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    My Church's organ

    Our regular organist is likely not going be able to play again (she has Parkinson's). Church organists are getting to be hard to find. A working organist from a nearby town stopped by to check out our organ and midi system to see if he'd be interested in a job pre-recording on midi earlier in the week any organ music we need for Sunday morning. He is interested, yay! And I'd likely be the playback person. He kind of blew through a quick Crown Him with Many Crowns, so I thought I'd share it here, along with a quick look at our organ. It was originally a Pilcher organ, but has had been added to through the years, and finally a major renovation with IC board controllers and new Trumpet and Hautbois ranks, and a Zimblestern. It's small but I think it's delightful! I hope you enjoy the video.

    Originally played/recorded by Kenny Lewis:

    Last edited by Vebo; 10-15-2019, 04:20 PM. Reason: For got to credit organist by name.
    Allen ADC 3500
    Hammond L100

    #2
    Some enthusiastic playing for sure! Must have been an experienced organist with a good deal of extra talent for showing off the organ to good effect, creative registrations and such. Organ sounds like it's in pretty good shape too, no obvious tuning issues that I heard. I hope someone will turn up to play it. Recordings or MIDI sequences are better than nothing, but don't really take the place of a live organist in the service.

    Incidentally, I was just discussing this very thing with an organist today. She related how the church had tried but had little luck using MIDI recordings in her absence. One big issue is finding a competent playback operator (though I'm sure you'd be a good one!) who will start and stop the sequences at the right moments.

    There is usually at least some delay between pressing the PLAY button and getting the first notes out. This little lag, which might not be over 5 or 10 seconds, can seem like an eternity when everyone is standing there expecting the music to start immediately when announced. Even worse when the organ is supposed to give the notes for a response -- the leader does his/her part, then there is this huge dead space while the organ gets ready to play it's few notes... So it's a matter of figuring out how much "lead time" you need with your particular MIDI playback system.
    John
    ----------
    Church: Allen MDS-45 with Allen MIDI-DIVISION-II expander
    Home: Rodgers Allegiant 677 with expanded four-channel audio
    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

    Comment


      #3
      Good things to keep in mind. I imagine I'll do just like what I do for singing hymns, turn to the next hymn right after singing the last, i.e., bring up the midi playback next needed as soon as done with the previous one. I may need to work with the recording organist to minimize any blank time before music begins.

      And yes, you are 100% right, it's not the same or as good as having a live organist for sure, but better than letting our instrument fall silent as have so many right here in this very town. We will still keep looking for an organist to play live, we actually have rules against pre-recorded music from CDs, etc, so this is skirting right up to the line.

      By the way, one little old lady said it was too loud (the trumpets), and asked if they could be turned down. We tried to explain the installer said they had been voiced as softly as possible, so no. I think we may have to make a poster of this pic and post it prominently in the church.

      Click image for larger version

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      Allen ADC 3500
      Hammond L100

      Comment


      • Larrytow
        Larrytow commented
        Editing a comment
        Congratulations on finding your new organist. It sounds like that will work out nicely enough, in a difficult situation.

        Thanks for the photo ! I saved it for potential future use, should an occasion present itself.

      #4
      Originally posted by jbird604 View Post
      Organ sounds like it's in pretty good shape too, no obvious tuning issues that I heard.
      Our congregation loves the organ, maybe that’s why we are down to 35-40 people per Sunday, we aren’t a “happy clappy” service. We are stubborn on what we think makes a proper worship service, Presbyterian style. The sermons are very modern (a theological discussion I don’t want to broach here) - we say we offer “a traditional service for modern times”).

      Anyway, we have a fairly healthy organ fund, and we keep the organ well tuned/maintained (usually semi-annually). It was less than 10 years ago we had it renovated/modernized and expanded (~$100,000) We want it to continue to be part of our worship services.
      Allen ADC 3500
      Hammond L100

      Comment


      • jbird604
        jbird604 commented
        Editing a comment
        Keep up the good work! (And don't let anyone tell you that going happy-clappy is going to save the church. That's BS. While it's true that many of the fastest-growing churches around the country have the rock band and all the trappings, I have seen many more churches destroyed than "saved" by trying to "modernize" their worship.)

      #5
      Interesting concept.
      I actually discussed with my teacher about pre-recorded music used in church service the other day. He is a very busy organist, has to play every day, and some times several services a day, and always complaint about being too tired to do that many jobs. I asked him, since your organ can record your playing and play back as many times as you want, why not you just record everything you need to play, and just push the button and let the organ play it self in the service? It would look funny and sounds like he is cheating, but I wanted to know what's his thoughts.
      He said the thing about having a live musician playing the organ or a live cantor who sing during the mass, is about the person, I mean, the music is important, but what is more important is the person who play the music, it's a live, personal, real reaction with the congregation, that person who play the organ is part of the mass, not just the music. It's like you go to a concert to see the musicians' performance, is different than having a robot play the pre recorded music.
      He is object to using recorded music for service, and he said if he is absent, he would rather let the congregation sing without accompaniment, or have a student organist cover him, than using any sort of recording.

      But I guess different people have different opinions. And in some cases maybe you have to use pre recorded music. So I am not saying that you should not use midi.

      Although I would say that if you could actually find a person, even just a student who is still learning, to do some parts of the playing, not even need to play everything during the service, might be a good thing. It encourages this person to put more effort in learning because now he or she is having a responsibility for a church. That's my personal opinion.

      Comment


        #6
        There is a big difference between recorded music and having a live player in the service, as your teacher says. I'm not sure that I agree that a congregation should simply sing without accompaniment in the absence of the organist, but I do understand the reasons he has. A live player will sense precisely when to begin playing, when to play louder or softer, speed up or slow down, taking into account the progress of the service and the reactions of the people present.

        The most notable difference is in a service with sung responses that are normally prompted by the organ, as in a lot of Anglican and Lutheran services. Recorded music for this part of the service will work, but the person operating the playback device MUST be very sharp and attentive, and the equipment must be able to instantly play back the notes called for precisely when the play button is pressed, not a second later. Otherwise there will be unsettling delays and pauses that interrupt the flow and spirit of the service. For this part of the service, it seems to me that almost any willing player with any keyboard training at all can do a better job than a recording.

        For simply singing a hymn, a recorded sequence can work well enough, if the player, as he or she is recording, is paying attention to the words that will be sung, and is aware of how the organ is going to sound with people in the room. That isn't too hard, if the organ is properly voiced for the room, so that it will not be too loud even with a tutti registration.

        I discovered right away when I added a "SmartRecorder" to the Allen at my church that the folks are very much accustomed to the way that "I" play the hymns -- my particular style of introductions, how much space I put between the stanzas, my tempo, my use of the stops. When I tried using some pre-recorded sequences, even though recorded by very good organists on a similar Allen organ (thus it played back correctly on our Allen), I knew that our people would not sing well with them because the intros were wrong for us, the tempo, etc. So I make a fresh recording each week for the Processional (which is the only time I use a pre-recorded sequence in our service), and I only record enough of that hymn to allow the choir to enter the church and for me to get to the organ bench so I can begin playing by the third stanza, and finish up the hymn as needed.
        John
        ----------
        Church: Allen MDS-45 with Allen MIDI-DIVISION-II expander
        Home: Rodgers Allegiant 677 with expanded four-channel audio
        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

        Comment


          #7
          There are times when our preferred choice is not available. We have to 'make do' with something less. It's just a fact of life.

          My issue with pre-recorded accompaniments is that they don't follow, they lead. In my job as an accompanist, I should be balancing the leading and following, depending on the situation. I listen to the congregation breathe and breathe with them. We start and stop together. They listen to me and I listen to them. A recording just can't do that. I do agree that if we did use recordings, a recording made by me would probably be more successful than a recording made by anyone else, because I can imagine how my congregation would sing any particular piece.

          Also agree that most responses would be pretty rough to coordinate - better off to do them a capella.

          Comment


            #8
            Very nice sounding organ! I am installing this same system on a small 2/7 Wicks organ for the same reason. The lady that has played it for fifty years is not able to play much anymore and the church has not been able to find anyone to play it. Hope everyone will continue to enjoy the sound of their pipes.

            Michael

            Comment


              #9
              I am so pleased to see that your congregation values their organ so much that they have invested in its vital upkeep, to the point that during its latest electrical modernization they had the fore-site to add the MIDI controller.

              We added a very crude first generation MIDI unit to our Wangerin pipe organ during its last rebuild in the late 80's. The unit was successfully used by myself, and our regular organist during times to cover vacation schedules. At that time we were controlling the console from a 486 computer running windows 3.1. It worked perfectly for the time. The MIDI unit eventually died, and the manufacturer was long gone. We look forward to the time we will be able to afford a more modern MIDI controller.

              Don't let the party poopers talk you out of MIDI for worship. It can work just fine. Since we played the music into the system, it played back in the style, and at the pace the congregation was accustomed to.
              Until The Next Dimension,
              Admiral Coluch.

              -1929 Wangerin Pipe Organ Historian
              -Owner 1982 Rogers Specification 990

              Comment


                #10
                Spent the afternoon with our new (midi-playback) organist, as I'm the player back, so went over with him how to organize (pun lol) the recorded files for efficient playback during the service. OMG! We have got us a REAL organist, apparently classically trained with extensive liturgical experience, and also a staff organist at the Alabama Theater. He cleanly tossed off several major organ works from memory (while wearing sneakers). We've never had an organist to my knowledge that wasn’t just “someone who can play the organ.” For the last 20 years, all preludes and postludes were out of something like “easy 1 practice pedal light organ music for worship” type books. The organist prior to that was superb, but she actually hated playing the organ, she was a pianist, and at her current job told them she was done with the organ, just piano from now on or fire her.

                This guy is good. I don’t think my congregation has ever heard such coming out of the organ before. Major organ works for postludes...occasional theater organ-ish pieces like Souza for postludes near July 4th! I’m giddy! The little old ladies are going to complain, I am going to love it. I see arguments coming.
                Allen ADC 3500
                Hammond L100

                Comment


                  #11
                  Found this on YouTube:

                  Allen ADC 3500
                  Hammond L100

                  Comment


                    #12
                    BTW I understand he was a bit mortified we played the midi-playback featured in my initial post. He knew it was way too fast, and didn’t intend on us listening to it, was just making sure he understood our midi system and checking out the organ's capabilities so singing tempo was not given a thought, as it had nothing to do with his intentions. I later slowed the playback from 120bpm to 110-105 and it was perfect, though the runs and other embellishments may have slightly suffered from the slowing. However, that playback got him swiftly hired.
                    Allen ADC 3500
                    Hammond L100

                    Comment


                    • Larrytow
                      Larrytow commented
                      Editing a comment
                      I guess I would be kinda worried if someone posted a recording of me "playing around" on an organ I had never played before. But in this situation ( on the Forum, amongst fellow organists ), there is no need to be concerned. I'm sure all of us knew exactly what was going on at that moment in time.

                    #13
                    Originally posted by Vebo View Post
                    Spent the afternoon with our new (midi-playback) organist, as I'm the player back, so went over with him how to organize (pun lol) the recorded files for efficient playback during the service. OMG! We have got us a REAL organist, apparently classically trained with extensive liturgical experience, and also a staff organist at the Alabama Theater. He cleanly tossed off several major organ works from memory (while wearing sneakers). We've never had an organist to my knowledge that wasn’t just “someone who can play the organ.” For the last 20 years, all preludes and postludes were out of something like “easy 1 practice pedal light organ music for worship” type books. The organist prior to that was superb, but she actually hated playing the organ, she was a pianist, and at her current job told them she was done with the organ, just piano from now on or fire her.

                    This guy is good. I don’t think my congregation has ever heard such coming out of the organ before. Major organ works for postludes...occasional theater organ-ish pieces like Souza for postludes near July 4th! I’m giddy! The little old ladies are going to complain, I am going to love it. I see arguments coming.
                    Enjoy! We are spoiled rotten in our organist and everyone should be this happy

                    Comment

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