View Full Version : Favorite Classical/Liturgical/Church Registrations
02-27-2012, 02:49 AM
I've seen this topic on the Hammond threads, but not here. I hope I've posted it in the right place.
Recently, we've had a number of new(ish) organists join the Forum asking basic registration questions. We've all offered advice concerning basic registrations for hymns, as well as Plein Jeux(Sp.?) vs. Grand Jeux(Sp.?), but what about solo registrations? Of course the stop names and divisions may change from instrument to instrument, but as long as we stay in the stop family (Diapason, String, Flute, Solo Reeds, Ensemble Reeds, Mutations, Mixtures), the registrations we suggest should be useable to a new organist.
What are some of your favorite, most useful registrations in your repertoire that you use in your organ music? This includes classical pieces played in church, liturgical, or other registrations you use for your musical offerings during a church service. For this discussion, let's leave out hymn registrations, as those are fairly standard and well-defined. On the other hand, solo registrations are up to the creativity of each particular organist.
I'll start by naming some of the few I have used for particular pieces in times gone by. Of course, the manuals/stops can change, depending on your organ's disposition/stoplist.
Bach--Wachet auf, ruft uns die stimme
Sw-Gedackt 8' & Blockflöte 2' (or Sifflet 1')
Gt-Krummhorn 8' (Cromorne 8'). Alternatively use a Second or Third Diapason 8' as the solo stop.
Pd-16' 8' to balance (i.e. 16' Liebelich Gedeckt, maybe 8' Gedeckt Flöte)
Bach--God's Time Is Best ALSO a hymn arrangement of I Am His, and He is Mine
Sw-Gedackt 8', Nazard 2 2/3', Tierce 1 3/5' (Perhaps add a Spitzflöte 4' or Rohrflöte 4')
Gt-Flute Celeste 8' (& 4', depending on taste and balance)
Ch-Alternatively Hautbois 8' w/Tremulant
Pd-16' 8' to balance.
These registrations are just to start the flow. What do y'all use?
02-27-2012, 12:57 PM
I'll toss out something, just so I can subscribe to the thread. A very interesting discussion and I'm looking forward to what others will contribute. My expertise is mostly technical and my musical knowledge is limited, but I'll enjoy reading what some of our group will have to offer.
As you know, I'm primarily a hymn-player and improviser, and my experience is mostly with playing both pre-arranged and on-the-spot hymn tune improvisations. A lot of the electronic organs I've had to play have fairly weak and ugly-sounding reeds, so I often use a combination of 8' stops (such as an oboe + flute or trumpet + diapason) to achieve not only more volume for a solo but also to enrich the tone. Of course, today's better digitals sometimes have solo stops that truly work by themselves. The PDI Rodgers I'm currently renovating has a grand Festival Trumpet that certainly can stand alone.
Also, I discovered quite by accident a few years ago that even a chime solo (on an older analog Rodgers at the time) benefitted from having other stops combined with it! I would have thought that a bizarre idea until I did it. I was quietly improvising on some hymn tunes, may have been for a funeral prelude, and while accompanying with a soft blend of 8' stops on the swell, I turned on the great chimes, forgetting that I already had some great stops on. It sounded better than ever, sort of like church bells in the distance playing along with the organ. Now I use that effect from time to time when improvising. It seems to remind people of hearing bells play from a tower somewhere else in town, probably a comforting feeling that takes people back to their childhood! (The old Rodgers analog I discovered this on had a fairly rapid decay on the chimes, similar to real tubular chimes. This would not work at all on Allen analogs, which have "sustain" on chimes but no instantaneous decay.)
My favorite accompaniment combinations usually include celestes. Old Allen analogs with a "Celeste Strings" tab turned the entire diapason/string unit rank into a grand celeste, and I always enjoyed that sound. In MOS and ADC Allen models, you often have "Celeste Tuning" which does the same thing with an entire division. I realize that is not authentically pipe-like and I understand why Allen doesn't do that in newer organs, but it was actually quite a nice feature. I like to use a flute celeste (at both 8' and 4' if available) when a very subtle accompaniment is needed, and a Gemshorn celeste for a step up in intensity.
02-28-2012, 03:38 AM
This indeed is a topic thread I'll be watching myself as I am as green as they get when it comes to stop registration with my first acquired church/classical organ. So far I'm playing Hymns with stops that are pleasing for my ear and really have no knowledge of what is suppose to be played with what and what not to use:-P
03-05-2012, 01:33 PM
Brilliant idea for a topic- this is going to be a fun thread!
In my experience, you're sort of restricted in hymn playing by a few factors. The main point is that whatever you do, you need to be sufficiently both loud and clear to support the singing, with a large congregation demanding louder accompaniment. This is the beauty of trained choirs who record cd's of hymns- they don't need to be lead as such, so the accompanying is always more colourful and considered. For hymns, I like to think of the great as the organs backbone, and the swell as it's body. I like a good full swell with however much great is needed. I find it very effective occasionally to bring the swell reeds up through the great.
Regarding the previous comment, if it sounds good, then you must be doing something right!
03-12-2012, 06:08 PM
One key element in accompanying singing is to include the 4' Diapason in the registration. The singers (non professional) tend to take the pitch from this stop. Of course, appropriate 8' stops must also be used to carry the pitch line. Other stopd such as 2' pitch add brightness to the sound. The use of mixtures may cause pitch confusion as mixtures combine 5th's and octaves, the 5th's may confuse the pitch if the mixture is assertive. The pedal should always have a 16' bass along with at least an 8' to give definition to the bass line. If you are not playing for a congregation, any combination that sounds good to you is OK. Adding an 8' reed can add spice to the sound. A color reed (like a baroque reed or vox humana) spices up the sound without changing the basic character, a trumpet adds body and changes the overall tone color. These hints have been gained from music teachers and workshops and seem to generally work for most organs.
03-15-2012, 12:46 AM
Before I post a response, let me clarify that my intent in starting this thread is for the purpose of sharing registration examples we have used/are using in solo or unaccompanied literature (i.e. Preludes, Postludes, Offertories, Meditations, Classical Literature, etc.). Perhaps I assumed too much when I mentioned that registrations for accompaniment purposes (i.e. congregational singing) were generally understood. Should we start another tread on that topic? Now for a response.
One key element in accompanying singing is to include the 4' Diapason in the registration. The singers (non professional) tend to take the pitch from this stop. Of course, appropriate 8' stops must also be used to carry the pitch line. Other stopd such as 2' pitch add brightness to the sound. Allan,
Interesting take. I agree that the foundation for congregational playing belongs to the foundations of Diapason and Flute choruses. However, do we know why one would choose to add 2' to brighten the sound?
I'm not sure it's common knowledge, but hearing loss (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presbycusis)begins with the higher frequencies (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audio_frequency)and work their way down. Consequently, that means that with older congregations listening to hymns and singing, it becomes much more important for higher frequencies to be reinforced, as they provide the clarity everyone can hear. I've attempted using only 8', 4', and 2' choruses, but have found I tend to lose the congregation (a very small, somewhat elderly group), both in pitch and in tempo. The use of 1' and mixtures quickly correct this situation.
That said, however, I'm not sure I agree with your take on the mixtures.
The use of mixtures may cause pitch confusion as mixtures combine 5th's and octaves, the 5th's may confuse the pitch if the mixture is assertive.Minor correction: Mixtures also contain 3rds. Every instrument pitch is a composite of 12-15 partials of the overtone series (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overtone_series). Timbres and consequently, different stops, are determined by the amplitude and composition of each partial of the overtone series and how they interact with each other. All the mixtures do is to clarify/reinforce the upper partials of the overtone series. For that reason, I tend to err toward using the mixtures a bit too much in congregational singing, but choose to do it so that everyone can hear and follow the music.
The overtone series is (very roughly) from bottom upward (using C as an example):
Major 3rd (e2)
Minor 3rd (g2)
Minor 3rd (Bb2)
Major 2nd (c3)
Major 2nd (d3)
Major 2nd (e3)
Minor 2nd (f3)
I hate to use Winkipedia as a source, but in this case it is a good article. As one can see from the link provided above (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overtone_series), as well as the Allen Organ Tone Card Order Sheet section on Mixtures, attached below, Mixtures come in a variety of compositions and well as purposes (to support Reed stops or Flues). Even the breaks vary depending on the builder.
So, rather than re-hash ALL organ registration, what registrations do you find pleasing for solo or unaccompanied literature (i.e. Preludes, Postludes, Offertories, Meditations, Classical Literature, etc.)?Michael
03-15-2012, 02:35 PM
Two of my weaknesses: registration and using the swell box. :(
03-17-2012, 12:48 AM
Two of my weaknesses: registration and using the swell box. :(Is there a specific registration need that one of us could help with? Just let us know.
BTW, I am also creating a thread on Basic Registration for Congregational Music (Hymn/Accompaniment). It should be up in a few minutes.
03-17-2012, 03:55 PM
Well one of my problems (I mentioned in another thread) is that the organ is in an alcove behind the altar. So what I'm hearing isn't what the congregation is hearing. :(
03-18-2012, 08:10 PM
Well one of my problems (I mentioned in another thread) is that the organ is in an alcove behind the altar. So what I'm hearing isn't what the congregation is hearing.Sorry, I missed that thread.
Do you have a learned listener you trust who could provide feedback on what you use while standing in the sanctuary? I often use my wife. The only other option is to have her play while I listen, and sometimes I'll have her do that (hold a chord) while I go out and listen. You would also need to test the setting whild your friend is in the congregation as well. The sound often changes depending on where you stand/sit in the congregation.
Another possibility is to listen to a recording or have someone hold a recorder like an iPad, iPhone, etc. during the service. This would allow you to listen after-the-fact and make judgments based on what you hear. The quality won't be the greatest, but you will be able to discern a balance, at least.
Does this give you any ideas?
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