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How Would You Pedal This Hymn?

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  • How Would You Pedal This Hymn?

    1. I've been posting questions in the Classical and not the Liturgical_and_Gospel section because I feel some of my questions are just of a general nature.

    2. How would you pedal this. I've marked in my tentative plan: https://hymnary.org/hymn/UMH/128 - I'm playing it on Sunday.
    Attached Files

  • #2
    That looks pretty good to me. I'm far less disciplined than you, and tend not to write pedaling out, but I find myself getting better at figuring it out on the fly. Not too long ago my brain would've been so busy just keeping my fingers on the right keys I wouldn't have had any time to think ahead about the pedaling. But nowadays I seem to be better at planning a measure or two ahead in real time. I find that substituting one toe for the other is often a lifesaver when a passage is too low or too high for easy alternating of the feet. Having the other foot take over while the needed foot finds the next note is really helpful to me!
    John
    ----------
    *** Please post your questions about technical service or repair matters ON THE FORUM. Do not send your questions to me or another member by private message. Information shared is for the benefit of the entire organ community, but other folks will not be helped by information we exchange in private messages!

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

    Comment


    • Dutchy
      Dutchy commented
      Editing a comment
      I'm wih you John, in hymn playing I do exactly the same!

  • #3
    Looks to be a good plan for you this Sunday. It's also great to learn the hymns as they are written ... later on in my life I tend to not play the hymns as they are written, rather to expand out a bit with leading notes and different chords while still maintaining the soprano line as it is written.

    Also try out different registrations for each of the verses ... that removes the monotony of hearing the same sound for every verse. While learning to play hymns sing along with the verses for awhile so that you can get all the pauses and rests between the verses sorted out. Check also the lyrics of each verse when setting up your registrations.

    Comment


    • #4
      I'm not at an organ right now, so I can only imagine the pedaling in my head. Still, I wonder about some other possibilities:

      FIRST PAGE
      - Measures 3 and 5, you could consider switching feet on beat 3 instead of on beat 2. That would make a natural, yet slight, accent on beat 3.
      - Measure 9 could be LF [heel-toe], RF [toe-heel]; measure 10 - LF [toe], RF [heel again or toe]

      SECOND PAGE
      - End of first line, D-F#-A could be played with the RF/right foot [heel-toe-heel], then the G with the LF. Next line F#-G with the RF [toe-heel]
      - Low notes with the LF. I have a feeling my tendency would be to play the lower note of the two notes with my LF toe. You have that note played with the LF heel. For me, it's easier to turn out my toe than to turn out my heel.

      When I was first learning to play hymns on the organ, I or my teacher wrote out a lot of the pedaling. Later, I just penciled in some starting pedaling or the parts that were a bit tricky and not intuitive for me at the time. Now, I don't write in any pedaling for hymns. Once you get more experience and learn some of the standard conventions better, you may only need to know which foot starts and whether it's heel or toe. Then you should be fine for at least a few measures.

      Just as something to consider -- One of my teachers often had us play toe-heel or heel-toe on repeated notes. The change allowed an easier opportunity to accent downbeats. (We held the toe-notes slightly longer than the heel-notes.) And, once you learn that well, you can repeat notes faster because as your toe is coming up, your heel is coming down. That allows for it to have twice the speed of toe only on repeated notes. But that also requires a very good pedal action.

      Also remember that repeated pedal notes don't have to be played as repeated - they can be just held. The notes are written that way so that the basses know the rhythm of the words. As organists, we are free to play as written or to tie. It's one of the ways we can change the sound of the organ and make different verses have different personalities. In a gentler hymn, I'd be more tempted to hold notes. In a rousing hymn, I'd be more tempted to use the repeated pedal notes as a way of enhancing the rhythm.

      Sounds like you're on the right track.
      Last edited by regeron; 01-16-2021, 06:34 AM.

      Comment


      • #5
        Thanks, everyone. I don’t normally write out my pedaling plan but since I’m self-taught on pedals, I figured I’d check in with the group to see if I was thinking in more or less the right way or not.

        -S-

        Comment


        • Philip Powell
          Philip Powell commented
          Editing a comment
          I'm also self-taught and always say "as long as it works". I'm not a fan of super strict pedaling.

      • #6
        One other option I'd suggest. Think, for a second, about the vocal ranges singing the hymn. The S, A, and T would be as written, however, we often forget about the Bass. Most men have an approximate lower range to F or G at the bottom of the bass clef. For that reason, I often tranfer the F or G at the top of the Bass Clef one octave lower. In this hymn, that would simplify approximately half of it, as the right foot covers the C and D, whereas the left foot would cover the G, A, and B. That eliminates the need for fancy footwork in the verse.

        The only other suggestion I'd make is that generally the heels are together with the toes facing outward. In several places, you have the toes pointing inward and the heels outward. Take a look at your footprints in the snow (or mud!;-)) and tell me how many of your footsteps have the toes pointing toward each other. It just makes ergonomic sense.

        Michael
        Way too many organs to list, but I do have 5 Allens:
        • MOS-2 Model 505-B / ADC-4300-DK / ADC-5400 / ADC-6000 (Symphony) / ADC-8000DKC
        • Lowrey Heritage (DSO-1)
        • 11 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 7 Pianos

        Comment


        • Dutchy
          Dutchy commented
          Editing a comment
          I'm with you too myorgan, in hymn playing I frequently play the bass one octave lower, not only because the reason you give, but also because it give more 'gravity' to the sound and so the congregation is better supported.
          [hmm - this WAS so in the pre-covid time. Nowadays the congregation doesn't sing]

        • myorgan
          myorgan commented
          Editing a comment
          Dutchy,

          In this case, I'm just advocating for moving the one pitch (G) an octave lower so the pedals are easier. Unfortunately, our congregation DOES sing–without masks. My pastor had a conversation with me about how to get them to sing louder (sigh).

          Michael

      • #7
        Originally posted by Piperdane View Post
        ... It's also great to learn the hymns as they are written ... later on in my life I tend to not play the hymns as they are written, rather to expand out a bit with leading notes and different chords while still maintaining the soprano line as it is written.
        Although we have no choir now, my choices have been formed with my choir in mind. Our volunteer choir director is a soprano who likes to sing the tenor part, as written but in her own octave, as the spirit moves her, so I've grown leery of changing harmonies. I do like to do that when I play a hymn as a prelude, postlude, or as incidental music.

        Also try out different registrations for each of the verses ... that removes the monotony of hearing the same sound for every verse.
        Again, I'm afraid my reality intervenes here. At the moment, about half the stops on my Allen ADC-3100 don't work, and a scheduled repair visit had to be postponed when repair person's wife tested positive for COVID-19. For now, I'm happy with one acceptable voice for each of my two manuals and my pedals. But I appreciate the suggestion, and I do try to do that, or perhaps I should say I used to try to do that using the memory buttons on the organ but, alas, those aren't working now, either.

        I have a nearly identical ADC-3100 in my basement, and I try to spend time at home finding good voicings, but unfortunately, the relative volume of the different stops on my home organ and church organ don't always match. This is on my list of things to address when the repair person, who I hope and pray will be alright, finally makes it out our way.

        While learning to play hymns sing along with the verses for awhile so that you can get all the pauses and rests between the verses sorted out. Check also the lyrics of each verse when setting up your registrations.
        Another good suggestion, and thank you again. I was an undergraduate voice performance major and have a doctoral degree in choral conducting - I'm big on "playing as if I'm singing" in terms of things like phrasing.

        -S-

        Comment


        • #8
          Originally posted by myorgan View Post
          One other option I'd suggest. Think, for a second, about the vocal ranges singing the hymn. The S, A, and T would be as written, however, we often forget about the Bass. Most men have an approximate lower range to F or G at the bottom of the bass clef. For that reason, I often tranfer the F or G at the top of the Bass Clef one octave lower. In this hymn, that would simplify approximately half of it, as the right foot covers the C and D, whereas the left foot would cover the G, A, and B. That eliminates the need for fancy footwork in the verse.
          I've done this at times, but again my performance practice, such as it is, has been influenced by my choir, small though it may be. The person who sits closest to the organ has a wonderful, beautiful, big, booming bass voice, but doesn't read music and is greatly influenced by what he hears me play. When, to quote Johnny Cash, God is willing and the creeks don't rise, we are back to having a choir again, I will do some experimenting with this and see if he still sings his part in the octave written if I play it in another octave.

          The only other suggestion I'd make is that generally the heels are together with the toes facing outward. In several places, you have the toes pointing inward and the heels outward. Take a look at your footprints in the snow (or mud!;-)) and tell me how many of your footsteps have the toes pointing toward each other. It just makes ergonomic sense.
          I am bow-legged and have relatively short legs for my 5' 7" height. Whether or not that's an important variable I leave for you to decide. But I also used to ride a bicycle quite a bit, perhaps 100 miles a week or so, and used a modern pedal system, wherein one's feet are attached under the ball of the foot and free to pivot around that point. And when I ride, if the pedal is up, my knee and my foot are turned out, but at the bottom of the pedal stroke, my knee and foot are turned in. And I'm flexible - can do full side splits and similar. All that to say that toes pointed in or out are equally comfortable for me. Many bow-legged folks, including me, have somewhat limited plantar flexion, the ability to point the toes, and I'm sure that's also part of the equation here, too.

          Not too much information for you, I hope. :)

          Note to self - have some organ lessons some day and let some expert eyes watch what you're doing.

          -S-

          Comment


          • myorgan
            myorgan commented
            Editing a comment
            Steve,

            Your description explains why you've made the choices you have. For that reason, it makes it difficult for us to recommend or "approve" pedaling passages without seeing you play it. As a teacher, I would never force someone to go against what is physically possible (or ergonomic) for them. On the other hand, it is important people honestly attempt new techniques to add to their repertoire of techniques.

            For that reason, I actually have adapted to using "toes in" in a couple pieces I play, as it just makes sense. Where you're coming from and where you're going to also help determing the correct pedaling for an organist.

            Michael

          • andijah
            andijah commented
            Editing a comment
            And not to forget: there is no "pedalling police", even if some scholars act as if there were ;-)
            There are of course some basics that can help developing a suitable technique, but in the end, it's also an individual thing as myorgan already pointed out.

        • #9
          Measure 4, I would have played that A with my left heel, but if the left toe works for you, go with it.
          Hammond RT-3, Estey circa 1903, Baldwin Acrosonic spinet piano, Fender Rhodes Mark I 73 stage piano.

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