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2004

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Have an opinion? Click to post your message directly to our Feedback column below. Opinions expressed in this column are those of the correspondents and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of BACHorgan.com. BACHorgan.com reserves the right to remove any message which it deems offensive and/or not in the spirit of this forum.

"Improvising a Prelude"
Last Friday I heard a great Jazz concert featuring saxophonist Marshall Keyes. One of the numbers which he did was a rendition of "The Little Drummer Boy". I was so taken with the interpretation that I went home and started to improvise on this theme on the organ. I had to come up with a way to create the illusion of a drum beat without just repeating notes which would have sounded dumb. I decided to hold the fifth of the chord with my right foot while repeating the root with my left foot to create a repetitive rhythm. Then I began improvising by using some modal ideas. I won't describe everything I did, but I concluded that this would be an ideal piece for improvising since there are only three chords in the entire piece and the harmony doesn't change often. That gives a great opportunity to improvise for those who may not be used to doing so. I highly recommend trying this. Rebecca Williams
fasalon@hotmail.com
Systems Engineer
Farifax, VA
12/13/2004

""Getting Back to Music" (11-17)"
Dan, by the way, hearing your Christmas carol arrangements on your recording (they are unusually stately) is putting me in the Christmas mood!
Thank you for such an inspirational message for us many folks who wanted the Democrats to win. You are right that one person can make a difference. There are people at my church who never listen to classical music except for what I play on Sunday. People come up afterwards and comment on the music occasionally. I have started writing educational notes in the bulletin on certain composers etc. and putting dates after the names of composers born before 1850. Also, even if you think piano students aren't affected by you (the teacher), you are making an impact. Finally, I'm really into the environment and the picture now is rather dismal but we can't give up, "what can one man do, my friend?! To fight pollution . . ." My stepmother, Ann, really admires Mother Teresa, and as She said, "The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow; Do good anyway . . . If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway . . . What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight.; Build anyway." Susan Burkhalter
scastlekep@aol.com
organist
Lutheran church in Burke, VA.
Bethesda, MD
12/13/2004

"I'm Only Human"
What a timely topic. I didn't practice for almost two years due to an injury and surgery. When I started back as a sub I found I had extreme performance anxiety! Two weeks ago I managed to play St. Anne in every key but C major, so I knew I had a problem. I ordered *The Perfect Wrong Note* and tried to re-learn how to practice in one week. I'm nervously awaiting what tomorrow might bring. To take my mind off my worries, I checked email, opened your newsletter and found yet another reminder to quit worrying about the notes and just play the music! At least I have only one hymn in C tomorrow... :) I enjoy your column and look forward to the next rampage. Paula C. Durbin-Westby
dwindex@louisa.net
Substitute
Louisa/VA
11/27/2004

"I'm Only Human"
This rant prompts me to admit a dirty little secret I have for solving problems like this. I say dirty because most organ teachers think this is horrible. Since I am a composer I often find myself imagining how I might have written a piece differently. If I have a doubt as to where I might have to end a piece I devise a couple of scenarios for skipping to good stopping points. I figure this out ahead of time. I also sometimes create "abreviated" versions of some of Bach's music. I'm sure he wouldn't mind since I think most composers have several version of a piece in mind before they write something down anyway. I believe if this is done tastefully and with regard to the harmonic progression it is acceptable. Well, I'll have to say acceptable to me since I've never found a teacher who condons it. I really don't care thought. As far a wrong notes are concerned, notes are only wrong in context. I believe one of the arts of performing is to be able to fake it. I've done it many times one the piano to cover up rogue notes. I had a piano teacher once who told me "It is better to miss a note convincingly than to play the right note timidly.". One of the best ways to let go of the obsession with right notes is to take a Jazz improv class. Imporvisation gives new meaning to "Let go and let God.". Rebecca Williams
fasalon@hotmail.com
Systems Engineer
Integic Corporation
Fairfax, VA
11/27/2004

"I'm Only Human"
The late Jean Langlais, when asked about all the wrong notes in his published music commented as follows: "Don't worry about the notes, play the music." My own teacher, Arthur Poister used to get his students so excited about the music that they would play way beyond their ability to get the notes. He would sing loudly and conduct enthusiastically to generate the excitement. Those who have experienced such a lesson will never forget it. William H. Weinmann
williamweinmann@charter.net
Director of Worship and Music
St. Paul's United Methodist Church
Stevens Point, Wisconsin
11/27/2004

"I'm Only Human"
I have a friend at St. Johns Church, a Highland Piper, who has been advising me not to concentrate so hard, to just place myself on auto-pilot and go along for the ride through the music - to "Let go and let God." At times I have wished I could, and at other times, I have done so - with startling effect. One time, when Organist at the French "Huguenot" Church in Charleston SC, playing on an 1835 Henry Erben tracker, I was attempting one of Paul Manz's earlier improvizations on Wie schon leuchtet and listening to the rhythmic click-clack of the old trackers. I was lulled into a trance, and the music went on. I only awoke from the trance when I heard the "train whistle." In the left hand was a strict 4/8 pattern, and the right hand was supposed to play parallel fourths in a syncopated rhythm. The syncopation lost its chrispness and became a rather lazy train whistle sound. I've often wished I could duplicate it, but haven't had much success. God's time(ing) is best!
Bill Smith
mailhtims@charter.net
Organist
St. John's Episcopal Church, Marion NC
Asheville, NC
http://wnc-ago.org
11/27/2004

"Getting Back to Music"
An organ technician came to my house to adjust the action on the pedals of my Allen organ. He is a moderate Republican and I am a moderate Democrat. We started a conversation about government and agreed on everything! Strange! Rebecca Williams
fafalon@hotmail.com
Systems Engineer
N/A
Fairfax, VA
11/23/2004

"Getting Back to Music"
Thanks for this message of inspiration, it really made me feel better and completely agrees with my view of music and it's purpose - including that it's for the glorification of God!!
Hanné
Dutch Reformed Church Eros
http://www.angelfire.com/mt/wamozart/mozart.htm
11/19/2004

"The Future Hangs in the Balance"
The future is in the balance, aye, but the past dangles by a precarious thread. The referenced list omitted a few notables that I have heard about, "Cowboy Bob" Smith (Howdy-Doodie's daddy) was organist at Trinity Lutheran Church, White Plains (or viscinity) NY; and David Hyde Pierce (Niles Crane, on Frazier) is/was also a church organist - or so I'm told. Of course, the list didn't promise to be exhaustive. It is, though, a good romp through the ages of musical notables. Thanks for the reference.
Bill Smith
mailhtims@charter.net
Organist
St. John's Episcopal Church, Marion NC
Asheville NC
http://wnc-ago.org
11/1/2004

"The Future Hangs in the Balance"
Only two presidents had no piano in the White House. One is George W. Bush. The other was his father. Victor Frost
VFrost@gis.net
11/1/2004

"Stick to Where the Action Is"
I got my start on an old tracker built by L C Harrison. It, too, had a flat, straight pedalboard and a definite feel to it. I didn't have the luxury of stop-pullers, so my registration changes were slow - and few. My first position, as assistant organist, was on a George S Hutchings tracker, and my second (organist) was on a Henry Erben (ca 1853). I much prefer the tracker touch (I had a Freudian slip, just then, and typed tough). It was tough to learn, but once learned it was a treasured ability. Playing on electric-pneumatic, even with a "Tracker Touch" keyboard, isn't the same.

My wife recently did a study of Bach and his many children. While they were many, not all of them survived for long, and she estimates he had no more than eight alive at any one time. Johann might have been able to get them all transported in one stretch van, provided two of them were still babes-in-arms.
Bill Smith
mailhtims@charter.net
Organist
St. Johns Episcopal Church, Marion NC
Asheville NC
http://wnc-ago.org
10/21/2004

"Bach Turns Over In His Heaven"
I wrote the following Limerick about Bach a couple of years ago. I think it fits with this rampage.

When the reincarnation of Bach
Surveyed modern musical stock
He threw out the classics
And bought some dark glasses
And played hot swing, jazz, and hard rock.

Rebecca Williams
fasalon@hotmail.com
Systems Engineer
Farifax, VA 22033
10/6/2004

"Bach Turns Over In His Heaven"
This Rampage was funny! I can't believe you walked around and saw Kurt Vonnegut playing chess, I don't even know how to play chess. When I was in my 20's I read several of his books - I think they were Slaughterhouse 5, Cats' Cradle (reread last summer '04, was on my son's 11th grade summer reading list), Mother Night, and God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater. I used to quote one of his sayings to friends: "Travel suggestions from Bokonon were dancing lessons from God." Susan Burkhalter
scastlekep@aol.com
organist
Lutheran Church
Burke, VA
10/5/2004

"Getting Fired"
Yes, unfortunately the organist and other church musicians are often caught in the midst of church politics. The worst is being caught in the move to appeal to the lowest common denominator of musical tastes.

There is a book called "Why Catholics Can't Sing" by a Catholic church musician that goes into this in detail. I can't remember the author's name, but I'm sure it can be ordered through a book store. I found a copy on the shelf a couple of years ago in Washington DC bookstore. It's basically about how most Catholic Churches have thrown the baby out with the bathwater culturally in order to bring more people into the church.

Rebecca Rebecca Williams
fasalon@hotmail.com
Systems Engineer
Integic Corporation
Fairfax, VA
9/22/2004

"You're Fired!"
This one is going to dredge up a lot of emotion! Probably every organist can look back at some termination circumstance that was, at least at the time, very hurtful. I recently heard about a case where an organist was so damaged by his firing that he gave away all his music and hasn't played anywhere since!

Dan's advice was excellent, but I would add the Matthew 18 principle, which is in essence: If someone wrongs you, try to have it out with him one-on-one; if this fails, go back with a couple of witnesses and try again; if this still fails, bring it to the general assembly; if even this fails, only then are you allowed to treat him "like a pagan or a tax collector."
Susan LaGrande
susanel2@hotmail.com
Organist
St. John the Baptist RC Church
Poughkeepsie, NY
9/22/2004

"FREE Workshop #18: You're Fired!"
I'm in the process of being fired, though nobody has said anything to me about it, yet. How do I know? A new parishioner, immediately upon his arrival, started complaining about the loud music. He even approached me during the service and shouted at me that I was "blasting the ears off my head!" Since that time I have been counciled to turn down the volume - several times. The vestry has just formed a Music Committee, a posse, if you will, to try to create a "Performance Grade" musical environment for worship. The first thing they decided was that I should record the hymns on the MIDI for playback during the service.

Their rationalle (or lack thereof) was that I could then lead the singing, having nothing to do but push buttons. Additionally, if I were to leave the diskettes intact, they would have a pile of services to use when I cannot be there because of weather, vacation or whatever.

Immediately I felt threatened on two fronts. Since they know that I can generate flawless MIDIs on the computer, as I have done for my "vacation" services (when I plan to be away), perhaps they're saying my playing is no longer good enough for them. Second, by suggesting a store of services from which to choose, they're working up to replacing me altogether.

I never thought an Episcopal Church would go for the Karaoke service music I've seen so prevalent in other denominations, but it appears this congregation is headed down that slope. They are confusing recorded performance with sensitive worship experience, and they are demoting an organist to a disk jockey!
Bill Smith
mailhtims@charter.net
Organist
St. John's Episcopal Church, Marion
Asheville NC
http://www.wnc-ago.org
9/22/2004

"Give Me Pipes!"
I have to agree that an electronic organ can never really duplicate the sound of a pipe organ. I recently purchased one for my home though as a practice instrument. It is frustrating to hear the shallow sound of the manuals, but the pedals sound a lot like a pipe organ. I think if I had external speakers mounted on the wall the illusion of a pipe organ would be better.

What I really would like is to install a small pipe organ in my home. I have cathedral ceiling so there is room to mount pipes. Does anyone know what a small tracker organ might cost? Rebecca Williams
fasalon@hotmail.com
Systems Engineer
N/A
Fairfax, VA 22033
9/21/2004

"Bach as Innovator"
I wanted to comment on the rampage on the idea that Bach followed the compositional rules of his time and that's what made him such a great innovator. That seems like a contractiction, but maybe it wasn't explained very well by the author. As a composer I am always looking at music from a structural point of view. I think the article which was trying to make a point about comparing Bach's music to adhering to Jewish law is a bit far flung. I do think that one cannot truly innovate without some grounding idea. Bach may have used his own grounding ideas from which to spin out his innovations. I don't think it matters much what the starting point was.

As a composition student I believe that one cannot break rules unless one knows what they are in the first place, so free form composition with no moorings is not composition at all to me. Maybe it's like found art or something.

I'm wandering a bit here, but I also wanted to say before I close that Bach foreshawdowed a lot of what we call Jazz harmonies with the way he layered and voiced chord structures. Also, the extended cadences near the end of some of his compositions resemble some of the "going off into other keys" harmonies that can preceed the end of a Jazz piece. In addition I think Bach's music "swings" far more than any other composer that I know. That's partially because much of the Baroque music is based in dance rhythms. There are exceptions to this in his more improvational compositions, of course. I think that's enough for now before I start comparing the figured based to Jazz fake books.

Rebecca Rebecca Williams
fasalon@hotmail.com
Systems Engineer
Integic Corporation
Fairfax, VA
9/21/2004

"Give Me Pipes!"
My position has always been the same - given a choice, I'd rather play a three-rank Moller than a 50 register digital. I'm still waiting for someone to vacate a pipe organ position so I can make that change. As it is, I wear my Organ Historical Society T-shirt (even as I type) proudly, brag about my acheivements building pipe organs and have a great belly laugh about those who claim they can't tell the difference between speakers and pipes. They will acknowledge the difference when they are compared side-by-side in the same room, and choose pipes nine times out of ten.
Bill Smith
mailhtims@charter.net
Organist
St. John's Episcopal Church, Marion NC
Asheville NC
http://www.wnc-ago.org
9/4/2004

"Give Me Pipes!"
You really made me think with this one. I support the AGO's "digital inclusiveness" policy because I want to make get as many organists as possible into the Guild (you can't educate people who aren't there), and because I want to avoid the kind of snobbishness that has been mentioned in replies to "No! No! ..." But I currently play an old Allen honker while the church raises funds to restore its 1861 tracker, and I have an old Rodgers practice instrument at home. As a result, I find myself sort of getting used to the convenience and predictability of the digital instrument. For the last couple of weeks, however, I have subbed at a church with a 1906 Wicks pipe organ in a nice space. It's not in great shape, but it sounds wonderful, and I had a great time playing it, even when a cypher suddenly developed during the recessional hymn! It's good to be reminded that, while digital organs are here to stay, they will always be poor substitutes for the real thing. Susan LaGrande
susanel2@hotmail.com
Organist
St. John the Baptist RC Church
Poughkeepsie, NY
http://www.chvago.org
9/4/2004

"Give Me Pipes!"
YOUR COMMENTS ON:
1. 32' digital extensions?
and/or
2. 16' digital extensions?

WHEN POSITIVELY NO SPACE AVAILABLE? Ronald W. Davis
palaicos@comcast.net
Minister of Music/Organist
Ginter Park United Methodist Church
Richmond, VA
9/4/2004

"Give Me Pipes!"
Let's get realistic about this old argument that goes back to the time when Mr. Hammond was chided for calling his instrument an organ. The modern digital organ, if it is properly installed with an adequate sound system, is really a good substitute for its Pipe Counterpart. The problem is that very rarely are there sufficient audio channels and speakers to properly move an air column as would occur in a pipe (primarily at the lower frequencies). Truly the modern digital organ is a legitimate musical instrument and has come a far way from the days of the analog electronic organ, in replicating the sounds of the Pipe Organ and should be respected in its own right. Norman H. Buettner
buettner@FVI.net
Sr. Elect. Engineer
Elgin, IL
9/4/2004

"No! No! No! No! No!"
Hmmm....

There are some merits to what has been discussed in the AGO article... I'm not here to start the digital vs. pipes debate again (no offense, Dan, but there's no use trying to sway the already convinced). I have been in AGO leadership, and I _do_ play a pipe organ, but there have been times I have not. The snobbish attitudes of some of my collegues towards me because my organ was "fake" were very childish (and often very hurtful). A person has the right to have an opinion about the suitability (or lack therof) of a particular type of instrument for a church, and even has the right to express that. What I applaud from that article is the message that treating one's collegues with disrespect because of a difference of opinion or "organic social status" is totally unprofessional and uncalled for. We have enough people fighting against the use of the organ and its music without weakening ourselves by fighting with each other. Jonathan Orwig
giwro [at] adelphia.net
Pastor of Worship
First Baptist Church of Riverside
Riverside, CA
http://www.evensongmusic.net
8/20/2004

"No! No! No! No! No!"
Dear Sir: Thank you for your very necessary rampage. I also posted a bit of a rampage at http://www.leonardociampa.com/ATPO Keep up the good work, and best wishes from Boston. Leonardo Ciampa
St. Paul's Church
Boston, MA
http://www.leonardociampa.com/ATPO
8/20/2004

"No! No! No! No! No!"
Excellent rampage, Dan!
Maybe it's because so many organists go to work for electronic organ dealerships just to make a living - and then begin to deceive themselves that it's okay?
There is, of course, another journal besides TAO designed for American organists (named for one of the stops of the pipe organ). And from England, Choir and Organ is another excellent publication which would never stoop so low as TAO. It's hard to justify membership in a professional organization which tolerates such self-destructive journalism. Since it's the only one we've got, all we can do is to encourage more members to speak up for the genuine king of instruments.
Dorry Shaddock
8/19/2004

"No! No! No! No! No!"
Thank you very much for this message. One of the reasons I started a second profession was so I would never be required to play an electronic/digital organ for a living. One of the most satisfying jobs I ever had was on a one manual organ with a couple-down pedal board. The church obtained the organ used for about $3000. There should never be a need for an electronic organ in a church if that church uses traditional church music. James Moore
jamesmoore52@hotmail.com
Director of Music
Memorial Congregational, Baldwinville, MA
Worcester, MA
8/19/2004

"No! No! No! No! No!"
Hi Dan, I read your last rampage with quite a bit of attentiveness and it reminded me so much of an experience I had just a few days ago. As you know, I work for a small Episcopal Church which is fortunate in having a small but finely voiced pipe organ. My parents are Catholic, and told me they were investigating a new parish and told me they loved the music program and I should definately try to catch a mass there so I could hear this wonderful music. I thought to myself, this is the richest parish in the city, must have a massive pipe organ! I was so disappointed I almost cried. Not to sound offensive, but I felt like some kind of alien in there! I have to say, after that offertory hymn I was about ready to walk up there and take that midi module and throw it at the organist! I feel that many people find digital organs more appealing because of all that they can do. Nothing more religious in an organ than the realistic sound of a guitar being plucked while accompanied by a fake vox humana! Not that pipe organs arent equiped with similar stuff. I even noticed that this church had a massive amount of room for a pipe organ, it seems that people go the easy way now - buy a digital organ, you can move it, you can store it away, you can add more sounds, you can amplify it with speakers all over. Before I finish my own "lil rampage" I will say this, nobody at all, except a true organist, will understand the simple beauty and value of sitting at the console playing, and hearing the wind naturally flow through each pipe, or feeling the power of bass in the pedal traveling through your entire body. Every speaker, amplifier, recording, module, or computer that digital organ companies try to show you, will always fall several thousand pipes short of the real thing. Victor Kovacs
victorkovacs@fuse.net
Organist/Choirmaster
Holy Trinity Episcopal Church
Cincinnati, Ohio
http://www.geocities.com/organhomepage
8/19/2004

"No! No! No! No! No!"
Dan, you've hit my nails on the head, once again. One of the members of an AGO Chapter I used to associate with was constantly decrying the fact that "Not all churches can afford a pipe organ, you know." My answer was always "Hogwash! They just can't afford the kind of pipe organ they've been hoodwinked into believing they would need to equal the versitility of the electronic substitute."

I know another person (a priest who thinks he's a musician, believes an organist shouldn't be paid the anywhere near the same salary as a beginning priest or the parish secretary, and shuns the Guild) who has not only bought the electronic substitute to end all, but a MIDI sequencer so he can also replace the organist! Where will it all end? Karaoke at the Vatican? Heaven forbid!

Bill Smith
mailhtims@charter.net
Organist
St. John's Episcopal Church, Marion NC
Asheville, NC
http://www.wnc-ago.org
8/18/2004

"No! No! No! No! No!"
Dan,
I read your rampage on digital organs and pipe organs. I personnaly prefer to play a pipe organ because the sound is so much richer and alive. This does not take away from the digital, but there seems to be a "woofiness" in the tone of the digital regardless how great the "sound picture of the pipe" is. I have a Galanti Preludium I in my home and it serves me well. It still sounds too artificial, even though the stops are very clear on the manuals and the pedals.

I do agree that recognition of those organists who have to play the digital instrument. They are organists, notwithstanding.

Thanks,

Will Will Rogers
wrogers2@bellsouth.net
Riverdale, Georgia
www.willwrogers.actorsite.com
8/18/2004

"The Late, Great Mr. Bach"
J.S. Bach was definitely one of the greatest geniuses who ever lived! Sometimes when I play a passage at the end of his Fugue in C Major, BWV 537, it brings tears to my eyes and I picture someone standing outside the gates of heaven looking into a beautiful sunset or sunrise. Only a great composer could write such music. Susan Burkhalter
scastlekep@aol.com
organist
Church of Abiding Presence
Burke, Virginia
8/2/2004

"The Late, Great Mr. Bach"
Dan: Is the Forkel biograpy of Bach available in English?

If so, where?

Sincerely,

Ted Hollinsworth (The Barefoot Organ Student.) Ted Hollingsworth
hollingsworthmt@msn.com
Student
St. John The Baptist
Aptos/CA
7/29/2004

""D-Day at Sea.""
15 June 04

Some of you may remember my tentative debut last year on this site as the 87 yr old beginning organ student study with a 95 yr old tacher.

Although there have been times when it seemed like a lost cause, I have stuck with it. Among other things, I've needed the discipline of directed practice and accountability.

I still need them. "Reading Music" has been very difficult!!!

The recent celebrations of the 60th Anniversary of D-Day in Normandy brought back some latent memories.

On "D-Day 1944" I was in mid-Pacific, halfway between Brisbane, Australia, and San Fracisco, California, on a Matson Lines freighter carrying sick and wounded from the South West Pacific Theatre, to Letterman General Hospital at The Presidio in San Francisco. Those of us below decks who could walk, limp, or hobble, joined the ship's crew on deck.

Two of my mates, who had been with me in hospital in Brisbane, were among the few survivors from the ill-conceived and poorly planned invasion of the atoll of Tarawa in The Gilbert Islands (at that time "The Gilberts" were still a British Colony.)

One of my mates had lost one arm, and between us we helped the other one who had lost a leg, up on deck to listen to the Captain's announcement. The Captain was a Merchant Marine officer, not Navy, so his statement was right to the point:

"During the night we crossed the equator and are now in the Northern Hemisphere, on a steady NE course towards The Golden Gate. You will all be encouraged to know that this ship has just received a radio message saying that Allied Forces have landed on the beaches of Normandy, and are proceeding into France in the invasion of Europe."
There was some cheering. Most of us went back to our quarters below deck. My two mates were very quiet, remembering their own devastating landing on Tarawa. The ship continued it's steady NE course across a blue ocean towards it's home port of Pier 51 in San Francisco.

That was my "D-Day." Sixty years ago.

The voyage home took three weeks. On that Matson Line cargo ship there were no chaplains, and no Sunday services, but I found out that they did have a little "Estey" folding organ, so I asked the Captain if I could play some hymns on Sunday mornings. He agreed.

Also on board were a supply of the Military Edition of the "Episcopal Book of Commom Prayer."

These were given to whomever wanted to attend.

We collectively read some prayers, I unfolded and energetically pumped the little "Estey Folding Organ," and played the few traditional hymns that I knew from memory, and which I hoped some other knew, we worshipped as best we could, and the ship sailed on towards California.

Sixty years ago, did this clobbered together service help anyone?

Sixty years later I like to believe that it did. We were then an odd lot of severly damaged young men, from a variety of South West Pacific conflicts.

I have recused myself from the conflicting discussions about Electronic vs. Pipe Organs in church. I am blessed to have rescued an abandoned "Conn Model 650, Three Manual, Full Pedal Board, Organ," and moved it up it to my home in March 2003.

In my small local Episcopal Church of St. John The Baptist in Captitola, California, I am able to do some some of my practice on the little Schoenstien Pipe Organ we installed in 1981.

We lost our Dutch organist last year, and have not been able to replace him. In the meantime I have privaleged access to the Schoenstien.

My struggles as an "88 years old beginning organ student" have been a series of unfolding "Amazing Grace."

The sound has been sweet.

If there are any other 88 yr old beginning organ students our there, I'd like to hear from you.

Ted Hollingworth, "The Barefoot Orgnist." (hollingsworthmt@msn.com)




Meredith Ted Hollingsworth
hollingsworthmt@msn.com
"Old Gringo."
St. Johm The Baptist, Capitola, California
Aptos/California
none
6/15/2004

"Hurray for Pipes"
Who IS this firm ? 64 rank, 51 stop pipe organ from Konzelman Organs; What other organ installations are there? Hurray for Larchmont, NY. They have the space for pipes; my church does not!

Norman Selby York, PA tudorchurchmouse@aol.com Norman Selby
tudorchurchmouse@aol.com
Organist & Director of Music
St. Andrew's Episcopal Church
York, PA 17403
none
6/6/2004

"Score One for the Pipes!"
Amid shouts of joy at hearing the news that at least one church is repenting of their electronic error. After re-reading the article and noticing the little "winkie-face", I can agree with the first statement, electronic organs are cheaper (though not necessarily less expensive). The first and more pleasant surprise is that the church is replacing it with real pipes. The other surprise is that the electronic organ seemes to have actually lasted more than seven years before the church replaced it. Bill Smith
mailhtims@charter.net
Organist
St. John's Episcopal Church, Marion NC
Asheville NC
http://wnc-ago.org
5/24/2004

"An Idea with Legs"
Dan,
I read the weekly rampage with interest and have found it useful in many different ways. I work with students at a small midwestern university who are preparing for medical and professional school. Last week, they took the entrance exam (the MCAT) which is about 8 hours long and involves significant preparation on the part of the students in order for them to be competitive. I used your extreme sports info as well as your thoughts on how to learn a difficult piece to help motivate them and to encourage them when they were getting discouraged and frustrated with their progress. Each year, I work up a major Bach piece for Easter because it also coincides with this exam. So both students and teacher as traveling down the same path. The kids bought into the analogy and also saw (and heard) what I was doing. They were interested enough to attend the church where I work on Easter (in between studying and doing their own practice). We will not know for eight weeks or so how they did but I wanted to share this with you. My Bach was very satisfactory and I hope that their scores will be too.

You do a great job for all of us; helping us maintain perspective as we work in relative isolation. Keep at it.

Sincerely,
Cynthia M Handler, Ph.D
Associate Professor, Department of Biology
Millikin University
Decatur, IL
4/20/2004

"An Idea with Legs"
Well, having read the article on the NY times website, I can't resist offering at least a few comments. I find it very strange that someone desires to perform the entire works of Messiaen all at once, if you want an attentive audience, I wouldn't recommend it. People will not wish to sit there that long. Try sitting there listening to his complete works on CDs, eventually you'll get impatient and give up. This ruins the entire performance. Then I go on to read that he also performed the complete works of Bach in 18 hours. Lets do a little comparison, I drink 3 full cups of coffee during the 1 1/2 hour Sunday morning service that I play. People, including the organist, would begin to fall asleep. I can see it being a very dramatic end, to collapse onto the keys.
Victor Kovacs
victorkovacs@fuse.net
Organist/Choir Director
Holy Trinity Episcopal
Cincinnati, Ohio
www.geocities.com/organhomepage
4/20/2004

"In the News"
Skinner vs. Allen - wow, what "close" competition. I have known churches that preferred Allen when faced with rebuilding an 8-rank Moller or some such (and I didn't think they could hear, even so). I was on the Organ Committee of one church where, after the Committee had made its choice of builders for restoration, the Vestry decided the Committee hadn't considered all the options, sent our chosen bid to other builders and even to a Rogers salesman for "fair" competition. They ended up with a builder who went bankrupt in the middle of our rebuild. (Serves them right.) Of the people whom I've known who prefer Allen over a pipe organ, none was a competent musician and all but one wore hearing aids in both ears. I guess they might sound the same through the "miracle" of electronic amplification.
Bill Smith
mailhtims@charter.net
Organist
St. Johns Episcopal Church, Marion NC
Asheville NC
http://wnc-ago.org
4/17/2004

"Replacing a Skinner with an Allen"
I have three thoughts about that.

First of all, an Allen Digital has a life expectancy, regardless of what their sales people tell you, of about 25 years. This church can expect to replace this organ at least three times over the next 80 years, and it will cost them as much as it would have to restore the Skinner. Also, the $350,000 price tag sounds like something that was told them by a consultant who wanted to sell them a new organ. Had they gone to the OHS, I'm sure they could have found a builder who would restore it for a lot less.

Second: The true test of a musician is how well said musician can work within the limitations of the instrument they are given. Violinists don't ordinarily shorten the neck and switch to gut strings just because they are playing something from the 17th Century. Pianists don't normally trade in their Steinway for a harpsichord just because they are playing one of the Bach Partitas. It's no wonder that the rest of the musical world looks down on organists as being lazy, pedantic, unmusical and unimaginative.

Third: Anthony Newman, about 30 years ago, predicted that in the future there would be trackers for the musicians, and electronics for the rest. It looks like his prediction is coming true.
William Weinmann, CAGO
williamweinmann@charter.net
Director of Worship and Music
St. Paul's UMC
Stevens Point, Wisconsin
4/16/2004

"Belated Birthday Musings"
Hello Dan,
Just a short note to say that our "Bach Birthday Bash" at
First Congregational Church in Columbus, Ohio, on March 21, led by Timothy Smith and Dene Barnard was a smashing success. We had a packed church and the orchestra, organist, and choirmaster and choir played and sang with heart and soul. We
members of the Choral Society worked very hard to make a good
contribution to the honor of Bach. I think you would have been
pleased.
Carl E. Miller
carl_e_miller@juno.com
church member
First Congregational Church
Columbus, Ohio
none
3/27/2004

"Belated Birthday Musings"
Your comments about composer/performer are on the mark, but you omit one ingredient: the instrument. The fact that Bach had a particular instruments at hand must have influenced what he wrote. When I play Bach on the wonderful Bachian instrument Fritz Noack built for Christ the King Lutheran Church, I feel that Bach (or God, or both) is speaking through me - if I listen, the organ will let me know how the music should sound. The flexible winding makes it possible to caress and cajole the sound. The player's ability to hear the message is only limited by his experience and skill. An organ like this can coax a mediocre player like me to sound pretty good at times. An organ built for Bach is a delight to play and to hear.
I don't mean that Bach cannot be a joy to play and hear on less specialized instruments, but I think it's of a different order.
Dorry Shaddock
Organ Curator
Christ the King Lutheran Church
Houston
http://www.ctkelc.org/
3/25/2004

"Belated Birthday Musings"
You make an excellent point about the performer giving life to a piece of music. In a similar vein, I wonder how many worthwhile (not to say great) pieces of music are stillborn because they are never performed? This may happen if the composer is not sufficiently well-known, or if the piece is not written in a style that is currently in fashion, or if the publisher already has sufficient material in a similar theme. Yet there are plenty of bad pieces in circulation. Doesn't seem fair, does it?
Susan LaGrande
susanel2@hotmail.com
Organist
St. John the Baptist RC Church
Poughkeepsie, NY
http://www.chvago.org
3/25/2004

"Bach's Birthday"
Thank you for your insight into the beauty of the BACH!
Bernie Spaudie

3/25/2004

"Belated Birthday Musings"
Speaking of the complexities of Bach's music and trees falling in the forrest reminds me of what Andres Segovia said of Bach's music. "It is like a magnificent tree. One man cannot view it by himself - It's too tall. One man will start, and look up as far as he can, then another must take over." In like wise, one generation can find relevance in Bach's music, but can only realize it in part. The next generation must take over and find its own relevance.

We carry the burden, as you pointed out, of finding out what Bach's music means to us, and to point that out to our audiences. If they don't like it, they're welcome to reinterpret the same music in any way that pleases them.
Bill Smith
mailhtims@charter.net
Organist
St. John's Episcopal Church, Marion NC
Asheville NC
http://www.wnc-ago.org
3/25/2004

"The Power of the Blame Game"
The organ is still, to most, a great mystery. How can a person play so many keyboards and those pedals--after all two hands and two feet. Working together they remind me of a dancer on a hot stage--everything moving at once. The organ, I feel, will not go out of style as long as there are great musicians who can play well. You are right, however, we are our own enemy at times. We play what we thing is appropriate and wonderful. The little grey haired lady comes up and says that she doesn't tbink that you should have played that piece. She suggests that you play from the hymnal. Or worse yet, if nothing goes right in the service, the first person they blame is the organist. After all, he or she is leading the hymns and the service, nevermind the minister.

I go to church or visit a church and immediately I begin to be critical of the music and the playing. I forget that I am sitting in the same position at times and there those out there criticizing my playing. If I miss a note, the whole service is ruined, and I am blamed for it--nevermind if the sermon was terrible.

Anyway, enough of my "raging."
Will Rogers
wrogers2@bellsouth.net
http://www.willwrogers.actorsite.com
3/22/2004

"Baldwin 9'0 Concert Grand"
Most churches are constantly looking for "buys" regarding instruments etc. I have recently been made aware that there is an impeccably maintained Baldwin 9'0 concert grand piano available at a GREATLY reduced price. Anyone whose church may be looking for a great instrument at a bargain price - email me and I will provide you with the details.
Jim Helwig
jameshelwig_2000@yahoo.com
Head Organist
St. Michaels/Mary, Mother Of Peace
Millsboro, Delaware
3/20/2004

"The Power of the Blame Game"
That little "rampage" brought back fond memories of a college classmate who was home (St. Louis area) visiting his family. When he returned to school (Chicago area) we were comparing notes about worship services, organs we had heard/played, etc. over spring break (this was in the late 1960s). He had been disappointed that Ronald Arnatt hadn't used the trumpet-en-chamade at Christ Church Cathedral - who chuckled & told my friend, "Ah, well, it's Lent you know!" As I recall, another organist friend had told a story about Mr. Arnatt, which was fun to tell. Each week, a "little lady" from the altar guild would come out of the sacristy & continually "dust" the console over & over while Mr. A played the postlude. As soon as the last person had left the nave, she'd stop dusting, & whisper loudly, "You can stop now, Mr. Arnatt ... they've all gone!" He always smiled & kept on playing. As he put it, "My postludes are always to the glory of God & my own enjoyment!" I once served with a pastor who felt that the final hymn should (most of the time) be one that the congregation would "whistle all the way to their car." Since tomorrow is Bach's 319th "Geburtstag" (birthday), I trust everyone will remember to play any of his works "Soli Deo Gloria!"
James Gladstone
jgladstone@carmellutheran.org
Cantor & Director of Music
Carmel Lutheran Church
Carmel, IN
www.carmellutheran.org
3/20/2004

"All the Stops (A Rampaging Review)"
I totally agree with you that we organists should keep playing the pipe organ & keep practicing and playing quality performances of the traditional organ literature and music of J.S. Bach. We don't have to try and appeal to pop culture fans to keep the organ "fans" that we have and to attract more of them from the younger generation. There are thousands of people age 17-40 who love playing and listening to classical music and many are enthralled with the organ (why, a 6-year-old came up to me after the service last Sunday & was thrilled to get the chance to sit on the bench and play a few piano pieces, she said "that's COOL!"
Susan Burkhalter
scastlekep@aol.com
substitute organist, piano teacher
Bethesda, MD
3/19/2004

"The Power of the Blame Game"
Arthur Poister used to tell his students to get excited about the music. So many times his advice is ignored. Conservatory education may be part of the problem. There is so much pressure in the name of excellence that a lot of students actually learn to hate music.
William H. Weinmann
williamweinmann@charter.net
Director of Worship and Music
St. Paul's UMC
Stevens Point, WI
3/19/2004

"The Power of the Blame Game"
Truly, I feel sad about the decline of those interested in music. However, I think that the only way for any type of music to become popular, is to get everyone to listen to it, and think of it as "cool". How can we make organ music "cool"? I find that rather impossible, as most of the younger people I know tend to make jokes about my Sunday job, and some of them even openly expressed their dislike of organ music. Of course, then you get people who try to make it showy and attractive, but ah, it tends to drift away from what we are really trying to make popular.
In the parish I am currently employed at, I manage a small handbell choir, as well as a few singers. I am working on outreaches to try to get younger kids involved in something as simple as handbells. This directly exposes them to an organist (me) as well as gives them a chance to be near the organ while I play. Several of them have remarked how neat it is to watch me play the pedals. One of them wants to take piano lessons and become, in his words, "just like Mr. Vic". From watching the effects of this, I notice that the way to encourage the younger audiences is to catch them before their minds are warped away by what is considered to be popular music. It is how I started piano and organ, and is most likely how we can grow a bigger crowd of younger organists.
Sorry this is so long, but I hope my input was useful!
Victor Kovacs
victorkovacs@fuse.net
Organist/Choirmaster
Holy Trinity Episcopal Church
Cincinnati, Ohio
http://www.geocities.com/organhomepage
3/19/2004

"The Power of the Blame Game"
I can't remember when I've ever played a listened-to postlude. That's why I love to play them, because I know the chatter will hide all the mistakes. And many of the mistakes are caused by inattention as parishioners stop by to thank me for playing, compliment me on selecting their favorite hymn (whether the Rector or I selected it, doesn't matter) or in the case of one Highland Piper, press a key or two just to tweak at me a little.

I have received many comments about my preludes, but never one for a postlude. I keep expecting to hear, "You've played that one three times this year!" but nobody seems to notice.
Bill Smith
mailhtims@charter.net
Organist
St. John's Episcopal Church, Marion, NC
Asheville, NC
http://www.wnc-ago.org
3/19/2004

"The Enemy Within"
I am very new to the site, and after posting my message yesterday, decided to scroll down and read past postings. I see that the argument I mentioned in my posting (electronic vs pipes) is alive and well (sadly).
I can only offer the following regarding theatre pipe organs. Most T/O installations are maintained by a small group of volunteers, operating under the umbrella of the American Theatre Organ Society. In addition, there are home installations of varying quality, the "quality" being totally dependent upon the owner's resources and time that can be committed to maintenance etc.
What we've found out at GSTOS (Garden State Theatre Organ Society) is that most of our members are over 50 and the time required to properly maintain a true theatre pipe organ installation is tremendous. We have some extremely talented and dedicated individuals, but many times, due to advancing age and other physical problems, their days of climbing around in cramped pipe chambers etc. are behind them. Somehow, we've managed to get most projects completed, but only with much cajoling, etc.
Those familiar with pipe organs have to admit that to have a quality, first class instrument, regularly scheduled maintenance must be done. Couple this with the decrease in available volunteers, and you have two choices: 1. Allow the organ to stagnate 2. Outsource the maintenance and repairs to an outside company (usually very expensive).
I have had the honor of doing 2 concerts at one of the finest T/O installations in the world, the John Dickinson Kimball 3/66 located in Dickinson High School, Wilmington, DE. This instrument is flawlessly maintained and is the 4th largest T/O installation in the world. However, the folks at Dickinson readily admit that the organ requires quite a bit of TLC to maintain it in tip-top shape.
I guess the point of all of this is that the "new" Allen, Walker, Crome, etc. electronic theatre organs do one thing - you flip a switch and they play....low (if any) maintenance costs, and a reasonable alternative to cash-strapped, smaller ATOS chapters who are sadly losing members and volunteers due to death and normal attrition.
As musicians, all of us would love to perform on an impeccably maintained pipe organ (such as the Dickinson Kimball). However, this is the "real" world, and "bottom lines" are the order of the day, whether it be for a church or an ATOS chapter. Without a reasonable monetary set-aside for organ maintenance, as well as some new, younger volunteers for the actual tasks associated with this maintenance, the organ will suffer.
Maybe it's time we take a step back and stop the bickering regarding pipes vs electronics and appreciate each of them for their own unique merits. After all, it's not the instrument but the music that it produces when in capable hands.
Jim Helwig
jameshelwig_2000@yahoo.com
Millsboro, Delaware
3/12/2004

"All the Stops (A Rampaging Review)"
I have been a professional organist for over 40 years now. I read (with some amusement) the quote regarding playing pieces which have been "played too much". Although I play for 2 Catholic churches, I don't consider myself a "liturgical" organist, I am primarily a theatre organist, as well as an entertainer (supper clubs, restaurants, etc.)who uses both an old Hammond X-77 GT and a new Technics KN 7000 synthesizer. When doing a theatre pipe organ concert, there is the very real danger of playing pieces that really have been both recorded and played "live" far too much. However, the "danger" is in having an entire audience KNOW that you just hit a clinker, lol. The trend with many of the younger theatre organists today seems to be to play a considerable number of selections that tend to be somewhat obscure. If 3/4 of your audience has never heard the selection, there is no danger of being told that you somehow did it "wrong".
Unfortunately, in the Roman Catholic liturgy of today, there is not much room for Bach. The emphasis today is on congregational involvement (singing, primarily) so Bach is not an option. Of course, an appropriate Bach selection could be done as a prelude prior to commencement of the Mass.
My expertise lies primarily in theatre pipe organ concert work, as well as entertaining, and I assure you, I've found that the ballads of the 30's and 40's, despite being constantly performed, are always in demand - nostalgia is indeed "in". There have been very few "bad" songs written, however, there have been many bad interpretations of good songs.
I was a part of the "hayday" of electric/electronic organs, and was in fact a product rep. for the Wurlitzer Organ Co. as well as with Hammond for a short time. The organ (sadly) will never see the popularity that was enjoyed in the late 50's, 60's, and for about half of the 70's. There are a number of reasons for this. We are living in an age of "instant gratification" and the tedious lessons etc. that many of us endured would simply not be tolerated nowadays. Plus, with the advent of "easy play" features, people can now do in minutes what it took me months to learn. Playing the organ properly requires a dedication that few if any have now - as an example - the American Theatre Organ Society has a young organist competition. We had exactly one entrant this year. Plus, within the ATOS there exists an "old guard" vs "new guard" mentality, mainly consisting of heated arguments regarding the merits (or lack thereof, depending on who you talk to) of the new Allen and Walker electronic theatre organs vs the true theatre pipe organ (wind driven).
The times, they are-a changin'.....those who refuse to learn from past mistakes are doomed to repeat them.
Jim Helwig
jameshelwig_2000@yahoo.com
Millsboro, Delaware
3/11/2004

"All the Stops (A Rampaging Review)"
As a nonorganist, but a fan of organists and organs, I found
"All the Stops" hard to put down. The author's enthusiasm
and insights were delightful and his sense of humor
popped up everywhere. I learned things about Fox and Biggs
I have not read anywhere else. "All the Stops" is better written than many of the "dry as dust" scholarly organ books and journals I have read. We lovers of organs must continue to
introduce people to the wonders of Bach played well by skilled
organists. If we do this, organists, organ builders, and
organ recitals will continue to do well.
Carl E Miller
carl_e_miller@juno.com
organ music enthusiast
member, First Congregational Church
Columbus, Ohio
3/10/2004

"All the Stops (A Rampaging Review)"
You say technology is the answer, as did Glenn Gould, but of course it also gave rise to the problem.

In the pre-high-fidelity era, recitals (organ and otherwise) were the only way to get anything like that aural experience people were lining up for. Now alternatives abound.

At the beginning of my career as a composer, I was still thinking in terms of live performance. But in 1999 I wrote a piece for flute and guitar specifically for inclusion (with other pieces I knew I'd be rubbing shoulders with) on a CD.

And, as you point out, now one doesn't even have to worry about that aegis. Even if it were true that organ recitals are out, that no longer implies that organ music is out too!
Victor Frost
VFrost@gis.net
3/10/2004

"The Two Postlude Theory"
Dan, I have tried out your two-postlude idea over the past few services I have played. It is giving me some great results. Before, when I did only one, there were several groups of elderly ladies who just loved to stay sitting in their seat and talk, yet the social room is about 10 feet out of the door of the church. I recall, one sunday during the full organ section of my postlude, one of the ladies was telling another how her toenail was about to fall off. (I swear she was talking so loud that the people in the social hall of the church down the street probably heard it too) I decided I had absolutely had it, and was going to try doing two postludes the next sunday. The closing hymn was "A mighty fortress is our God", so my first postlude (listed in the program) was simply Max Reger's setting of Ein feste burg from 30 little chorale preludes. I happened to have sitting next to the console my emergency edition of the 8 little preludes and fugues by Bach. I figured the G minor was the best shot (as I havent touched any of them in weeks)... it turned out great, the people talked over the first one, and were gone by the time I added the heavy stops for the Bach.
Thanks for your great idea!!!!
Victor Kovacs
victorkovacs@fuse.net
Organist/Choir Director
Holy Trinity Episcopal
Cincinnati, Ohio
http://www.geocities.com/organhomepage
3/4/2004

"Let's get this recording out on CD!"
My wife, Jane, now disabled with MS, has been an extremely gifted church organist. We both share a great love of the organ and Bach. Recently we acquired a nice used turntable and dug into our LP collection to once again enjoy some of our "lost" favorites which included an E. Power Biggs recording, "The Organ in Sight and Sound". It was produced by John McClure and originally issued by Columbia Masterworks as #7263 in the late '50's,I believe. To my knowledge it has, unlike most of Biggs other recordings, never been issued on CD. I have found the LP listed as a resource on an organ building website. It is such an extraordinary recording we can't but wonder why it hasn't been reissued on CD. Anyone know how to go about suggesting that it be?
Jon and Jane Oakleaf
jnjoakleaf@mchsi.com
retired
formerly Trinity Lutheran, Moline
Moline, IL
none
2/26/2004

"Pulling Out All the...Harmonicas?"
My first reaction to your Harmonicas story is that it would take the noise of NYC to make that (percieved) clamor fade into the background.

Secondly, though perhaps more importantly, do you mean I'm not the only organist who makes mistakes? Of course, we're always our own worst critic, but I have always beaten myself up over mistakes - a remnant from my former life as a 'cello student, I suppose.

Thanks for the liberating thought!
Bill Smith
mailhtims@charter.net
Organist
St. John's Episcopal Church, Marion NC
Asheville NC
http://sky.prohosting.com/liammacg/
2/19/2004

"Amazon.com Gives Back"
You've discovered a great tool, Dan. I discovered another one embedded in it for finding CDs and DVDs:
http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/main.jsp
What will they think of next?
James Pressler
jocr@toast.net
Los Angeles/CA
http://www.virtuallybaroque.com
2/7/2004

"MTV Crowd Rocks the Bote"
Dear Dan,
I agree with your point that the "popular music" of today has been degenerating for quite some time. The entire halftime show was tasteless show of skin that happened to have a drum set and a few untangible chords playing in the background. But Dan, I would not go as far as to say that the effects of MTV is going to put the death nail in the organ's coffin. It seems to me that when music is not written for the sake of music, it will have its few minutes in fame; but it will not stand the test of time. Yet, Bach, who has been dead since 1750, is remembered still, particularly whenever a piece of his is being performed. In my experience, the performing and, dare I say, of appreciating pipe organ music requires a level of sophistication. The reality of today is that most teenagers and young adults do not have that level of sophistication. For as commendable as programs like VH1's "Save the Music" are, they are simply slowing down a nearly undestructable death. So, the question remains- "How do we foster an appreciation of the organ in our young?" I think a part of this question can be solved be meeting at their level. I have seen some progams locally that were designed to attact younger crowds, but they had a fatal flaw- the organist tried to impress the young with extremely rich, moving pieces, some fifteen minutes long! That would akin to somebody, who has never smoked before, beginning with a Cuban cigar; it is simply too much! Although true musical purists may cringe at this suggestion, why not gently introduce younger crowds to the pipe organ by playing more comtemporary pieces. I think that would really spark their interest. Then, you could start to introduce them to more of the classical pieces. To give you an example Dan: in my English class at college, I had to write about something I knew well enough to dedicate four pages. In addition, I had to give three copies to fellow students for a peer review. So, I wrote my report on the majesty and importance of the organ. When I did the peer review, the other classmates were very interested in what I said. Since this was a great opportunity for me to promote the organ, I gave them some recommendations. And to date, we have three young men, who would fit the college boy stereotype to a 't,' listening and enjoying the sounds of the pipes.
Jack Demnyan
jdemnyan@yahoo.com
St. Paul Seminary
Pittsburgh, PA
2/5/2004

"Janet and the Northwestern cut"
Bravo, Dan. It's a shame that modified sweat glands designed to feed babies need to be displayed during a prime time event. However, the 3 teens and 5 adults watching with me were all so bored with halftime that we had gone for more snacks by the time Janet revealed herself. The Superbowl will go the way the rest of network TV has gone for me: down the "tube". I think I'll just go work on that Bach fugue instead. As for the organ, I'm sorry that people are quick to discard the 600+ years, or even 4000 years of development of the JudeoChristian traditional music for the pop music that spawned the likes of Justin and Janet.
Jeanne Suehr
jsuehr@excite.com
2/4/2004

"MTV Crowd Rocks the Bote"
RE: The super bowl fiasco: Right on, Dan Long! As to Northwestern eliminating their organ program, a portion of the blame for an "anti-organ" attitude must be laid at the feet of some churches themselves who reject tradition including organs and the dignity itself of music in the Church which has altogether in some churches, partially in others rejected worship and has replaced it with entertainment.
Rex Arnett
rexarnett@aol.com
Private instructor and adjunct professor
Retired but as busy as ever
Mesa Arizona
2/4/2004

"MTV Crowd Rocks the Bote"
Hi Dan,
I absolutely 100% agree with what you said. There is absolutely nothing good and worth watching on primetime television anymore! Nothing but reality shows and comedies with nothing but sexual content and profanity. I just refuse to watch primetime on the local stations anymore.

Most of my television viewing takes place on 2 stations. I sometimes watch PBS, especially when they have the broadcasts of symphony orchestra concerts and other cultural events. But my main station to watch is TV Land -- those old shows were wholesome, family oriented, and often taught a lesson or two. I spend my time watching shows like the Andy Griffith Show and Leave it to Beaver. Much better television in my opinion. Tim
Musician328@yahoo.com
Chicago, IL
2/4/2004

"MTV Crowd Rocks the Bote"
Dan,Well spoken. Amen!
Tom La Fontaine
tomlafontaine@yahoo.com
2/4/2004

"Continuo Playing"
Dan,

I have two books, one in a set of two volumes, to recommend on continuo playing. I purchased these books at the 1992 AGO Conference when it was in Atlanta. They are:

"Continuo Playing According to Handel, His Figured Bass Exercises" with a commentary by David Ledbetter, Clarendon Press, Oxford, England, 1990. It is part of the Early Music Series. It focuses on the realizations, structure and fugue.

"Figured Bass Accompaniment, Volume I and II, Peter Williams, University Press, Edinburgh, 22 George Square, Edinburgh, EH8 9LF, ISBN 0 85224 452 5. These volumes have specimen realizations, advice to the player, discussion on chords, and hints on accompanying and changing styles of accompamimnet.

They are well worth the reading for the beginner and advanced musician.
Will Rogers
wrogers2@bellsouth.net
www.willwrogers.actorsite.com
1/27/2004

"If I Knew Then..."
Another good example has to do with Bach and Silbermann. It seems that Silbermann used a 1/5 comma meantone temperament in the tuning of his organs. Bach was testing one for some City officials, and was warned about this quirk. (This particular temperament leaves a very harsh wolf between G# and Eb). Bach’s reply was, “Herr Silbermann builds them the way he likes, and I play them the way I like”, then launched into a Fantasia in A Flat Major.
William H. Weinmann
williamweinmann@charter.net
Stevens Point, Wisconsin
1/25/2004

"If I Knew Then..."
Some (maybe all) of my registrations are unorthodox. I enjoy the many ways you can assemble a cornet from individual ranks, omitting one or more of the prescribed combination (8-4-2 2/3-2-1 3/5), basing it on flutes or principals. I often base plena on the 8' flute instead of the 8' principal, or as Dan suggests, add weight by using both. Sometimes coupling a smaller mixture from another division adds a "crown," sometimes the same addition without the main mixture provides a sparkling lighter plenum (if physical pipe placement doesn't make this sound ludicrous). With many of the historic sampled instruments I've been using, the 8' principal and 8' flute are just slightly out of tune enough to cause an otherwise unattainable céleste effect. Filling out the fundamentals of a snarly reed with an 8' or even 4', adding mutations to the reed during a repeat, it's all like a gigantic cafeteria rather than a 7-course meal. "Let your ears be your guide."
James Pressler
jocr@toast.net
Los Angeles/CA
http://www.virtuallybaroque.com/
1/24/2004

"If I Knew Then..."
Perhaps it's the rebellious female in me -
Perhaps it's the Road not Taken vision I usually set for myself -
I absolutely love experimenting with new and unusual registrations.

I have received compliments for my creativity -
I have received admonitions for my different approach -

I do say, Excuse me, I will be that different drummer, as long as it doesn't
hurt or harm the composer's intentions and ego. Then again, he's usually long
gone and wouldn't care.

Thank you for reassuring me that that attitude is not so bad.
Gayle
1/23/2004

"If I Knew Then..."
Dan,
Your commentary on what other people tell is true hit the nail on an area I get on my soap box. Of course, I do not have a degree, as I was reminded at one time. I had composed an item and it was to be premiered. The accompanist told me that I could not end the choral piece the way I had planned. She proceeded to lecture me and at the end told me that she had a BA, Music, etc. Well, I changed the ending. Now, I wish I had stood my ground. But, as you say, "If knew then what I know now. . ."

I was told the same thing about registration when I played some of the "simpler" Bach pieces. I have often thought that if Bach was playing today, what he would do with all the wonder combinations we have today. I suspect that he would really shock the purest and create some great music with these combinations.
Will
1/23/2004

"If I Knew Then..."
That remark about spoiling your diapasons with flutes fits under the heading of "A little learning is a dangerous thing..." (Alexander Pope) It is English, and true of my Skinner. But the later Aeolian Skinners were voiced French style, where a number of soft stops were built up to give an ensemble tone--Diapasons AND flutes.

I was also informed that the tremolo should always draw with an E.M.Skinner Vox Humana. "No, " I replied, "E.M. put the cutout switch there for a reason in 1930" TUNE the Vox Humana so it can be used as a Singend Regal by itself, "Rococo style" as E. M. would have called it."
Gordon Clark Ramsey
1/22/2004

"If I Knew Then..."
You should have told that know-it-all organ builder to check out treatises on French registration practices. The French combined Flutes with the Montres in the Plein Jeu for a fuller sound.
Bill Weinmann, CAGO
1/22/2004

"WORKSHOP #14: "
Hello, Dan ~
This was an enjoyable post-Christmas "romp". I'm also a firm believer in transitioning carols/hymns into other keys, especially if the last stanza is Doxological (praises Father, Son & Spirit) or just naturally bombastic! Overkill is possible. We have 4 Christmas Eve services at Carmel Lutheran Church, with over 2000 worshipers in attendance, so I don't have the luxury of a recital, although that was a tradition in my hometown in Michigan, & when I served huge parishes in Chicago & Winter Haven, FL - we called it "Music for the Holy Night" & it ordinarily started at least 1/2 hour prior to the final service (11:00 or midnight). I don't know what the organ is like where you regularly play, or the acoustics, but one of my all time favorite Christmas organ works based on a carol is "God Rest You Merry Gentlemen" by Myron Roberts. It was one of those St. Cecelia Organ Series from H. W. Gray many years ago. It's a wonderful piece, if the instrument can handle a toccata at the end.

Every good wish for the new year! Hope it's warming up a bit out there.
Jim Gladstone
1/22/2004

"Who Is Rollin Smith?"
Dan,
Rollin Smith is a pianist/organist and was very active with the AGO during the period I served on the AGO National Board (1977-1986). Check with the Editor of The American Organist (the AGO's monthly publication), Anthony Baglivi - he would be able to update you.
Kenneth Lowenberg
ken@chevychasepc.org
Minister of Music
Chavy Chase Presbyterian Church
Washington, DC
1/13/2004

"Who Is John Galt?"
I too used Google and Amazon and failed to find a bio or web page on Rollin Smith. When modern technology fails, I sometimes call my friend who is a reference librarian. You might try this old-fashioned but effective solution.
James Pressler
jocr@toast.net
Los Angeles/CA
http://www.virtuallybaroque.com
1/12/2004

"Who Is Rollin Smith?"
contact OHS in Richmond and I am sure they can give you lots of info.
K Jacob
1/12/2004

"Digital Organs"
Dan:
I find myself in agreement with your basic premise that no digital simulation will ever be the full equivalent of a pipe organ. There are a few secondary advantages inherent in the digital/electronic instruments which some musicians may find useful and which can add to the fun and sometimes even add to the authenticity of the simulation. One of these is the capability of most modern digital instruments to replicate alternate tunings (Meantone, Pythagorean, etc.). Other useful features are the transposer and pitch adjuster which, if used carefully, can assist when working with certain singers or instrumentalists. And some instruments have MIDI connections and velocity sensitive keyboards which can help when using other electronic instruments. Also, built-in recording sequencers can assist with practice.

Those factors aside there are a number of good technical reasons why digital/electronic instruments just can't fully reproduce the sounds of pipes. The factors include power output, phase distortion, harmonic distortion and intermodulation distortion. Guess what? - all of these factors have to do with the 'analog' output section of the instrument - namely the loudspeaker system. This has always been the weak link in an electronic music system and is particularly important with respect to electronic organs.

First, let's look at power. Let's postulate that a particular large organ has a 40 horsepower blower supplying wind to the pipe chests. Let's also assume that only 25 percent of this power ends up converted to sound output power (these are very rough approximations for the sake of illustration). That's 10 horsepower - the equivalent maximum electrical amplifier power would be 7,460,000 watts!! Not practical.

Next let's consider intermodulation distortion, which, in my opinion, is the most destructive form of distortion. When a single loudspeaker driver (woofer, tweeter, etc.) is asked to reproduce more than one frequency or pitch (which it must do even when sounding just one pipe pitch - remember the harmonics) the speaker driver motion of each of the higher frequencies is superimposed or 'riding' on the driver motion of the lower frequencies. In other words, the higher frequencies are frequency modulated by the fact that they are produced from a moving speaker cone. The Doppler Effect causes each of the higher frequency's pitches to change at the lower frequency's rate of change. Pipes all speak independently and their fundamentals and harmonics are not significantly affected by the output of other pipes around them.

Phase distortion - loudspeaker drivers have mass and take a finite amount if time to accelerate and decelerate in response to the electrical signals sent to them. These time delays vary across different frequencies and cause the reproduced signal to fail to match the original. The various frequencies get phase shifted in time with respect to each other.

Harmonic distortion - the sound of a pipe speaking is a very complex waveform containing many interrelated harmonics. It is nearly impossible for a single loudspeaker driver to reproduce all of these harmonics evenly at the original amplitudes because even the best speakers have uneven output response - that is, they respond more strongly to some frequencies than others due to inherent resonance effects and other non-linearities. This causes inaccuracy in reproduction.

To add insult to injury, all of this is aggravated by a loudspeaker's tendency to be directional in it's output - sort of like a the beam of a flashlight. A pipe's output, created by the vibration of a column of air set in motion by the vibrating airstream at the mouth of the pipe (or the reed) is much less directional.

Thanks for reading my not-too-rigorous tirade on the physics of electronic sound reproduction. I grew up listening to E. Power Biggs and Virgil Fox in live concerts in the Boston area and I have the greatest respect for these and other fine artist who make music on the ORGAN.

Having said that, let me mention that I am a professional engineer and part-time amateur organist who plays a Rodgers 950 three-manual every Sunday. I have a lot of fun with this instrument because of its flexibility and fairly good sound. I think the key is to be open-minded about digital instruments. As long as there are folks like you and me around, the pipe organ will never die. Just go on the web and look at all the builders and see the new organs being built all over the world. Not to worry! The organ has survived many hundreds of years and it will take more that a few circuit boards to bury it.

By the way, the Trinity Church digital was created by a couple of guys near Boston who run a very successful Rodgers dealership. The hardware at Trinity is not Rodgers, but is based on a next-generation approach which uses the highest possible sampling resolution and many independent computer processors to minimize the drawbacks of digital simulation. They also used a boatload of speakers and amps to keep the aforementioned loudspeaker distortion problems to a minimum.

Again, thanks for reading my rant and have a great year!
Kenneth Plant
Kenneth_Plant@waters.com
1/5/2004




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