Incidental Music for Mass

Well it does to the people who post here... dispassionate and reasoned debate, with a good deal of humour thrown in for good measure.

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Angela Barber
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Location: Bedfordshire

Re: Incidental Music for Mass

Post by Angela Barber » Fri Jun 13, 2008 4:39 pm

I've only just managed to find time to read the informative and useful info. about this topic.
Has anyone come across "Fifty Elevations for organ on modal themes" by Dom Paul Benoit; also his "Sept. pieces". This French music is dreamy and beautiful. I use it sometimes for communion (when my choir isn't performing something easy a cappella!) and often get appreciative comments from the congregation. This music is great for funerals as well.
I am inflicted with a Mander extension organ with no couplers or swell box but somehow manage to make this music sound almost acceptable - oh for a swell box!
Angela
Please help the choir to keep in tune

JW
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Location: Kent

Re: Incidental Music for Mass

Post by JW » Fri Jun 13, 2008 7:19 pm

Angela,

How difficult are they? French 20th Century Organ Music that is easy to play and sounds good on a limited extension organ (I play a Walker - with a Swell) sounds too good to be true! Sounds as if this might go on my Christmas list.
JW

Angela Barber
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Location: Bedfordshire

Re: Incidental Music for Mass

Post by Angela Barber » Sun Jun 15, 2008 8:29 pm

JW. They're not difficult - I should think about Grade V or VI standard. The pedal parts are mostly easy, being held for several bars length in many instances. I got the music from the States in the end, having no luck with suppliers in UK but sadly I can't remember details. Do hope you can track this music down.
Another favourite with our congregation are the liturgical preludes of George Oldroyd - 3 in number and satisfying to play although lots of stop changes are called for in the absence of a swell pedal. I sometimes play a Walker which at least has one coupler to help but, alas, no swell pedal, and feel better satisfied with this combination for Oldroyd.
No-one has mentioned the lovely Frank Bridge memorial piece in the Little Organ Book. How I wish I could play this in church as well as I play it at home on my digital instrument with all the extras - am being converted to the idea that, if you can only have a basic pipe organ, surely it would be better to have a digital instrument with swell pedal, couplers and a good variety of stops..............
Wonder if anyone agrees with me...........
Angela
Please help the choir to keep in tune

nazard
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Re: Incidental Music for Mass

Post by nazard » Mon Jun 16, 2008 7:11 am

Angela,

Be careful about going digital - my predecessor put in a two manual digital with pedals and 28 stops. This is far bigger than we could ever fit in our church as a real pipe organ and is in many ways a real boon, allowing most of the organ repertory to be played. If only I could cope as well as the organ...

However, if you do go that way, beware. The built in speakers are adequate for home use, but you do need something much beefier in a space the size of a church, and it does need to have a wide frequency response. In other words, you are talking high powered hi-fi, and that means several thousand pounds. We could not afford it, and in the end my son and I cobbled together a reasonable but not as good as we really need speaker system and amplifiers from a mixture of second hand and home made parts. We are both engineers, but most parishes would not have the do it yourself option available.

The other objection to electronic organs is that they are rather characterless. I do get the oportunity to play a 3 manual H&H every few weeks, and the difference is very exciting. Stick with real pipes if you can.

By the "Little Organ Book" do you mean the one in memory of Hubert Parry? In my mind that is a lovely book and not nearly well enough known.

dmu3tem
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Re: Incidental Music for Mass

Post by dmu3tem » Mon Jun 16, 2008 10:33 am

Looking at the issue of Pipe vs electronic instruments and, for that matter, other varieties of keyboard such as the piano, I think the key point to realise is that you are dealing with different instruments. A digital instrument produces sound in a different way from a Pipe organ; both are different from a piano and then of course there are all the permutations brought about by sustaining pedals, touch sensitive keyboards, swell pedals, different types of stops etc. It is unrealistic, for instance, to expect a digital organ to produce exactly the same sort of sound as a pipe organ, or, for that matter, an electronic piano to produce exactly the same sorts of sound as a 'real' piano.

Once this point is grasped the following deductions seem pretty obvious to me:

(1) If you transfer a piece designed for one instrument onto another without any changes you are unlikely to get the result you (perhaps subconsciously) expect. Whether it is 'inferior' or 'superior' is then largely a matter of taste; although the natural human tendency is to assume that if you do not get what you expect then it somehow is 'not as good'.

(2) Having said this, it is also right to point out that a transfer of music without any changes is likely to mean that the music will not - from a technical performing point of view - 'fit' the new instrument quite as well. For example music that requires a sustaining pedal cannot work so well in this respect as on a pipe organ - but it might work effectively on an electronic keyboard with the same facility and, in addition, the electronic keyboard will give you a wider range of available sounds through its variety of stops than a piano can.

The key, then, when you make such a transfer, is to 'rewrite' the music so that, from a technical standpoint, it properly exploits the properties of the instrument you are playing it on. Often, such changes need be no more than minimal - indeed they can be so small that you do not even have to write them down; but they can make a difference out of all proportion to even the most minimal amount of effort you put in.

(3) It seems clear that a lot of new music should be written specifically for the new keyboard instruments that have become available. In this way one really can allow instruments such as digital organs to 'prove their worth'. An interesting exercise, then, would be to take such a piece and place it on a pipe organ. Would you then get complaints that the pipe organ cannot do the sort of thing a digital one can do? When people claim that electronic organs are not as suitable for the performance of incidental music are they not really saying that composers have failed to give any real thought to the new possibilities they open up?

On the matter of speakers. Yes, it is true that care in the choice and positioning of speakers plays an important part in one's efforts to maximise the aesthetic potential of electronic keyboards. Nonetheless, leaving aside the question of cost (and we can, through lack of clear thinking from first principles and merely following fashion, be stupidly extravagent about this), speakers do offer possibilities that do not exist, or exist in a much more limited fashion, with Pipe Organs or Pianos:

(1) They are directional. In other words you can set them up so that sounds come from specific parts of the building. What is more they can be balanced in a variety of different ways according to one's requirements. The effect then, is fundamentally different - though not necessarily 'superior' or 'inferior' - from what you usually get with a large pipe organ, which has often been 'set up' by the organ builder to fill the whole building generally with sound.
(2) In terms of dynamics you can progress from absolute silence to fff.
(3) This means that the task of balancing the sound against that produced by other instruments is basically much easier. Contrast this with the problems one faces when one tries to balance a really large pipe organ with say, a solo violin or clarinet. Thus attempts to extend the repertoire of incidental music by incorporating chamber music settings are somewhat easier to carry out than with a Pipe organ. Note though, that with a little thought and the shedding of preconceived notions about registration, you can do this sort of thing fairly easily even here. Nonetheless, this does not eliminate the problems you have with tuning when you have a pipe organ. Remember that on a pipe organ you are talking about the tuning of every single rank of pipes activated by a given stop. On many electronic keyboards/organs you do not just have a transposing facility, but even the ability to autmomatically tweek the overrall pitch up or down by the smallest microtone.
(4) Furthermore, with speakers (and perhaps also a mixer), you can 'feed' in and balance sounds not only from other instruments (both electronic and 'live') but from voices.
T.E.Muir

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contrabordun
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Re: Incidental Music for Mass

Post by contrabordun » Mon Jun 16, 2008 7:50 pm

dmu3tem wrote:Whether it is 'inferior' or 'superior' is then largely a matter of taste; although the natural human tendency is to assume that if you do not get what you expect then it somehow is 'not as good'.

I take your point, but I think you're overstating it when it comes to digital pianos and organs, which are, by and large, explicitly intended to reproduce exactly their acoustic predecessors, so I would argue that it is reasonable to make direct comparisons between digital and acoustic instruments and to regard the former as successful or otherwise largely on the extent to which they replicate the sound the latter per unit cost.

Ironically, earlier generations of electronic and digital organ designers did seem to be thinking about the technology without preconceptions, and including features, such as non-pipe-organ voices, that might be said to have been sui generis and which might have developed as an independent species with its own repertoire as did the Harmonium, the Hammond and the Cinema Organ. My impression however is that more recent (and certainly more recent high-end) models tend to stick very closely to the pipe organs they are modelled on - I suspect due to the conservatism of those who play them - with features such as multiple temperaments and soft-substitutable specifications very much hidden away, and recognisable pipe organ specifications in the German, French and British traditional schools.
Paul Hodgetts

alan29
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Re: Incidental Music for Mass

Post by alan29 » Mon Jun 16, 2008 8:11 pm

The last parish I played in had an Allen digital organ which "spoke" through 4 speakers the size of fridges. These were placed behind the altar screen. It was a truly fabulous instrument that was happy at the usual Bach and Widor and superb at accompanying. Proper draw-stops etc. The parish bought it secondhand from Allen for under £3000.
Alan

Southern Comfort
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Re: Incidental Music for Mass

Post by Southern Comfort » Tue Jun 17, 2008 10:51 am

An amusing historical footnote:

On 5 December 1938 the Sacred Congregation of Rites was asked if it would give its approval to the instrument known as a Hammond Organ. The Congregation's preliminary reply was negative, and was definitively confirmed on 4 September 1939. It appears that neither the Congregation nor the Second Vatican Council ever revoked this decision. :mrgreen:

JW
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Re: Incidental Music for Mass

Post by JW » Sun Jun 29, 2008 4:52 pm

August - if you are not on Summer Holidays. Again, I've kept suggestions simple but many of these pieces have a pedal part to keep the feet entertained and trained. This music is not so well known, so there are fewer links in this post.

Sunday 18:
From Short & Easy Organ Collection (Mayhew):
Start: Elegy, Noel Rawsthorne (p.152)
Communion: Andantino, Cesar Franck (p.150)
End: Prelude on 'Men May Live a Godly Life' Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck (p.40)

Sunday 19:
From 148 Interludes for Organ (Mayhew)
Start: Nos. 57, 61, Dom Gregory Murray,
Communion: No. 38, Andrew Moore
End: No. 126, Dom Gregory Murray

Sunday 20:
From Ann Marsden Thomas', A Graded Anthology, Book 2
Start: Adagio, Vivaldi/Bach, (p.18) 2nd movement of BWV593.
Listen here http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=5fKM6PXx3kw (as you can hear, it works on piano as well!)
Score is here: http://icking-music-archive.org/scores/bach/bwv593/Bach_Vivaldi_Concerto_BWV593_2.pdf
Communion: Adagio in D Minor, Anon (p.15)
End: Petit Carillon, Rene Vierne (p.46)

Sunday 21:
Some easy(ish!) French Romantic stuff which works on a small organ but think carefully about registration and dynamics:
Start: Verset 4 from "Sept Versets" by Leon Boellmann
Sheet music here: http://icking-music-archive.org/scores/boellmann/SVol/Boellmann_Verset_4.pdf
Elevation, Alexandre Guilmant (p.132 from Short & Easy Organ Collection _ Mayhew)
Postlude, Leon Boellmann (p.11 of 'Organ Music for Manuals 1, OUP, Ed Trevor)

Sunday 22:
More from Ann Marsden Thomas', A Graded Anthology, Book 2
Start: Chorale Durch Adams Fall Ist Ganz Verderbt, Johann Walther (p.30)
Communion: Thema in C, Mozart (p.40)
End: Organ Voluntaries for Young Organists 1, Samuel Wesley (p.40)
JW

JW
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Re: Incidental Music for Mass

Post by JW » Mon Jul 21, 2008 9:41 pm

Sunday 23: The piece by Cabezon is a Renaissance gem. Pachalbel wrote more than a Canon. It's also worth looking at the work of Baroque Italian composers from Arresti to Zipoli. Enjoy!

Start: Tiento del Segundo Tono, Antonio de Cabezon
See p.46, 47, 48 here: http://imslp.info/files/imglnks/usimg/9/9c/IMSLP17911-Intermedios___Tientos.pdf
Listen to a version for Wind Ensemble here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GuQLgF8pG9s

Communion: Chorale: "Christe, der du bist Tag und Light" Pachalbel
Sheet music here: http://www.sheetmusicfox.com/Pachelbel/pacorg07.pdf

End: Ricercare per Organo, Floriano Arresti
Sheet music: http://icking-music-archive.org/ByComposer/Arresti.php
Hear it here: http://www.soundclick.com/bands/default.cfm?bandID=586561
JW

organist
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Re: Incidental Music for Mass

Post by organist » Mon Jul 21, 2008 9:43 pm

This month I am exploring the organ music of Ralph Vaughan Williams who's centenary we are celebrating. There are some easier pieces like "The New Commonwealth" and "Rhosymedre" and more tricky ones.

JW
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Re: Incidental Music for Mass

Post by JW » Tue Jul 22, 2008 7:19 pm

Organist - your comment about the Vaughan Williams Centenary (I assume you intended 50th) had me hunting for his dates, especially as HONR gives 1872 to 1952! According to Wikipedia et al he died in 1958 - so thanks for the reminder about the anniversary - I wasn't aware. It will be worth including "Come Down O Love Divine" to "Down Ampney" as one of the hymns before the year's out. (The Holy Spirit isn't just for Pentecost).

How are people celebrating the Messian centenary? The organ I play can't cope with him, I can't cope with him and the congregation weren't impressed the one time I played them a movement from L'Ascension. However, he was very much inspired by his Catholic faith and is probably the organist/composer who had the most influence on organ music in the 20th century.
JW

JW
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Re: Incidental Music for Mass

Post by JW » Wed Jul 23, 2008 9:12 pm

For fans of Taize music:
Another little improvisatory gem on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3AVRtgmyqto&NR=1
and a scary organ improvisation from the same performer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ue7jHGluT5Y
JW

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Benevenio
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Re: Incidental Music for Mass

Post by Benevenio » Thu Jul 24, 2008 11:22 am

JW wrote:How are people celebrating the Messian centenary?

This is something to be considered. One his more approachable works for the uninitiated!
Benevenio.

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musicus
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Re: Incidental Music for Mass

Post by musicus » Thu Jul 24, 2008 1:41 pm

Organists of modest ability (like me) with less modest organs might like to try Messiaen's Le Banquet Celeste, or - and this is cheating somewhat - just the second, slow, section of La Verbe from the second volume of La Nativitié. (Actually, the latter piece works well on any organ that can provide a solo cornet-type stop.)
musicus - moderator, Liturgy Matters
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