Jump to content
Mander Organ Builders Forum

Cocker


David Drinkell
 Share

Recommended Posts

This was off-topic in the old thread, for which I apologise.

 

As Tony pointed out, the effect of the big chords depends on the particular Tuba and, as also pointed out, it might be better to play them on a chorus of other reeds if the Tuba doesn't sound right.

 

As forumites will probably gather, I was referring to the passage following. It's easier if the Tuba can be brought down to the bottom manual, but the page turn doesn't help, either!

 

I also like the Whitlock Paean (and, very much, the Fanfare), but I have an affection for the Cocker (I think many of my generation played Francis Jackson's recording on "The King of Instruments" LP many times). It's very jolly and goes down well with the punters. I don't think any other Tuba Tune quite matches it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Indeed, I find the whole section in six sharps to be quite awkward, littered with accidentals and 'fistfuls of notes' (as per Simon Johnson) as well as manual jumps for the hands. The outer sections of the piece are relatively straightforward as they go, although as SJ says it probably helps to have the Tuba on an adjacent manual. I think this is the best 'Tuba Tune' around. I've recently bought the Porter-Brown which probably sits somewhere inbetween the Cocker and CS Lang, which is a piece I play once a year in the Summer months when I'm feeling lazy and know numbers will be down in the pews!

 

I've a great affection for Whitlock as well, and do enjoy the 'Paean' and should probably have a look at the 'Fanfare' as well. Percy did like his Tubas, of course, and you can find them in most of his loud pieces (including both outer movements of the 'Plymouth Suite').

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have an affection for the Cocker (I think many of my generation played Francis Jackson's recording on "The King of Instruments" LP many times). It's very jolly and goes down well with the punters. I don't think any other Tuba Tune quite matches it.

 

Yes, it's the only organ piece that my long-suffering wife says she really enjoys.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I also like the Whitlock Paean (and, very much, the Fanfare), but I have an affection for the Cocker (I think many of my generation played Francis Jackson's recording on "The King of Instruments" LP many times). It's very jolly and goes down well with the punters. I don't think any other Tuba Tune quite matches it.

 

I agree about the LP. This is where I first met the Cocker and also Vierne's Carillon de Westminster which spawned my love of French organ music from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

 

I have showed Simon Johnston's DVD and in particular the narrated version of the Cocker to several musically-minded friends and family who had previously not appreciated the complexities of driving a large instrument. Without exception their views on what an organist has to do have changed radically. Some of them had thought that an organist was very much the poor relation of a pianist but U-turns have been made.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Didn't we all listen in wonder when we first heard THAT tuba?! The passage of time doesn't make the impact any less and I still wear out my old LP now and then (I have two spare Oxfam copies for back-up, just in case, as well as the GCOS set). Yes - it sounds like an overblown Clarinet at times but what a noise to an 11 year-old, I really couldn't believe anything could obliterate full organ. Philip is quite right, it is a mighty handful and I only got there by memorising the patterns. over a fair amount of time it has to be said. Simon Johnson's performance on DVD is superb, especially when he makes the point about that wonderful chord on the last page, watching him play certainly gave me some tips for managing the thing. En passant - the Whitlock Toccata from Plymouth Suite was pressed into action 4 weeks ago when Le Tour passed through God's own country as I found that I could fit La Marsellaise to the Tuba solos that pepper the piece - works well with a bit of 'editing' here and there! The congregation got it instantly. One last point about the Cocker - give it to your A Level set when you are next away and ask them to plot every modulation, it will keep them busy for an hour or so and it contains just about every harmonic and melodic device that's specified in the current syllabus. See which of them get G# minor (assuming I'm correct!). Someone somewhere once dubbed it as something of a overdone Gavotte - that's fine by me, I played many worse Gavottes.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Also worth looking at are the less well-known Four Pieces by Cocker. The first three (Angelus, Trio, Interlude) make excellent quiet voluntaries and the final Paean a very exuberant sortie. They are easier than the Tuba Tune, but not without their challenges.

Aside from the other Whitlock pieces mentioned above, another is the Exultemus from the Seven Sketches - plenty of tuba blasts in there.

VA

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ooh - thanks for that reminder, I've just ordered the Four Pieces on that recommendation (I used to have them but must have left them in someone else's organ loft somewhere). I remember the Angelus well, delightful little pieces. Exultemus is good, first piece I played where you had to thumb down which I found easier than it looked (although this piece does have a couple of its own tricky corners).

Tuba Tune is on imslp now I noticed (which I find so handy to print off 'working copies' when learning music, saves having to ruin precious originals). Thanks for the reminder.

P

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Didn't we all listen in wonder when we first heard THAT tuba? ... what a noise to an 11 year-old, I really couldn't believe anything could obliterate full organ.

It's very directional, though. A CD I have (can't recall the title without going to look!) was recorded using a microphone suspended high under the central tower (for some reason) and the TM is much less overwhelming compared to the full organ. I understand that it is almost quiet (!) from the quire, but then it does point the opposite way.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's very directional, though [the York Tuba]. A CD I have (can't recall the title without going to look!) was recorded using a microphone suspended high under the central tower (for some reason) and the TM is much less overwhelming compared to the full organ. I understand that it is almost quiet (!) from the quire, but then it does point the opposite way.

 

I had this brought home to me by personal experience. When I was 14, Francis Jackson let me sit in the loft while he accompanied Evensong ("Me in G", he said) and let me play afterwards. I didn't find the Tuba particularly devastating (at this time, the organ was shrouded in plastic during major restoration work to the building and several registers, including the other tubas, were disconnected). Some twenty years later, I took Belfast Cathedral Choir to do a week's summer residency at York. On the Sunday, I played, from the Nave Console, after the Eucharist and the Tuba nearly blew me off the stool.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's very directional, though. [...] I understand that it is almost quiet (!) from the quire, but then it does point the opposite way.

 

This is true. I once played for a visiting choir at York. The conductor had scheduled Stanford in A with the specific intention of hearing the Tuba Magna in the Nunc. We were all a bit gobsmacked to find how ineffectual it was in the quire. I ended up using both Tubas together and even that didn't seem too much. Wasn't this the reason the Bombarde was added?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Indeed it was - I think Francis also composed and had recorded a special fanfare for the new Bombarde (somewhere on Amphion, was it called Processional or something like that?) ).I also wanted to correct my own glaring error in my previous post. Apologies to Vox - the Whitlock piece I was referring to with ';thumbing down' is the Sortie from the second set, still some good Tuba moments in this piece anyway. And, to finish my 'error corrections' it was Roger Fiske who made the comment about the Tuba / Gavotte business in the notes to the GCOS set as follows -

'a tremendously loud (roughly fffff) pseudo-gavotte. It manages to be extremely rousing and a bit of a giggle at one and the same time. You really can't take this stop quite seriously' (August Gramophone 1964). I'd dearly loved to have seen the recording engineers scatter away when it first hit the ends of the vu meters, it must have been quite a shock.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Combing through my music today I came across something I'd forgotten about for ages - Eric Thiman's 'A Tune for the Tuba', written in 1947 or thereabouts. Relatively playable, if not perhaps memorable (which presumably is why I'd forgotten about it).

 

CEP

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've looked at the Thiman a few times but never been moved to learn it. I've played Porter-Brown - not too impressed - and Lang comes in useful as well as being easy. IMHO, the only piece which compares with the Cocker in terms of effect and general jollity is Hollins' 'A Trumpet Minuet'. I suppose that, strictly speaking, it's not meant for a Tuba, though.

 

Trotted out the Cocker yesterday morning. It went down well, as always....

 

I shall be ordering the Heywood.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...