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I am not sure if non-members of the RCO can read this article, but it is something I chanced upon the other day and it has caused me to look out a couple of Murrill's works. Obviously, I knew that his repertoire for the organ (for everything, presumably) was only slight, but hadn't grasped that he died young at 46. I have known Murrill in E most of my life and The King of Instruments ensured that I knew Carillon but I had never played through Postlude on a Ground or his Hymn Prelude on 'Wareham' until the other evening having been encouraged to do so by the author's commendation of them. I have two other hymn preludes on Wareham which I prefer - the one by Barry Ferguson is really interesting - but I shall now be including the P on a G as a voluntary for sure. Worth looking it out if you have the OUP volume. Of course, for years, I have been put off from playing anything from it because it's called An Album of Simple Voluntaries. One had one's pride, afterall! What I have come to realise is that each and every piece in the album except the Henry Coleman Alla Marcia is worthy of attention - the Darke Elegy and the Ley Adagio especially. Any thoughts on Murrill, anyone?

By the way, spurred on by discussion of Sidney Campbell's organ music, I ordered and have enjoyed playing his Canterbury Interlude. I'm bound to say that the 'Full Swell' instruction soon after the opening seems over the top - even on John Porter's recording, I'm afraid. The simple addition of the Oboe and maybe a 4ft adds all the drama I feel appropriate at that point without it jarring. Otherwise it's great. And I think I saw an iRCO article on Campbell as well as I was going through them recently.

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Yes, the Postlude is a good piece.

As you observe, most of the music in that volume is solid stuff, but the title does its contents no favours.

I once had a comment (when playing the Murrill as it happens) from a non-musician who was surprised I was using a collection with that title. He’d seen it near the organ and assumed it belonged to learner who had access for practice. It was too complicated to explain that the title was misleading; but I wondered after that whether I ought to cover the volume with brown paper if that was how people generally were going to react on seeing it!

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2 hours ago, Dafydd y Garreg Wen said:

I wondered whether I ought to cover the volume with brown paper if that was how people generally were going to react on seeing it!

Ha - yes, DyGW! A good idea!* It's a shame they didn't call it An Album of Useful Voluntaries or something similar, I don't know. I feel a bit sorry for my choir (which faces more or less directly down the church towards the congregation [in normal times]) when they are singing from the New Oxford Easy Anthem Book. All a bit unnecessarily dispiriting for them.

* In my youth, I covered a fair number of my first purchases with fablon from the local ironmongers. Now, 50+ years later they look awful and the strength of the covering has had a deleterious effect on the structure as well as the appearance of many of my early Novello Bach volumes and several OUP anthologies. I guess I could do with a lesson in document conservation to last me the next 63 years!

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1 hour ago, Martin Cooke said:

I feel a bit sorry for my choir (which faces more or less directly down the church towards the congregation [in normal times]) when they are singing from the New Oxford Easy Anthem Book. All a bit unnecessarily dispiriting for them.

Quite, especially as some of the pieces in that collection are actually quite difficult!

And someone really looking for simple voluntaries would get a bit of a shock on acquiring the Album of S.V.

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1 hour ago, Martin Cooke said:

In my youth, I covered a fair number of my first purchases with fablon from the local ironmongers. Now, 50+ years later they look awful and the strength of the covering has had a deleterious effect on the structure as well as the appearance of many of my early Novello Bach volumes and several OUP anthologies. I guess I could do with a lesson in document conservation to last me the next 63 years!

Assuming that the rest is in reasonable condition, it’s easy enough to undo a stapled volume, replace the cover with fresh card, and then sew it up:

https://www.dartmouth.edu/library/preservation/repair/dartmouth-book-repair_manual_sewing-single-signature.pdf

I finish off with self-adhesive linen tape (archival grade!) which reinforces the spine and protects the exposed thread on the outside:

https://www.stix2.co.uk/product/self-adhesive-linen-tape/

If I’d known it was that easy I’d have started doing this years ago.

Bound volumes are harder to tackle (whether traditionally done, or so-called perfect binding [ha ha - what a misnomer]), but as long as the text block is intact aren’t really that difficult. (Broken text blocks are another matter ....)

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When I started at the local grammar school one of the rules was that every text book had to be covered with brown paper. My parents must have bought miles of the stuff from the huge roll in The Midlands Educational store. This habit became so ingrained that whenever I bought a new music book it was covered and while most have lost the brown outer coating I still have one as so treated in 1969.

This image shows it on the desk of my keyboard with the neat lettering applied by my sister  and defaced with my own addition of the volume number.

Now I don't bother and don't mind if the congregation see the title announcing that I'm sometimes playing from an Easy Compendium for Beginners!

 

 

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Martin's mentioning Murrill in E  and Carillon sent me looking for my copies of both.  I was immediately struck by the lack of time signatures.  He doesn't seem to have gone in for them at all.   My copy of the magnificat is marked with a correction in the first bar of the Con Moto before "He hath shew'd strength"   Minim =crotchet is crossed out and replaced by dotted minim = minim.  John Dykes Bower (who knew Murrill) said this was a transcription error by the engraver working from Murrill's manuscript.  The dot from the first minim got missed, and the second minim was smudged on the manuscript and interpreted as a crotchet.    Makes a lot of sense!  Has anyone else heard this story?     

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Robert, I didn't know that. You will also recall that DB wasn't happy about the opening of the Magnificat where, without a conductor, he assumed we wouldn't come in. So, he used to play the opening couple of bars of the choral parts and then we came in! The first time we sang  the Murrill with Christopher Dearnley, half the boys put their hands up in morning practice to say 'but we do it this way' but he was happy to risk it.

The RCO article on Murrill that I cited is a bit disparaging about the service because of its economy of scale, but it certainly packs a punch. I loved the fanfares heralding 'He hath showed strength with his arm.' If Harry Gabb was playing, he used to use full Solo organ for this which was a fabulous effect - a wall of sound coming from the first bay beyond the main organ case on Cantoris. Wow! He also used to do this at the beginning of 'I saw the Lord.' I think it would be seen as incongruous these days. 

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Aha!  Very interesting, Martin. DB's concerns were well founded, and I remember him introducing the introduction after a particularly rocky rendition.  The challenge for him was that however much he got the boys up to scratch, it was difficult for deputy vicars choral, who would not have practiced it at all.  Indeed, we only had 1.25 hour rehearsal per week  with the  men, in the school hall, and the men attending that rehearsal were those on duty that day - not necessarily  those who were to be on duty when it was actually performed!  And with 12 sung services a week, there was not time to do much!   Who would put up with that arrangement nowadays??

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8 hours ago, Robert Bowles said:

Aha!  Very interesting, Martin. DB's concerns were well founded, and I remember him introducing the introduction after a particularly rocky rendition.  The challenge for him was that however much he got the boys up to scratch, it was difficult for deputy vicars choral, who would not have practiced it at all.  Indeed, we only had 1.25 hour rehearsal per week  with the  men, in the school hall, and the men attending that rehearsal were those on duty that day - not necessarily  those who were to be on duty when it was actually performed!  And with 12 sung services a week, there was not time to do much!   Who would put up with that arrangement nowadays??

Yes, endless potential for trouble. Wasn't it actually fortnightly? I seem to remember that on a Wednesday afternoon one week the afternoon practice was called 'rehearsal' - which meant with the men (at the choir school) - and the second week it was called 'practice' and this was just the boys.

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11 hours ago, Martin Cooke said:

You will also recall that DB wasn't happy about the opening of the Magnificat where, without a conductor, he assumed we wouldn't come in. So, he used to play the opening couple of bars of the choral parts and then we came in!

I recall that Sidney Campbell's solution was to precede the first chord with crotchet octaves B C# F#, a slightly more subtle solution than JDB's and still thematically related.  I'm not sure that it was really necessary, though—the choir never had a problem with the start of Stanford's B flat Jubilate. Campbell certainly used reeds for 'He hath shewed strength', but I can't remember whether it was the Solo Trumpet or the Great reeds. A Tuba might be overkill - or at least some might be.  A lot of people seem not to like Murrill in E. The Magnificat does sound horribly trite when it's taken too fast (and I've heard one or two quite ridiculous interpretations), but if the 'Allegro' is treated as four in a bar rather than two, and 'comodo', it sounds well.  I'm very fond of it and it has the advantage that it's eminently doable by healthy parish choirs.

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