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  • pedalling hymns?

    For hymns, what octave do you play the pedals? As it is written, so if the base line says D2 is it okay to play D1 an octave lower than written? As long as the note is played does it matter what octave?

    I ask b/c I practice on a spinet so the majority of my bass notes are an octave lower than written.

    -Thanks

  • #2
    Originally posted by churchmusic View Post
    For hymns, what octave do you play the pedals? As it is written, so if the base line says D2 is it okay to play D1 an octave lower than written? As long as the note is played does it matter what octave?

    I ask b/c I practice on a spinet so the majority of my bass notes are an octave lower than written.
    For hymns I use the center octave of the pedals--especially when using a 32' stop. However, it is OK to play them an octave lower if that's what you prefer. Bottom line--the sound is what counts. Must be hard to practice on a spinet, and then transfer to a full-sized organ!

    However, if the piece is written in the key of G, and the bottom note of the bass line is G, then I'd certainly play it below the middle C in the pedals. The C on the staff (2nd space up on the Bass Clef) corresponds to the middle C of the pedal keyboard.

    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)
    • 9 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 6 Pianos

    Comment


    • #3
      Confession time for me: I pedal hymns with both feet (of course) and often play the bass notes in either octave randomly depending on which foot is where at that moment. This works fine except for when the basses are singing the bass line and listening for the correct notes from the organ. This is rare at my church.

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      • #4
        I have 20 hitch-down pedals on the chapel organ. If stuff has to be transferred up/down to work, then I just do it.
        Martin Hartley
        Choral Scholar at St Patrick's Cathedral, Parramatta, Australia
        Student at Campion College, Australia
        Assistant Organist at St Margaret Mary's Catholic Church, Merrylands, Australia

        The Novice Organist: http://noviceorganist.blogspot.com.au

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        • #5
          Yes, for hymns I also do "bottom octave" pedalling. I was told off by various teachers for doing this.

          For hymns I generally don't go higher than the G above middle C on the pedal board. If say a hymn had a bass note of A (top line on bass clef stave), I would transpose this down to A below middle C on the pedal board.
          1971 Allen Organ TC-3S (#42904) w/sequential capture system.
          Speakers: x1 Model 100 Gyro, x1 Model 105 & x3 Model 108.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by hartleymartin View Post
            I have 20 hitch-down pedals on the chapel organ. If stuff has to be transferred up/down to work, then I just do it.
            What's a 20 hitch down pedal board? Thank you for the responses, I would love to expand my playing but until I can get a full organ to practice on I have to make due.

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            • #7
              I usually start a hymn with the bass line as-written in the pedal. For subsequent stanzas, I will take liberties with the octaves, putting the pedal down an octave, continuing a downward moving bass line into the lower octave rather than following it back higher, adding intervening notes, or even holding important bass points for multiple counts, as long as the dissonance isn't too bad. I really don't like blindly playing the same thing over and over. For some hymns, starting the last verse in just octave unison (melody in pedal and both hands) can be very effective when there is either a forceful idea or expression of unity in the words. I don't carry the unison past the first phrase in this case. I think some variety in registration and harmony (even if just modifying the bass line a little) helps maintain congregational interest and also match the music to the words.

              Regarding the use of a 32', I don't think I see the point of bringing in a 32' if you are not going to get into the bottom octave. In hymns, a little 32' goes a long way, but I think it can add some nice flavor on the last stanza, or even the last line of the last stanza, for some hymns.

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              • #8
                I play the pedals in whichever octave sounds best or, in some cases, is easiest to play, especially when there are running eighths.

                When I get bored, I will play the bass line in octaves, or play the bass line with my left foot and the tenor line with my right foot, as long as the registration doesn't get too heavy. In that case, I will play the bass as low as possible, and the tenor as high as possible, to give lots of room between the two. It's also sometimes fun to use the right foot to play the melody while the left foot plays the bass.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by regeron View Post
                  In that case, I will play the bass as low as possible, and the tenor as high as possible, to give lots of room between the two.
                  Recollecting from many years ago??: Isn't that a basic principle of harmony?

                  > When soprano/altos go up, the bass/tenors go down to distance themselves;

                  and conversely:

                  > When soprano/altos go down, the bass/tenors come up to meet them. ??

                  I sometimes play the bass line in octaves, or occasionaly in fifths to emulate a sub-octave voice. Anyone use this technique??
                  Last edited by Clarion; 10-20-2012, 07:00 AM.
                  2008: Phoenix III/44

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                  • #10
                    The double-pedal options depend on the registration used in the pedal division. I'm not sure how to describe the differences [maybe someone can offer some help here] but if the registration is "wrong," playing both bass and tenor in a lower or close range can make things muddy. I suspect that it is a function of the balance between the fundamental and the overtones.

                    I don't know of many examples in the literature, but I have played Franz Tunder's "Jesus Christus, unser Heiland," in which he provides a different setting for each of 3 verses of the hymn. In the first setting, there is double-pedal throughout - a bass line, and the melody line; in choral terms, it looks like the First Basses have the melody and the Second basses have the bass line, with Tenor, Alto and Soprano above - a 5-part setting.

                    While the First Basses present the melody in a straightforward manner, the Second Basses occasionally have running eighths and counter rhythms!!

                    The Left Foot [Second Bass] covers an octave and a half, from low C1 to F18.
                    The Right Foot [First Bass] plays one octave, the range of the melody, from D15 to D 27.
                    Last edited by regeron; 10-20-2012, 06:07 AM. Reason: text addition

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by crapwonk View Post
                      Regarding the use of a 32', I don't think I see the point of bringing in a 32' if you are not going to get into the bottom octave. In hymns, a little 32' goes a long way, but I think it can add some nice flavor on the last stanza, or even the last line of the last stanza, for some hymns.
                      requires both feet at once. There are several others, but I don't have time to look. There was a thread on the topic a few years ago.
                      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)
                      • 9 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 6 Pianos

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        In church, the organ has little 16' pedal tone so I would tend to play more on the bottom end. However, I do learn the part as written. Switching between bottom octave pedaling, as written, and manuals only can give more orchestration options.

                        As others have also said, I will often bring down an octave any notes lower than G or A.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by myorgan View Post
                          The point of a 32' is so that the pedaling can lie directly under your body with both feet as opposed to playing always to the left with only one, and sometimes two feet. If you look at the tessitura of the bass line of almost any hymn, it will almost always extend below C on the bass clef. Therefore, when playing the pedal in the octave it is written, the pedal (with the 32') will extend below C on the bass clef, down to G or F below the clef. It makes it easier for basses to follow the bass line.

                          Why should one not transpose various bass notes either higher or lower at random in a hymn? The technical explanation is that voice-leading can result in parallel octaves or 5ths rather than contrary motion (close to open, or open to close harmony). Historically, that's a no-no in part writing. Of course, nowadays, everything's fair game, so have at it, and enjoy your 32'!
                          I had never considered this idea regarding a 32' being used to essentially transpose down an octave. I have long limbs, so have never had any problem accessing the full pedalboard from a central seating position. However, I have seen organists slide from side to side in order to reach the pedal board extremes. I don't know how they keep track of their position.

                          However, this is certainly not 'the' point for using a 32' stop. If so, you would never need that bottom octave of huge and budget busting pipes. The point of a 32' is to provide another color in the palette that includes sensory components near the bottom and below hearing range. This goes in spades for the rara avis 64'.

                          Playing the bass line higher or lower at "random" is not desirable if it destroys the flow of the line. If I were accompanying a choir anthem, I would play it as written; however, a realistic registration would include at least 16' and 8', so even in this case, there would already be a doubling of the bass line an octave lower than written.

                          However, this does not rule out either playing an octave lower or adding a 32' stop to add emphasis, color, or power to a phrase or stanza of a hymn. Neither of these (dropping the octave or adding 32') will trip the contrapuntal rules for octaves or fifths. No new octaves or fifths are created if not already present - so no new fouls in this regard. In fact, a normal pedal registration for hymns (and other truly contrapuntal works also) will include stops at 16', 8', and 4', so even if the bass line is played as written there are already new components an octave higher and lower than written. If you couple a manual to the pedal, you probably are fuzzing it up even further by putting more harmonic components in play from any 2' and mixtures. Dropping the octave or adding a 32' is a color consideration, not a voice leading consideration.

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                          • #14
                            I recommend pedaling as written in the hymn that you are playing, whether you are accompanying a choir or not. The reason for this is primarily good voice leading. If you shift octaves, you run the risk of objectionable parallels at the fifth or octave, which has been a no-no for a couple hundred years of common practice in tonal harmony. It is usually best to couple the Gt. and/or Sw. to the pedal division, and then add 8' and 16' from the pedal division. I do not recommend the use of a 32', unless it is very quiet or derived from the 16'. The reason for this is that usually a 32' is too powerful for a congregation to sing with, and the bass harmonics can mess with the way they hear the melody line. One exception to this rule is a full organ or sforzando. With either of those registrations a 32' may be desired to fill out the sonic palette. The number one rule to follow is this: use your ear and your own good musical sense. If it doesn't sound good, don't play it that way.
                            John Milas
                            Westminster Choir College '16
                            Organ Performance
                            Theory/Composition

                            Organist: Incarnation-St. James Parish, Ewing, NJ
                            Substitute Organist: St. Paul's, Princeton, NJ
                            Accompanist to the Canticum Novum Women's Ensemble

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                            • #15
                              Rodgers805c,

                              First of all, welcome to the Forum, and I hope you enjoy your time here. From your first post, one can see you have knowledge about that which you speak.
                              Originally posted by Rodgers805c View Post
                              The reason for this is primarily good voice leading. If you shift octaves, you run the risk of objectionable parallels at the fifth or octave, which has been a no-no for a couple hundred years of common practice in tonal harmony.
                              Thank you for your vote of support. I was beginning to feel alone on this topic.

                              Again, welcome to the Forum, and I look forward to your continued contributions.

                              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)
                              • 9 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 6 Pianos

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