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Novice Question - Play Hymns, If Bass in Pedals, Then Not On Manual?

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  • #16
    Thanks, everyone.

    I'm just sitting at the organ, playing a couple of hours or each day, finding anything marked as a relatively slow tempo from my batch of The Organist from the 1970's, and also playing hymns with bass in feet, tenor in left hand, SA in right hand. Usually about 3 times through any given piece, just to try to learn something from it before moving on, and I have a few favorites that I'm working on to use as preludes or postludes come September. (It works out OK for me that summer services are in the multi-purpose room and on the piano.)

    I will try to post a photo later today or tomorrow. It is an Allen Digital Computer Organ ADC 3100-CR, vintage 1985.

    S-

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    • #17
      No photo yet, sorry - just had it serviced yesterday, though. New midrange drivers in both cabinets, everything cleaned up, sounds great.

      I am getting to the point where I can kinda, sorta sight-read hymns at maybe 40 to the quarter, bass in my feet, SAT on either the Great or the Swell. That's progress and I'm pleased.

      One thing I will ask about - at the piano, I instruct my students to line up their belly button with middle C and that helps them know where they are. If they have to play an octave higher, as we sometimes do in duets, they just move their belly button up to the next C.

      The Middle Cs on my two manuals line up, and they even line up with the C on the pedals pretty closely, but those are not in the middle of the 5-octave manuals of the organ or the two-and-a-half octaves of the pedals. And on some organs I've played on, the manuals are a bit offset from one another.

      What's the general guidance, if any, as to where to place one's self? Just aim for the middle of the instrument, figure out where that it, and get used to it? Or something else, perhaps?

      Thanks very much.

      -S-

      Comment


      • #18
        Originally posted by Steve Freides View Post
        One thing I will ask about - at the piano, I instruct my students to line up their belly button with middle C and that helps them know where they are. If they have to play an octave higher, as we sometimes do in duets, they just move their belly button up to the next C.

        The Middle Cs on my two manuals line up, and they even line up with the C on the pedals pretty closely, but those are not in the middle of the 5-octave manuals of the organ or the two-and-a-half octaves of the pedals. And on some organs I've played on, the manuals are a bit offset from one another.

        What's the general guidance, if any, as to where to place one's self? Just aim for the middle of the instrument, figure out where that it, and get used to it? Or something else, perhaps?
        Steve,

        I can answer this one!!! On my recent trip around the Eastern US, my wife was reading a theatre organ book to me as we drove. That particular author advised lining up with Middle D (next to Middle C) on the organ. According to him, they all line up. I never knew that before. Of course, you can search the Forum for AGO specifications, but that alignment may also be provided in that document.

        Hope this helps.

        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


        • #19
          Originally posted by Steve Freides View Post
          No photo yet, sorry - just had it serviced yesterday, though. New midrange drivers in both cabinets, everything cleaned up, sounds great.

          I am getting to the point where I can kinda, sorta sight-read hymns at maybe 40 to the quarter, bass in my feet, SAT on either the Great or the Swell. That's progress and I'm pleased.

          One thing I will ask about - at the piano, I instruct my students to line up their belly button with middle C and that helps them know where they are. If they have to play an octave higher, as we sometimes do in duets, they just move their belly button up to the next C.

          The Middle Cs on my two manuals line up, and they even line up with the C on the pedals pretty closely, but those are not in the middle of the 5-octave manuals of the organ or the two-and-a-half octaves of the pedals. And on some organs I've played on, the manuals are a bit offset from one another.

          What's the general guidance, if any, as to where to place one's self? Just aim for the middle of the instrument, figure out where that it, and get used to it? Or something else, perhaps?

          Thanks very much.

          -S-
          That is good progress. Nice work.

          I play on a couple very different instruments, and I play in different positions on each. The Hook has G compass 58 note manuals, with a straight flat 27 note pedal board, and the C's don't line up! The Wilhelm that i take lessons on is AGO, and my practice Conn 645 is close to AGO, I think.

          I also have noticed that I will unconsciously reposition myself if playing two pieces in very different keys, one right after the other. I don't know if this is good or bad, but I don't notice my position most of the time. I only seems to notice if it feels wrong, just at first. Not sure if that makes sense. I don't have a lifetime of experience, so...

          Johann Sebastian Bach

          (at Home) Conn 645 Theater Deluxe
          (at Church) 1836 E. & G.G. Hook Bros, Opus 26

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          • #20
            I have been playing the bass part on both manual and pedals the whole time I have been playing. Is that considered a bad habit?

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            • #21
              Grayson,

              Not necessarily. Just not usually necessary. Depending on your registration, you may already have one or more manuals coupled to the pedals, so if you are pedaling the bass line, the bass note is already sounding on the manual stops too.

              Honestly, and I'm one of the more amateurish players on this forum, I don't worry about that at all. Most of my playing is hymn playing for church, and my goal is to play the four parts as written, or at least to properly render the chord structure of each syllable. Since I grew up playing piano, and as a budding pianist I became pretty good at "expanding" the written four parts into (sometimes) large two-handed chords, it comes naturally to me to play the hymn parts in various inversions as needed, transferring parts between hands automatically as needed.

              So, most of the time I'm probably playing the bass line on the pedals and concentrating on getting the rest of the chord structure divided between the two hands. But sometimes I find myself including the bass notes as well with my left hand, out of habit, or just because it's easier for me to mentally "build" the chords with that note included. But I'm sure glad that I have my feet to keep the bass line going when it gets too complex to play with one pinky finger!

              As I said somewhere up there, when I started playing organ about a hundred years ago I thought pedaling would be the hardest part, but I've long since stopped thinking that. Playing the bass line with both feet now comes just as naturally as playing four parts on the piano keys ever did. My usual challenge is getting a suitably smooth motion with my hands, particularly when soprano and alto lines are both in motion and are about a sixth apart. On the piano the damper pedal would make it legato, but I don't have such a pedal on my organ!
              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

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              • #22
                Originally posted by Grayson Cordova View Post
                I have been playing the bass part on both manual and pedals the whole time I have been playing. Is that considered a bad habit?
                When playing hymns, you will do better to play just the tenor line with left hand and let the feet play bass in the pedal. It will allow your hands to play the soprano, alto, and tenor lines more freely. I often times play tenor and alto in the left, if the alto line is close to the tenor. Plus, if you ever want to solo out the soprano on another manual, you will need to cover the alto with your left hand, and for many hymns it would be physically impossible to play bass, tenor, and alto with the left hand.

                Johann Sebastian Bach

                (at Home) Conn 645 Theater Deluxe
                (at Church) 1836 E. & G.G. Hook Bros, Opus 26

                Comment


                • #23
                  Originally posted by Grayson Cordova View Post
                  I have been playing the bass part on both manual and pedals the whole time I have been playing. Is that considered a bad habit?
                  Grayson,

                  When playing Bass in the Pedals only, just think of it as less work for the same result!

                  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


                  • #24
                    I tried that during my practice session this morning, I found it quite tricky, but I guess it something to get used to

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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by Grayson Cordova View Post
                      I have been playing the bass part on both manual and pedals the whole time I have been playing. Is that considered a bad habit?
                      As long is you're able to do it other ways, then no.

                      -S-

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                      • #26
                        I came across this thread and wondered how Steve Freides is coming along with his organ playing a year after this thread. Are you still here Steve? As a serious pianist who took up the organ later I can sympathise with the issues he described and his approach. It sounds like I did something very similar while I was learning to include my feet in my thinking.
                        Viscount C400 3-manual
                        8 channels + 2 reverb channels (w/ Lexicon MX200)
                        Klipsch RSX-3 speakers and Klipsch Ultra 5.1 subwoofers

                        Comment


                        • #27
                          Originally posted by rjsilva View Post
                          I came across this thread and wondered how Steve Freides is coming along with his organ playing a year after this thread. Are you still here Steve? As a serious pianist who took up the organ later I can sympathise with the issues he described and his approach. It sounds like I did something very similar while I was learning to include my feet in my thinking.
                          Thank you for asking.

                          I am making progress doing pedal exercises at home, but after not playing the organ over the summer (of 2016), I came back to find the pedals not working - 16 of them work, 16 don't. The organ we have is old and not longed for this world, am at this point, I can only play on the Great - the Swell and the Positive are connected to speakers that are mostly blown and sound pretty horrible.

                          The state of the budget at the church is that they won't replace this instrument until it's unusable altogether, and perhaps not even then. I have had to move to the electronic piano they have in the middle of a service when, on a warm day, the organ simply stopped working. But it works well enough, most of the time, so it's my partner in music making there for the time being. It's a small church - typically 30 people on a Sunday, I'd say, and that includes the choir.

                          Unfortunately, since I cannot play the pedals in church, I am less motivated to practice them at home, but practice I do.

                          -S-

                          Comment


                          • #28
                            I did also see the thread about your pedal problem. I wasn't following it closely though. Have you been able to investigate the suggestions? You said the cabling was complicated. Is that insurmountable for you?

                            I can relate to your reduced motivation When I started playing organ I used the pedal coupler (named differently on different organs...) and it sounded fine so I was not very motivated to use my feet even though I did want to. If we can get by then there's less motivation, and in your case you're kind of forced into getting by. I'm not sure what motivated me to really buckle down but I was putting in 3-4 hours most days reading hymns and exercises on the organ to get over the mental hurdle of using my feet to play notes. Anything I can do to help you I'd be happy to, although you've already received good advice.
                            Viscount C400 3-manual
                            8 channels + 2 reverb channels (w/ Lexicon MX200)
                            Klipsch RSX-3 speakers and Klipsch Ultra 5.1 subwoofers

                            Comment


                            • #29
                              The difficulties with the organ are tough to explain. Some days, you start to play and it kind of crescendos on every key. And some days, that happens when you turn it on but after it warms up a bit, that stops; other days, it's OK when you start and then it morphs into the crescendo on every key after you're played for a while. The wiring at the back is so fragile that a slight touch, literally, can add a huge hum to the sound. One day, since last September, all the pedals worked and then, as mysteriously as they worked, they stopped again and haven't worked since.

                              I'm doin' the best I can ...

                              And if I had 3-4 hours a day to practice hymns, I'd be thrilled, and I'm delighted to hear of your dedication. I had that kind of practice time earlier in my life, but not lately.

                              -S-

                              Comment


                              • #30
                                My schedule is flexible in that way which is very nice, and actually has been for many years since my early 20s. Those hours on the organ were mainly replacing piano practise time and I had to temporarily sacrifice some things there, although I didn't mind because becoming proficient on organ was important to me. Now I try to split 50/50.

                                Hope there is a solution to your organ troubles in the near future. Too bad there isn't the budget to work it out. Have you looked locally on Craigslist for potential replacements? Sometimes they can be found for cheap or even free.
                                Viscount C400 3-manual
                                8 channels + 2 reverb channels (w/ Lexicon MX200)
                                Klipsch RSX-3 speakers and Klipsch Ultra 5.1 subwoofers

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