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We've Got Rhythm?"

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Frank Fowler having performed the miracle of turning a Quint discussion into one about the Blackpool Tower, Wurlitzer, perhaps the following will turn into a discussion about the Walford-Davies "Solemn Melody".

 

The topic is "Rhythm", which in this day and age, becomes ever more important in church-music.

 

Organists often complain that rhythm-playing doesn't suit the organ, which I know to be wrong , having heard jazz, blues, rock and popular song-medleys played very convivingly with fingers and feet.

 

Others, such as "pcnd" have suggested that they dislike theatre-organs, which is entirely understandable even if I can't agree with it.

 

So instead of spouting about musical style, it may be best to illustrate the very wide range of possibilities open to us, with some very unexpected morsels with which to tickle the senses.

 

Thank heaven for the organ-music broadcast "Pipedreams", to which the following two links will take us.

 

The salient "moments" I have set as timing-marks, which will enable board- members to scroll along to the appropriate slot, using "Real Player" or somesuch.

 

Here is the first link, and the item list I would commend:-

 

http://pipedreams.publicradio.org/listings/9635/

 

13m 38s Lyn Larsen "Abba Dabba Honeymoon"

 

(This is just pure fun on the largest home-organ in the world....the St.Filippo residence organ, largely made from Wurlitzer parts with a new 5 -manual console)

 

51m 45s Sidney Torch "Bugle Call Rag"

"Dance of the blue marionettes"

 

(Sidney Torch demonstrating what "up-tempo" really means, with barely a tremulant heard)

 

George Wright "Itsy Bitsy teenie weenie yellow polkadot bikini"

 

(This is absolutely hilarious, but if your tuner does this to some of your ranks, sack him!)

 

1h 9m 16s "Twilight in Turkey"

 

(Same comment as above, except that in this instance, the tuner seems to be living inside the organ!)

 

The the second link:-

 

http://pipedreams.publicradio.org/listings/0603/

 

34m 58s Johhny Seng/

Bob Hackett (Tpt) "Stairway to the stars" Mitchell Parish

(Note:- the piano is part of the organ)

 

(How well an organ like this becomes a full orchestra with piano, accompanying a solo trumpet player.....marvellous!)

 

51.10 Lyn Larsen/

Jack Bethards Orchestra

"Rock around the clock"

 

 

54m 18s Barbara Dennerlein "Rankett Blues" (Classical tracker organ)

 

(Well, it can work on a neo-classical instrument too! )

 

1h14m30s Jean Demessieux "Mouvemente" Bervellier (Liverpool Metro RC Cathedral, Liverpool)

 

(Hot Club of Paris?)

 

1h17m15s Wayne Marshall Impovisation on

"I got rhythm"

(Gershwin/Marshall)

 

(This guy has rhythm aplenty!)

 

 

Shocked reactions welcome!

 

MM

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Now that is interesting indeed!

 

Rythm won't do on a church organ? Well, we have Thierry Smets of Châtelet

who demonstrates the contrary since years, improvising in a Jazz style.

 

Pierre Lauwers

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Frank Fowler having performed the miracle of turning a Quint discussion into one about the Blackpool Tower, Wurlitzer, perhaps the following will turn into a discussion about the Walford-Davies "Solemn Melody".

 

The topic is "Rhythm", which in this day and age, becomes ever more important in church-music.

 

Organists often complain that rhythm-playing doesn't suit the organ, which I know to be wrong , having heard jazz, blues, rock and popular song-medleys played very convivingly with fingers and feet.

 

Others, such as "pcnd" have suggested that they dislike theatre-organs, which is entirely understandable even if I can't agree with it.

 

So instead of spouting about musical style, it may be best to illustrate the very wide range of possibilities open to us, with some very unexpected morsels with which to tickle the senses.

 

Thank heaven for the organ-music broadcast "Pipedreams", to which the following two links will take us.

 

The salient "moments" I have set as timing-marks, which will enable board- members to scroll along to the appropriate slot, using "Real Player" or somesuch.

 

Here is the first link, and the item list I would commend:-

 

http://pipedreams.publicradio.org/listings/9635/ 

 

13m 38s   Lyn Larsen       "Abba Dabba Honeymoon"

 

(This is just pure fun on the largest home-organ in the world....the St.Filippo residence organ, largely made from Wurlitzer parts with a new 5 -manual console)

 

51m 45s    Sidney Torch  "Bugle Call Rag" 

                                             "Dance of the blue marionettes" 

 

(Sidney Torch demonstrating what "up-tempo" really means, with barely a tremulant heard)

 

George Wright                   "Itsy Bitsy teenie weenie yellow polkadot bikini"

 

(This is absolutely hilarious, but if your tuner does this to some of your ranks, sack him!)

                                           

1h 9m 16s                            "Twilight in Turkey"

 

(Same comment as above, except that in this instance, the tuner seems to be living inside the organ!)

 

The the second link:-

 

http://pipedreams.publicradio.org/listings/0603/

 

34m 58s    Johhny Seng/

                  Bob Hackett (Tpt) "Stairway to the stars" Mitchell Parish

   (Note:- the piano is part of the organ)

 

(How well an organ like this becomes a full orchestra with piano, accompanying a solo trumpet player.....marvellous!)

 

51.10 Lyn Larsen/

Jack Bethards Orchestra

   "Rock around the clock"

54m 18s Barbara Dennerlein   "Rankett Blues"  (Classical tracker organ)

 

(Well, it can work on a neo-classical instrument too! )

 

1h14m30s Jean Demessieux "Mouvemente"   Bervellier (Liverpool Metro RC Cathedral, Liverpool)

 

(Hot Club of Paris?)

 

1h17m15s Wayne Marshall  Impovisation on

                                                 "I got rhythm"                                           

                                                 (Gershwin/Marshall)

 

(This guy has rhythm aplenty!)

Shocked reactions welcome!

 

MM

 

Perhaps "MM", it might be safer to return to the quint discussion....

 

I did once hear that Malcolm Archer played Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, on the Walker at Bristol Cathedral.

 

Whilst I would not wish to spoil anyone's fun, I am sorry, I am just very fussy about my organ music and there are many things which I dislike to be played on an organ. For that matter, I cannot see the point (these days) of playing orchestral transcriptions (or organ transcriptions on an orchestra).

 

For the record, my popular musical taste encompasses a great deal - from New Orleans jazz, through to Metallica (heavy metal band).

 

Call me conservative, if you will (or a taxi, if you prefer), but there it is....

 

:D

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Well, there are transcriptions, and then others transcriptions.

 

Take Karg-Elert's for example: his Bach, Händel and even the famous

Schubert's Ave Maria are gems, and genuine organ music so well

this was made.

 

Pierre

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Well, there are transcriptions, and then others transcriptions.

 

Take Karg-Elert's for example: his Bach, Händel and even the famous

Schubert's Ave Maria are gems, and genuine organ music so well

this was made.

 

Pierre

 

Not to mention Bach's transcriptions for organ of orchestral music by Vivaldi. Should they be added to the dustbin too? Not Walford Davies but pretty far from the starting point in only a couple of messages!

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Not to mention Bach's transcriptions for organ of orchestral music by Vivaldi. Should they be added to the dustbin too? Not Walford Davies but pretty far from the starting point in only a couple of messages!

 

Well said! Bach himself would be a culprit in the decadence of the "true" organ.

 

Pierre

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Perhaps "MM", it might be safer to return to the quint discussion....

 

I did once hear that Malcolm Archer played Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, on the Walker at Bristol Cathedral.

 

Whilst I would not wish to spoil anyone's fun, I am sorry, I am just very fussy about my organ music and there are many things which I dislike to be played on an organ.  :D

 

===============

 

 

Well now, this begs the question as to which came first for the organ.....popular music or classical music?

 

I'm not sure I know the answer, but what I do know, is that the organ is a perfectly valid instrument of popular entertainment, up-beat rythm and even sentimental slush like few other instruments.

 

They had organs in cafes in Germany, flute-clock novelties in Austria, dance-hall Mortier-organs in Belgium, street organs in Paris/Belgium and Holland, "band" organs in America, Welte player-organs in country houses (playing all sorts of rubbish) and popular transcriptions in the town-halls. Mozart got kicked out of church for doing the equivalent of a bit of "boogie", Bach wrote a few outrageous secular works including *shock & horror* a COFFEE CANTATA! :o

 

Handel, Berveliier, Mozart, Bach, Buxtehude, Alfred Hollins, Percy Whitlock (et al) were never too smug to indulge in a bit of dance-music and secular entertainment, and as for the French, they hopped and skipped their way through the 18th century.

 

I once unkindly suggested to a pompous "organ-teacher" at a certain northern college of music (now a Uni of course) , that the only reason the Tremulant was invented, was to add rythm to music played by people like him. (He was the sort who got all the notes right, but his musical-soul never developed beyond infancy).

 

I wonder how many people know that Marcel Dupre played in a Paris cinema for a little while, or that Osborne Peasgood was a cinema organist in Acton under a different name? Let's not forget Charles Saxby, Reginald Porter-Brown, Reginald New, Quentin Maclean (a pupil of Straube), Reginald Foort and Norman Cocker, among other very talented performers, or the considerable number of very gifted classical cathedral organists in America who, without ruffling a hair or raising an eyebrow, just love to jump on a Wurlitzer and entertain.

 

Perhaps the greatest comedy is nothing other than tragedy wearing a mask.

 

It may be unkind to suggest that "not liking something" is not a suitable excuse for "not appreciating something", but then, I would immediately throw my head back and roar laughing at my own pomposity.

 

:P

 

MM

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===============

 

 

They had organs in cafes in Germany, flute-clock novelties in Austria, dance-hall Mortier-organs in Belgium, street organs in Paris/Belgium and Holland, "band" organs in....

 

  MM

 

Apparently, Russians put them in brothels (which is partly why they are not considered suitable for use in their churches).

 

As for liking or appreciating something, the world would be a very dull place if we all liked the same thing. However, I would not wish to sound pompous....

 

:D

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Apparently, Russians put them in brothels (which is partly why they are not considered suitable for use in their churches).

 

As for liking or appreciating something, the world would be a very dull place if we all liked the same thing. However, I would not wish to sound pompous....

 

:P

 

=================

 

Yes, and let's not forget the Roman Brothels. Why else did they invent the heavy velvet curtian around consoles, do you think?

 

It didn't stop the Christians plucking the organ from such humble origins....or was the Middle Eastern potentates?

 

I can never remember. The early Christians were not noted for their appreciaton of art, culture or civilisation; leaving that to the Muslims by and large.

 

All I know, is that since the organ moved out of the secular world of entertainment, the job has been going down-hill ever since.

 

I wonder if anyone knows how much the top theatre-organists earned around 1930?

 

I have it from good authority (the late Bill Davies) that the top people were paid between £3,000 and £4,000 p.a.

 

That's a staggering amount of money to-day, but of course, they were the pop-stars of the day.

 

:D

 

MM

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===============

I wonder how many people know that Marcel Dupre played in a Paris cinema for a little while, or that Osborne Peasgood was a cinema organist in Acton under a different name?  Let's not forget Charles Saxby, Reginald Porter-Brown, Reginald New, Quentin Maclean (a pupil of Straube), Reginald Foort and Norman Cocker, among other very talented performers, or the considerable number of very gifted classical cathedral organists in America who, without ruffling a hair or raising an eyebrow, just love to jump on a Wurlitzer and entertain.

 

Perhaps the greatest comedy is nothing other than tragedy wearing a mask.

 

It may be unkind to suggest that "not liking something" is not a suitable excuse for "not appreciating something",  but then, I would immediately throw my head back and roar laughing at my own pomposity.

 

:D

 

MM

 

 

It would indeed be a very dreary monochrome world if we all looked the same and had the sames tastes in clothes, literature and music so I am perfectly happy for PCND not to like the Theatre Organ, though rather saddened that he is missing out on so much pleasure and excitement as a consequence. As a fully paid up member of the Cinema Organ Society I obviously find myself closer to the position of MM.

 

However, I would venture to suggest a couple of points which I regard as matters of fact , rather than opinion or preference, which I would suggest are relevant to the discussion.

 

1. A number of large town hall concert organs were expressly designed to play transcriptions of orchestral music and are better suited to doing so than they are to the performance of significant parts of the organ repertoire. One might therefore think that anyone contemplating performing on them would select music that they were designed to play, on the basis that that will sound better than that which they were not intended to play. Of course it is possible to use something to perform a task for which it is not designed: you can move your household effects in a two seater sports car but it is generally better to hire a van (or the services of professional removers).

 

2. As MM has already pointed, a number of celebrated theatre organists were extremely well qualified musicians, in the sense of possessing formal qualifications. Both Foort and George Blackmore were FRCOs, while Maclean's academic pedigree is difficult to fault. This tradition continues to the present day with a former Oxford organ scholar, Richard Hills, being musical advisor to the COS with several highly regarded CDs to his name . It is difficult to see how a bright line boundary between the worlds of the "classical" and the "theatre/popular" organist can possibly be drawn so as to ensure that Virgil Fox and Horace Finch get assigned to the categories which are appropriate for them given the institutions in which they played !!

 

Brian Childs

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You make some good points, Brian.

 

However, I would be perfectly happy to play Elgar, Reger, Liszt and possibly even some Vierne or Widor on, for example, the H&H at Newcastle City Hall - providing that it was in good working order.

 

As others have said on disparate threads, if one is prepared to search for musical and what might be considered 'appropriate' sounds, there is a vast amount of music which can effectively be played on many types of organ.

 

For example, on a vintage H&H, omitting the GO 8p reed and the large diapason and instead coupling some of the choir flues to the GO. The possibilities are legion.

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You make some good points, Brian.

 

However, I would be perfectly happy to play Elgar, Reger, Liszt and possibly even some Vierne or Widor on, for example, the H&H at Newcastle City Hall - providing that it was in good working order.

 

As others have said on disparate threads, if one is prepared to search for musical and what might be considered 'appropriate' sounds, there is a vast amount of music which can effectively be played on many types of organ.

 

For example, on a vintage H&H, omitting the GO 8p reed and the large diapason and instead coupling some of the choir flues to the GO. The possibilities are legion.

 

Of course I accept that with an application of imagination and musical nous you can show that a town hall organ is a great deal more versatile than it is usually given credit for but it is still EASIER to use it for what it was intended to play just as it is a great deal EASIER to get Pickfords to move you than to hire a handcart and do it yourself !

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I have only one problem with rhythm on a church Organ - I can't play it. Get my left hand and feet in a terrible stew, so I admire greatly those who can get 'em rocking in the aisles, but that unfortunately doesn't include me. I sometimes use a piano, but that doen't work well in our church either, as the instrument in question is somewhat aged. Can't win!

 

Regards to all.

 

John

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I have only one problem with rhythm on a church Organ - I can't play it. Get my left hand and feet in a terrible stew, so I admire greatly those who can get 'em rocking in the aisles, but that unfortunately doesn't include me. I sometimes use a piano, but that doen't work well in our church either, as the instrument in question is somewhat aged. Can't win!

 

Regards to all.

 

John

 

======================

 

Finally!

 

Someone has hit the right thumb-piston of what I was really getting at.

 

For many years, I couldn't play anything which amounted to rhythm-playing on the organ, but now I can.

 

I think the trick is to NOT to think like an organist, which may go some to explaining why so few classical organists can do what their light-music counterparts do.

 

Light musicians tend to think as pianists, where the left-hand provides both steady bass and fill-in rhythm; except that the bass is allocated to the pedals and the fill-in rhythm is usually created with the LH.

 

If you REALLY want to learn how to do it, try practising RH and pedal together, but with added harmony in the RH; leaving the left-hand to add syncopated pulses or some sort of counter-melody, as appropriate to the music; especially when a long note is held in the melody. With practice, it is then possible to get a feel for the syncopated rhythms in either right or left-hand: left-hand if the melody is being played as a solo line with the RH. The pedals should always be the underpin "drumbeat" rhythm by and large.

 

Of course, the most spectacularly brilliant light-organists are great re-arrangers, who can invert the whole thing and even bounce from one manual to another in the accompaniment to get some sort of off-beat percussion sound, but this isn't necessary for basic rhythm playing.

 

An interesting off-shoot of forcing myself to play light music on the theatre and electronic organ, was the improvements it brought to classical-playing; especially the music of Bach.

 

Why?

 

Because I developed an instinct for rubato, but within a strict overall tempo; thus introducing a degree of expressive elasticity.

 

It was only then that I understood how someone like Carlo Curley, can make the apparently outrageous statement, that "Bach was the first rock & roll musician".

 

MM

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======================

 

Finally!

 

Someone has hit the right thumb-piston of what I was really getting at.

 

For many years, I couldn't play anything which amounted to rhythm-playing on the organ, but now I can.

 

I think the trick is to NOT to think like an organist, which may go some to explaining why so few classical organists can do what their light-music counterparts do.

 

Light musicians tend to think as pianists, where the left-hand provides both steady bass and fill-in rhythm; except that the bass is allocated to the pedals and the fill-in rhythm is usually created with the LH.

 

If you REALLY want to learn how to do it, try practising RH and pedal together, but with added harmony in the RH; leaving the left-hand to add syncopated pulses or some sort of counter-melody, as appropriate to the music; especially when a long note is held in the melody. With practice, it is then possible to get a feel for the syncopated rhythms in either right or left-hand: left-hand if the melody is being played as a solo line with the RH. The pedals should always be the underpin "drumbeat" rhythm by and large.

 

Of course, the most spectacularly brilliant light-organists are great re-arrangers, who can invert the whole thing and even bounce from one manual to another in the accompaniment to get some sort of off-beat percussion sound, but this isn't necessary for basic rhythm playing.

 

An interesting off-shoot of forcing myself to play light music on the theatre and electronic organ, was the improvements it brought to classical-playing; especially the music of Bach.

 

Why?

 

Because I developed an instinct for rubato, but within a strict overall tempo; thus introducing a degree of expressive elasticity.

 

It was only then that I understood how someone like Carlo Curley, can make the apparently outrageous statement, that "Bach was the first rock & roll musician".

 

MM

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Sorry - I pressed the wrong button.

 

To play light music on the organ means that some knowledge of light orchestra orchestration helps and the ability to be able to `orchestrate' from a piano copy essential, also means that you need to know a bit about basic theory and construction of chords.

 

Forget about playing every note as written but think of the Double Bass line for the feet, correct harmonised accompaniment chords for the 2nd Violins etc. to establish a left hand rhythm, a `cello' counter melody also to play with the left hand at the same time, (takes a bit of doing until you get the hang of it) and the melody as a solo and you are there.

 

Start with something very simple and basic such a "Now is the Hour" or possibly stick to what you can do well.

 

FF

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MM, I understand what you are saying, but every time I try anything approaching an 'oompah' between LH and feet, it almost immediately becomes 'pa-omm', then 'pa-pa' or 'oom-oom'. Not for the want of trying, but for me it just doesn't seem to work.

 

Regards to all

 

John

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MM, I understand what you are saying, but every time I try anything approaching an 'oompah' between LH and feet, it almost immediately becomes 'pa-omm', then 'pa-pa' or 'oom-oom'. Not for the want of trying, but for me it just doesn't seem to work.

 

Regards to all

 

John

 

John,

 

Buy yourself a 3 stave organ arrangement of a `rhythm' piece of music, most modern music shops have these available in the home organ section, and play it exactly as written as you would a `classical piece'. Everything should then work for you. A good start for you would be a Sousa march.

 

Happy marching,

 

Frank

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===================

 

Quite a good read, I feel sure.

 

:P

 

MM

 

Speaking personally, I would find this infinitely preferable to Cock of the North, or some other piece of cinema-organ music....

 

:P

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Speaking personally, I would find this infinitely preferable to Cock of the North, or some other piece of cinema-organ music....

 

:P

 

=====================

 

There are very, very few pieces of cinema organ music.

 

I wrote one however.

 

Now, as Frank Fowler knows only too well, the late Ena Baga was a master (mistress?) of improvised film accompaniment: something which I only ever witnessed once.

 

Improvised organ-music certainly isn't restricted to church-music.

 

MM

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=====================

 

There are very, very few pieces of cinema organ music.

 

I wrote one however.

 

Now, as Frank Fowler knows only too well, the late Ena Baga was a master (mistress?) of improvised film accompaniment: something which I only ever witnessed once.

 

Improvised organ-music certainly isn't restricted to church-music.

 

MM

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I remember Ena Baga, at the age of 84 play for a 2.3/4 hour silent film show at the National Film Theatre - mind you she did need a gin & tonic after it.

 

I also note that people who don't appreciate cinema organs usually can't play them or have very narrow musical tastes. Just because someone can't stand garlic it is not necessary to condem all cooking that uses it.

 

FF

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