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    A question on learning the organ

    When I learn any instrumt (and especially the pipe organ) there are two things that need my focus and attention.
    1. The technichal aspect
    2. The musical and compositional aspect

    I find that it is easy to focus on the technichal stuff. Most music teacher do that. Some are better teacher than others of course but all focus on technique.
    Not too many teachers focus on how to understand music and make up your own music.
    Here is an example: I asked my organ teacher how to play Twinkle twinkle little star. He told me that all I really needed was the melody in RH with tonic and dominant in the bass (pedals or LH).
    Then I added more voices in order to make it four-part harmony. I would probably need at least the voices if I want to always have the third of each chord played (we want to bear if a chord is major or minor)
    This could also be seen as a technical exercices, ie how to play the pedals.
    Most of the hymns I have tried to learn is too difficult, both technichally and musically. It seems that the arrangements of hymns found in the books are too difficult for a beginner.
    The only thing to do is to compose your own simple arrangement. Even if I could find easy technichal exercices for four-part playing there would still be a problem left. How would I learn how the arrangement works musically without making up my own!? I only learn by trying myself, ie not just repeating what others have already written on a score.
    In the example given above it was not too much theory that helped but simple explanations of how the music works. I tried the theoretical way of composing but never really understood how to make a four-part arrangement to the most simple tunes. Also, simple technichal exercices like a three-part Twinkle twinkle little star helped me.
    What are your experiences with this? What worked for you?

    #2
    I asked you once: what are your goals? Do you want to be a musician, or be a composer. To compose you don't need to waste time on the technic. If you want to play an instrument you don't need to know how to compose. If you want to do BOTH, and that is certainly valid ... you left it kind of late. You need to have some patience with yourself and the process of becoming educated as a musician. There are no shortcuts. Hymns are drop dead easy for me to figure out. I can't remember when that wasn't so. Even as an 8 year old I could get my head around simple 4 part harmony. If you need things even simpler then just leave out the inner parts. You could, I guess, make up your own simpler melodies ... how? Isn't the reason you are writing this post because you don't have the skills yet to compose like you would like?

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      #3
      A better "only thing to do" is to learn how to play the hymns. Most arrangements in hymnals are in simple four-part harmony. If that's too hard to play, it makes more sense to break it down and play one or two voices at a time rather than rewrite the music. You shouldn't have to rewrite a hymn to "learn how the arrangement works."

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        #4
        If you want to learn how to write 4 part hymns, study how existing hymns are written. After which, try to model the hymns you have studied by writing your own using the techniques you have learned from your studies.

        Usually when in the first stages of learning an instrument the technical aspect is more of an obstacle than the musical aspect. It is through technique which a performer is able to express their ideas through the instrument. One needs at least some grounding in technique before they are able to become musical with an instrument.

        Study in music, whether it be performance, composition or both, takes time - it is not something you instantly learn overnight. Try to break down your studies into smaller goals. It seems you are becoming overwhelmed with absorbing all of this information at once. In time it will all make sense, but you need to be patient.

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          #5
          For me, arranging a hymn is not the same as writing a new piece = composing.
          In previous threads, we seem to have had some misunderstandings maybe due to the fact that English is not the first language of the thread opener, but that might be just my interpretation...

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            #6
            Originally posted by andijah View Post
            For me, arranging a hymn is not the same as writing a new piece = composing.
            In previous threads, we seem to have had some misunderstandings maybe due to the fact that English is not the first language of the thread opener, but that might be just my interpretation...
            The problem is: you are missunderstanding me.
            I was just saying that all we need in order to play a hymn is three chords. There is one hymn I can easily play with three chords but the arrangement found in the chorale book is much harder to play.
            Also, I learm by arranging myself.
            When we were kids we never tried to seperate understanding, composing and techninque. Sure we had times when focus was on just repeating a word. As adults we seperate technique from composing/arranging.
            With twinkle twinkle littles star I could learn both at the same time.
            i guess most lessons in keyboard playing is technique.
            I want to create stuff and learn that way. I want to be that child who learns music. Adults seperate too much.
            Some find it really fun to play without understanding. I hate it.I never speak a language that way. Not even reciting poem that way.
            You cannot even talk about things like dynamics without understanding the music.
            We have bassically lost our ability to learn by creating our own music. We are trying to be too non-children. Most music lessons suck. I want to live out my inner child.
            What can you say about this?

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              #7
              Well, I don't separate technique from music when I teach - and it doesn't matter whether I teach adults or children. If you want to let your inner child come forward, go and improvise.

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                #8
                I do distinguish between "Skills" and "Knowledge." Sometimes I learn both at the same time, but mostly i spend time focusing on one or the other. That doesn't mean that I ignore one while I do the other - I just tip the balance in favor of one at a time. Even when we were children, apparently acquiring both skills and knowledge, it's likely that any particular exercise improved one more than the other. There is nothing wrong with that.

                Children learning vs Adults learning, As an adult, I have a lot more information and experience in my mind than a child has. When I learn a new skill or acquire new knowledge, that is building on what already exists in my skill set or knowledge base. Therefore, it is quite reasonable that I can now acquire a new skill or new knowledge on its own, to complement what I already have.

                An example - I have learned some basic harmony rules and if I have enough time, I can write out a harmonization according to those rules, but I can't do it quickly and I certainly can't do it without pencil and paper. Although my knowledge may not increase, I can practice the skill of harmonization so that I can do it faster and I can do it at the keyboard, without having to write it out first.

                Another example - I have learned to play both staccato and legato, but have not learned when to use them if I'm playing a piece that doesn't have the articulation written in. I can read and listen to increase my knowledge of this topic. As my knowledge increases, I will better understand when and how to use my existing skills to articulate in different ways.

                A child is still building their skill set and knowledge base, so it is quite reasonable to assume that they are acquiring both in equal amounts.

                Some skills and knowledge will come easily to us; others will take time and some, in fact, may be beyond our grasp.

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                  #9
                  Originally posted by henrik.hank View Post
                  ... Most of the hymns I have tried to learn is too difficult, both technichally and musically. It seems that the arrangements of hymns found in the books are too difficult for a beginner.
                  The only thing to do is to compose your own simple arrangement. ...
                  The use of the word "only" is troubling. The same goes for people who use "never" or "always". These words are often used when they really aren't true.
                  There ARE other options to learning.

                  Here are SOME examples, but there are other ways, too.
                  - Start with easier hymns and work your way up to harder ones.
                  - Work on the skills that will make these pieces easier to play. Have a teacher who can identify what needs to be improved and help you achieve that improvement.
                  - Read about harmony to better understand the rules that apply to that style of writing. As your understanding of the rules increases, more things will make sense and you will see why the music was written the way it is.
                  - Listen to more of the kind of pieces you want to learn. Your ear will become familiar with how they sound and you will be able to anticipate aurally how a piece should unfold.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by regeron View Post
                    Children learning vs Adults learning, As an adult, I have a lot more information and experience in my mind than a child has.
                    I wonder if this could actually be my problem.
                    I have too many tools I can use. All that is needed is understanding the basics.
                    A simple hymn can be played with three simole chords. It could even be based on a bourdon. Some hymns in eg E can be play with E in the bass+ melody. Then you add H (or B as you call it) in the Bass. Some hymn and Twinkle twinkle little star only really need two chords. In E major you wpuod have E, B(7) and Esus (aka A/E).
                    My playing of music is a search for the fundamentals, the bare minimun). All the other stuff are details added to the foundation. And the more I study different music the more I learn about the fyndamentals of music.
                    i really just think you misdunderstood me.
                    What can you say about this?
                    I do have an organ teacher who is an amazing teacher but I would still be interested in your thougths.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Pop songs are structured around chords. Hymns (Chorale Tunes) are structured around chord progressions. Actually not even that. Chorale tunes are structured around a melody. Sometimes a melody so old that it pre-dates harmony (chords). Any connection between the chords you can use to accompany "Twinkle, Twinkle" and the melody is coincidental (unimportant). The fundamentals of keyboard and other instrumental music is scales. You will never be proficient as a musician without getting scales understood. The more thoroughly you understand your scales and the quicker and easier they are, the more fluent your overall technique.

                      Adult beginners seem to gravitate to chordal accompaniment, but that is not how children (should) learn. On the other hand you are not a child, Henrik. Why do you want to learn like a child does? It's too late for that. My advice: forget about the chords. I doubt your teacher is telling you to use chords to figure things out. Learn your major and minor scales and arpeggios, and learn your music theory fundamentals: circle of fifths, relative majors and minors, basic chord inversions. If you are innately musical the other stuff will grow naturally from what you are learning at the keyboard. Another poster already spoke to that.

                      A child doesn't think about the goal. If you really want to learn like a child does, relax and enjoy the journey. It's going to take as long as it needs to take. I am not the strongest music theoretician out there but I don't think there are any suspended chords in "Twinkle, Twinkle". Esus is NOT (A/E) A over E in the Bass would be a 2nd Inversion A chord I believe. Someone can correct me. Besides the fact that E major would be a strange key to sing "TTLS" in, your chord naming is not at all correct. There are no 7th chords in "TTLS" though I suppose someone sufficiently talented could work that in. No, that's not right, I guess the chord for the words ""What you" would be a 7th chord. Specifically a V7 going to a I (tonic).

                      Hmmm. This should be fun. Why don't you harmonize "TTLS" in C major for us. Beginning to end. Using standard conventions for naming each chord and the Roman Numerals that identify each chords place in the chord progression of the tune.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Henrik,

                        Originally posted by Leisesturm View Post
                        . . . . Esus is NOT (A/E) A over E in the Bass would be a 2nd Inversion A chord I believe. Someone can correct me. . . .
                        Leisesturm is correct. Esus is not A/E. As Leisesturm said, A/E is a second inversion A chord, which according to music theory is called a six-four chord. Esus is the shorthand name for a Esus4 which would be spelled E-A-B. In hymn, choral, and classical music, suspended four chords almost always resolve to the major chord of the same name (less frequently they resolve to the minor instead of major chord); in your example, Esus would resolve to E (or less frequently to Em). Suspended four chords are typically used to add a little "tension" to the sound. There is also a suspended two chord which replaces the third of the chord by the second tone in the scale. An Esus2 would be E-F#-B. These are much less common and are virtually always called Esus2 to distinguish it from the Esus = Esus4 chord.

                        Later,
                        Allen

                        P.S. A first inversion chord in music theory is called a six-three chord.
                        Currently own: Roland Atelier AT-90, Yamaha 115D, Roland DP-90SE, Yamaha PSR-S910

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