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It’s called “thumbing down” and wasn’t uncommon in English organ music of Whitlock’s period:

http://www.organbench.com/419797270/3950764/posting/

In essence, instead of extending the hand horizontally to play notes some distance apart on a single keyboard as one normally does, one stretches it vertically (diagonally) to play notes on two different keyboards.

This one is a simple example, where only a single note has to be played by the thumb. It gets trickier when you have to play an actual line, but it’s not an especially difficult technique, once you’ve reprogrammed your mind to cope with playing on two parallel planes with the same hand, not just a single one. It does help if the keyboards aren’t too far apart of course ....

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Specifically in this instance, you play the tenor line on the Great as usual; but when you get to the antepenultimate bar you move your hand to the left to play the F# with your thumb (on the Great) just as normal, but at the same time you slant the hand so your fourth finger is in place to play tenor C# on the Swell; then you lower the hand/fingers so both keys are depressed simultaneously and the two notes sound together. In the next bar the fifth finger plays the B natural - you just have to remember to keep the thumb down on the F# key on the manual below whilst you change notes above.

More complicated to describe than do!

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Yes, it probably is harder than if one were playing on the Swell and were just extending the thumb down to play a note or series of notes (i.e. literally thumbing *down*). You’re trying to find your feet (as it were) on the Swell, having leaped up there with the leftmost part of your hand, at the same time as thumbing the F# on the Great, which makes it harder to ensure both notes sound at exactly the same time.

It might help as a preliminary stage to practise some ordinary thumbing down first, to get the hang of one hand being on two manuals. Play a note (or two notes) on the Swell; whilst holding it/them add another note on the Great with the thumb. When that’s all right, start playing the thumb note at the same time as the other(s). Move on to the Whitlock leaping when you’ve mastered this.

You might try treating the F# and C# sequentially too as a first step (adding an extra beat to allow this). Play the F# followed by the C# on the extra beat, and also C# first followed by the F#. When this is nice and easy, eliminate the extra beat and play the notes simultaneously as Whitlock wrote. You may find this helps - reculer pour mieux sauter. (I find this sort of thing works better if one keeps to a definite beat (granted that one is messing around with the number of beats in the bar) rather than just adding a vague bit of extra time.)

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There's an entire 2-page exercise entitled 'Thumbs on a separate manual' on pp. 93/94 of W G Alcock's organ tutor ('The  Organ'), originally published by Novello but now available on IMSLP when I looked recently.  It's quite interesting, euphemistically speaking, to attempt it as written as Allegretto in 6/8 ...  A diploma-level sight reading exercise perhaps, anyone?

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3 hours ago, Colin Pykett said:

There's an entire 2-page exercise entitled 'Thumbs on a separate manual' on pp. 93/94 of W G Alcock's organ tutor ('The  Organ'), originally published by Novello but now available on IMSLP when I looked recently.  It's quite interesting, euphemistically speaking, to attempt it as written as Allegretto in 6/8 ...  A diploma-level sight reading exercise perhaps, anyone?

Eeek 😳😳😳😳

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But if merely playing it at sight as written isn't demanding enough, how about transposing it at sight as well (one or two semitones up or down, I don't care - the student may choose), and for good measure carry on extemporising at the end in the same manner for another couple of pages' worth?  Why keep life simple when it can be made more difficult?

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Hi

I don't actually remember the thumbing down exercise in the Alcock tutor, but I must have at least looked at it in the past, as Alcock was one of two tutors I had when I was learning (1960's).

A real challenge for thumbing down - until you try it and find it's not quite as tricky as it looks - is found in Lemare's infamous "Andantino in Db"  There's one whole page - written on 4 staves - where the right hand is playing the melody (at 16ft pitch IIRC) whilst the right thumb is playing at counter melody (at 4ft).  The left hand is one a third manual playing the accompaniment figure, and the bass line is on the pedals.  Great fun (and I have played it in concert a couple of times).

Every Blessing

Tony

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I remember being asked to play the Andantino in Db at a wedding about 40 years ago. I trotted it out at a service the week before, and afterwards, inevitably, someone said they'd enjoyed "Moonlight and Roses"  I explained the origin of the piece, and from then on, the chap in question was always pulling my leg about it being called "Moonlight and Roses in Db"

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Returning to the Whitlock ... the thing that always niggles is the slurring in bar 3. I’ve always taken it to be careless engraving, for it neither agrees with the way the theme is phrased elsewhere, nor seems to make musical sense. Or is there some subtlety here I’ve been missing ...?

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