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Text Book On Registration


martin_greenwood
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Hello All

 

I'm studying towards ARCO which I hope to sit next summer, and am trying to identify a good text book that will offer me guidance on choosing tasteful and "authentic" registrations for organ music from baroque through to 20th century, and for the different countries from where this music originated and was played.

 

So far I have found,

  • Handbuch Orgelmusik : Komponisten - Werke - Interpretation pub. Baerenreiter - am awaiting a response to whether this is available in English.
  • "Organ-Stops and Their Artistic Registration by GA Audsley - seems to provided an encyclopaedic description of individual stops and there usages, but perhaps very little in the way of how they should be used in practice.

In short, I'm looking for something that would help me look at a piece of music and give me some guidance on how to build an appropriate chorus e.g. should I include a 16', should I add a mixture or use just reeds etc.

 

Does anyone know if such a book exists, or do I simply need to gain the knowledge through listening to the repertoire, and ongoing lessons?

 

Thanks

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Hello All

 

I'm studying towards ARCO which I hope to sit next summer, and am trying to identify a good text book that will offer me guidance on choosing tasteful and "authentic" registrations for organ music from baroque through to 20th century, and for the different countries from where this music originated and was played.

 

So far I have found,

  • Handbuch Orgelmusik : Komponisten - Werke - Interpretation pub. Baerenreiter - am awaiting a response to whether this is available in English.
  • "Organ-Stops and Their Artistic Registration by GA Audsley - seems to provided an encyclopaedic description of individual stops and there usages, but perhaps very little in the way of how they should be used in practice.

In short, I'm looking for something that would help me look at a piece of music and give me some guidance on how to build an appropriate chorus e.g. should I include a 16', should I add a mixture or use just reeds etc.

 

Does anyone know if such a book exists, or do I simply need to gain the knowledge through listening to the repertoire, and ongoing lessons?

 

Thanks

 

 

Hi

 

Audsley was very much a man of his time, and I suspect something of a theorist, judging by his other writings. I would take what he says with a very large pinch of salt! His ideas are very much in the orchestral/romantic vein.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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Hello All

 

I'm studying towards ARCO which I hope to sit next summer, and am trying to identify a good text book that will offer me guidance on choosing tasteful and "authentic" registrations for organ music from baroque through to 20th century, and for the different countries from where this music originated and was played.

 

So far I have found,

  • Handbuch Orgelmusik : Komponisten - Werke - Interpretation pub. Baerenreiter - am awaiting a response to whether this is available in English.
  • "Organ-Stops and Their Artistic Registration by GA Audsley - seems to provided an encyclopaedic description of individual stops and there usages, but perhaps very little in the way of how they should be used in practice.

In short, I'm looking for something that would help me look at a piece of music and give me some guidance on how to build an appropriate chorus e.g. should I include a 16', should I add a mixture or use just reeds etc.

 

Does anyone know if such a book exists, or do I simply need to gain the knowledge through listening to the repertoire, and ongoing lessons?

 

Thanks

 

 

A good organ teacher will know what the examiners are looking for, probably because they've got the RCO diplomas themselves. Don't bother too much with these sorts of books: the risk is that they're pushing their own strange dogma (e.g. Audsley), unless they're period treatises (e.g. various old frenchies for French Classical repertoire who were actually alive when the music was being written - all in Fenner Douglass's excellent book on French Classical registrations - which is possibly slight overkill for ARCO). The risk is that putting too much store by treatises on registrations might make you too dogmatic on registration - consider the recent reductio ad absurdum discussion on these pages about Bach mixtures...

 

So long as you know how the pieces you play should be registered and have a fairly good understanding of all styles of music and organs, then you should be OK. If you want a book - it's a long time since I've read it - try Poul-Gerhard Anderssen's The Organ, published in the 1960s. Although old, it's got quite a lot on registrations and historical organs - it's the right sort of level for ARCO - (You tend to lose marks if you try to be too clever for your own good with ARCO!)

 

Registrations are the least of your worries- I would start in earnest practising the keyboard tests now so you're 100% by next July!! They're the real bete noir of AR candidates. Aim to have transposed all of NEH, be capable of sight-reading Palestrina masses, practice sight-reading, harmonisation, figured bass by then. Aim for 1/2 hr to an hour a day on tests alone. Examiners say that most people who sit ARCO fall into 2 distinct categories - those that have prepared properly and those that haven't. Also, get good at the paperwork - Bach chorale harmonisation and counterpoint.

 

A good teacher will be able to lead you through it all. The RCO study days are worth attending!! I think the next one is in London in November - I would go!

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So long as you know how the pieces you play should be registered

I would put a slightly different spin on this. I think its less important to know how pieces were registered historically than to understand how they actually sounded and find the combinations of stops on the organ you are playing that reproduce that sound as nearly as possible. A subtle distinction! Of course you do still need to understand how the original musicians might have registered the pieces, but you should have no hesitation in abandoning dogma if it sounds wrong on the organ at hand.

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I would just like to second everything in Colin Harvey's post, which is excellent advice throughout.

 

I would certainly attend the RCO study day, which stood me in very good stead. If I remember it rightly, Stephen Farr is taking this one at Dulwich, and will demonstrate what the organ can do.

 

The Dulwich organ is very musical and enjoyable to play. Most things can be fitted onto it comfortably.

 

I agree that I would not get too hung up on the exact registrations, unless it is a particular combination that is called for, as in the French Baroque school.

 

I have the Peter Williams book on The Organ on my shelf, and that has a very good summary of the main registrations used for the main schools, which is probably all you need.

 

I prepared for ARCO and FRCO by having lessons with RCO examiners, and their 'inside view' was invaluable.

 

Above all, though, be musical in everything you do. The people who do well are the ones who, as Colin has said, have prepared the tests thoroughly. There is just no substitute for putting in the hours on them - and it will take hours ... and hours. The people who do really well are those who do not just get the tests right, but can play them like real music, which is the ideal to aim for.

 

Ann Bond's book on preparing for ARCO is very good, and the notes on the pieces now produced by the St Giles school are excellent ; I imagine they would have excellent guidance on registration.

 

Drawing together these two points on practical registration and being musical, one of the criticisms made of my playing in FRCO was that I drew the mixture (Room 90 of the RCM) in the Franck Piece Heroique when it just sounded wrong. A very good point ; it may be technically correct, but the key point the examiners are looking for is whether you can give a musical performance. If you can do that, then everything else is secondary.

 

Good luck ; these are tough exams requiring a lot of work, but it gave me enormous satisfaction to get through them.

 

M

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I'm not as qualified as some of those who have responded, but when I saw the thread title I thought that the author of such a textbook is unlikely to know the organ YOU will be playing. My advice:

 

Focus on the music rather than any theoretical principles of registration, and let your registration follow from that. There is also the problem that practise time will be limited on the exam organ, but the specification of same is obviously readily available, so people focus on this. If possible, when you have access to this instrument take a friend who can play so that you can listen, and play around a bit with registration. By the time you will be "practising" on the exam instrument itself, you should be "rehearsing" rather than "practising"!

 

Think of the texture of each piece. Develop starting point ideas for:

- Contrapuntal music - clarity of all voices

- "Theme and accompaniment" music - is balance what you want?

- More symphonic music

 

Also, I'm sure the others are right about the things like harmonisation and transposition etc!

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I'm not as qualified as some of those who have responded, but when I saw the thread title I thought that the author of such a textbook is unlikely to know the organ YOU will be playing. My advice:

 

Focus on the music rather than any theoretical principles of registration, and let your registration follow from that. There is also the problem that practise time will be limited on the exam organ, but the specification of same is obviously readily available, so people focus on this. If possible, when you have access to this instrument take a friend who can play so that you can listen, and play around a bit with registration. By the time you will be "practising" on the exam instrument itself, you should be "rehearsing" rather than "practising"!

 

Think of the texture of each piece. Develop starting point ideas for:

- Contrapuntal music - clarity of all voices

- "Theme and accompaniment" music - is balance what you want?

- More symphonic music

 

Also, I'm sure the others are right about the things like harmonisation and transposition etc!

 

Yes. Well put.

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I would just like to second everything in Colin Harvey's post, which is excellent advice throughout.

 

I would certainly attend the RCO study day, which stood me in very good stead. If I remember it rightly, Stephen Farr is taking this one at Dulwich, and will demonstrate what the organ can do.

 

The Dulwich organ is very musical and enjoyable to play. Most things can be fitted onto it comfortably.

 

I agree that I would not get too hung up on the exact registrations, unless it is a particular combination that is called for, as in the French Baroque school.

 

I have the Peter Williams book on The Organ on my shelf, and that has a very good summary of the main registrations used for the main schools, which is probably all you need.

 

I prepared for ARCO and FRCO by having lessons with RCO examiners, and their 'inside view' was invaluable.

 

Above all, though, be musical in everything you do. The people who do well are the ones who, as Colin has said, have prepared the tests thoroughly. There is just no substitute for putting in the hours on them - and it will take hours ... and hours. The people who do really well are those who do not just get the tests right, but can play them like real music, which is the ideal to aim for.

 

Ann Bond's book on preparing for ARCO is very good, and the notes on the pieces now produced by the St Giles school are excellent ; I imagine they would have excellent guidance on registration.

I endorse all this AND the need to figure out how to reproduce the EFFECT with what you have to work with - particularly challenging for Classical French (though the RCO examination organs are pretty good for this). There is one single volume work that is worth a look and that is the Cambridge Companion to the Organ - good chapters on all the key schools, the organs and their repertoire - will also prove helpful for the history period questions (though nothing like detailed enough for FRCO). Try to borrow or acquire some recordings - there really is nothing quite like a Schnitger, a Silbermann, a Cavaille-Coll, an Ategnati, or a father Willis for bringing the related repertoire to life.

 

Good luck!

M

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