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Thread: registration question from pianist turned organist

  1. #1
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    registration question from pianist turned organist

    Hello All:

    I hope it is OK for me to ask this question. I don't post here often but I suspect this is the best place to ask a question. My main training is as a pianist. I have studied organ but not as in depth as many on this forum. My knowledge of registration is not as solid as I would like it to be. I have recently accepted a position as an organist in a church that has been seeking to fill the position for some time without success. The organ is a 1930 Austin with 3 manuals. I was quite surprised to discover that this instrument has no mixtures or two foot stops. I have never encountered this before. My first concern upon realizing this was how I was going to create registrations of much color and variety. The instrument does have three very prominent reeds which include a trompette, a cornopean and a clarinet. There are also more strings than I recall in other organs I have played as well a more 16 foot stops than I have seen before. I have decided to launch into some serious research into registration which is something I feel I should be better versed in. In the mean time I wonder if someone could tell me if this absence of mixtures and 2 foot stops in perhaps typical of a particular type of instrument or time period. It strikes me as being on the Romantic side in some respects based on my presently limited knowledge. I also wonder if anyone can suggest a good book on the subject of registration. Any advice would be most welcome. I am sorry I am not better versed in this. Thank you so much.

  2. #2
    Vice Admiral Virtuoso wljmrbill's Avatar
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    Interesting.. Personally I would not want to play one if there were no mixtures or 2' stops.. at least an nazard 2 2/3.. with all the strings does sound more romantic,, have to wiki/google it and see what they have to say..for me seems unusual or an uneducaterd organ committee...LOL ( aren't most of them )The reeds too will help to add color but maybe over bearding..not sure what else is there to work with... Good luck and congrates on your new position.
    ....To play only what is written is the domain of science. To realize what is not written is the domain of art."
    - Jean Langlais

    I wish you the Best for each day, now and always.

    Bill

  3. #3
    Lieutenant Commander, Concertmaster FinnViking's Avatar
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    The best means to learn to register colourfully is to use your ears. Books and guides can give some guidelines on the old principles, but they don't work well everywhere. People often tell me after my recitals that they have never heard the organ sound like that, but there is no magic involved - I just choose the registrations that sound best to me! I recommend you do the same. Just take a lot of time to dig into the tonal resources of the organ. Don't waste time worrying about what the organ might lack, but try to find its best sides and the gems in its sound. And remember: perhaps the majority of the congregation never hears any other organs, so they don't know if there is something missing in the organ.

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    Thank you for this reply. I will certainly do my best with it and in the past have been able to use my ear to register but even using my ear to register is difficult in this case because there seems so little to actually experiment with that allows much variety in sound. I was practicing hymns on this instrument and I actually am considering playing the hymns an octave higher than written because of the extreme darkness and heaviness of the instrument with its lack of 2 foot stops and mixture. I have never encountered anything like this before. But it is what it is and, as you suggest, the congregation itself is certainly accustomed to their own instrument. I will give it my best effort. Thanks.

  7. #6
    Lieutenant Commander, Concertmaster FinnViking's Avatar
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    In the Netherlands for example it is usual to play the hymn melody (right hand) in octaves, so that it becomes clearer. In that way you won't lose the sturdy accompaniment which is the case if you play the whole thing an octave higher. Playing only the melody an octave higher would cause it to become thin.

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    Administrator Krummhorn's Avatar
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    You might try using the Super Couplers ... Great to Great 4' for instance - this will double each stop drawn and make them sound an octave higher, adding brilliance to the registration. One can also employ 16' manual stops and then physically play an octave higher.

    Do you have an opus number for this Austin ... perhaps some of us can look it up and find the specs for it and be of further help. Or if you can, include a stop list either in the post or as an attachment.

    The organ I play every week at my church is a Möller II/9 and the only coupler is Sw to Gt 8'. Although I do have 2' stops and a III Mixture, I could use more foundation and solo stops. The organ does well for the building (seats 250 parishioners) even considering its non existent acoustics. I have the same building reverb as one would have in a fully carpet lined (walls, floor, ceiling) closet. The sound stops before I even lift my hands off the keys ... .

    Kh ♫

    Kh ♫

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