Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 4.djvu/180

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.


employment of single stops has this further ad- vantage in an instrument of such sustained sound, and which it is almost impossible to keep quite in tune, that the unison beats are then not heard. Families of stops should be oftener heard alone. These are chiefly (i) stops with open pipes, such as the open Diapason, Principal, Fifteenth ; (2) stops with closed pipes, such as the stopped Diapason, Flute and Piccolo; (3) Harmonic stops ; (4) Reeds. Stops of the Gamba type nearly always spoil Diapason tone. 16- feet stops on the manuals should be used spar- ingly, and never when giving out the subject of a fugue, unless the bass begins. The proper place for the mixture work has already been indicated in the extract from Helmholtz. It would be well if organs possessed composition pedals, drawing classes of stops, rather than, or in addi- tion to, those which pile up the tone from soft to loud.

Couplers are kept drawn much more than they ought to be, with the effect of half depriving the player of the contrast between the different manuals. The writer knew a cathedral organist who commenced his service by coupling Swell to Great, and Swell to Choir, often leaving them to the end in this condition. Another evil result of much coupling is that the pipes of different manuals are scarcely ever affected equally by j variations of temperature, and the Swell of course being enclosed in a box is often scarcely moved, so that at the end of an evening the heat of gas and of a crowd will cause a difference of almost a quarter of a tone between the pitch of the Great and Swell Organs. On this account every important instrument ought to have a balanced Great Organ which does not need sup- plementing by the Swell Reeds for full effect.

The Pedal Organ is now used far too fre- quently. The boom of a pedal Open, or the in- distinct murmur of the Bourdon, become very irritating when heard for long. There is no finer effect than the entrance of a weighty pedal at important points in an organ-piece, but there are players who scarcely take their feet from the pedal-board, and so discount the impression. Care should be taken to keep the pedal part fairly near the hands. The upper part of the pedal- board is still too much neglected, and it is common to hear a player extemporising with a humming Bourdon some two octaves away from the hand parts.

The old habit of pumping the Swell Pedal with the right foot, and hopping on the pedals with the left, has now probably retired to remote country churches, but the Swell Pedal is still treated too convulsively, and it should be remem- beceH in putting it down that the first inch makes more difference than all the rest put together.

In changing stops it is important to choose the moment between the phrases, or when few keys are down. One finds still a lingering belief that repeated notes should never be struck on the organ. Nothing can be further from the truth. These repercussions are a great relief from the otherwise constant grind of sound.


Again, the great aim of the old organist was to put down as many notes as pos- sible, not merely those belong- ing to the chord, but as many semitones as could conveniently be held below each. This at all events does not suit the modern organ, and now one oc- casionally detects with pleasure even an incomplete chord. Few- organists have the courage to leave in its thin state the chord which is to be found on the last page of J. S. Bach's * Passacaglia' (a), and yet the effect is obviously intentional. In Wesley's (&) ^ Anthem 'All go to one

place,' at the end of the phrase ' eternal in the hea- vens,' we find a beautiful chord which would be ruined by filling up, or by a pedal (6). Here, as in management of stops, contrast and variety are the things to be aimed at. Thus trio- playing, such as we see in the 6 Sonatas of J. S. Bach, gives some of the keenest enjoyment the instrument can afford. The article PHRAS- ING should be read by the student. [Vol. ii. p. 706.] Much of it applies with almost greater force to the organ than to the piano. Extem- porising on the organ will frequently become an aimless, barless, rhythmless wandering among the keys to which no change of stops can give any interest.

So much oratorio music is now sung in churches and in other places, where on account of the expense or from other reasons, an orchestra is unattainable, that the organ is often called upon, to supply the place of a full band. It cannot be said that the artistic outcome of this treatment of the instrument is good. The string tone, in spite of stops named Violin- Diapason, Garnba- Violoncello, and others, has no equivalent in the organ. The wind is susceptible of closer imita- tion, but the attempt to produce with two hands and feet the independent life and movement of so many instruments is obviously absurd. The organist does his best by giving the background of the picture, so to speak, upon one manual and picking out the important features upon another. Doubtless clever feats may be performed with a thumb upon a third keyboard, but in this case phrasing is usually sacrificed. The string tone is best given by stops of the Gamba type, but of these no organ possesses enough to furnish the proper amount, and Diapasons coupled even to Swell Reeds have to be called into requisition. Some stops of the small open kind fairly give- the horn-tone. Flutes, oboes, clarinets, bas- soons, and trumpets have all been copied by the organ builder, with more or less success, but their hard unvarying tone contrasts unfavourably with that of their orchestral prototypes. More- over the instrument itself varies the quality with the intensity ; the Swell-box, though regu- lating the intensity, leaves the quality untouched.

�� �