Welcome to The LDS Organist Blog

The purpose of this blog is to help pianists learn to become true organists. Many individuals believe that if you play the piano you can play the organ, but the instruments differ greatly. While this blog is specifically geared towards members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, much of the information shared can be utilized by all. I hope that the information I share here will help you become an effective organist in your ward, stake, or other congregation.

Feel free to browse and search this blog. It was started in January 2010 and while new posts aren't added very often, this blog contains a wealth of information and is a wonderful resource for all organists. If you're a new reader, you can find the first lesson here: Before We Begin: Acquiring the Essentials. Also, please "like" the corresponding facebook page, which is updated more often. A link is provided on the right sidebar, or you can click here.

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Free Accompaniments

Unlike the title suggests, free accompaniments are not arrangements you can get for no cost. Instead, they are arrangements of hymns that utilize a different harmonization and are intended to be played while the congregation sings the hymn in unison. They are also called alternate or free harmonizations and are generally used on the final verse(s) of a hymn.


When to use in Sacrament Meeting

Every ward and branch is different and has a different philosophy on sacred music and musical numbers. Some organists utilize free accompaniments often, while others (probably most) have never heard of them. Before planning to use a free accompaniment, present the idea to your local Priesthood leaders and/or music chairman to get them on board.

Free accompaniments should be utilized sparingly. I like to think of them as a musical number, turning the congregation into a large choir. My philosophy is that free accompaniments can be utilized up to once a month as a rest hymn. Others feel differently.


How to use

In order to use an alternate harmonization, the congregation must be very familiar with the hymn. Additionally, the organist and music director must be very well prepared.

Prior to the hymn, the congregation should be instructed as to how to proceed. For example, "After an interlude, please sing the last verse in unison."


In Conclusion

Free accompaniments can be an effective tool of the LDS organist in bringing the Spirit of the hymn to the congregation, as long as the harmonization is effective and appropriate and doesn't call attention to itself. Listening to the Spirit is key here.

More Information

Don Cook's handout on free accompaniments

Free accompaniments and audio samples at www.wardorganist.com

A catalog of free accompaniments at www.LDSOrganists.info

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