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#31 Barry Williams

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Posted 30 December 2017 - 17:00

 

Sbhoa, now that you've also provided Misterioso with useful tips on hymnody, you're probably a Consultant Ecclesiastical Musicologist.

 

Barry Williams, what a good idea! Especially with things like MuseScore now readily available, why on earth not write things out in the most useful format? 

 

MuseScore has been an absolute life saver for me! The advantage that it has for me, personally, is that as I progress up the ranks, I convert my feeble chording system slowly back to SATB. The added advantage for me is that I can print out the music on A4 sheets, or even A3 (for 2+ pages) as I find that easier to read than squinting at some horrid, bulky, A5 size, small fonted ninja.gif, hymn book especially designed to leap off the music rack and land on your hands mid chorus line blink.png!

 

Music publishers have long been criticised for their regrettable presentation of music in 'Perfect' binding, (that is the technical term for the cheap and nasty version that closes on the organ desk), and for printing material too small for ordinary people to see it over two or three manuals.  It is a matter of huge regret that despite many critical reviews of such presentation, none of the music publishers have any interest in offering their products properly.

 

Barry Williams


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#32 sbhoa

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Posted 30 December 2017 - 18:34

 

 

Sbhoa, now that you've also provided Misterioso with useful tips on hymnody, you're probably a Consultant Ecclesiastical Musicologist.

 

Barry Williams, what a good idea! Especially with things like MuseScore now readily available, why on earth not write things out in the most useful format? 

 

MuseScore has been an absolute life saver for me! The advantage that it has for me, personally, is that as I progress up the ranks, I convert my feeble chording system slowly back to SATB. The added advantage for me is that I can print out the music on A4 sheets, or even A3 (for 2+ pages) as I find that easier to read than squinting at some horrid, bulky, A5 size, small fonted ninja.gif, hymn book especially designed to leap off the music rack and land on your hands mid chorus line blink.png!

 

Music publishers have long been criticised for their regrettable presentation of music in 'Perfect' binding, (that is the technical term for the cheap and nasty version that closes on the organ desk), and for printing material too small for ordinary people to see it over two or three manuals.  It is a matter of huge regret that despite many critical reviews of such presentation, none of the music publishers have any interest in offering their products properly.

 

Barry Williams

 

We have fairly recently had new hymn books in the Moravian Church. While there are thing I don't like about them the music edition comes in two large print volumes that stay open on the music stand.


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#33 SingingPython

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Posted 30 December 2017 - 18:50

The comments about improvising are interesting.  One of the many things that has long fascinated me about my 12 yr old son is his facility with improvising; as he's got older I've been able to ask him about what he is doing and it appears he tends to hear and understand the harmonies he is using.  By contrast remembering when I would mess around on the piano, I mainly relied on the feel of chords and following where things went by chance.

 

He's played for 3 services in the last year, and so far I've failed to convince him that he should improvise a postlude, as he does not think what he does is good enough.  Personally I think it would be more than good enough, but I will continue to be patiently encouraging!  He played on Christmas Eve and used a Bach fugue he is practising on the piano as his postlude, with some additional notes to fill out the sound at the beginning (there was no final hymn so really needed a little bit of oomphy for a recessional I thought).


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#34 elemimele

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Posted 30 December 2017 - 19:14

I'm guessing that if people hear and understand what they're doing, like your son, the results will probably be better. You might be right about the feel-of-chords and where-it-goes-by-chance thing, SingingPython. My suspicion is that the bad improvisers are people who "know their chords" and sort-of meander from one chord to another, occasionally going through a chord-sequence, but otherwise just going where it goes. The difficulty with this approach is what to do with the right hand? Where's the tune? Listeners are very conscious of tune, and if there isn't one, the whole thing feels pointless. Tunes also have a destination, so if there is a vestige of a tune, but it reaches its destination at a point where the chords haven't, the whole thing is very unsatisfactory.

 

I wonder (does anyone know?) - is it better to practise improvising tunes, a single-line melody, before learning to add their accompaniment? It's certainly a very different process improvising a tune on a single-line instrument than improvising at the keyboard (at least it's a process that feels different, and I'm wondering if that's the problem: I'm happy to improvise a tune - the main risk being that it will degenerate into fragments of tunes that I know - but I cannot improvise at the keyboard to save my life).


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#35 Barry Williams

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Posted 31 December 2017 - 12:21

It might be helpful to share some of the training that I received in the difficult art of improvisation, at which I am not good. 

 

Firstly, one had to decide on binary or tenary form.  That then dictated the key structure.  Secondly one had to consider a melody of a fixed number of bars, preferably a tune that could be inverted, or at least varied.  A modulation helped and if some rhythmic interest could be added that was a bonus.  Rhythmic figures had to be used several times to give the music internal integrity.  A modulation was always desirable, but emphasis was placed on a good structure.  For the first year or so everything was in two parts - mainly.  Care had to be taken to keep the shape of the music and have good phrasing.  It was tough!  I was made to avoid what might be called a 'wash of sound' where one chord merged into another by way of liturgical back ground.  (It was all done on the piano, not the organ.)  The fewer the notes the better was the maxim and models were the 'clean' Eighteenth Century pieces, rather than complex music.  Even now, if I need to extend the music after a hymn has finished, (to 'cover' liturgical action), I invariably do so simply, rather than attempt mock - Howells.

 

Even simple improvisation is far from easy.  It can be taught to anyone with basic skills in harmony and counterpoint, but the idea that one just sits at the organ and 'does it' can lead to unmusical results, save for the exceptionally gifted player.

 

One of the finest of modern improvisers is Ronny Krippner, who is the Organist & Choirmaster of Croydon Parish Church.  His improvisations have structure and form.  Indeed, they sound like composed pieces.

 

Barry Williams


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#36 Misterioso

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Posted 01 January 2018 - 12:25

I have come across an unexpected practical problem. Our Church is a listed building dating from around 1840, and is FREEZING midweek, which is going to make practise and /or lessons a tad difficult. Apart from the obvious wearing of many layers, what do others do? I don't think I could play in fingerless gloves. I could take a small portable fan heater with me, but I risk heating up the whole Church and escalating the electricity bill.

 

Any suggestions, please?


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#37 mel2

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Posted 01 January 2018 - 16:58

I have come across an unexpected practical problem. Our Church is a listed building dating from around 1840, and is FREEZING midweek, which is going to make practise and /or lessons a tad difficult. Apart from the obvious wearing of many layers, what do others do? I don't think I could play in fingerless gloves. I could take a small portable fan heater with me, but I risk heating up the whole Church and escalating the electricity bill.
 
Any suggestions, please?

Don't give up on the fingerless gloves -it's surprising what you can do in them. Another thing I found helpful was a yoga mat/camping mattress type thing to sit on.(I have found several uses for one of these, btw. I made insoles for husband's wellies, floor spots for teaching pulse, and lined cat's basket with what was left over)
Wear a woolly hat and have flask of something hot to sip. If you do have a heater, put it directly behind you -works better if organ stool is slightly raised so you catch the warmth on its way up.
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#38 elemimele

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Posted 01 January 2018 - 17:09

Misterioso, find a bit of carpet to put on the organ bench if it's traditional varnished wood (might as well be a fish on a fishmonger's slab at the temperature of a typical church). A warm bottom definitely helps the rest of the body remain warm. Wear pyjama trousers under your normal trousers, and a woolly hat! If fingerless woollen gloves impair movement too much, find some of those thin white cotton gloves and cut the fingers off them. If you're a person who plays in socks rather than shoes, use thermal ones and find somewhere warm to put feet that aren't in action. Short practice sessions are better than none, so if you get too cold, stop.

 

Barry, thank you so much for your hints on learning improvisation. I was very struck by the need to decide on form before starting, and the fact you learned to work in just 2 parts. Yes, very different to gluing 4-note chords together at random. Sounds as though, like most things in music, there is no short-cut; it's a matter of starting small, and practising a lot, listening carefully to ones efforts, and adding only a small complexity at a time.


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#39 LoneM

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Posted 02 January 2018 - 11:34

Heating or rather lack of it is often a problem. It wasn't so bad for me when I started out as our church is a modern-ish multi-use building, so heated at times during the week for Parent and Toddler groups, Men's Club, Keep Fit, etc. I had to find slots just before or just after these activities which also fitted into my own schedule.

 

I'll repeat that there is no need at this stage for you to worry about using pedals, so you can do most of your practice - all the note bashing - at home on the piano. This will allow you to get away with just short sessions at the organ to get used to the touch and learn about registrations, and a fan heater should keep you warm enough without being exorbitantly expensive for the church. 

 

Knitted wrist warmers, i.e. without fingers, help a lot with keeping your hands warm.  I was going to say that it will be easier in the summer months but perhaps it won't make much difference in Stornoway; my memory of Highland churches is that they were always freezing regardless of the time of year!


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#40 maggiemay

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Posted 02 January 2018 - 14:44

Oh yes - a big vote for wristwarmers. They really do work. My choir church is particularly cold in the chancel (where the choir sit) and I started the ball rolling by making wristwarmers for most of the soprano line.

If you knit at all, I have a very easy pattern which you knit flat and join with a short seam.

Indeed - cold churches are the bane of many an otherwise keen church musician.
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#41 Misterioso

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Posted 03 January 2018 - 11:04

Wristwarmers....what a good idea. Thank you, Maggiemay, for the offer of a pattern. I can do not-too-difficult items, and would like to try these. Would it be easier if I PM'd you my email address?


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#42 maggiemay

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Posted 03 January 2018 - 11:44

Wristwarmers....what a good idea. Thank you, Maggiemay, for the offer of a pattern. I can do not-too-difficult items, and would like to try these. Would it be easier if I PM'd you my email address?

Yes - please do !

If you are on Ravelry, I can simply send you a link. If not, I will try to copy the pattern. It is actually very straightforward indeed!

(Eta) ok - I have tried sending it as a pm. It may have worked, but let me know if not. :-)
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#43 Misterioso

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Posted 03 January 2018 - 12:08

 

Wristwarmers....what a good idea. Thank you, Maggiemay, for the offer of a pattern. I can do not-too-difficult items, and would like to try these. Would it be easier if I PM'd you my email address?

Yes - please do !

If you are on Ravelry, I can simply send you a link. If not, I will try to copy the pattern. It is actually very straightforward indeed!

(Eta) ok - I have tried sending it as a pm. It may have worked, but let me know if not. :-)

 

 

Safely received - many thanks! smile.png


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#44 Misterioso

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Posted 06 January 2018 - 23:21

I now have a pair of snuggly soft handwarmers in a cosy red with sparkly bits - perfect! biggrin.png


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#45 LoneM

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Posted 07 January 2018 - 12:40

Sounds great - now you have no excuse!


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