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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.

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Friday, September 17, 2010

Real Life: Ollie's Organ Registration

I'm introducing a new feature today! Periodically I will answer questions from my readers in a series I'm calling, "Real Life." Feel free to ask your questions for this new feature via the comments section or by emailing ldsorganistblog at gmail dot com.

Today's question is from Ollie, who has asked me if I can help her figure out some good registration options for her organ. Like the organists before her, she uses the same preset for every hymn and prelude, and her congregation has been resistant to change. She's currently playing the Rodgers Trilliam (variant C000633). Here is her stop list:

Rodger Trillium Stop List


She has been using this registration on the Swell for prelude and postlude:
8' Geigen Principal
4' Prestant
2' Piccolo
IV Plein Jeu
Bass Coupler with 16' principal and 8' octave on the Pedal

For congregational hymn accompaniment, she has been using this registration on the Great:
8' Diapason
4' Octave
2' Super Octave
IV Fourniture
Bass Coupler with 16' principal and 8' octave on the Pedal

Both have a very similar sound. Ollie tried using the 8' Chimney Flute one week for prelude and the congregation didn't know what to do!

She's asked for registration help, which I'm more than happy to offer. I have not heard her organ, so I don't know how these suggestions will sound in person. In theory they should work well, and will at the very least provide a good starting point for her.

Prelude Chorus Registration Options

For a chorus-style prelude, such as playing hymns from the hymnbook, try these combinations. Stops in parentheses are optional and should be applied if needed and/or desired:

On the Swell:

Sw: 8' Viole
    (4' flute)
Ped: 16' Bourdon Doux
    (8' Gedeckt)

Sw: 8' Bourdon
    4' Flute
Ped: 16' Bourdon Doux
    (8' Gedeckt)

Sw: 8' Geigen Principal
Ped: 16' Subbass

Sw: 8' Viole
    8' Bourdon
    (4' Flute)
Ped: 16' Bourdon Doux
    8' Gedeckt

Sw: 8' Bourdon
    4' Flute
    2' Piccolo
Ped: 16' Bourdon Doux
    8' Gedeckt

On the Great

Gt: 8' Gemshorn
    (4' Spitzflote)
Ped: 16' Bourdon Doux or Subbass

Gt: 8' Chimney Flute
Ped: 16' Bourdon Doux

Gt: 8' Harmonic Flute
    (4' Spitzflote)
Ped: 16' Bourdon Doux

Gt: 8' Flute Celeste II
Ped: 16' Bourdon Doux

Gt: 8' Chimney Flute
Sw: 4' Flute
Sw-Gt Coupler
Ped: 16' Bourdon Doux
(Gt-Ped Coupler)

There are so many more options, but this is a start.

Congregational Hymn Accompaniment Registration Options

Softer Registrations
(appropriate for more meditative or sacrament hymns)

Gt: 8' Diapason
    4' Octave
Ped: 16' Principal
    8' Octave
Gt-Ped Coupler

Gt: 8' Diapason
Sw: 8' Bourdon
    4' Flute
Sw-Gt Coupler
Ped: 16' Principal
    (16' Subbass)
    8' Gedeckt
Sw-Ped Coupler
Gt-Ped Coupler

Gt: 8' Diapason
Sw: 8' Bourdon
    4' Flute
    2' Piccolo
Sw-Gt Coupler
Ped: 16' Principal
    (16' Subbass)
    8' Octave
    (8' Gedeckt)
Sw-Ped
Gt-Ped

Gt: 8' Diapason
    8' Gemshorn
    4' Octave (and/or 4' Spitzflote)
Ped: 16' Principal
    8' Octave
Gt-Ped Coupler

Gt: 8' Diapason
Sw: 8' Viole
    (8' Bourdon)
    4' Flute
Ped: 16' Principal
    (16' Subbass)
    8' Octave
Sw-Ped Coupler
Gt-Ped Coupler

Again, there are many more options, but this is a good start.

Jubilant Registrations
(Good for more rousing or joyful hymns)

Gt: 8' Diapason
    4' Octave
    2' Super Octave
    (IV Fourniture)
Ped: 16' Principal
    8' Octave
Gt-Ped

Gt: 8' Diapason
    4' Octave
    2' Super Octave
    IV Fourniture
    8' Trumpet
Ped: 16' Principal
    8' Octave
    (4' Choral Bass)
Gt-Ped

Gt: 8' Diapason
    4' Octave
    2' Super Octave
Sw: 8' Bourdon
    4' Flute
    2' Piccolo
Sw-Gt
Ped: 16' Principal
    16' Subbass
    8' Octave
    8' Gedeckt
Sw-Ped
Gt-Ped

Gt: 8' Diapason
    8' Gemshorn
    8' Octave
Sw: 8' Bourdon
    4' Prestant
    4' Flute
    2' Piccolo
Sw-Gt
Ped: 16' Principal
    16' Subbass
    8' Octave
    8' Gedect
Sw-Ped
Gt-Ped

Again, there are many more but this is a start.

Transitioning the Congregation

Ollie expressed a desire to ease her congregation into these new sounds, instead of just jumping in with these huge changes.

Prelude

I would immediately start by playing prelude with this registration:
Sw: 8' Bourdon
    4' Flute
    2' Piccolo
    IV Plein Jeu
Ped: 16' Bourdon Doux (or Subbass)
    8' Gedeckt
(Sw-Ped)

It has a similar sound to her current choice, but is composed entirely of flutes, instead of also using principals. I would also start removing the Plein Jeu IV for the first verse of each prelude hymn, or the second verse, increasing the pieces that are played without it until the congregation is used to hearing the organ without this high mixture.

Then use this registration for some prelude pieces:
Sw: 8' Geigen Principal
    4' Prestant
    2' Piccolo
Ped: 16' Subbass
     (8' Octave)
Sw-Ped

This registration should also sound very familiar to the congregation.

Once the congregations is used to these sounds, try something like:
Sw: 8' Geigen Principal
    4' Prestant
Ped: 16' Subbass
Sw-Ped

Intersperse a registration without a 2' stop with the registrations the congregation has become familiar with, perhaps using this on the first verse and then adding the 2' piccolo in the next verse.

Once the congregation is used to hearing the organ prelude without stops sounding 2+ octaves higher, Ollie can begin using the registration suggestions I shared above. I recommend changing the registration for every hymn, even between verses, following the direction of the text. I believe these changes help promote reverence and allow the congregation to focus on the text of each prelude hymn.

Accompaniment

Ollie has been using a full chorus registration for every hymn. My recommendation is to start the transition by only changing the sacrament hymn. To begin, I'd immediately remove the Fourniture IV from the registration for the sacrament hymn:

Gt: 8' Diapason
    4' Octave
    2' Super Octave
Ped: 16' Principal
    8' Octave
Gt-Ped

Next try adding the 8' Trumpet to the final verse of a jubilant hymn a couple of times:

Gt: 8' Diapason
    4' Octave
    2' Super Octave
    IV Fourniture
    8' Trumpet
Ped: 16' Principal
    8' Octave
Gt-Ped

After a few weeks, I'd then remove the Fourniture IV from the more meditative hymns. This can be done by using a full registration such as this while transitioning:

Gt: 8' Diapason
    8' Gemshorn
    4' Octave
    2' Super Octave
Sw: 8' Geigen Principal
    8' Bourdon
    4' Prestant
    4' Flute
    2' Piccolo
Ped: 16' Principal
    16' Subbass
    8' Octave
    (8' Gedeckt)
    (4' Choral Bass)
Sw-Ped
Gt-Ped

At this time I would also remove the 2' Super Octave from the sacrament hymn, so that the registration would be:

Gt: 8' Diapason
    4' Octave
Ped: 16' Principal
    8' Octave
Gt-Ped Coupler

After a few weeks, any of the softer accompaniment registrations could be used for the sacrament hymn. Once that happens, it should be no problem to start transitioning the congregation on the jubilant and meditative hymns.

In Conclusion

It is important to continually use a wide variety of registrations so that the congregation doesn't get stuck in another rut. Good luck, Ollie! Keep us posted on your progress.

4 comments:

  1. i warm up the principal chorus of 8-4-2 with unison flutes and strings
    for variety the second to the last verse play with out the pedals
    dont be afraid to use color, principal 8-4 and a soft reed like the oboe, experiment when you practice, get to know what each stop can do alone or with others
    i played my organ for over 10 years before i discovered the rohr flute 8' and voix celesta 8' made a beautiful solo voice in the upper octaves

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  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    Replies
    1. Just needed to fix some typos and repost. See below:

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  3. The registration chart above looks like a Rodgers 787T. I'm currently playing the immediate predecessor of that model, the Rodgers 790C. It's stoplist is quite similar to the above, with the following differences:

    1. The Pedal has a 4' Rohr Schalmei instead of a Mixture, though the Mixture is available as a very loud secondary voice.
    2. The Pedal has a 16' Posaune instead of a 16' Bombarde.
    3. On the Swell, the Viola and Celeste are joined on one stop tab as a Viola Celeste II.
    4. The Great has no 16' stop.
    5. On the Great, the Rohrflote (or Chimney Flute) does not have its own stop tab but is available as a secondary voice behind the Flute Harmonique.
    6. The Gemshorn is quite a bit softer than the Flute Harmonique, and the Spitzflote is voiced to go with the Gemshorn instead of the Flute Harmonique.
    7. The Great Trumpet does not have its own stop tab, but it is available as a rather loud secondary voice behind the Cromorne.

    The primary thing that irritates me about the 790C is the loudness of that pedal mixture. If I couple both the Great and Swell mixtures together, the Pedal mixture is still louder. If I couple the Great and Swell principal choruses together and couple neither to the Pedal, I can still clearly hear that Pedal Mixture standing out in the middle of a manual chord.

    A typical congregation probably won't notice, but the loudness of that Pedal mixture makes me hesitant to use it. I'm curious what ideas others have about balancing the Pedal with a full manual principal chorus when a Pedal mixture is unavailable?

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