole force of his instrument, and so making "confusion worse confounded."

Ring any bells? Must be the 19th Century equivalent of certain blogs. To be fair, this is the era when Samuel Sebastian Wesley made his famous comments on the poor state of English Cathedral music.
JW

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Re: Organ nightmares

Post by markyboy » Thu Jun 27, 2013 5:42 pm

Just read the post about Whitby, where I play in the successor church. I hadn't seen this one before. From what I've heard of Mr Lawson, this was not a one-off 'discussion.'
The organ was only two years old at this time, and may actually still exist in another church, though not in use, having left Whitby in 1892 when our present Binns was installed. Miss Emma Lawson, who was this chap's daughter, would later be organist; and it was at her instigation that the Binns was installed in memory of her husband. Small world.

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Re: Organ nightmares

Post by JW » Sun Nov 17, 2013 1:30 pm

Heard this piece played at a recital yesterday, it might have relevance to this topic, or it might not, depends on your view of what constitutes acceptable organ voluntaries in church. :wink:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V2rIlIsi7XA
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Re: Organ nightmares

Post by alan29 » Sun Nov 17, 2013 2:00 pm

A little of that sort of thing goes an awfully long way.

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Re: Organ nightmares

Post by Southern Comfort » Mon Nov 18, 2013 8:02 am

JW wrote:Heard this piece played at a recital yesterday, it might have relevance to this topic, or it might not, depends on your view of what constitutes acceptable organ voluntaries in church. :wink:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V2rIlIsi7XA


What constitutes acceptable organ voluntaries in church (as opposed to recitals) would probably not include Ligeti (Volumina), Guillou... or, less offensively, perhaps also most (but not all) of Messiaen, movements from Hindemith sonatas....

Depends on your definition of "nightmare" !

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Re: Organ nightmares

Post by JW » Thu Feb 27, 2014 6:36 pm

Played at a funeral in a church with a toaster today (not my parish). Its pedal department had already gone A.W.O.L. Half way through the Eulogy there was feedback through the church speaker. At first I thought it was the mike, but I quickly realised it was the organ (no stops were on though) and switched it off. When I switched it back on for the final hymn the noise returned, so I apologised and led the very few who were singing in 'Abide with me' unaccompanied :oops: . I managed to clear it after the funeral by identifying the pitch as F# and hitting the note a few times!!

I have another funeral there tomorrow :roll: just rang the priest to ask what hymns - they haven't told him yet!!!
JW

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