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ples

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About ples

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    Norwich, UK
  1. I look forward to being able to report back to you in due course then.
  2. Anyone who read my original introductory post a couple of months ago might remember that when I first posted I was on a photography tour of several cathedrals in the West of England. Although I went because I wanted to see a part of the country I was not familiar with and wanted to photograph several cathedrals I had read about but never visited it was actually this forum, at least in part, that increased my interest in the cathedrals in question because 3 of them (Gloucester, Worcester and to a lesser extent Hereford) seem to be mentioned on here more than pretty much every other cathedral added together. I am pleased to say that although I visited during the day for the purposes of photography I did get to hear all three organs being played. The pictures from the trip have been online for some time at Flickr now and naturally each cathedral visited generated a picture or two of the organs there which have been added to an organ group. I noticed this morning though that it was none of these which had generated the first comment from a member of the public but the organ at Rochester Cathedral taken some months back and it reminded me of a few things I had thought about asking on here. Back in March I stopped off at Rochester for a recital by Scott Farrell. I live in Norwich but frequently travel to Kent as I have family and friends in Ashford. The route home on a Sunday afternoon / evening takes me right past Rochester and, knowing that there was a recital on I decided to stop by, despite knowing nothing about the organist himself (other than that he is the DoM of the cathedral in question) or anything about what he intended to play. In fact, he plays the organ at Newcastle on a recording from there (Priory?) which was not highly regarded on a previous thread on here so I didn't know what to expect. Well I guess, not being a muscian, I am not qualified to judge whether the recital was good musically but I do feel qualified to say whether I enjoyed it and I thought it was outstanding. It was undoubtedly the best organ recital I have heard and I gave everything I had (bar the change for the tunnel!) to the collection at the end as a small token of my appreciation. What I was disappointed with, however, was the paltry attendance. I was also a little disappointed that the cathedral hadn't managed to find anyone to introduce the recital leaving the poor man himself to do his own introduction in the quire and then scurry off up to the organ loft and begin playing before the silence lasted too long. So I guess my first question is whether this kind of thing is fairly normal practice in a cathedral recital? And what about the paltry attendance? It seemed a great shame that so few people were there to hear such a good recital. The previous weekend I went to the inaugural recital of the new organ at St Edmundsbury Cathedral by Nicholas Kynaston, a performer whose work I had many recordings of as a child. It was a great recital which I thoroughly enjoyed but I enjoyed the recital at Rochester even more. But Nicholas Kynaston was playing to a full nave at St Edmondsbury whereas Scott Farrell would have been lucky if he'd had 50 people at Rochester. It didn't seem fair somehow. Obviously Nicholas Kynaston is a big name who has been around for many years and the recital was a special one in that it was the first on the new organ so doubtless it would attract a higher than normal turn out but even so I still felt bad for the performer at Rochester that so few turned up to hear him play. I went to a recital there as kid to hear Barry Ferguson play "The Widor". I was sat about half way back in the nave with several hundred people between me and the organ. This time I was sat as one of a few people in a sparsely populated quire - is that just the difference that 20 years makes? Of course, one of the things which made the recital so impressive to me was the organ itself which, for all the effort of H&H to my uneducated ears couldn't match the instrument at Rochester. How much of that is the instrument and how much is the building though is hard to say - at St Edmundsbury there was an immense amount of masonry between the organ and me whereas the organ at Rochester seems to be perfectly positioned to to speak clearly throughout the cathedral which brings me to one last point on which I am interested in the opinions of the good folks here..... Although I like gentle pieces and value subtlety (even if I'm not sure how to spell it!) the organ at Rochester is able to shake the entire cathedral to its foundations when opened up which is quite breathtaking when used sparingly. I was treated to a brief show of similar fireworks from Gloucester whilst there as well (and have a number of recordings of it flexing its muscles which never fail to make the hairs on my neck stand on end when I hear it). I'm pretty sure NK rounded off the recital at St Ed's on full organ but although impressive didn't fill the cathedral with anything like the same sound it kind of brought home to me that every cathedral and instrument is different - and perhaps Gloucester is known for being extremely powerful? I don't know the answer to that but I do know that Gloucester seems to be the subject of much nashing of teeth from organists on this forum whereas I, as a non-musician, think it sounds fantastic. Why the difference ? Much to discuss, input please.
  3. A previous poster asked that I update this thread from time to time with progress - and after all the helpful advice it would be rude not to! Sadly I've had absolutely no time to practice recently and after the initial 3 hymns I learnt haven't really made any further progress due to lack of practice. However things are settling down now so I should be able to start again soon. I've also been to see the vicar this morning and she is happy that the church can help me, though she thinks the organ isn't a particularly easy one to play. Whether she is a musician herself or whether that is simply what she's been told is not clear but the organist is keen to meet me so that will be the next stage. This is the organ, btw.
  4. Thanks for the continuing advice. As an update I did drop a line to a the vicar at the weekend and got a swift, if non-committal response. Perfectly understandable I think as she doesn't know me from Adam. She wants to meet me before she decides whether or not the church can help and even suggested some appropriate times for me to drop in to the Rectory but sadly they are all times I cannot make. But the channels of communication are now open. Furthermore it may be that a resolution is at hand to one of the main current complications - specifically that I may now be staying on in my house in which case I should be in a position to buy a more appropriate instrument complete with a full pedal rank - and as luck would have it one has just gone on Ebay which is located right here in Norwich. With regard to the keys of various hymns, I also have a very tired (melody only) copy of Hymns For Church & School, which sure enough goes back to my school days. If nothing else at least I can compare what Old & New is up to with regard to the key. I think probably the first thing for me here is to learn to play the hymns I like straight out of the book and in time, as I become more practised and more familiar with the thinking I'll be able to develop the variety to play them in the most suitable manner for each context in which I might find myself playing. Simon
  5. More thanks due for more helpful advice. I certainly will be contacting the church though I have just been plunged into a slightly complicated situation (my life is anything but predictable at the moment) which may keep me otherwise occupied for some little time now and I suspect the electronic organ may have to suffice until all this is past and the future a little clearer. On the subject of registration, thankfully the organ I have is aimed at church / chapel usage and although some stops are better imitations than others they are all intended to mimic pipe organ stops which is certainly going to help more than some of the electronic organs I have seen - but certainly I'd prefer working with a real pipe organ. There are only four stops on the swell of the church organ though (compared to 12 on my home one) so there will certainly be far fewer combinations available. On the subject of the hymn book, I don't hugely mind the one I have, I was only concerned because of all the bad coverage it gets on here. I've been able to play many hymns for years using my own improvised (and simplistic) accompaniment. My aim now is to learn how to do it properly and I was worried that I would spend all this time trying to read the real music only to find that the music in the book I am using differs wildly from more respected publications. If that isn't the case then I shall happily continue to use it. The Organists Association workshop looks ideal but a bit of a commute from Norwich but I shall definitely look at getting in touch with the local outfit. What a great suggestion (thanks to all who have suggested it) - I would never have thought of that. I've looked at the website of the local outfit but unfortunately nothing quite like is being listed by them.
  6. I think I will do exactly that. I've been pondering this exact thought since my followups last night. I am perhaps being a little quick to judge (though hopefully in a nice way) but the local vicar is female and all the women priests I have met to date have been excellent advertisements for the churches they serve - everything you would hope a member of the Christian clergy would be. I will get in touch and explain what I am trying to do. I'll give what I can back to the church in return but I will be honest that it is likely to be fairly limited in real terms. However I am the manager of an IT department so there might be some internet / computer related favour (or favours) that I can provide. A few people have highlighted that hymns are surprisingly difficult. It's actually a relief to hear that in many ways because, to be honest, I am finding it very difficult. Difficult - but not impossible. It just takes work - and more than once it would have been handy to have someone I could ask how to deal with a particular problem. Maybe getting involved with the church can provide an avenue on that one too? In any case, despite the apparent difficulty of hymns I do have the advantage of familiarity with many of the tunes from my singing days which does assist greatly in turning the notes on the page into a passable impersonation of the real thing! That sounds perfect. I'll look into that too. Many thanks contrabordun (and handsoff).
  7. Now that does make for an interesting comparison - and shows what can be achieved. I can only hope I can emulate your example! My plan was never really to learn to play for services, just for personal satisfaction and enjoyment, though if I manage to progress to that level I shall be happy to do so when available. Availability is a large part of the problem though. I also could use a different instrument on which to learn. The old electric organ I have is over 40 years old and feeling its age. I have to carry out remedial work on it before every session of learning / practice or many notes either crackle and bang or fail to play at all. I've seen many impressive electronic church organs came and go on Ebay in the last few months but my house is on the market and I have no idea where I shall end up living, only that it will be much smaller than where I am now. That has made me reluctant to buy anything with a full pedal rank or which might make enough noise to upset the neighbours who will doubtless be somewhat closer once I have moved. That problem will work itself out in time however. My availability will also become more predictable - in the meantime I have to go with what I've got. I think the point about being a chorister is well made - though I have never referred to myself as such. Being in the recitel choir of a cathedral school, but not in the cathedral choir itself, the term "chorister" was exclusively reserved for use by the actual cathedral choir. The school choir was generally a rather poor relation in prestige if not necessarily in actual ability, though we did put on many concerts ourselves in the cathedral and at other venues. My memory is pretty hazy now but I am fairly certain we did Evensong in the cathedral on the odd occasion (presumably to give the choristers and lay clerks some time off) and I have a feeling they may even have done tours but since took place in the holidays when I was abroad with my parents (boarding during term time) I never took part. But without my time in the choir I am certain my very limited abilities on the organ would be reduced to pretty much nothing since I rely so heavily on my ear to be able to play anything!
  8. Firstly my apologies for not replying sooner. I'd like to thank the many people who have offered advice and some folks in particular have gone to considerable length to craft detailed replies - please be assured I have read every last word and will doubtless continue to refer back to it. One thing that has been brought home to me is how little I know about musical theory, in particular timing. I know, of course, what each note means but had not really given much consideration to the timing. It's highly unlikely I could read the music of any hymn well enough to play it if I did not already know how it was supposed to sound. I rely on my ear to get things like the tempo right - I just need the music to give me the proper harmony. It is my hope that with perseverence I will become familiar enough with reading music that I could start to tackle pieces that I am not familiar with, though I suspect it will be some time before that is the case and that I will start with more simplistic pieces than hymns. My intention really is simply to be able to play for my own enjoyment, not really to accompany a church service, though I do recall from doing a few times all those years ago that the congregation always seemed to want to sing more slowly than I played. If I slowed down a little so did they so they! On the subject of pedals, the instrument is a 1970 Solina electric organ, the sort of thing that was the forerunner of the brown plastic 1980's Hammond organ type jobs with two rather short manuals, offset, stops like "banjo", wobbling vibratos and any number of drums and rhythms! Fortunately this one was obviously designed with a more traditional use in mind and all the stops are of the kind found on a typical pipe organ (though obviously mimicked with primitive electronics). There are no drums or anything like - but there certainly isn't a full radiating concave pedal rank either. Instead there is run of one octave of pedals suspended from the base of the organ (and they don't all work). They are also not especially easy to play. As for my use of my legs, although I suffered a nasty thigh injury on my right leg it is to all intents and purpose capable of normal use now. Sadly the same cannot be said of my left leg which was broken in many places between the knee and the ankle. I've looked at the x-rays many times and stop counting the pieces at about 15. That includes multiple vertical splits on the both ends of the tibia running into the knee and ankle. As a result neither functions especially well but since to all intents and purposes I shouldn't have a left leg at all (in fact probably shouldn't even be alive) I am not going to complain too loudly. I've seen some pretty impressive footwork on YouTube and even in live recitels, things I could never hope to emulate with my physical limitations, but then nor will I ever be able to play pieces of that nature anyway. In terms of playing the pedals to your average hymn (if there is such a thing) I do not imagine it would be a huge problem. I should add though, that at this stage I have not attempted to play them to the hymns I have learnt. It has taken all my concentration just to learn what to do with my hands! Besides, the pedals that there are on this organ are just a soft, rumbly bass and don't make the clear sound that playing the bass part on the manuals does. Oh no need to worry about that. I don't mind telling the stories I just don't really know that anyone wants to hear them! I can no longer ski, run or play racquet sports - which are basically all the sports I used to do. This is because of the high impact they would have on my knee which now has a deformed joint, damaged cruciate ligaments and hardly any cartilage Swimming and cycling should be no problem and I should be able to still do hiking on an irregular basis. Instead of squash I have now taken up golf! On the subject of finding someone to assist me - that would be ideal. Sadly though I have no realistic means of payment and I imagine most professional musicians would be somewhat reluctant to give their time freely and I would not wish to embarrass them by asking. I live in a small village with a small and very old parish church. According to the NPOR there is a two manual pipe organ in the church with a total of 9 stops. This would be a logical instrument on which to try to learn but I am not known to the church and have nothing really to offer them in return for being allowed to use the organ - if indeed they would even consider that. My ability to do any of this is considerably hindered by circumstances at the moment, just as it has taken me a week to reply to this thread and last night was the first time I have had a chance to crack on with learning another hymn. O Thou Who Camest From Above has been abandoned as I just couldn't get to grips with it and I am now trying Alleluia Sing To Jesus (Hyfrydol) instead but confess to struggling a little with this too. I got the first part fairly quickly but the last part still has me foxed! Off to try again in a mo.... I shall take on board all that I have been told.
  9. Two very helpful replies so soon! And many thanks to you both. I should just clarify that I am not a young organist looking to learn. I am just someone who has lost much of what I had my adult life and who is looking to find new things that I enjoy doing. Hymns are something I enjoy, certain ones I remember from school are anyway and a few weeks ago I had an old two manual electric organ shipped up from my parents where it had been gathering dust for a very long time. It barely worked but after working away at it, it now makes a passable sound (mostly). Once fixed I tinkered around on it for a little while but eventually decided it was time to do something useful with it and finally learning to play something I always loved seemed like the best solution. I'll never be "an organist" but that doesn't mean I can't gain some pleasure from playing in the sanctuary of my own home! Anyway it sounds like I am on the right lines with the 10ths and I'll look around for some of the alternative hymn books suggested. I'm sure this won't be the last question though
  10. Basically, I went to a cathedral school and sung in the recital choir (the school's not the cathedral's) and from there stems an interest in choral music. At the same time I started learning the piano and demonstrated a modest level of talent - or so I was told (and even if true, doubtless far less than most here). But I lacked the patience, inclination and application to get anywhere. I achieved Grade 1 (with distinction) and was swifly moved to Grade 3 (2 being deemed pointless by my piano teacher) but amidst constant frustration / anger on the part of my tutors at my laziness and poor attitude I got bounced between several teachers without really even starting Grade 3. The head of music for the junior school was a good man and keen to keep me encouraged and eventually I wound up being taught outside of school by an old man who, I believe, had once been the organist at the cathedral but by then was long since retired. He was far more patient and I liked him but by then I'd more or less had enough of the piano. He decided I should try for Grade 4 but around that time I moved from the Junior School to the Main School. It was more difficult to get to lessons, far more difficult to practice (not that I ever did) as I didn't have ready access to a piano and I lost the support and encouragement of the school's music teacher. Now in the main school I came under the school's DoM, with whom I had previously crossed paths. He didn't like me anyway and was quite happy to let me walk away and cease to be problem for him. I had discovered (and this was a large part of the problem) that I could pick out almost any tune I heard pretty much instantly and, that without much thought, I could make up a simplistic accompaniment to go with it. Playing by ear was easy and felt natural, and very quickly I had made up an accompaniment for all the hymns I liked. My simplistic accompaniment, though a far cry from the proper four part harmonies you'd expect had been sufficiently passable that I had already stood in for regular organists at a couple of churches (the choirs knew not to sing the harmonies when I played). By contrast playing the annoying sheet music I was given to learn for the exams was difficult and boring, required patience, practice and perseverence - all of which I lacked. And the constant b********g I got for not practicing just turned me off even more so even though the old man and his grand piano represented a much nicer experience by that stage it was essentially already over so at approximately age 12 I walked away and never looked back. Now fast forward in excess of 20 years and a series of life changing events of have robbed me of much that was important to me. I am now trying to rebuild my life and replace what I can no longer do with other things. With most sports now out of the question I found myself looking back at the music I left behind. All those hymns I learned to play by ear - now I want to learn to play them properly. BUT - I only ever did Grade 1, I haven't played a note in more than 2 decades and I have no cash for lessons. I'll have to do this by myself. Doubtless many will feel hymns are not the right choice of music for this and I have no argument with that PoV except for this - it's what I WANT to do and that alone makes it vastly more likely that I will put in the effort required. It's where I lack the knowledge that I will need help. I learnt Love Divine All Loves Excelling (Love Divine tune) first. It took me several weeks of 30 mins or so 2-3 times a week to figure it out. I then learnt O God Our Help In Ages Past (St Anne tune) in about a week with less time each day and then I learnt Abide With Me (Eventide tune) in about 1 hour. As you can see as things started to click into place mentally the amount of time taken to learn the music has come down substantially - or maybe I've just been picking easier pieces each time? I could play the tenths in the St Anne because for some reason I have long enough to get ready for them and I can play the tenths in the Eventide by playing the tenor part on the right hand). I had a brief go at O Thou Who Camest From Above last week but it had me completely foxed and I have been away ever since - just back tonight. I was wondering whether to persevere or find something easier. Trouble is I don't really know what is easy and what is difficult until I try to learn them! Perhaps if I post a list of tunes I intend to learn someone can suggest those which I should attempt first and those which would be better waiting until later? Any help / advice appreciated anyway!
  11. Ok, short version..... I am a non-musician and I am trying to teach myself to play the full harmony accompaniment to a range of hymns on the organ. I've not long started but it's going ok so far. However my total lack of knowledge can obviously be a drawback and I have a couple of questions which I hope people here don't mind me asking: 1. There are a number of places where the music requires playing a tenth on the left hand. I am not able to stretch that far so what do I do? It was suggested to me that in such instances I should ignore the tenor part and play the bass part - and where practical should play the tenor part with the right hand. Would this be the advice of forum members and if not, what should I do instead? 2. After deciding to do this I needed some music - I've never owned or even seen a full edition hymn book so I had to buy one. I found Hymns Old & New on Amazon and bought it (assuming it was simply a 2011 version of Hymns Ancient & Modern as the name means more or less the same). However now that the old thread on hymn books has come to the top of the pile I have just discovered how loathed this publication is. So should I a) keep going with it b ) feed it to the dog or c) place it carefully on the fire grate and wait until the autumn? My concern is that since people are queueing up to complain about the keys and arrangement of the music that I'll wind up learning the wrong thing! Obviously options B and C would require a replacement - and if so then what? I understand people will probably think it is unwise to try to play hymns with as little experience as I have but this is what I want to do and therein lies the motivation to get on and do it. If anyone wants to know the full reasons why I am doing this a second post to explain will follow but I wanted to avoid cluttering up the questions with backplot And if you don't want the boring backplot just ignore the follow up!
  12. ples

    Introduction

    Thank you both. It's a great part of the country for many reasons. Of more interest to most members of this forum though is the (seemingly) disproportionately large organ in Norwich Cathedral - but sadly I have never heard it play so much as a note. However I have just this evening noticed that organ-recitals.com is now showing a series of recitals for it (seems to have been published rather later than most). I must make sure I attend one.
  13. ples

    Introduction

    Quick stop by this evening to check on things - I was pleased you followed up porthead because (being rather new) I wondered if I had overstepped the mark with my tongue-in-cheek comment and I am glad that appears not to have been so. However I do seem to have caused some upset with the first question thread I posted - which was certainly not my intention and I apologise to our hosts if any upset or embarrassment has been caused to them. Although not specifically stated in the guidelines I can see why the topic in question is avoided and I shall certainly think more carefully in the future. Nevertheless, having my first proper topic locked after a few posts is not exactly an auspicious start. The problem I have is that the main reason I stopped lurking in the first place and registered was because I grew up singing to and listening to one particular cathedral organ and it was that organ which is the origin of my interest and I was interested to hear the views of amateur and professional organists on what they think of it and how it compares to others. But on further reflection the last company to rebuild the organ was our hosts so inviting people to critique it may mean causing further offence. I did not come here to do that so I will refrain from starting that discussion which unfortunately leaves me with no further questions at this time. I would therefore like to re-iterate my thanks to those who gave me the warm welcome and leave it at that.
  14. I was intrigued to see this: http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?Vie...e=STRK:MEWAX:IT It's the first time I have seen a more or less complete church pipe organ put up on Ebay but the most interesting part is the fact that they intend to retain the facade of the old pipe organ but are actually replacing it as an instrument with a digital organ. I wonder if they'll be placing the speakers of the new digital organ inside the casework of the old pipe organ? I can't help wondering if this isn't something which is going to be seen more and more - months of design, planning and building for a new pipe organ, followed by a lifetime of tuning and interim repairs and services all costing time and (lots of) money. By comparison a digital organ would take next to no time to spec up and install, would require very little ongoing maintenance and come at a fraction of price. It's not hard to see the attraction to a financially stretched church....
  15. ples

    Introduction

    It wasn't me I'm afraid. It was something I left behind when I left school and only picked up again last year. I mostly forgot about it in the meantime but an accident a couple of years ago which was nearly the end of me kicked off a difficult couple of years for me and much that I used to do is now beyond me either physically or financially. I needed to fill my life with new things and getting into photography and re-discovering my interest in organs and associated music is part of that. I am impressed by your laid back attitude to having a photographer wandering around while you are practising.
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