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2006

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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.

"What about playing for free?"
If the music in church is for the worship of God why not play for free? If I were to do it only if I were paid then I am not playing for Him but for me. Tony Tharp
tonyt777@cox.net
Summerlin Community
Las Vegas, NV
12/16/2006

"Authority Submissiveness Syndrome"
Dan,

Thanks for the rampage on the subject of authority. My philosophy is "if it works play it". If a piece of music works at a tempo and you can play it at that tempo then by all means do so. I don't like the school of thought which holds that there is one acceptable tempo for the various works of Bach. I'm sure Bach played his music in various ways depending on his mood. And what about the situation where the instrument itself has limitations?

I think its important to bring something of yourself to a piece of music, a unique view. How can that happen if everyone is trying to imitate some accepted method? True, we can get used to hearing a piece played in a certain way and that becomes what one is comfortable with, but nevertheless one should keep imagination alive.

Personally, I like to experiment as little. I enjoy the Jazz treatments of Bach's music. It just proves how truly universal and cosmopolitan his music is. Part of the baroque foundation for music that is the dance. And there is the Jazz syncopation in that. I enjoyed what the Swingle Singers did with some of the paritas a few years back. I havew heard Bach's music in so many ways that it really does put the music in a universal category.

But back to authority. One of the drawbacks of a classical music background is that we are usually taught that the music is written in stone and we should not diverge from the written note. However, the Kalmus edition of the preludes and fuques shows clearly that there were various versions of the music which came down to us. I cannot help but think that each person who played the music had his or her own take on it. When a musical idiom is alive people improvise. Rebecca Williams
fasalon@hotmail.com
System Analyst
Northrop Grumman
Farifax, VA
12/16/2006

"Who is Dan Long?"
Where does he live and play? How can I get more of Dan Long's recordings?

I stumbled upon an MP3 of Prelude and Fugue in D minor a short while back and I am so totally in awe of it I cannot express my emotions in words. It is just one of the grandest and most dramatic playings of the work that I have ever heard. I want to know more about the person who plays this instrument. How long has Dan been playing? How old is Dan? Can I hear Dan play live? Where? Is there any way to know what organ was being played in the recording I have? Does Michael Barone of "Pipe Dreams" know about Dan? Does Dan do theatre organ? Are there recordings? What about works other than Bach and others of that period, for instance does Dan do any of Alain's works? Demetre Argiro
argirode@mindspring.com
Lawrenceville, Georgia
12/3/2006

"Drop The Ferade"
It is the worship of God that is important, not musical perfection. In a perfect world every church would have the proper organ. How ever, there are other financial concerns facing churches today. Rejoice that you reside in a ceountry where church services are even allowed. I have traveld to Muslem countries where to be a Christain means death, by comparrison, your complaints feel very trivial. Ali Lagouab
aagouab@msn.com
12/2/2006

"Bach's Magnificat"
This coming Sunday at 5 p.m., December 3, The Houston Bach Society will be presenting Bach's Magnificat in D Major- BWV 243 and the cantata "Nun komm der Heiden Heiland"-BWV 61. In addition to these they will start out the program with M. Praetorius' "Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern." The performance will be held at Christ the King Lutheran Church on Rice Boulevard in Houston.

So for those of you in the Houston area, this performance will be one that should not be missed. Ryan Bradfield
die_schwarzes_herz@yahoo.com
Organ/Harpsichord Student
Sam Houston State University
Huntsville, TX
11/27/2006

"Thanksgiving? No Thanks!"
Dan,

My theory is that, at least in rural America, the organ was usually played by a volunteer, usually a woman, from the congregation. Like teaching, when a job becomes identified with women low pay is a given.

My other idea is that respect for church music is a function of the education level and sophistication of the congregation. When you have folks who have grown up on bad music and classical "Pops" you are talking about the lowest common denominator. Like most people who are ignorant they do know that they don't know, and if they are arrogant they often make asses of themselves. Sorry to be so blunt but you find them both in and out of church. Rebecca Williams
fasalon@hotmail.com
Systems Engineer
Fairfax, VA
http://www.dfa-fairfax.com
11/22/2006

"Thanksgiving? No Thanks!"
The general tenet any church should remember when paying for a substitute organist is "You get what you pay for". When I first arrived 20 years ago at my current church, the fee they offered for two Sunday services was $40. I told them that they should at least double that, at which time I received a large number of double-takes. They found out after a few disasterous "bargain" players that the most professional subs came at a price of $100 and up (of course, that was in the late '80's).
Weddings are the same way - how much will the family pay for the photographer, the flower guy, the band........?
The music for any service is of utmost importance, and every church should put realistic value to it.
God bless us organists!
Jim Vyhanek
vyhanek4@hotmail.com
Music Director
St. John Lutheran Church
Mount Prospect, IL
11/20/2006

"What's a Poor Organist to Do?"
Dan, in response to your sentence, "There have been an amazing number of good organists leaving full-time church positions behind . . ." (although mine was part-time), I offer this:October 28, 2006
I had a bad experience at a church I shall call "Church X" where I worked as organist in the past year. I’m a classically trained organist and pianist who works hard and carefully chooses service music. That minister regularly complained about me in front of other people and said bad things about me. Also the minister, who had no musical training, would give me strange orders about how to play that pipe organ. For instance, he ordered me to use only the 8 foot viol and no pedal to accompany communion hymns that the whole congregation sang. The music director, a woman who seldom communicated with me, only spoke to me in a patronizing and condescending tone of voice. Nobody at that church who knew about it cared that I was mistreated. Only about 4 people there noticed what fine music by great composers such as Bach I played, or that I practiced a lot and was well-prepared.
My experience at that church was demoralizing. You would think that church people would value a good organist, since there aren’t a lot of people like us organists around. After all, how many people do you know who started piano lessons at age 7 and continued through high school, then began organ lessons and continued to study with formal lessons and practice for many more years as an adult?! Yet in my experience working in churches for over 30 years, I’ve come across a number of people who don’t value you, the organist, and even treat you as though you’re less than human!
After quitting that job, I realized that working there was like a combat situation. You repress or deny the feelings you get during work. Now I remember that every Thursday evening I approached choir practice with feelings of fear and doom.
To replace the bad memories of choir practice at that church, now I sing in a wonderful church choir. The director, a man, is an excellent organist and choral director with a vast knowledge of traditional church music. While we work hard, he makes rehearsals fun and pleasant. Everyone is kind and cheerful. He compliments the singers. We sing music by great British composers such as C.V. Stanford, T. Tertius Noble, Eric Thiman, and Ralph Vaughan Williams.
As a result of my bad experience at "Church X" I won’t look for a permanent church job for a while but instead will work in a store.

Susan Burkhalter
scastlekep@aol.com
substitute organist
Bethesda, MD
11/20/2006

"Thanksgiving? No Thanks!"
Hello Dan, to use an old saying "Right on , brother" I am with you and your thoughts about pernurious church thinking. When I was without a job before the present one I was busy as a sub every Sunday, but was often chagrined about the poor pay offered for substitute work. I have heard from several friends who teach in conservatories that there are some fine young students coming along. I also have noticed that at conventions like the last AGO in Chicago. There are some major talents developing, but where are they going to go for work? I don't like to be negative, but reality sets in when one evaluates the time, talent and education factor. How about some of those advertisements for "part time organists/choir directors! I gues we will receive our reward? Keep up your rampages. Best wishes, Robert C. Shone Robert C. Shone
Rcshone@aol.com
Organist and Choirmaster
St. Matthew's Episcopal Church
Pinellas Point/St. Petersburg, FL
11/20/2006

"Thanksgiving? No Thanks!"
From one angle I can agree with the thought. On the other, must one be so nasty about it? C.W. Stegall
11/20/2006

"Thanksgiving? No Thanks!"
A resounding AMEN, Dan. There are far too many churches who take their organists and music programs for granted. They forget that their organist is probably giving up their holiday with family to stay and play. Asking their organist to play an electronic appliance only adds insult to injury. Craig Wagstrom
craigwagstrom@yahoo.com
Moorhead, MN
11/19/2006

"The Monster Still Lives!"
The "monster still lives" because the monster lives in us or at least in our culture of drunken excess and instant gratification. These digital appliances play to the musical "candy store" crowd, Virgil Fox want-to-be prima dona pseudo musicians who have been beguiled by the possibilty of "having it all". Technology has made it possible to literally have it all even if what we have is virtual rather than real. Why not just digitally sample every stop of every notable builder and offer it playable at every pitch? Not really a difficult task with modern technology. Then the prima dona organist can say "I'm feeling kind of Skinner this week and maybe next week I'll be in a more Flentrop mood".

As for the church leaders who approve and finance this circuit board, speaker cabinet junk, they actually believe in good faith that they are forward-thinking, progressive leaders who are not only "getting a deal" but are also make a statement of being "up-to-date" and "modern". They usually say: "Do people really make pipe organs anymore?? I thought that they were thing of the past".

This is the price we have paid and will continue to pay as a society who has for the most part abandoned a solid humanities education. In what other culture would we passively accept an imitation version of true artistic musical craftmanship? Joseph Rulli
jrulli@jrorganbuilding.com
Organ Builder
Joseph Rulli Pipe Organ Building
Summerhill, PA
www.jrorganbuilding.com
11/19/2006

"The Monster Still Lives!"
Yes, yet another instance of "doppelganger" organs. How is it that people cannot understand that no matter how expensive or "advanced" a digital organ is, it remains still an appliance.

Evertime I get on eBay, I check the organs category just out of curiosity. I see, all too frequently, auctions for full scale organs, disassembled and lifeless. The organs are oft times sold to be "replaced" by up and coming high-tech digitals.

My school just recently sold at auction an old beast of an organ. It was a small instrument -- about the size of a large armoire, having only 3 stops for each manual and one for the pedals. But it had such originality and uniqueness, and it truly was a pleasure to play it. I showed up to the recital hall one day to practice and found that it had vanished. Upon some inquiries, I found that it was awaiting auction at the local property storage building. Though I signed up for the auction, I couldn't make it for one reason or another. Sadly though, I heard the old beater went for about 500 bucks - a modest price that a destitute college student like myself could afford. Most of the organs that sell these days go for next to nothing, which is disheartening considering their true magnificence.

I do have the great fortune of playing on three real organs this spring. We have an old Mohler at the school and a local church has offered to allow any organ students opportunity to practice on their grand instrument. I was also invited to play on the Noack Organ at Christ The King Lutheran Church in Houston. As of right now, my playing is by far not worthy of such a beautiful instrument. Perhaps in a year or two. For those of you not familiar with it, here's the link: http://www.bachsocietyhouston.org/organ.htm


I think I've rambled on quite enough.
Ryan Bradfield
die_schwarzes_herz@yahoo.com
Organ/Harpsichord Student
Sam Houston State University
Huntsville, TX
11/17/2006

"What's a Poor Organist to Do?"
Yes, it truly is a shame to see how little organists get paid for how demanding a church and it's congregation can be. Most of the organists I know are of "volunteer" status, devoid of any regular pay. But are not all artists doomed to be poor? It's the love for the music that keeps us going, not the pay. If I were in college to get money, I'd train to be a lawyer or a doctor, but that I am not. So I continue my education in music because that is where my heart lies, even though there is at hand the constant nag of utility, practicality, and most indefinitely the lack of potential income. Ryan Bradfield
die_schwarzes_herz@yahoo.com
Organ/Harpsichord Student
Sam Houston State University
Hunstville, TX
10/20/2006

"What's a Poor Organist to Do?"
Hey, Dan. Nice rampage. Maybe if every church hired a phantom organist as the full time organist, they could actually bring in
subs EVERY week and then those organists could all be self-employed as far as the IRS is concerned.

Also, you could then perhaps maintain a pool of organists moving around to different churches week by week or month by month. This might be unsettling on the one hand, but on the other it could be refreshing to change the scenery regularly. Maybe this fresh transfusion of new blood every so often would be healthy for both the organist and the congregation. Greg Miller
www.gregorymillerandcompany.com
10/19/2006

"What's a Poor Organist to Do?"
Great rampage. The up side to this is - at least people now realise that organists need preparation time. Organist/choir leader positions are advertised in our newspaper as 12-16 hour positions.
Twenty years ago when I had my first permanent organist/choir leader position it was considered a two hour job. One hour for choir practice and one for the service. I actually heard someone say once " She doesn't even play for the whole hour on Sunday." Anne Smith
ksmith13@cogeco.ca
10/19/2006

"It's Been a While"
Welcome back! It's good to hear from you..as always. Be good to your self.. many of us have been there and did that. Life goes on ward.

All the best. Tom La Fontaine
tomlafontaine@yahoo.com
10/13/2006

"It's Been a While"
Dan, welcome back! We've missed you. In fact, a few days ago, I thought to inquire as to your health - and then my own took a turn for the worse - head/chest cold, uncomfortable but not altogether debilitating. To top that off, a dear friend's father died, was laid to rest today.

My "organizing" has been interesting, of late. The transition from low to high mass has been frought with pitfalls, and there has been doubt as to my fitness for the position. Like you, I've had conflicts with my day job, trying and failing to be transferred to a less stressful position. I'm searching for a new day job, trying to perform at the old one, while still trying to adjust to the new requirements at church.

Isn't life grand?
Bill Smith
mailhtims@charter.net
Organist/Choir Director
Church of the Redeemer, Episcopal
Woodfin, NC
http://church-of-the-redeemer-episcopal.org
10/13/2006

"It's Been a While"
Hi Dan!

It's nice reading you again! I was wondering what happened to you and the Website. Many happy returns. Frank Mento
frank.mento@neuf.fr
Titular Organist
Saint-Jean de Montmartre Church
Paris, France
10/13/2006

"MAILING ADDRESS"
I enjoy your stuff - thanks.

DO YOU HAVE A SNAIL MAIL ADDRESS?
IF SO, PLEASE MAIL TO
Jungbach@sbcglobal.net

Thanks, Marje Fiene
10/13/2006

"It's Been a While"
Welcome back Dan. I've been busy too, but that's mainly because I have been working on politics trying to help the Democrats win Congress in November. I am getting a little antsy to get back to music though. I look forward to more posts about music.

BTW, did you know the Pope has authorized holding the mass in Latin again. That might be an interesting topic. Rebecca Williams
fasalon@hotmail.com
System Analyst
Fairfax, VA
http://www.dfa-farifax.com
10/13/2006

"It's Been a While"
I too am happy to see your back. I've been somewhat in the same position. My work responsibilities have increased, but I refuse to give up my church position. Plus, my home computer died over a month ago, so my net access is limited to what I can sneak in at work. Plus I miss the Finale part too. The good news is that I'm in the process of buying a Roland electronic piano and a MIDI interface. I was never successful in connecting my Yamaha keyboard to the computer, and my Knabe acoustic piano is in need of major action work after years of banging. When I finally get my computer back, I hope to marry the Roland with the Dell and get back to some creative work. Bill Kistler
wakistler01@yahoo.com
Asst. Organist
First Pres. of Metuchen
NY
10/13/2006

"It's Been a While"
Good to hear back from you, Dan. I was worried for a brief time that BachOrgan.com had come to a halt, but I had a feeling it would soon revive. I look forward to the next Rampage!
Ryan Bradfield
die_schwarzes_herz@yahoo.com
Organ/Harpischord Student
Sam Houston State University
Huntsville, TX
10/13/2006

"Looking for funny after dinner speaker"
The Queens (NY) Chapter of the AGO will be celebrating its 50th anniversary during the 2006/2007 Guild year. We are looking for someone associated with church music (organist, choir director, clergy, organ teacher, organ builder, anthem composer) who can be our after dinner speaker at our February 2007 dinner. In addition to being associated with church music the person must be funny. Please send your thoughts to Vincent Alukonis at brokenank@aol.com. Vincent G. Alukonis
brokenank@aol.com
Dean
Queens Chapter AGO
Queens/NY
www.agohq.org/chapters/queens
5/12/2006

"Queens Chapter Awards Program"
The Queens (NY) Chapter of the AGO is offering a $1,000 grant to organ students at the beginning of their studies. Their is no age limitation. Applicants must live, study, and/or work in New York or New Jersey. For further information contact Vincent G. Alukonis, chapter Dean, at brokenank@aol.com. Vincent G. Alukonis
brokenank@aol.com
Dean
Queens Chapter AGO
Queens/NY
www.agohq.org/chapters/queens
5/12/2006

"St. Matthew's Passion Follow-up. "
I apologize for not posting sooner, but I was away on holiday and hadn't a computer to do so. I really do not want to clutter this with too many words, so I'll keep it brief. The Houston Bach Society's performance of St. Matthew's Passion was nothing short of infinite perfection. From the opening Chorus all the way through my favorite aria "Ich will bei meinem Jesu wachen," I was utterly awestruck with both overwhelming sadness and utmost admiration. Bach shows his boundless musical genius by taking the most significant of all Biblical texts and commuting it into absolute fleeting beauty. I have several recordings of St. Matthew's Passion, but having limited German lingual abilities I never understood how the text is arranged within the music. Interestingly, as with all of the Society's Choral performances, they provided a program booklet of the entire libretto, in German and in English, so one can follow along with the performance with ease. With an authentic Baroque orchestra, two organs, a boy's choir, and the full adult choir, this was the ecclesiastical concert of a lifetime. For the first time in many years, I cried. And that I will freely admit. Ryan Bradfield
die_schwarzes_herz@yahoo.com
Organ student / Bach enthusiast
St's Peter & Paul Catholic Church
Bellville, TX
4/25/2006

"Drop the Fecade"
Unfortunately I am the organist at a church which has an A***n Digital Quasi-Musical Sound Generating Device. It was purchased when the organist there was a person who absolutly new nothing about organs or music in general, at the time (1990) they played mostly "hokey-folky" music (Deo Gratias, now we sing Bach, Palestina, and Gregorian Chant!). This person just played melody and chords, and was taken in by the fact that the "organ" had on it "bells" (Chimes, Handbells, Celesta, and Chrysoglott, ugh!), and used to play primarilly on those.

I have been asking the Pastor ever since I started playing to get a pipe organ. (Preferably a Fisk.) I find it almost impossible to play correctly, and feels more like playing a midi keyboard than my midi keyboard does. There is no resistance from the keyboard or the pedalboard, I tried to brush some earser bits from the Great one day (during Mass) and played a very loud tone cluster, even though I put no pressure on the keys.

There is no life in the instument; everything is so in tune that it sounds fake. Not to mention that they only sample a few notes for each stop and then digitally transpose them. And there are some stops that are louder or softer than they should be: The 4' Oktav is to over voiced, the Bourdon on the pedal is almost inaudible, the chiff on the Leiblich Gedackt is so loud that it almost soulds like someone hitting the "pipe" with a rubber mallet. In short it is so mediocre that I feel that I should be playing in a skating rink rather than a beautiful gothic church. And as far as Facade pipes are concerned, the facade pipes are REAL pipes from our old Estey Pipe Organ that have had clips solderd on to them and painted gold and arranged to conceal the speakers. And being real pipes they vibrate in sympathy when certain keys are depressed and create the most hedious rattling sound.

I went to Canada this past summer on a Church Pilgrimage, and even in these dinky little churches that will barely seat 70 people (Like the tomb of Blessed Kateri Tekkakwitha) they have 50 stop Cassavants!

I think that part of the problem is that in America (just about the only place that one finds digital "organs" on a regular basis) we are entranced by electronics and technology and must have everything as high-tech as possible that we have no time for anything older than a week ago, so of course we have no use for technology from 1600; Despite the fact that there are organs from 1500 that are still in working condition and our digital organ from 1990 is on its last legs. Henry R. Gaida
Organist/Choir Master
Our Lady of Czestochowa Church
4/24/2006

"St. Matthew's Passion"
To all in the Houston area,

Tomorrow the 14th at 3:00 p.m., the Houston Bach Society is hosting the third and final performance of JS Bach's St. Matthew's Passion. The society's performances are mostly held at Christ The King Lutheran Church on Rice Blvd. Here is the link to the society's site : www.bachsocietyhouston.org

I am driving 2 hours through downtown Houston traffic to see this performance and am ecstatic about it. I have heard this same group perform parts I & II of Bach's Christmas Oratorio and was absolutely awestruck. Anyone in the area should definitely come check it out and support this great organization. Hopefully if time permits, I will post a commentary on Saturday about the performance. Take care. Ryan Bradfield
die_schwarzes_herz@yahoo.com
Organ Student
Sts. Peter & Paul Catholic Church
Bellville, TX
4/13/2006

"Toccata & Fugue in Dminor Fingering Question"
Hi, I am a student who likes to play music by ear and I recently got stumped in the song because the fingering seems to require the organist (i use a keyboard) to have their hand span more than an octave (12 keys). This happens about 240seconds into the song of the version i have. I have really long hands, but this just seems rediculous haha. Is that the intended way to play or does the left hand somehow help out (the right hand has to do that stretching). I cant read sheet music so I am kind of lost. Adam Sinek
sinek_a@yahoo.com
4/11/2006

"Interpretation Debate Heats Up!"
Hey Dan, you funny guy, you! As soon as I saw the date of your Rampage I had a feeling it would be a joke, thanks for some hearty laughs! The musical examples were too much; even one old manuscript, no less!! Also it's nice to have the actual words of "Johnny One Note". I once knew an organist in the Wash., DC area, Johnnye Egnot, who was quite clever and a fine musician, too - her vanity license plate on her car was "1 Note" - get it?! Susan Burkhalter
scastlekep@aol.com
organist
Bethesda, MD
4/5/2006

"Interpretation Debate Heats Up!"
Very funny! That's a good article for April Fool's Day. I e-mailed your Rampage to a colleague, telling him that if he selected the first two links, this would give him two pieces to play on Sunday morning in church. He really got a charge out of your article! Frank Mento
frank.mento@neuf.fr
Titular Organist
Saint-Jean de Montmartre Church
Paris, France
4/3/2006

"Interpretation Debate Heats Up!"
Excellent discussion of this lively topic! I would only suggest that instead of or in addition to printing the words to Johnny One Note, the following link be included:
http://www.BACHorgan.com/SwitchboardPage.html Susan LaGrande
susanel2@hotmail.com
Secretary
Central Hudson Valley Chapter, AGO
Wappingers Falls, NY
http://www.chvago.org
4/1/2006

"Interpretation Debate Heats Up!"
Way tooooo creative! Thanks, Dan, for the en-light-enment!
Loisj Miller
ljmiller@netins.net
Organist
First Christian Church
Ames, IA
4/1/2006

"Bach's Birthday at Oberlin/Michael Barone"
Michael Barone (Pipe Dreams) "On the Road"
March 21, 2006 (Tonight) - Barone hosts a program Tuesday evening with Professors David Boe and James David Christie and their students at Warner Hall (i.e. "Bertha") <http://www.oberlin.edu/con/divinfo/keyboard/organ/warner.html>; of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. The Tuesday, which performance falls on Bach's 321st birthday (an interesting numerological coincidence of 3/21 and '321'), will be broadcast and streamed live on WCLV-104.9FM <www.wclv.com>. Bill Gravesmill
wjgtc@aol.com
Retired
Palm Springs, CA 92264
none
3/21/2006

"Happy Birthday Johann!"
Today, the twenty first of March, three hundred and twenty-one years ago, in Eisenach, Germany, Johann Sebastian Bach was born.

Dank seien zu Gott!

Ryan Bradfield
die_schwarzes_herz@yahoo.com
Organ Student/JS Bach enthusiast
Sts Peter & Paul Catholic / St. John's Lutheren
Bellville, TX
3/21/2006

"Happy Birthday Johann!"
Today, the twenty first of March, three hundred and twenty-one years ago, in Eisenach, Germany, Johann Sebastian Bach was born.

Dank seien zu Gott!

Ryan Bradfield
die_schwarzes_herz@yahoo.com
Organ Student/JS Bach enthusiast
Sts Peter & Paul Catholic / St. John's Lutheren
Bellville, TX
3/21/2006

"Caution: Approach with Reverence"
The B minor Prelude & Fugue is undoubtedly one of my favorites. Particularly in the Fugue, there is a part towards the end that gives me goosebumps every time I hear it. I have an outstanding recording of E. Power Biggs playing this piece, which is also one of the recordings that prompted me to start learning organ in the first place. I would absolutely love to hear live this piece and the Passacaglia -- only then I could die happy.
As far as people negating the works of Bach, I'm astonished. Of any composers I've ever heard, Bach's is by far the most theoretically and musically perfect. Other composers, especially Mozart, I find repetitive and boring, with his overuse of motifs and very little development thereof. I recently talked with an engineering major at the University of Houston, and he inquired of my musical tastes. I told him that I liked Bach and Vivaldi and a few other Baroque composers. He replied by saying "I like Mozart mostly, and Vivaldi too. Did you know that Vivaldi was Mozart's protege?" I looked at him straight in the eyes and told him that Mozart was born 15 years after Vivaldi's death, being logically impossible for one to be the protege of the other. Embarassed and flustered, he walked away not speaking to me the rest of the night. People misunderstand the Baroque, whether it's the music, art, or literature. It is by far too overshadowed by the Classical & Romantic eras, because of their popularity with the general public. Bach's music is understood by intellectuals, wheras Mozart's music is understood by those who enjoy pretty music. Ryan Bradfield
die_schwarzes_herz@yahoo.com
Organ Student / JS Bach enthusiast
Bellville, TX
3/20/2006

"Caution: Approach with Reverence"
I agree totally. The B minor (the master's favorite key, we are told; perhaps Brad Lehman can help explain how that should be) towers above even his own other masterpieces.

I learned it on the tracker organ at St. Matthew's Lutheran in Hoboken. As a result, I could get up in the middle of the night and play it for you probably sooner than I could tell you my address.

Victor Frost
VFrost@gis.net
3/19/2006

"Easter Services Canceled?!?"
I bet these churches would cancel church services if the superbowl were on Sunday morning. Maybe its time preachers starting preaching on the role of music in church.

The church should be a place where people are uplifted, not a place where you go to sit at the bottom of the barrel of the modern culture.

This also could have something to do with the sad state of education in the country. If most students know more about the Simpsons than the Constitution then what else can you expect other than a Simponian taste in music. Rebecca Williams
fasalon@hotmail.com
Systems Analyst
Northop Grumman
Fairfax, VA
3/15/2006

"Easter Services Canceled?!?"
I don't think I'll ever see an Easter without a church service to play. I did, though, have a pleasant surprise at Christmas last year. Since we had a midnight mass, wherein the mass started Christmas Day off right, the Rector decided that one Christ Mass was sufficient unto the day. That gave me the freedom to visit the church my wife serves as Organist/Choir Director and play Penny-Whistle Descants for the hymns. They loved it.
Bill Smith
mailhtims@charter.net
Organist/Choir Director Pro Tem
Church of the Redeemer, Episcopal, Woodfin, NC
Asheville, NC
http://church-of-the-redeemer-episcopal.org
3/11/2006

"Easter Services Canceled?!?"
As a forty year veteran of music ministry, I am gratified to see the book by Lucarini, and am going today to purchase a copy. My dissertation dealt with this subject in Southern Baptist churches, which have lost their position as leaders among church music education programs, and rightfully so. The absolute mindless drivel that passes for worship music in most of the SBC is an insult to intelligence. Unfortunatley, the demand for a quick and easy fix (experience) in worship, and the desire to "be all things to all people" has left a once great church music program in shambles at the very least. This is not to say that all SBC churches have capitulated to the popular. There are many who still maintain standards of musical excellence. However, it is no longer necessary to have a master's degree to lead praise choruses, or a praise band.

It is good to find other souls who still demand excellence in worship, while still reaching out to the unchurched to make their experience real and vital. Thanks for the article and the insight. Joe W. Preston, Ph.D.
jwp912@bellsouth.net
Minister of Music
Fifth Avenue Baptist Church
Rome, GA
3/11/2006

"Easter Services Canceled?!?"
Dan-I first heard you play last Easter in NYC's Christian Science Church on Park Ave and 60th. I was on my way to Russia that very day...that service and your music (the postlude, especially, and the solo!) stayed with me long afterward. It was one of the more inspiring services I've attended in my 55 years as a Christian Scientist....there may not be crosses and artifacts in CS churches (though the cross and crown are the insignia for the cover of Mrs. Eddy's "Science and Health", which is read from each Sunday, along with correlative verses from the Bible) and the no, the Easter message does not dwell on sin because it's Truth that frees mankind from sin. Certainly the organ, the most divine instrument expresses the epitome of the meaning of Easter-glory, triumph above all... resurrection and ascension overcoming sin and death-in word and music, that Easter message was so divine. Betsie Andrews
eba@artistree.org
Artistic Director
ArtisTree
Hutchinson, KS
www.artistree.org
3/11/2006

"Gibson Guitars"
Having played guitar for some years before coming to my senses and putting my time and energy into organ playing, I have some opinions about the Gibson matter.

I think it bears pointing out that guitars are not enduring muscial instruments. They depreciate, frequently deteriorating to the point where restoration would not be an economically sound decision; those "vintage" guitars that are restored do not necessarily return to their original glory (though this depends on the luthier).

Unlike pipe organs, they do not last forever with proper maintenance.

Unlike violins, they do not "open up" and improve with playing and with the passage of years.

Most serious guitar players don't try to get more than ten years out of a guitar.

One of the frustrations inherent in buying guitars is that there is so much variation between instruments of the same make and model. You would be crazy to buy a guitar over the internet, for example, because you might end up with one that sounds awful.

This has changed somewhat in recent years. The price of a reasonably playable acoustic guitar has plummeted. I remember paying around $500 for a decent guitar in the early 1980s, and I got one last year to play for my kids around the campfire (an occasion for which neither organ nor piano is ideally suited) for a couple hundred bucks that is in every way the peer of my old one. This is because there are some companies in Japan who have figured out how to mass-produce guitars and get them all to sound more or less the same.

In the bad old days what would happen is that the tone would be either weak, or uneven, with resonant notes in awkward places that were too loud or that buzzed. This was because the ribs didn't fit exactly right or the soundboard thickness wasn't exactly the same as the more playable instrument that came off the same assembly line.

That Gibson is doing the same thing with higher buck instruments isn't neccesarily bad. Any instrument maker strives for quality and consistency, and unlike an organ where a responsible builder will design and voice the instrument with the acoustics of the space where it will be installed in mind, there's nothing wrong with guitars that all sound the same.

Steve Dunlop
steveweb414@nerstrand.net
organist
First UCC (Congregational)
Faribault, MN
3/6/2006

"Let's Get Ready to Rampaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaage!"
No, Bach would certainly not have liked digital organs. He was a very demanding musician and teacher. Frank Mento
frank.mento@neuf.fr
Titular Organist
Saint-Jean de Montmartre Church
Paris, France
3/5/2006

"Let's Get Ready to Rampaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaage!"
Keep up your righteous anger against churches buying digital organs! We have to support the use of real pipe organs as much as we can. J.S. Bach would NOT have approved of digital organs. He would have said, "ich fuhle mich sehr böse darüber! Ich spiele gerne nur die echt Orgeln!!" & he would have stalked out, stomping and hollering! (in case you don't speak German, he said "I'm angry about that! I want to play only real organs!") Susan Burkhalter
scastlekep@aol.com
organist
Methodist church, N. Virginia
Bethesda, MD
3/3/2006

"Let's Get Ready to Rampaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaage!"
I have heard about this, this so called re-birth of the Gibson. I think that for any other commercialized product, such as computers or cars, precision and product consistency are a must. But with musical instruments, however, uniqueness is what one looks for when purchasing. In addition to keyboard studies, I also play a little classical guitar, and know from guitar "jive" and experience, that older Gibsons are more valuable and sought after. My father owns a '78 Gibson, and despite it's insane weight, it sounds really good on the old Fender tube amp. A friend of mine, and locally reknowned music prodigy, recently had built a four thousand dollar Gibson Les Paul custom. Now supposedly, this guitar is the rock & roll equivalent of a Bosendorffer piano. In actuality, my father's 800 dollar weekend special sounds better than this new Gibson does, but I suppose beauty can come with age. This applies to all musical instruments. I definitely think that just because a company can spit out 50,000 laser honed duplicates, doesn't make them superior to older handcrafted ones. Once again, our technology seems to be getting the better of us, but why nobody can see it I don't know. I agree Dan, I agree. Ryan Bradfield
die_schwarzes_herz@yahoo.com
Aspiring Organist/Harpsichordist
Catholic
Bellville, TX
3/3/2006

"Let's Get Ready to Rampaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaage!"
I read your rampage and the linked article with interest.

Old Henry was having the old Public Relations presented as a News story, an infomercial in print.

Maybe the commercial is on late at night because he is losing sleep.

Why? Well Gibson is losing dealers faster than you can say Digital Guitar.

Under his leadership his leadership he has made unreasonable demands of his authorized dealers (about showing a guitar on a website for example), the prices for Gibson Guitars have skyrocketed and the quality has gone down along with the profit margin.

Henry is generally described as "greedy." He is also a philanthropist with Gibson Foundation.

Many Younger Musicians are buying Korean made Epiphones (Epi as label is owned by Gibson that makes guitars offshore) and replacing the wiring, pots and pickups with American made electronics and aftermarket pickups, and putting the difference ($1000 or more) in the Bank.

Go to Harmony-Central.com and read some of the comments, in Gibson, Epiphone, and in the Pickup Companies such as WCR. One was from a purchaser of one his $10,000 (and I thought digital organs were pricey) custom made 1959 Heritage Reissue, a Gibson Les Paul, which the buyer had to replace the pickups with handmade pickups to get the correct sound. The pickups as originally equipped are machine wound and no different than there standard issue guitar. Gibson did not want to put out 300
bucks to get a better sound (must cut into the profit margin?) and the pick up is the business end on an electric guitar.

The Gibsons Guitar component parts are cut by computer (CNC) and made as previously (handcarved neck,etc), unless you want to ante up for a custom shop model.

The finishes have "issues," (imperfections, fish eyes,etc)and are less than perfect, bowed necks, not what you would expect for Guitars ranging in between 2,000 and 3,000 dollars. But the wood is pretty if not always toneful.

I don't know of the 1959 Les Pauls Henry's seen to say they wouldn't meet his current quality control, which are significantly lower than 1959. (I am still laughin over that one)

No professional guitarist or collector today that has played one of these gems (or shelled out $100,000+ for an original) would agree with him, or keep from laughing over that faux pax.

Henry is going to get alot of flack on that quote. I will make sure to post in the forums.

Likewise, no one is lining up to purchase his digital guitar which has been around for more than a year. I suspect it will be as popular as the electric organ built into a guitar that Vox made in the mid 1960s, a real turkey.

The current vogue in E Guitars is the rejection of digital effects, rack systems, and getting back to basics. A guitar plugged into a Tube (thats right not solid state) Amp from the 1950's or 1960s if you can find one or at least models based on the tube amps of Fender or Marshall (which was based on Fender's 1959 Bassman circut). Boutique Amp makers make them like they use too, but not the famous names like Gibson or Fender.

Gibson (and Fender, too) has been resting on its laurels and selling guitars by advertising their connection to Rock Stars, or their connection to old guitars (like the 1959 LP). Also when a newcomer makes something better and similar looking, Gibson files a lawsuit, claiming copyright/trademark infringement (the LP first appeared in 1952 and was discontinued in the 1963 when low and behold Rock Players playing 1959 LPs created a demand for the guitar again.

Just be thankful that the Digital Les Paul or an Original isn't being used in a "Praise Service." It could drown out your Pipe Organ.

The guitar is the only instrument with which you can be truly obscene (as in blasphemy). Frank Zappa from an Interview for a Guitar magazine.

In closing digital will be with us only as long as people are gullible enough to belief marketing hype.

One can hope the same is true of other digital instruments. G Steven Foss
foss_steven@yahoo.com
LA California
3/2/2006

"Let's Get Ready to Rampaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaage!"
Mike "Meathead" Stivic said it best in an early episode of "All in the Family"..... He said, "New and Improved.... what was the old stuff... Old and Lousy?" That sums up my sentiment on this rampage.... and electronic organs! Bill Fuhrer
wfuhrer@att.net
3/2/2006

"Drop the Façade!"
In my early stages of organ playing, I am in a unique situation. I have access to and practice on two different organs. The organ that I take lessons on is a genuine antique pipe organ. The organ that I practice on is a new Hammond digital. Both have their perks and downfalls, but only having been playing a month or so, I've found that I like playing on the real organ more. The digital organ seems too clear and almost sterile, and some of the sampling has issues with certain combinations of stops. The real organ that I play on is about 60 years old, has chipped keys, loose pedals, and a slight buzz when playing the 16' Principal B-flat. But despite its aesthetic problems, this organ has soul, and one can almost feel the use of the prior organists. Probably my favorite feature of this organ is its wind. When playing on the digital, one cannot hear the sound of the air racing through to the appropriated notes. But on the antique, rather, the flow of wind can be heard disctinctly as a reminder that the organ is quite real.

Why do people become so overzealous with the purchase of a new digital, when it will never come close to the feel of the real thing? Even if it would actually cost an immense amount of money as in the subject article? Some people use their lack of financing as an excuse for a digital organ, which is understandable in smaller perishes. But if a working pipe organ is already present, why tear the poor thing down and go digital? As previously said, real musicians play on real instruments, so why settle for something completely fake? The future brings dark tidings, especially for the music world. Ryan Bradfield
die_schwarzes_herz@yahoo.com
Aspiring Organist/Harpsichordist
Bellville, TX
2/21/2006

"Drop the Façade!"
I believe that Americans which purchase electronic toasters do not have a deep love or appreciation for true music. They quite frequently complain about the cost of a real pipe organ which glorifies God Almighty but they have no problem with spending billions of dollars on a football stadium with beer commercials for advertisements. Although I think an electronic toaster may be good to have at home to practice on, it has no place in any church or cathedral. On my trip to Europe, I never seen a single electronic toaster in any of their churches or cathedrals. Mainly they were all tracker pipe organs. I recently heard one lady who was all excited at a local church in hopes of obtaining one of these toasters because the noise goes through the pipe! She had definetely been bamboozled and lied to by a snake-charmer electronic toaster salesman. If offering true worship to the Lord is not of a sacrificial intent, it is not worship at all in the true sense of the word. Music and worship go hand in hand, it is simply about priorities. A pipe organ is an investment and the very voice of God. An electronic toaster is a counterfeit and the very voice of willfully ignorant and shallow people. It is my opinion that true Christians should view a pipe organ as an investment, not a burden. Gregg Kortesma
kortesma@sbcglobal.net
Organ Student
Lutheran
Atwater, California
None
2/19/2006

"Drop the Façade!"
I think you lean toward one quite important practical point that I'd like to take a bit further. I have never spent $100,000 on a keyboard, but I have a number of $2000 - 4,000 keyboards sitting around my studio that I've purchased over the past 20 years. Each of them is probably worth a hundred dollars or so at this point. All digital equipment becomes obsolete almost immediately.

And woe to the unfortunate owner who needs to replace parts or get service five or ten years later. The technology changes and the parts (as well as the knowledge and even the will) necessary to fix your digital keyboard, phone, palm pilot, etc. are gone as the newest toy with smaller chips and more memory trumps your quaint piece of equipment. So their repair becoms either impossible or too prohibitively expensive to be worth it. Greg Miller
gmiller@gregorymillerandcompany.com
Owner
New York, NY
http://www.portraitsmusic.com
2/18/2006

"Drop the Façade!"
I scanned the article and what piqued my interest is that featured an advertisement for bathroom and kitchen fixtures. It seems appropriate, somehow. Having been a toaster-operator for the past four years, I rejoice in the fact that I am now at the helm of a small pipe organ. Do I miss the versatility of the three-manual digital thingie? Yes. Do I miss the volume cutting in half during the hymns, the roar of the speakers when they've had enough of making noise? You bet! There were times when I had to severely limit the stops I used to just flutes so as not to have the speakers protest.

Now, if there's noise from the organ, it's only my wayward feet! Bill Smith
mailhtims@charter.net
Organist/Choir Director ProTem
Church of the Redeemer, Episcopal
Woodfin, NC
http://church-of-the-redeemer-episcopal.org
2/18/2006

"Drop the Façade!"
"Nothing accounts for taste", said the lady as see kissed the cow! Electronic (organs) appliances or organ type instruments are here for the duration, I believe. One only can obsereve what others musicians play and draw a conclusion. Do the members of the New York Philharmonic or the famed Philadelphia Orchestra play on electric instrument copies? Some orchestras even have foundation grants to provide their musicians with better instruments. When I was a young fellow, I was in the process of application for graduate study, and being interviewed by the Dean of the School, who shall go nameless because his name would be known to most musicians. He may have been just trying to see what I would say, but his question to me was "What is your instrument?" I proudly replyed, I am an organist. He then said, Organists are rather poorly informed musicians! I was quite taken back, having trained by some of the finest. I was rather dumbfounded, and did not know what to say, except that I guess that was true in many cases. I thought about that over the years, and had to agree with my "off the cuff" answer. In the case of many who play on electronics; the trained musician often supplies in his head what might be lacking in reality. Then as well because of economic necessity must play on the blasted beast for income to support himself/herself. I have personal friends who do this, and I myself have done it as well. I even had a friend say to me that the such and such electronic sounded exactly like an Aeolian -Skinner. As yet I have neverplayed or heard an electronic instrument that sounded like a pipe organ. There are certain individual sounds (flute, string celeste, oboe or clarinet maybe)but the big failure is in the plenum or Diapason chorus which fills a room with its splendor. That's my idea, for what it is worth. Robert C. Shone, Palm Harbor, Florida Robert C. Shone
Rcshone
Organist and Choirmaster
St. Matthews Episcopal Church
St. Petersburg, Florida
2/18/2006

"Drop the Façade!"
There is no such thing as a "bad" organ, but there are plenty of bad players. A finely tuned and voiced pipe organ is a joy to play and to hear. But let's face it folks, it does require significant funding to maintain such an instrument. The art of electronic organ building has progressed to a degree that could not have been imagined 40 years ago. In the early 1940's a group of sophisicated organists could often not diffrentiate between a Hammond organ and the pipe organ installed in Rockefeller chapel at the University of Chicago, in a test performed for the FTC. The digital organ of today has progressed to the point where should such a test be done, it would require a trained ear indeed, to tell which was which.
A $100,000 digital organ will have more varied sound, require much less space, and be far easier to install and less expensive to maintain than an equivalent pipe organ, which would require a inital outlay of five times the cash.
I believe that where the expense of a pipe organ can be justified, fine! But let us not sell the capabilities of today's digital organ short. In the hands of a good player, it will be a pleasure to hear. Norman H. Buettner
buettner@FVI.net
Sr. Electrical Engineer
Motorola
Elgin IL
2/18/2006

"Drop the Façade!"
It is amazing how many "tin ears" are out there.

Most people of the street can tell the difference between a pipe organ and the best digital if you ask them to listen. (Of course if you want to believe something strong enough.....)

Pipe Organs put out directionally detected high frequencies (and also ultra and sub sonic frequencies too) that are filtered out by electronics (to prevent oscillation of the amplifiers and to prevent speaker damage). The brain can distinguish these directions clues (stereo between the 2 ears) in a faction of a Nano Second.

I think to many Ministers and Priests just want a quick fix that's not demanding on their short time. So they or a delegate fall for the fast shuffle.

There's a sucker born every minute.

Captain Alexander Williams, a New York City police inspector
at the time (19th century), attributed "There's a sucker born every minute, but none of them ever die" to Joseph Bessimer, a notorious confidence trickster of the early 1880s known to the police as "Paper Collar Joe," and not P T Barnum.

I don't know if the Digital sales people believe what they say about Organs, no doubt after "slowing down" the customer(used car salesman term), the usual Banana Oil is dispensed, a bill of goods sold, a commission made.

I believe the numbers given for a rebuild or new instrument were supplied by "Saleman" or "Customer Representative," likewise the assessment of the sound of a finished rebuild to make the sale, rather, than a estimate/quote from a Pipe Organ company, if anyone had bothered to phone one to have an estimate given.


I have not known of a Pipe Organ sound generating mechanism ever to be permanently, irreparably damaged by a power surge (digital organs can get fried) or a brown out. I did not say it is impossible, but it isn't a common occurrence. And electronic parts can suddenly evaporate to make the critical repair if the circut board has been burnt to a crisp. Ten years of heavy use is going to be a generous life expectancy.

Digitally modelling instruments such as Line 6 guitars and modelling amps have not won the allegiance of mainstream professional guitarist as the sound quality and performance "dynamics" aren't there. Even solid state amps are not preferred (exceptions noted to get a terribly distorted odd order harmonics for Punk) except when one gets older and the back can't carry a 75 pounds Tube Combo amp.

I have played the best digital pianos, and as pretty as they sound, these lack the presence and case/string harmonics of an actual instrument or the level of tonal control I can get from the real thing. The same is true for the best digitally sampled harpsichords (even on the best 2 manual antiques from France such as the work of Pascal Taskin or Henri Hemsch), close but no cigar.

The Facade shows that a "pretty" face is more important to the Pastor than a solid instrument. I will gamble that it will outlast this instrument and subsequent ones. (Any one for a sucker bet?)

Was this was a simple solution of a "cheap" replacement, rather than a permanent solution to his problem?

I have played on organs that are older than I am (almost 50) that have many times outlived their electronic contemporaries and with care will outlast me and the digital salesmen.

I hope the Pastor treats the Parish Cars better than the previous Organ mantainence wise(analogy: never changes the oil or transmission fluid, or checks the coolant; in essence only puts gas in the tank and turns the key on, and purchase a new digital car when the old one has broken down) I sure would not want to be driven in one if that wasn't the case.

Why so much for a digital Organ? $100,000?

I have worked with computers, analog and digital circuts, and the price of the ic chips, Ram memory, CPU, and other electronic components have been going down (not up) over the years and are cheap compared to 10 years ago. NE 5532 op amps (the among most commonly used low noise dual amps) can be purchased for under a $1.00 retail. Metal Film resistors (and the manufactures may be using cheaper carbon film which can be had for pennies)don't cost an arm or a leg either when purchased wholesale in quantity.

As I see it, Take a $2,000 computer and electronics, put it into about 3,000 of midi keyboards, pedal boards, pecan wood cabinet (including labor) add $1,000 dollars worth of Speakers, $500.00 for the software, $1,000 per instrument advertising, $500.00 for shipping and packing/crating, $2,000 for installation, set up, plus a $10,0000 commission for the salesman, and another $3,000 for misc. comes to about $20,000.

The other $80,000 is pure profit. (And I believe I erred toward the high side on the wholecost figures for the Computer keyboard and cabinent making).

Sell over 13 organs a year and you have over a Million a year in Net Profit before taxes. Higher a good corporate tax accountant.


Steve Foss


PS You can purchase a midi file virtual organ software modelled on Historic Pipe Organs that work on any home computer.

Hauptwerk is a computer program that takes full advantage of the enormous processing power of the latest home computers to provide very complex pipe organ modelling and per-pipe sound shaping, whilst maintaining the enormous polyphony necessary to model a pipe organ successfully. This is a product of Crumhorn Labs.

The system is built around the philosophy of using at least one large sample per pipe (typically 3-10 seconds), all including release samples to record the decay of each pipe accurately, and recorded in CD quality or better. All samples are held in memory to achieve a much higher polyphony for a given hardware cost than is possible with disk-streaming, commonly used in samplers. Unlike generic software or hardware samplers, Hauptwerk has complex physical and acoustic models specifically designed to reproduce the features and sound of a pipe organ, and is thus able to achieve much more realistic results. It is also designed for a much higher polyphony than generic samplers.

But Hauptwerk is much more than a sampler. It also models all of the physical controls and functional details of a pipe organ. The main console screen shows you a photo-realistic representation of the console, and allows you full control over the virtual organ in the same way that you would control the original instrument. Everything behaves as you would expect; stops, couplers, the programmable combination system, swell pedals, crescendo pedals, ventils, second touch, bass and melody couplers, and so on.

What's more, in Hauptwerk every control and function can be fully controlled by MIDI, and Hauptwerk can send MIDI output to control moving/illuminated draw-knobs/tabs, control real external ranks of pipes or hardware expanders, and even control LCD panels to show labels for each draw-knob and piston. If you wish, Hauptwerk can be fully integrated into a MIDI organ console and operate as its 'engine'. http://www.crumhorn-labs.com This software is $295 GBD or $514.00 USD and it is upgradable.

So Connect your laptop to 3 midi keyboars and a pedal board and you can have your own Digital Organ.

And think of the money you will save. With $98,000 dollars left over I guess you could afford to build your own facade!

Steven Foss
foss_steven@yahoo.com
San Gabriel, CA 91776
2/18/2006

"Drop the Façade!"
The shame of it all.

Yes, I (mea culpa) have a digital organ. I cannot afford the real thing. I have a speaker top, which, Praise the Lord, does NOT have a pipe facade. It is quite attractive, but has several wooden slats instead of pipes.

It is a sort of imitation of a pipe rack, and advertises itself quite honestly as a fake. The sound is tolerable, particularly since I have nothing within a hundred miles to compare it to.

But, in NO way, is it pipes. I dream and drool over pipes, but they are not in my future.

To sum up, I also find the pipe facade on a set of speakers to be misleading. Albert Berry
alb969@telus.net
Complete and Utter Amateur
Has a Rodgers imitation piano. I don't play there.
Sparwood, BC
http://www.albertberry.com
2/17/2006

"Drop the Façade!"
Once again, America, heads up! what we have here is a deeply entrenched VALUES CRISIS that has infected everyone from the ill-informed church personel all the way to the AGO. As disgusting as the NY Times article is, what it presents is the typical litany of reasons (lame as they may be)for why digital organs are such an easy sell.

Until we as a culture value the real over the imitation this sad story will be repeated. Just a rhetorical question: what group of musicians other than "organists" would accept an imitation over the real thing? A concert violinist, pianist, can we think of one??? Joseph Rulli
jrulli@jrorganbuilding.com
Pipe Organ Builder
Joseph Rulli Organ Building
PA
www.jrorganbuilding.com
2/17/2006

"It's About Time"
Hi Dan,
I'm glad your back. I understand very well your thoughts and feeling regarding time committments.

Keep up the excellent work.
Tom La Fontaine Tom La Fontaine
tomlafontaine@yahoo.com
2/10/2006

"The Demise of the Digital Organ"
My self and a friend of mine, we are both organists, have often lamented on the fact that we are not the age we are now 18 and 22 (?), when the Estey Pipe Organ, 1930, two manual and 32 not pedal-board, ca. 25 stops (from what I can gather from old photos), died in 1989.
This old instrument used both for Mass and Concerts, the first organist of the parish had also played at Notre Dame de Paris, and even recorded on Phonograph record (I have not found a copy of this recording), was replaced in 1990 by a deplorable 43 stop, 2 manual & Pedal Allen MDS 45.
Part of the reason that we have this monstrosity is on account of the principal organist at the time: a woman with less talent on the organ than Keanu Reeves has on the stage. She plays the melody - in the wrong metre - or sometimes in changing metres: imagine "Christ Lag in Todesbanden", Bach's harmoization (Kinda) played in alternating bars of 3/4, 5/4, 7/4, and 3/8! with simple block or arpegiated chords in the Left Hand, and the root of the chord in the pedal, who given half a chance would have rather had the church install the "Techniques" electric organ at she has at her house.
My friend and I are both Organ Majors (or going to be, at present I am a Music Major at the local community college to save money, but will become an organ major when I change to a 4 year school) and have a hard time practicing on this organ. The bloody thing sounds too German when playing English music, too English when playing French music and too French when playing German music; the only thing that sounds decent on it is "Faith of our Fathers".
Part of the problem is this:
When that other "organist" was hired the Pastor liked the "hokey-folky" hymns popular in the 70's, and that is the music that she plays, much to the chagrin of the present Pastor who would much rather the choirs sing Palestrina and Bach. Fortunately we have two choirs an a capella one that sings chant and so on, and the accompanied one. Also, fortunately, he for bad this organist from using those stupid "hymns" calling them "Cowboy music".
I and my friend play all of the old German, French and English hymns, the great ones by Bach, Lambillotte, and Voughan Williams. But also improvise our post communions as opposed to a sloppy off the cuff medly of bad church music played on a disgusting Flute Celeste II 8', her favorite stop with a roaring Leiblich Gedackt 16' in the pedal, she only plays the bottom 12 chromatic notes on the pedal board.
W have tried to convince the new pastor to get a pipe organ, (A recently closed church in the area has a Casavant for sale!), but he is convinced, because of the snake-oil, er, the Allen Digital Computer Organ Sales Representative, that this digital organ, which, Thank the Lord, my friend and I to be literrally almost worthless, it was purchased new for $50,000 in 1990, and on its last digital legs, will out last even the best pipe organ. (I wonder if any one has told that to the organists wo play these 300 year old organs in Northern Europe?)
I wish that more people were informed about the Truth that a good digital organ sometimes costs less but will become worthless, and that a quality pipe organ can be expensive, but if well maintained can become, over time, worth much more than the initial purchase price.
Let us all hope and pray that good hymns, good organists, and good pipe-organs will once again be a staple of churches in the world. St. Cecilia, help us! Henry R. Gaida
gaidahenry@msn.com
Organist, Choir-Master
Our Lady of Czestochowa Roman Catholic Church
Turners Falls, MA
1/21/2006

"The Demise of the Digital Organ"
1.Trained Organists decrease in number and have steadily found fewer church jobs. From the 1950's their ranks are down considerably and why?
[A] Churches are not willing to pay a commensurate wage
[B] Music schools and conservatories yearly produce fewer organ majors who graduate.

Cost of a pipe organ compared to a Rodgers of equal stops is most often prohibitive for mid-size and certainly small congregations.

The person who knows where this is going should admit that investment and maintenance of pipe organs is high. Further, the story that rebuilding is always a better option than purchasing a good digital needs to explain why pipe organs -less than 20 years are being junked or rebuilt.

Granted, there is no replacing the natural sound of winmdblown pipes from a fine pipe organ. So if cost, lack of organists and a push for music which in not written to be played on the organ is a fact, the best idea it seems is to let those churches whoi mcan afford the price of a fine adequate organ and pay for a competent organist should go that route. For all others, the very best digital organ is a clear option I'd say. Rex King
A2Z4INFO-123@YAHOO.COM
Mgr. music software for MIDI
SoundImageGroup,Inc.
1/16/2006

"The Demise of the Digital Organ"
1.Trained Organists decrease in number and have steadily found fewer church jobs. From the 1950's their ranks are down considerably and why?
[A] Churches are not willing to pay a commensurate wage
[B] Music schools and conservatories yearly produce fewer organ majors who graduate.

Cost of a pipe organ compared to a Rodgers of equal stops is most often prohibitive for mid-size and certainly small congregations.

The person who knows where this is going should admit that investment and maintenance of pipe organs is high. Further, the story that rebuilding is always a better option than purchasing a good digital needs to explain why pipe organs -less than 20 years are being junked or rebuilt.

Granted, there is no replacing the natural sound of winmdblown pipes from a fine pipe organ. So if cost, lack of organists and a push for music which in not written to be played on the organ is a fact, the best idea it seems is to let those churches whoi mcan afford the price of a fine adequate organ and pay for a competent organist should go that route. For all others, the very best digital organ is a clear option I'd say. Rex King
A2Z4INFO-123@YAHOO.COM
Mgr. music software for MIDI
SoundImageGroup,Inc.
1/16/2006

"The Demise of the Digital Organ"
If this were a perfect world, there would be a pipe organ in every church, but then again, your Visa balance would be zero. Churches would be packed to the rafters for every service, and pastors and organists would be the best of friends, golfing every Monday morning. Folks, its time for a reality check, churches, at least many of them have serious declining attendance problems. How many of them will be around in 50 years? Many churches now struggle just pay the pastor and the church expenses. Most churches have volunteer organists, who are happy to just have an organ in the first place. It may be an old Hammond, but it still plays. That is not to say that we shouldnt try to keep the old pipe organs going, to have them serviced and repaired, or when necessary, replace them with quality instruments from qualified builders. Part of the problem is we, the organist and enthusiasts, are not vocal enough when it comes to our beloved instruments. Maybe this is something that the AGO should work on, develop a strategy for organists dealing with this problem. If churches stopped buying Rodgers, Allens and others, these companys would be out of business, but they are not. I dont think they are growing, but they are still selling. Dont attact the companys, they are just filling a void in the market that pipe organs cant (for what ever reason) fill. Bob North, mature organ student
bnorth@intergate.ca
Vancouver, BC Canada
1/1/2006




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