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Tremulants


john carter
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I don’t know what it is but, apart from those passages in Franck where it is specified, I never think of using a Tremulant. It always seems to evoke the sweet scent of peppermint rock and candyfloss, perhaps brought on by too much time at Blackpool Tower in my youth. Yet at a recent recital, the organist used the device with such good judgment and taste I began to think I was missing something.

 

In what circumstances do others choose to use or steer clear of the Tremulant? Is there a cure for Tremolophobia?

 

JC

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I don’t know what it is but, apart from those passages in Franck where it is specified, I never think of using a Tremulant.  It always seems to evoke the sweet scent of peppermint rock and candyfloss, perhaps brought on by too much time at Blackpool Tower in my youth.  Yet at a recent recital, the organist used the device with such good judgment and taste I began to think I was missing something.

 

In what circumstances do others choose to use or steer clear of the Tremulant?  Is there a cure for Tremolophobia?

 

JC

 

Well there are tremulants and tremulants! I seem to remember Bach is on record as requesting a tremulant be put into good working order - so I assume he had a use for one. I find it can be quite effective in a slow trio movement or chorale prelude, but I think this needs to be a rather gentle tremulant with a slow beat. Not the sort you'd find in Blackpool!

 

JJK

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I'd agree with that. Tremulants to avoid are ones that are fast, or where the wind noise is obtrusive - which cuts out virtually all the ones where I live! They need to be gentle and, if not slow, at least not fast.

 

In addition to slow trio movements, they are useful for adding expression to solo lines in chorale preludes and other Baroque pieces. I also like to play the first short Kyrie from Clavierübung III quite gently on an 8' flute + tremulant. On my toaster the tremulant works well in the accompaniment of the long Dies sind die Heil'gen zehn Gebot from the same collection. And so on.

 

In post-Baroque music I tend to avoid it except where specifically requested - and even then I sometimes have doubts (Ireland's "Villanella" comes to mind). However, I heard Tom Winpenny use a fairly assertive tremulant at one point in Judith Bingham's St Bride, assisted by angels. It's not marked in the score, but it was ever so effective.

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I don’t know what it is but, apart from those passages in Franck where it is specified, I never think of using a Tremulant.  It always seems to evoke the sweet scent of peppermint rock and candyfloss, perhaps brought on by too much time at Blackpool Tower in my youth.  Yet at a recent recital, the organist used the device with such good judgment and taste I began to think I was missing something.

 

In what circumstances do others choose to use or steer clear of the Tremulant?  Is there a cure for Tremolophobia?

 

JC

 

Depends on the tremulant.

 

I like a subtle tremulant - not too fast, not too deep - with my 8' harmonic flute ; sounds very natural.

 

A very slow tremulant can have quite a good effect too...

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I don’t know what it is but, apart from those passages in Franck where it is specified, I never think of using a Tremulant.  It always seems to evoke the sweet scent of peppermint rock and candyfloss, perhaps brought on by too much time at Blackpool Tower in my youth.  Yet at a recent recital, the organist used the device with such good judgment and taste I began to think I was missing something.

 

In what circumstances do others choose to use or steer clear of the Tremulant?  Is there a cure for Tremolophobia?

 

JC

 

 

--------------------------------------------

 

 

I would suggest that the Tremulants of a church organ should serve a very different purpose to the tremulants of a theatre organ.

 

In a theatre organ, the tremulants are multiple; in other words, they work on certain specific unit-ranks quite independently. Well set-up TO tremulants are neither too fast nor too deep, and the effect should be that of a moderate string tremolo as heard in orchestras; the very thing they set out to imitate.

 

When multiple tremulants are used together, the effect should be not so much a wobbly sound, but more a rich throbbing sound.....again a very orchestral phenomenon and when used properly, very effective.

 

The church organ tremulant is quite different, and the depth is possibly more important to the end result than specific speed. It should impart a sense of the pathetic, and some of the very best trenulants I have personally heard, are in Holland, where they can sound so beautful.

 

However, for those who subscribe to Organs & Organists on-line, I can recommend one specific recording which blew me away when I first heard it, and still does to-day. I have heard the Bach "Herzlich tut mich verlangen", BWV 727 played a hundred times by some of the best organists in the world, but never have I heard it played more beautifully or thoughtfully than the recording of Jared Grenz.

 

If you are not a member of this free site, I would strongly recomend it.

 

http://www.organsandorganistsonline.com/

 

What amazes me about Jared Grenz' performance, (with tremulant) is not that it is one of the best I have ever heard, but the fact that he was 14 when it was recorded. The innate musicianship is astounding.

 

Please tell me if you think I am wrong.

 

MM

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I don’t know what it is but, apart from those passages in Franck where it is specified, I never think of using a Tremulant.  It always seems to evoke the sweet scent of peppermint rock and candyfloss, perhaps brought on by too much time at Blackpool Tower in my youth.  Yet at a recent recital, the organist used the device with such good judgment and taste I began to think I was missing something.

 

In what circumstances do others choose to use or steer clear of the Tremulant?  Is there a cure for Tremolophobia?

 

JC

 

 

Sounds like you need to get your adjusted so that it is some use.

 

Is anyone else a big fan of tremulants operated by a foot pedal? I like them because you can put the tremulant on for a single note to "float" it, then knock it off again very quickly - pedal part permitting, of course.

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Sounds like you need to get your adjusted so that it is some use.

 

Is anyone else a big fan of tremulants operated by a foot pedal? I like them because you can put the tremulant on for a single note to "float" it, then knock it off again very quickly - pedal part permitting, of course.

 

Yes - huge fan. (of pedals, not fan tremulants)

 

http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/coramdc/index_files/martyrdom.mp3 is a nice one, of the usual "wind dumper" variety but very well regulated by Walkers - nice and deep and slow. Not easy to achieve with these, but possible.

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I think Schoenstein do this in the USA - it is also possible that they vary speed etc. on a 'Swell' type pedal.

 

AJJ

 

H&H also did this at King's, Cambridge. They used a standard H&H expression pedal, placing it to the right side of the pedal 'sweep'. Using this pedal, the Swell (?) tremulant can be adjusted for speed. I am not sure about depth.

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