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  • Hymn playing technique question

    In the attached short sample of the hymn Praise to the Lord the Almighty, the organist uses a technique whereby instead of pausing for the usual beat between the phrases -- to allow the choir to inhale -- he glides up to the next phrase with a few notes. Is there a particular name for that technique?

    Snippet.mp3
    -------

    Hammond M-102 #21000.
    Leslie 147 #F7453.
    Hammond S-6 #72421
  • Answer selected by myorgan at 11-14-2021, 05:57 PM.

    I can't give a definitive answer either, but I'm inclined to use a combination of ideas - arpeggiation and passing notes.

    The 'filler' goes from tonic note to dominant note over a tonic chord, so the filler could have just been the single-note mediant, which is still a chord note in this instance. The result is an arpeggiation of the tonic chord where it is not notated. Eg. C - G becomes C - E - G

    On top of that, adding notes 2 and 4 - those are the passing notes that fill in in between chord tones. Eg. Now, C-E-G becomes C-D-E-F-G

    [Side note - such an arpeggiation could have been ornamented in other ways, too, such as with upper or lower neighbors, or appoggiaturas or changing tones.]

    A passing note/tone is a passing note/tone, whether it is written in or not.

    The word 'improvisation' by itself is not enough to identify or label the technique. Improvisation and composition both encompass many kinds of non-chord tones.

    Leading tones? I wouldn't call them that. To my mind and according to my training, a leading tone is the note a semi-tone below the tonic or the semi-tone below a note that is temporarily being treated as a tonic. The leading tone leads by half-step up to the tonic. In this respect, it is a single note, not a series of notes, unless you have some kind of ascending chromatic line in which case the supporting chord progression will dictate whether they are indeed leading tones, or just chromatic passing notes.

    Comment


    • myorgan
      myorgan commented
      Editing a comment
      Excellent dissertation, professor! I always envy your dissection of the issues and your ability to explain them in layman's terms. I knew someone closer to his/her formal training would finally come up with the most logical answer.

      Thank you!

      Michael

  • #2
    Originally posted by gtc View Post
    Is there a particular name for that technique?
    Leading tones? I've used that technique for many years, but never put a name to it. I was probably taught the correct terminology in college, but have long since forgotten.😉

    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


    • #3
      I'd probably label them as passing tones, a type of embellishing or non-chord tone.

      Comment


      • #4
        I might just call it "improvising." He is throwing in a little "run" to connect the end of the second phrase to the beginning of the third, working his run into the otherwise unused two counts at the end of the phrase.

        When I was a flashier Baptist "piano player" I used to invent those kinds of things to gussy up the Gospel songs. Used in a grander piece like this hymn, it still sounds quite appropriate, though of course a stickler for detail might say it was unnecessary to ornament an already lovely tune like that. For sure I wouldn't want to do it on every verse. Maybe just to make the final verse a little more dramatic and punchy, but if you do something like that all the time it becomes trite and people quit noticing it anyway.

        Nothing wrong with improvising, and certainly nothing wrong with making our hymns more interesting and dramatic, using whatever tools we have available as organists.
        John
        ----------
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        Comment


        • #5
          Perhaps all the above are "correct" in one way or another. I understand the "passing tone" reference, but where they are not written in, I'm inclined to go with John's theory of "improvisation." In fact, that came immediately to mind, but I don't necessarily believe a true improvisation would be limited to 2 to 4 beats in a piece.

          Further, in some pieces, I play a scale leading up to the beginning of the next phrase, but I wouldn't consider that improvisation–more characteristicaly "fills" (in jazz terms). I chose the term "leading tones," because they lead to the next soprano phrase. Alternately, sometimes people will use the bass tones to "walk" up a few notes (i.e. C,D,E,F) and then land on the next bass notes (G in this case). Perhaps I should have used the phrase, "voice leading" because that's the term used in choral composition.

          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


          • #6
            I can't give a definitive answer either, but I'm inclined to use a combination of ideas - arpeggiation and passing notes.

            The 'filler' goes from tonic note to dominant note over a tonic chord, so the filler could have just been the single-note mediant, which is still a chord note in this instance. The result is an arpeggiation of the tonic chord where it is not notated. Eg. C - G becomes C - E - G

            On top of that, adding notes 2 and 4 - those are the passing notes that fill in in between chord tones. Eg. Now, C-E-G becomes C-D-E-F-G

            [Side note - such an arpeggiation could have been ornamented in other ways, too, such as with upper or lower neighbors, or appoggiaturas or changing tones.]

            A passing note/tone is a passing note/tone, whether it is written in or not.

            The word 'improvisation' by itself is not enough to identify or label the technique. Improvisation and composition both encompass many kinds of non-chord tones.

            Leading tones? I wouldn't call them that. To my mind and according to my training, a leading tone is the note a semi-tone below the tonic or the semi-tone below a note that is temporarily being treated as a tonic. The leading tone leads by half-step up to the tonic. In this respect, it is a single note, not a series of notes, unless you have some kind of ascending chromatic line in which case the supporting chord progression will dictate whether they are indeed leading tones, or just chromatic passing notes.

            Comment


            • myorgan
              myorgan commented
              Editing a comment
              Excellent dissertation, professor! I always envy your dissection of the issues and your ability to explain them in layman's terms. I knew someone closer to his/her formal training would finally come up with the most logical answer.

              Thank you!

              Michael

          • #7
            Originally posted by jbird604 View Post
            He is throwing in a little "run" to connect the end of the second phrase to the beginning of the third, working his run into the otherwise unused two counts at the end of the phrase.
            That's how I would probably describe it, too, but I want to discuss it with the organ teacher and I was hoping that there might be a simple one or two word term to cover it.

            Used in a grander piece like this hymn, it still sounds quite appropriate, though of course a stickler for detail might say it was unnecessary to ornament an already lovely tune like that. For sure I wouldn't want to do it on every verse. Maybe just to make the final verse a little more dramatic and punchy, but if you do something like that all the time it becomes trite and people quit noticing it anyway.
            Good point. In this case, he uses it between 2nd and 3rd phrase of each verse. I quite like it.


            -------

            Hammond M-102 #21000.
            Leslie 147 #F7453.
            Hammond S-6 #72421

            Comment


            • #8
              Thank you all for the informative replies. I'll refer to it as arpeggiation and passing notes. 👍
              -------

              Hammond M-102 #21000.
              Leslie 147 #F7453.
              Hammond S-6 #72421

              Comment

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