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Hhow many pipe organ manufacturers will be able to stay in business?

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  • #16
    I hear people say that the organ needs to be de-coupled from the church to survive, but I'm not so sure. The organ has existed in non-church settings for a long time now -- theater organs in big halls, the Hammond organ in vast swaths of popular music culture, from rock to pop to Gospel to blues, etc. The "home organ" craze that came and went. And of course touring organs, as Larry points out, have been around for a long time, with Cameron Carpenter's a conspicuous current example. That was a parallel universe, but didn't seem to either add to or detract from the overall appreciation of the organ itself.

    It was the organ as the supreme leading instrument of worship -- the King of Instruments -- the tool of Bach and other greats of church music -- that stood for centuries as the shining example of both high art and genuine music of the people, appreciated and loved by vast numbers of people of all statures, even by those who took it for granted in church every week.

    Seems to me that the current decline of the organ simply coincides with the rejection of the traditional organ by what appears to be the majority of churches these days. I know that in the Episcopal/Anglican world organs are nearly universal still, and in certain other segments of Christianity. But if you saw what I see every day, largely Baptist and Methodist and Catholic churches, you'd be appalled. Fewer and fewer organs even exist in these churches, and many that do are not being used like a real organ. Most are in fact just being tolerated by some "modern-thinking" music "pastor" who really can't wait for the little old lady to kick the bucket so he can roll that thing off the "stage" for good.

    The church market was always the primary market for new organs, and it is the vanishing of that market that is killing the organ industry in the US. Yes, I know there are pipe organ builders with backlogs, and there are still showcase pipe organs in marvelous churches all over the place. But the market by and large is absolutely dead in the water.

    The decline of the organ also seems to me to coincide with a spiritual rot that is growing throughout the culture. Yes, there are Big Box churches that are flourishing, even burgeoning, expanding, opening new branches, building new arenas. But the culture continues to coarsen, standards continue to erode, kids are growing up crude and totally unaware of their history, their heritage, the art and culture from which we all sprang.

    So I'm beginning to think (somewhat pessimistically) that we are headed for some kind of apocalyptic crash. Or at least the end of culture as we know it. Is it the fault of the church, or is the church just another victim of the mass extinction of common sense and decency? I don't know. But I am afraid that we have lost something of tremendous value and it may be difficult if not impossible to ever get it back.

    I'm doing my best in my little corner of the world to make the organ and its music the best it can be in my own little church, and to encourage other organists wherever I find them to do the same. That's all I know to do.
    John
    ----------
    Church: Allen MDS-45 with Allen MIDI-DIVISION-II expander
    Home: Allen Renaissance R-230 with expanded four-channel audio and MIDI-DIVISION-II
    Shop: Bunch of organs in varying conditions, some good, some not...
    Half of an incredible two-man organ service team -- servicing all the major digitals in Arkansas churches
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

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    • #17
      Originally posted by jbird604 View Post
      I hear people say that the organ needs to be de-coupled from the church to survive, but I'm not so sure.
      I wouldn't go so far as that, but I do believe that in today's cultural climate, the organ's association with weddings, funerals, and preaching isn't helping its popularity. In the first half of the last century many municipalities actually competed amongst themselves for bragging rights as to the best municipal organ. Organs were integral part of theatres, sports venues, and the meeting places of fraternal orders such as the Masons and Elks. As amplified music became more ubiquitous, the need for these instruments, and their cost and operational overhead decreased their use, and the church and the funeral parlor remained the last bastion of the public's exposure to organs.

      Other organ uses, such as its use in soap operas, also became cliched and died off being replaced by recorded music.

      The home organ craze of the early '70's became a subject of parody and ridicule due to the cheesy sound, primitive technology and clueless sales people, and further the diminished the stature of the organ in the eyes of the public.



      Originally posted by jbird604 View Post
      Seems to me that the current decline of the organ simply coincides with the rejection of the traditional organ by what appears to be the majority of churches these days.
      To me that simply illustrates the organ's association with traditional worship. If the organ, due to its association with religion is too stodgy for today's congregations, it's because of its association with past styles of worship. What does that say about the perception of the organ in worship? To me it's an indication that decoupling the organ from its universal association with the church is good thing if it is ever to become popular again.

      Originally posted by jbird604 View Post
      I'm doing my best in my little corner of the world to make the organ and its music the best it can be in my own little church, and to encourage other organists wherever I find them to do the same. That's all I know to do.
      That's why we're here. Right Tex?
      -Admin

      Allen 965
      Zuma Group Midi Keyboard Encoder
      Zuma Group DM Midi Stop Controller
      Hauptwerk 4.2

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      • #18
        Yes, that's why we're here! My long-held theory about the death of "traditional worship" is that it committed a slow agonizing suicide. As a card-carrying baby boomer who was there holding a guitar and a tambourine in 1969, practically protesting on the church lawn for the end of church as we knew it (CAWKI). For CAWKI had deteriorated from the heady days of the 50's and early 60's when Hammond organs and Baldwin pianos accompanying smiling choirs in slick new robes singing John Peterson anthems had taken the Southern Baptist Convention by storm, an outgrowth of "A Million More in Fifty-Four."

        No, by 1969 the little old ladies who played the piano and organ and headed up the social committee in the choir were getting long in the tooth and bent over in the back. The once-exuberant singing of hymns had turned into a boring mishmash of rehashing the old favorite somewhat country-flavored "hymns" of the pre-WWII church fathers and mothers, and the repetitive and seemingly pointless "rituals" of song service followed by preaching followed by dolorous "invitation" was driving us all up the wall. Especially now that we had HEARD guitars and drums and hand-clapping in CHURCH (or at least in church camp).

        So we wanted change. That's CHANGE in all caps. We didn't know what we wanted though. We just knew we didn't want more of the same, of CAWKI. And what was dangled before us was "folk church" or "the spiritual journey" or whatever you call it. It definitely involved guitars, and probably did NOT involve the organ or choir.

        Trouble with that revolution was that it threw out the baby with the bath water. What we detested about CAWKI was the boring old repetitive music and the boring sermons and the dreary atmosphere. We thought we'd just goose it up with some fun songs and get a younger preacher and have some coffee in the vestibule.

        What happened along the way was that the boring old music was replaced with what has now become boring new music. The boring old preaching is now boring new preaching. And the moralizing and the shaming and the begging for money and the hyper-concern with "growing the church" are all still there in spades.

        WHAT WE REALLY NEEDED TO DO instead of replacing the boring old stuff with boring new stuff was to figure out what was actually MISSING from so-called "traditional worship" that made it seem so pointless and empty. I'm of the opinion that what was missing, and still is, can be summed up rather succinctly in the world "liturgy."

        Of course, you say "liturgy" in many contexts today and they think you've lost your mind for sure. There are still folks out there who think the reason the church is where it is today is because of the centuries-long practices of the pre-19th century church, the stuff they used to do everywhere -- grand gathering hymns, lighting of candles, reciting of creeds and prayers, elaborate choral music, carefully crafted communion rituals. This mindset says that the church was "dead" until the "revivals" of the 18th and 19th centuries "revived" it with charismatic preaching, enthusiastic crowds singing knee-slapping pop-style tunes while shouting and hollering and having ecstatic experiences. That today's typical contemporary worship is just the greatest thing to ever happen to the church since "Sinners in the hands of an angry God."

        I think we need to totally re-think the "rebellion" we boomers participated in 50-some years ago. We made a serious mistake, and it's not impossible to undo it even now. We need serious efforts underway to re-create the truly "traditional" historic worship that the church developed over the centuries between Christ and the "Great Awakenings."

        So that's my story and I'm sticking with it.
        John
        ----------
        Church: Allen MDS-45 with Allen MIDI-DIVISION-II expander
        Home: Allen Renaissance R-230 with expanded four-channel audio and MIDI-DIVISION-II
        Shop: Bunch of organs in varying conditions, some good, some not...
        Half of an incredible two-man organ service team -- servicing all the major digitals in Arkansas churches
        https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

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