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Thread: The Worst Nightmare for the Organist

  1. #1
    Administrator Krummhorn's Avatar
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    The Worst Nightmare for the Organist

    Since we are now so close to the holiday season, and some of us are going to be accompanying choirs possibly doing the Hallelujah Chorus, which for what it's worth wasn't intended by Handel to be sung at Christmas as it's in the Easter section of the Messiah, but lots of people think it belongs better at Christmas for whatever reasons.

    Anyway, the organist in this sound clip made the most unfortunate mistake of hitting a transposer button instead of a general piston for the final 4 chord cadence. Kudos for the choir for staying on pitch ... certainly this was the organists last public appearance for awhile ... listen on:
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    Rear Admiral Appassionata
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    Transposer button? yikes.

    I have perfect pitch, and if the instrument is transposed, I have very great difficulty indeed in playing it because my eyes and ears don't match up...

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    Administrator Krummhorn's Avatar
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    Indeed, NEB ...
    I am also blessed with perfect pitch ... I know which notes my fingers are playing and when the pitch doesn't match, it really throws me off. Fortunately, the organ at church does not have one of those 'contraptions' - I do all the transpositions manually.
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    Rear Admiral Appassionata
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    Yep - so do I - always have...

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    Rear Admiral Appassionata
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    Interesting topic this one tho....

    As a youngster I was in a cathedral choir, and every Christmas one of the carols we sang was Sweelinck's Hodie Hodie, Christus Natus Est, which is unaccompanied satb(d). The curious thing about this piece is that for some reason it always manages to drift a semi-tone northwards. The way it is written (which is glorious I might add) plays tricks on the ear and sense of tonality.

    Even later, doing this with choirs of my own, the same phenomenon has occured. Only seems to be this piece too....

    Remarkable how the senses can be so fooled....

  6. #6
    Admiral Honkenwheezenpooferspieler Corno Dolce's Avatar
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    The organist probably wished they were six feet under after that.
    *If a man wants God to hear his prayer quickly, then before he prays for anything else, even his own soul, when he stands and stretches out his hands towards God, he must pray with all his heart for his enemies. Through this action God will hear everything that he asks* -Abba Zeno-

    *Protagoras: "Truth is subjective. What is true for you, and what is true for me, is true for me. Your opinion is true by virtue of its being your opinion."

    *Socrates: "My opinion is: Truth is absolute, not opinion, and that you are in absolute error. Since this is my opinion, then according to your philosophy you must grant that it is true."

    "Improvisational Art": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qSxVO3EoCRM

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    Administrator Krummhorn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NEB View Post
    . . . Sweelinck's Hodie Hodie, Christus Natus Est, which is unaccompanied satb(d). The curious thing about this piece is that for some reason it always manages to drift a semi-tone northwards. The way it is written (which is glorious I might add) plays tricks on the ear and sense of tonality. Even later, doing this with choirs of my own, the same phenomenon has occurred. Only seems to be this piece too....

    Remarkable how the senses can be so fooled....
    Hi NEB,
    That is really interesting about that choral piece - I'll have to look it up and have a listen. Now if we could only do that with all the choral works. I've noticed that sometimes transposing the unaccompanied piece up a semi-tone sometimes has the same effect - that and having the choir stand slightly on their tippy toes when singing the really high notes .
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    Vice Admiral Virtuoso methodistgirl's Avatar
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    Poor guy! I would be in tears myself if I did that. It's a good thing that
    I don't have the job playing for church yet. I know that I'm not ready
    to be a church organist. I'm not practiced up enough and this is no little
    country church where they will take anything that plays music. This big
    city methodist church is professional. They will turn down an amature
    in a heartbeat. I laugh when a professional makes a mistake.
    judy tooley

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    Tippy toes? hahahahaha - I'll have to try that sometime. Heheheheheheheh!

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    Administrator Krummhorn's Avatar
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    Hi Judy,

    I don't think any of us who chose to be a church organist really prepared ourselves for it. I know I didn't as I was "gently nudged" by my parents when I was but 12 years old. I was in my first year of organ study (after 6 years of private piano lessons) and the pastor's wife became ill and could not play for the upcoming weekend service. I was 'volunteered' as it were, successfully played the service and promptly was accepted as an assistant organist playing every other weekend.

    Ready or not, there I was leading the hymns and liturgies - It just happens and we all have gone through this nerve wracking first time experience.

    As for mistakes, even the best organist is bound to make an obvious error at some time or another. Try as we may, we are still human and not robots. Recordings can be 'doctored' to remove mistakes ... live performances can't. As a professional musician myself, I choose not to laugh when hearing other's mistakes as I know how much effort goes into the preparation and presentation of any piece, be it a fast and furious toccata or a quiet slow meditative one. Sometimes, those slower quiet ones are more prone to errors because any mistake shows up like a sore thumb.

    You might try to get your foot in the door by playing an offertory or prelude piece sometime. One never knows ... it could develop into a rewarding career as a church organist. At some point, one has to just jump feet first into the situation and make the best of a first impression.

    When I moved to Arizona in 1982, I was a complete unknown here ... nobody knew anything about me or my talents as an organist. In a way, I had to "prove myself" all over again, as part of the audition for my present church position was to play for a service with the minister of music present. Same thing happened when I left this church (just for the change) to play for a very large RC church with a 94 rank Allen organ - my audition was to play for the Saturday 5pm Mass. I had never in my life played a Catholic Mass, but I made it through that most nerve wracking experience and became their senior organist.

    Returning to my original parish a few years later (I've now been the organist at the Lutheran church for the past 25 years) I was accepted back without having to interview or audition - my reputation followed me and I have become one of the top church organists in my region.

    So, just put your best foot forward and jump right in if you are ever given the opportunity. You won't regret it.
    Kh ~~.
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    Amateur musicians practice until they get it right ...
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  11. #11
    Admiral of Fugues Contratrombone64's Avatar
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    Krummiest horn ... wonderful story. Can you please record and put some MP3s up here?

  12. #12
    Vice Admiral Virtuoso Mat's Avatar
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    One could said that a perfect pitch is blessing and yet.... I probably wouldn't have found out I have it if I hadn't gone to music school. I play oboe and, even though I want to, I can't imagine myself plaiyng english horn (transposing and pitched in F). It's just too hard. Pity, I would love to play solo from the second mvmt of Dvorak 9th Symphony...

    P.S The choir - great job, they stayed in the right tune
    More P.S And the organist - I'm a little bit suprised he didn't wake up earlier...
    But at least it was something very...hmmm...original

    One more thing. If you want to check wheter you have a perfect pith or not you may wanna check this site out http://perfectpitch.ucsf.edu/ (I have just found it)


    Best regards,
    Mat
    Last edited by Mat; Dec-22-2007 at 01:30.
    Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent.
    -- Victor Hugo


  13. #13
    Administrator Krummhorn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Contratrombone64 View Post
    Krummiest horn ... wonderful story. Can you please record and put some MP3s up here?
    Hi Contratrombone64,

    I would like to do just that ... my battery of electronic gadgets lacks a digital recording device. Seriously pondering buying the Zoom H4 unit. At $300 it's a bargain for all it does. They are rated pretty high, at least here in the states.
    Kh ~~.
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    Amateur musicians practice until they get it right ...
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  14. #14
    Admiral of Fugues Contratrombone64's Avatar
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    Trust me, perfect pitch is not a blessing. Especially if you're partial to recordings made by groups where A = 415 (whatever)

  15. #15
    Rear Admiral Appassionata
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    Trust me perfect pitch can often be a curse!

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