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Non-organist Needs Advice


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Hello there,

I am a complete novice when it comes to organ playing so please bear with me.

I am a music student & I usually write my compositions for piano, woodwind or strings, but I have written one piece for organ and SATB choir.

I need some advice on how to use notation for organ, specifically which stops to use.

The composition is a fairly straightforward & very tonal in comparison to most of my work. It is a setting of a poem in 4 verses which starts off very quietly and builds through the piece.

Anyone out there prepared to give me a few pointers?

I can, if necessary, send you a MS Word version of the organ score so you can help me further.

Yours hopefully.

Chris

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Hello there,

I am a complete novice when it comes to organ playing so please bear with me.

I am a music student & I usually write my compositions for piano, woodwind or strings, but I have written one piece for organ and SATB choir.

I need some advice on how to use notation for organ, specifically which stops to use.

The composition is a fairly straightforward & very tonal in comparison to most of my work. It is a setting of a poem in 4 verses which starts off very quietly and builds through the piece.

Anyone out there prepared to give me a few pointers?

I can, if necessary, send you a MS Word version of the organ score so you can help me further.

Yours hopefully.

Chris

Chris - stick a copy in the post to me at Guildford (you can get the office address off the website) and I'll have try to have a look - but can't promise it would be immediate.

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Your first requirement is simply to specify dynamic markings as for any other instrument. This may in itself be adequate as the player will interpret these based upon his knowledge of the instrument and the size and strength of the choir.

 

Bear in mind that it is unwise to be too specific as stops of the same name do not necessarily sound the same on different instruments and hence the player will always take these as an indication of what is wanted rather than an absolute truth.

 

If there are any melodic passages that you wish to be solo-ed out this needs to be indicated, preferably with an indication of the tone colour you have in mind - such as solo flute, soft reed, trumpet or whatever. Also if there are particular sounds you have in mind, like organ string tone, "full swell" or whatever, these can be indicated.

 

If your not sure what the classification of organ sound are then your best bet is to find a local church with a friendly organist who is happy to give you a demo and talk-through. Perhaps if you indicate where you are based someone will volunteer....

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Hi Chris,

 

NFortin's advice is very good - I'd stick to dynamics and which bits to solo out (bear in mind solos are played on a separate manual by another hand so watch how the texture is spread out) and some general indications of tone - find a friendly organist who can demostrate the different tones.

 

The other thing is to indicate when pedals are to be used. Pedals normally sound an octave below the notated note, at 16' pitch. usually the thing to do is to indicate when they are to be used - with a bigger sound - and when they are not to be used, usually in relation to changes of volume and texture.

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Pedals normally sound an octave below the notated note, at 16' pitch.
It's true that the pedals are primarily a suboctave department, but, just to prevent the possibility of misunderstanding, it's more accurate to say that the pedals sound both the unison pitch and the octave lower - a bit like the cellos and double basses in an orchestra.

 

By and large on British organs the unison pitch is obtained through coupling the manuals to the pedals (the pedals may have a stop or two at unison pitch, but you can't rely on it) and the suboctave pitch is produced by the pedal stops. You never use just the pedal 16ft stops (i.e. suboctave pitch) on their own (special effects excepted).

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