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I was wondering if people generally use 8-foot stop(s) or 4-foot stop(s) for the chorale tune in the pedal. I have experimented with both, and 4-foot stops sound fine even if Bach didn't call for them.

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I would like to see a facsimile of the original. The critical commentary in the new Breitkopf edition shows the first few bars of each piece, but in the case of BWV 684 it is not enough. The extract shown is on two staves, but it stops before the pedal entry. If the whole piece is on two staves with the pedal included on the left-hand staff, then I would think that is the intended sounding pitch, so an 8' solo stop is in order. Using a 4' stop actually sounds fine to me, but the chorale melody does get rather mixed up with the two parts in the right hand. A 4' reed helps to keep it clear, of course, and some rather nice effects can result, depending on the stops available; however I'm not convinced Bach really intended such a texture. Using an 8' reed places the chorale in the tenor and the resulting spacing of the voices is more even - but some crude and very un-Bachian 6/4 chords result at bars 18 and (especially) 42. Surely he is even less likely to have wanted those. The answer, if using an 8' pedal stop, is to base the left hand on 16' pitch and I rather suspect that this is what Bach intended. At any rate, it seems the best solution on purely theoretical grounds. That said, a 16' left hand may not sound well at the fleet speeds favoured today, in which case a 4' solo is preferable.

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Oh dear, I seem to have killed this one stone dead. No other views?

 

I agree with you, Vox - although due to your observation regarding 4ft. stops getting mixed-up with the upper parts, I prefer it with a clean 8ft. Trompete. Here:

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Merci, mon ami. A very enjoyable performance of a very lovely, but decidedly awkward little piece (at least I find it so). I see Kay Johannsen adopted the conclusion I came to above. I like the speed, but it sort of demonstrates what I meant. The 16' in the left hand is hardly registering in bottom 1½ octaves or so - but it is a quiet stop. I don't know whether it's because of the 16' or because of the contrasting tone colour of the reed (I think it's the latter), but the 6/4 chords I mentioned above don't sound at all ugly. Could this be the effect of flue stops having a more "fundamental" tone than reeds? As a student I was briefly in digs with a fellow organist who told me that he had been told that reeds have a first harmonic stronger than the fundamental. I don't think I quite believe this, but when I mentioned it to a man who used to manipulate the Bradford software for Wyvern, he thought there might be a grain of truth in it.

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In the performance.... hmmmm - Considering how non legato most of this is played I was really shocked that the three repeated pedal c's at the end were almost joined together!!

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The three at the beginning of the last line of the chorale? Oh, I don't know. They are actually well separated if you listen closely, but the stop is softer up there so the notes are somewhat obscured by the manuals.

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This was the Bach piece I played for my Grade 8 examination decades ago. I remember being told (as a teenager) to use a 4' stop for the pedal cantus firmus, and a soft 16' was included in the LH semiquaver 'river' passagework. Having just played it through once again after all these years using a 4' and then an 8' stop, it is apparent with the 4' stop that there are indeed far too many collisions/unisons - especially with the RH lower voice. From my experience of organs abroad, the 16' manual stop would be very prompt in its speech, and knowing how agile (period) string players can be, the semiquaver 'river' wouldn't be an issue - and would, perhaps enhance the musical imagery.

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