Jump to content
Mander Organs
Zimbelstern

Arranging organ accompaniments for SATB settings

Recommended Posts

I’ve recently been writing an SATB setting of the ordinary of the mass in Latin. It’s in a fairly popular style and homophonic throughout. Using MuseScore I’ve reduced the open to closed score for rehearsal purposes, but I really want the organ to accompany the choir during performance. Not ever having done this before, I wondered if members could give me some pointers as to how to adapt the vocal score reduction for accompaniment. I don’t want a different accompaniment, but there are many repeated chords for the choir and I’m wondering what is the best way to deal with that - for example I’ve experimented with sustaining the bass in the pedal and repeating other parts in the manuals, but I’d be grateful for any advice.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello. I've done this a lot but it is difficult to explain exactly what I do and I have never used Musecore

In Sibelius, I basically copy the SA line and put it into the treble part of the keyboard part - with 'Notes - Arrange - keyboard reduction up to 2 voices per staff. This copies the music exactly and sometimes it looks a bit of a mess. I then do exactly the same with the TB parts onto the Bass line. I then 'tidy it up' and make it musical - the text needs removing - sometimes there is more tidying to be done (if the A part goes above the S part, for instance) sometimes none! Tied notes I make into single notes.

As I said - it's difficult to explain - but that's it in a nutshell - or have I misunderstood what you want?

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for that. MuseScore has a fairly straightforward system for “imploding” a four voice open score into a two stave closed score without text and I’ve done that. I want the organ to accompany the voices with the same note pitches throughout, but because there’s a lot of repetition of chords on different syllables (e.g, “glo-ri-fi-ca-......”) I feel it may not sound right to simply repeat the chords on the organ. A glance at, say, bars 72-3 of Stanford’s Te Deum in Bb shows a sustained chord on the organ for two bars whilst the voices repeat the same notes, but the accompaniment is generally an independent one. I suppose I could use trial and error during rehearsal with the choir, but I was wondering if there are any conventions in this case for sustaining on the organ chords which are repeated in the voices. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

it would be good to see a page or so of one of your Mass settings. I’d be up for making an organ accompaniment of a few bars for your delectation! Stanford always, as you indicate, wrote independent organ parts for his choral works. Even though I can tell you want something that both supports the choir and doesn’t distract from the text it might be that an organ part that isn’t just a simplification of the choral parts might be not only more interesting to play but better from a musical point of view.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi

Many decades ago, whilst learning to play the organ, I was taught that, in hymn accompaniment where there were repeated notes in one or more parts to tie the inner parts and possibly the bass, but not the soprano line.  Not sure I'd want to be rigid about it these days, but it might provide a starting point.

Every Blessing

Tony

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 hours ago, Tony Newnham said:

Many decades ago, whilst learning to play the organ, I was taught that, in hymn accompaniment where there were repeated notes in one or more parts to tie the inner parts and possibly the bass, but not the soprano line.  Not sure I'd want to be rigid about it these days, but it might provide a starting point.

In the parish church where I was a choirboy (far too many decades ago) the organist tied all repeated notes in hymns, even in the melody - which made the play-over for St Andrew of Crete sound rather odd. Most organists of the older generation that I have spoken to were taught to repeat notes in the treble, but tie all others. When accompanying choir-only items, tying everything made sense. The theory was that normal organ touch had to be legato and any repetition of repeated notes would, by definition, be less than legato.  But that was then.  My own view is that in slow (non-congregational) music where the organ is merely doubling the voices, and assuming a properly competent choir, this is still the best approach, but that it would likely be enervating where the music is more lively and rhythmical. If the choir is bouncing along to a jig the organ probably needs to as well, which will require more détaché playing. One can't really prescribe without seeing the music.  Even though you say you do not want an independent organ accompaniment, I would at least consider writing short organ introductions to each movement to set the pitch for the singers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, Vox Humana said:

In the parish church where I was a choirboy (far too many decades ago) the organist 

... used to put all the stops in whilst holding the last chord of every hymn so that we would go from something like Great to 15th + Full Swell and pedals down to the Swell Lieblich in a frantic decrescendo. I can't think where he picked up this quaint idea. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Many thanks for these replies. I’m coming to the view that I will need to experiment a little during rehearsals with the accompaniment in order to find the best arrangement before I finalise it on paper. In the meantime I have come across Herbert F. Ellingford’s “The Art of Transcribing for the Organ” (1922) in which the following advice appears on page 3:

“Avoid rapid repetitions either of single or double notes. These repetitions may  often be technically or mechanically possible at a great speed on an organ but they can never sound really well, because at the high speed one note will run into the other, and this merging of one sound into the next, results in the effect of one continuous sound, or at best, a sustained wobble!”

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Martin Cooke said:

... used to put all the stops in whilst holding the last chord of every hymn so that we would go from something like Great to 15th + Full Swell and pedals down to the Swell Lieblich in a frantic decrescendo. I can't think where he picked up this quaint idea. 

Hi

The organist in my last church did that at the end of most hymns.  I've no idea where it came from, and it sounded extremely odd on a 5 stop unenclosed chamber organ!  I guess like legato touch it was the suggested norm at some time in the past.

Every Blessing

Tony

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Martin Cooke said:

... used to put all the stops in whilst holding the last chord of every hymn so that we would go from something like Great to 15th + Full Swell and pedals down to the Swell Lieblich in a frantic decrescendo. I can't think where he picked up this quaint idea. 

Oh dear - that does bring back some memories!

I knew of a Chapel, in Hull, where the organist did exactly the same but he also held the final chord on for every verse for, what always seemed, an extraordinarily long time - just in case anyone felt the urge to sing the verse again! If they did he would increase the volume and off they went again!

My grandfather, a local preacher, was fond of 'starting up' again! Indeed he left, in his will, that we should sing the hymn 'I will sing the wondrous story' to the tune 'Hyfradol' ( at least it wasn't the Bilhorn tune!) and that we should sing the verse 'I was lost' twice. In the end we did but the organist held the chord on for the last verse as well and someone decided that that was worth a second go too!! Seven verses in the end - Bizarre!

I think it was a feature of Primitive Methodism! My only reason for saying this that Redbourne Street Primitive Methodist Chapel in Hull was the only place I have ever come across the practice - and my grandfather was a local 'Prim' preacher!

Doesn't help your problem - but it's a good diversion!!

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
33 minutes ago, S_L said:

I think it was a feature of Primitive Methodism!

Ah! The fellow I'm talking about had been brought up in the Methodist tradition - that may be part of the answer!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It was quite common at one time.  I think GTB may have picked up the idea from Walford Davies and on the old Temple Church organ, the Rothwell console would have facilitated such a practice as one could slide along the stop-keys (between the manuals) to make a diminuendo.  I remember the elderly organist of the Episcopal Cathedral in Oban doing it, too.  This was in the days of the Blackett & Howden organ (a rather pleasant sounding instrument), upon which the stops were operated by rocking tablets above the Swell.  I think they are on at least their second electronic organ now.

In the days of my youth, the Borough Organist in Colchester often did the same thing at recitals and also (again, a GTB feature) would arpeggiate downwards the release of the final chord of a piece.  This led to someone (not me) coining for him the nickname "Left Boot Lenny".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi

With regard to the diminuendo on the last chord, the organist I mentioned was brought up as a Baptist, and was by a significant number of years the longest-standing member of my congregation, so it's obviously not just a Primitive Methodist "things".

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
15 hours ago, David Drinkell said:

In the days of my youth, the Borough Organist in Colchester often did the same thing at recitals and also (again, a GTB feature) would arpeggiate downwards the release of the final chord of a piece.  This led to someone (not me) coining for him the nickname "Left Boot Lenny".

Yes, this same chap I mentioned did this too. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This arpeggiate downwards was a feature adopted by Herrick Bunney ,Master of the Music

St Giles Cathedral Edinburgh to compensate for the lack of St Giles’ resonance

19 hours ago, David Drinkell said:

It was quite common at one time.  I think GTB may have picked up the idea from Walford Davies and on the old Temple Church organ, the Rothwell console would have facilitated such a practice as one could slide along the stop-keys (between the manuals) to make a diminuendo.  I remember the elderly organist of the Episcopal Cathedral in Oban doing it, too.  This was in the days of the Blackett & Howden organ (a rather pleasant sounding instrument), upon which the stops were operated by rocking tablets above the Swell.  I think they are on at least their second electronic organ now.

In the days of my youth, the Borough Organist in Colchester often did the same thing at recitals and also (again, a GTB feature) would arpeggiate downwards the release of the final chord of a piece.  This led to someone (not me) coining for him the nickname "Left Boot Lenny".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...