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A Whiter Shade Of Pale/wachet Auf?


Peter Clark
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This might be stretching the rules about what is and is not valid discussion material here, but I have a kind of historical interest in that the organist concerned went to the same school as I.

 

I would think that many here will have followed the recent Procol Harum case in which the organist in that band, Matthew Fisher, claimed that he was partly responsible for the song Whiter Shade of Pale and thus entitled to royalties. Hitherto the song had been attrributed to Gary Brooker (piano and vocals) and Keith Reid (lyrics) only, but Fisher maintained that the distinctive organ introduction was his own composition and thus the song has in fact three contributers. The judge in the case, himself a musician it transpired, agreed with Fisher and a settlement was reached much to the chagrin of Brooker.

 

It has been maintained by many that the descending bass line which characterises the song is derived from JSB's Air "on a G String" but other suggestions have been made, one being that Wachet Auf was also at least partially influential in its composition. Now Fisher was/is a classically trained musician (and my interest is that he may well have learned the organ on the same instrument I started on in our school assembly hall), so I can readily believe that he called upon his training when writing or playing with Procol Harum, but try as I might I can see no evidence of Wachet Auf in the song. Thoughts, people?

 

Best for 2007

 

Peter

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I don't know about Wachet Auf in particular but it could be argued that the construction is similar to Wachet auf or Jesu, joy in as much as i) fairly short sung phrases which are ii) not directly related to the accompaniment which iii) is probably a better tune than the chorale.

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There is an article somewhere (back edition of Organists' Review perhaps) where the number of pieces based on a descending bass line is discussed in some detail - everything from the Bach 'Air' to 'the' Widor via 'Whiter Shade' - there is a surprisingly large number of them - something to work on during longer sermons!

 

AJJ

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After the conclusion of the case Fisher was interviewed on the telly and himself acknowledged his debts to the "Air on the G String" and Wachet auf.

 

Yes, VM, but where do the two coincide? Certainly not in the pedal/bass part, so melodically? I suppose both upper lines have some unorthodox downward leaps ... I didn't see the interview by the way so I am not sure what Fisher actually said.

 

Best wishes as ever

 

Peter

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I have just downloaded from Amazon - an increasingly disturbing habit - the Procol Harum concert in Denmark. A wonderful blend of the best of rock music and the best of the "classical" style. The orchestra and choir really enhance the music of PH, and Gary Brooker's voice, though not trained as such, really evokes a degree of emotion rarely found in rock.

 

Peter

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  • 3 weeks later...
I have just downloaded from Amazon - an increasingly disturbing habit - the Procol Harum concert in Denmark. A wonderful blend of the best of rock music and the best of the "classical" style. The orchestra and choir really enhance the music of PH, and Gary Brooker's voice, though not trained as such, really evokes a degree of emotion rarely found in rock.

 

Peter

 

Correct, I endorse your comments regards PH . A totally unique band who still sound as good now as they did in The Old Days.

 

The raging controvesey as to whether or not the underlying melody is Bach or not seems somewhat superfluous when compared to their wonderful song " Repent Walpurgis " and the theme they " lifted " for that!

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  • 2 months later...
Correct, I endorse your comments regards PH . A totally unique band who still sound as good now as they did in The Old Days.

 

The raging controvesey as to whether or not the underlying melody is Bach or not seems somewhat superfluous when compared to their wonderful song " Repent Walpurgis " and the theme they " lifted " for that!

 

What theme is that, adnosad? I don't know that song. (I assume you are a Liszt fan? :blink: )

 

P

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