View Full Version : registration for accompanying a choir

Nov-16-2008, 23:37
I have to accompany the choir in their carol service next month.The church has a 3 manual electronic Viscount organ and I have been on their organ rota for one year (i.e. since we moved here). The choir is very experienced and confident and even though it is only a village choir, there are usually sixteen or so people singing.
One of the pieces is Christmas Lullaby by John Rutter. He asks for swell p to start going down to pp then through mp, mf and finally f. However when I play this on the swell it doesn't really sound loud enough to me. I used the open diapason 8 and principal 4, but was unsure whether I should add the 2' or indeed anything else. Presumably I should make crescendos only with the swell pedal. How heavy should the pedal stops be?
I would be grateful for any advice. I am around grade 5 standard having transferred from piano (grade 8) 5 years ago but a lot of my time has been taken up with hymn playing technique.

Nov-16-2008, 23:42
Cosmosa - wonderful experience, welcome to the forum, too. Experience here is your teacher, advice is a little difficult to give seeing as none of us have heard your choir nor your blasphemy box, er, digital organ. I would stick with your 8' and 4' suggestion, not knowing what's on the swell you could use a 8' oboe or some other soft reed to add texture to the cresendi. As to the Pedal - if you have a full but not overpowering 16' subbass that will do the trick I'd think about adding a soft 8' there too. Don't be nervous, just be brave. It mightn't be a bad idea to get one of the choir members to play a chord and get them to sing whilst you stand up near the altar (or at the opposite end of where you are all placed) to see balance.

Nov-17-2008, 05:58
Hi Cosmosa ... Welcome to MIMF by the way - glad to have you here.

All too often the organ console placement is not always the best situation for the organist/accompanist. The accompanist needs to properly hear the balance between the choir and the organ, and as such, the console needs to be out in front of the choir. Look at pictures of the Mormon Tabernacle organ ... ideal console placement.

CT64 has made a great suggestion about having someone else key the notes while you go out into the nave and listen. One of the first things I ever do when encountering a new organ installation for the first time, is lock down several keys on a manual, pull the softest stop on the organ, close the swell shutters, then walk around the church intently listening to the organ. This always gives me a better understanding about how the organ sounds to the congregation, and from that sample I can properly register the organ for any anthem. I've also had over 48 years experience accompanying choirs at the organ, too, so that also comes into play.

The choir, when singing, can't hear the lowest registers of the organ - they can only feel them, so they give absolutely no support and only tend to muddy up the registration. Same is true with fat sounding 8' flues - more mud. I always try to use a soft 2' flute along with a light 8', something like a Geigen Principal or Gemshorn (a compound stop of flute and string tones) and a nice 4' flute, possibly a Spitzflote in quality. My church organ has a 4' Gedeckt (metal) that works well for this.

When adding more stops for support, try adding a medium grade 8' flute ... or a lighter Principal ... Diapasons tend to be fat and hooty, depending on who did the pipe voicing, at least that's why I have found in the region where I live.

As CT64 also stated, it takes time to even attempt to master this technique of being a great accompanist. Even after 48 years, I have yet to master it ... I've made it a life goal to master being the most proficient accompanist ... I will have had my organ shoes bronzed before I ever meet that challenge. The moral of this tidbit of information is this: Practice, practice, practice ... and when you are done with that, practice more. It's all summed up nicely in my signature below.

Nov-18-2008, 22:43
Thank you CT64 and Krummhorn. I am going through your information with a fine toothed comb, and after hours of analysis, experimentation and practise etc. I will move one millionth of something or other forward I am sure. Why has my post been moved? Maybe I put it in the wrong place.

Nov-19-2008, 03:12
Thank you CT64 and Krummhorn. I am going through your information with a fine toothed comb, and after hours of analysis, experimentation and practise etc. I will move one millionth of something or other forward I am sure.

You are welcome, Cosmosa. Most of us garnered our experience just like this - experimentation and advice from others, then over the years we cultivate it all into our own personal manner of playing and accompanying.

Why has my post been moved? Maybe I put it in the wrong place.

I'm the one who moved it, Cosmosa. We have two forum areas for discussions about organs ... pipe organs and electronic/digital organs.

Corno Dolce
Nov-19-2008, 04:08
Aloha Cosmosa,

Welcome aboard! Please do make make yourself feel very much at home around here and do plan on staying for a spell as this forum is highly addictive.


Corno Dolce :):):)

Nov-19-2008, 13:59
Hello Cosmosa,

Welcome, good to have you here. For an organist you have come to the right place.


Nov-19-2008, 14:37
Hi all, I've been lurking here for a year or so and have really enjoyed many of the discussions. A really interesting and valuable resource, for which many thanks to our host.
Besides the two pipe organs that I have to my use and care, last year I bought a Viscount Vivace 40 as a practice instrument. Prior to doing this, I had all the usual prejudices against electronic organs. If there is interest here, I would be glad to post in a piece about obtaining, placing and setting up the instrument and how I see the results, albeit subjectively.
Responding to Osmosa :-
It's a bit of a long shot - but - if your Viscount is a modern digital instrument, usually identifiable by having a little lcd screen, there will probably be a set of demo pieces. Have a poke about in the menu section and see what you can find. These enable you to set the organ playing, whilst you wander about the building having a listen.
(the current demo set for viscount organs is also playable on your computer from the Viscount Organs [Italy] site)
Another possibility is to have a look round the back of the instrument,(also look under the key shelf) see if you can spot the right and left general signal output terminals. These will be non-amplified phono connections and can be fed directly into a personal recorder. If you can then find the input terminals, you will be able to play back through the instrument's own amp. system, whilst again you wander round the building.
Obviously, this will only work by direct connection and not with a microphone, unless of course you are a skilled sound engineer !
Good luck and best wishes
Chris Baker - Durham UK
Harrison and Harrison 8 11P 1930
Forster and Andrews 12 11P 1880
Viscount Vivace 40 2007

Nov-19-2008, 21:48
Hello ChrisB,

Welcome to the forum, glad that you have stopped lurking and felt able to join in.


Nov-25-2008, 19:55
Thank you for all the help. I am feeling more confident now about the registration after asking some members of the choir and also asking my non musical husband to hold down some keys and peds whilst I went to the back of the church. Also thanks to Chris B I have found the inlets at the back of the organ and also a floppy disc system that I will try and record myself on.