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.

Thanks for visiting!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Articulated Organ Technique

This may come as a surprise to some readers of my blog, but there are two major types of organ technique that are taught: legato and non-legato. Legato technique is used for literature that is written from 1750 and beyond, and is the technique that I've been teaching on my blog. It is the generally accepted technique for hymn playing.

Non-legato technique, also referred to as articulated, is used for pieces composed before 1750. Many think of it in relation to Bach's works. According to a handout written by Carol Dean, legato technique is connected, like a string of pearls without knots in between. Non-legato is fractured, like a string of pearls with knots in between.

Many organ students struggle when first learning articulated technique. The rules change, and it can be difficult to execute it properly. My struggle was with too much space between the notes. My pearls had knots the size of pearls between them.

Clip art licensed from the Clip Art Gallery on DiscoverySchool.com

Tonight as I was practicing Bach's Prelude and Fugue In G Major, BWV 557 something finally clicked. I've mentioned before that I was a pretty good flautist years ago, and as I practiced, I realized that the sound I'm looking for is simply tongued notes. Legato technique is slurred notes, with breaks when notes repeat. Non-legato technique is simply tongued notes. The sound I'm listening for is the same sound wind instrument players make when they tongue their passages.

Now, getting the releases perfectly timed is much more complex, but the technique itself isn't nearly as difficult for me as it initially seemed.

I hope this help you, too!


  1. i was told that non legato playing had to be used in large reverberant rooms/halls or the notes would all slur together. that playing the room is as important as playing the organ.

    for the average worship space and hymn playing legato is important i feel....i hate to use the fake reverb

    your thoughts....thanks

  2. Certainly you need to take into account the acoustics of the room. It's true that the average LDS chapel is acoustically dead, so proper legato technique is essential. I, too, don't like the fake acoustics installed on many electric organs.

    Thanks for your comment!