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Chris A

Your Sunday Afternoon Bach Organ Fix via YouTube

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J. S. Bach - Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor, BWV 582

Performed by Ton Koopman in Tokyo in 2008.  Composed ca. 1706-1713 in Arnstadt

Recommend turning it up to ~83 dB(C) at the listening position, and sit back for a riveting performance.  No demastering required here--it sounds really incredible on the Jubs:

 

 

Chris

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Sounds nice on my pc here too, on a different level though.

Arrrgh he's got a page-turner.

When I was 5-10 I was there listening to this kind of music played by my mother at the church. With my Tonka trucks and army men all over the stairs leading to the organ.

She directed the choir while playing without (seemingly) missing a note. I did turn for her when they did the whole Messiah for Easter the first time. Practice for that was non-stop for months prior.  

Nothing I've ever owned could hit the lows like the setup there or like your Jubilees.

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That looks pretty complicated to master.... working both the hands and feet.

Sent from my SM-N950U using Tapatalk

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J.S.Bach: Toccata, Adagio & Fugue in C major, BWV 564

performed by Hans-André Stamm on the Trost-Organ in Waltershausen, Germany.

 

 

The organ appears to be a tracker style, with manual stops, etc., so you get some of the tonality and tracker organ feel from this performance.

 

Remember to turn it up to 83 dB at the listening position.

 

Chris

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52 minutes ago, Chris A said:

J.S.Bach: Toccata, Adagio & Fugue in C major, BWV 564

performed by Hans-André Stamm on the Trost-Organ in Waltershausen, Germany.

 

 

The organ appears to be a tracker style, with manual stops, etc., so you get some of the tonality and tracker organ feel from this performance.

 

Remember to turn it up to 83 dB at the listening position.

 

Chris

One of my favorite Bach compositions for organ! I will play this through the Jubilees on the patio after we close.

Thank you Chris

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On 7/21/2019 at 6:18 PM, Chris A said:

Recommend turning it up to ~83 dB

Chris ... awesome ... thanks :D  

Will play it on my KPT-904's with a sub after 5pm (since you need to have a bottle of wine with this :)  Haha; at least 100dB material :D 

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7 hours ago, Bill W. said:

One of my favorite Bach compositions for organ! I will play this through the Jubilees on the patio after we close.

Thank you Chris

As I understand it, the tracker mechanism is a direct mechanical link between pressing the key and the opening of the valve at the foot of the pipe, rather than an electrical solenoid  doing the action.  I believe guys get harder to press as more pipes are brought into play or something like that, a problem the solenoids bypass.  More difficult but better connection.

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A favorite of mine from the days of Virgil Fox, here performed in the same fashion by Doug Marshall (of M&O organ fame):

 

 

 

Remember to set the volume control to achieve 83 dB at the listening position.

 

Chris

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A Bach chorale that I feel is quite beautiful-- "Alle Menschen müssen sterben," (All men are mortal) BWV 643, by J.S. Bach:

 

 

Chris

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I highly recommend ' POMP & PIPES ! '  Fredrick Fennell / Dallas Wind Symphony / Riedo - organist  ...Reference Recording  RR-58CD

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Toccata in D Minor (Dorian), BWV 538 by J.S. Bach

 

 

Another one of my Bach organ favorites.  The fugue that goes with this is even better, IMHO. 

 

If you go look up the musical modes (i.e., "church modes"), you will see a history of music that will open up to you a new world of music that extends back to at least ancient Greek (Athenian) civilization (~400 BC) whereby some of the musical modes are ascribed to psychological "goodness", other modes to less useful (militarily and patriotically) music.  The following quote is taken from here:

 

Quote

In the Republic, Plato uses the term inclusively to encompass a particular type of scale, range and register, characteristic rhythmic pattern, textual subject, etc. (Mathiesen 2001a, 6(iii)(e)). He held that playing music in a particular harmonia would incline one towards specific behaviors associated with it, and suggested that soldiers should listen to music in Dorian or Phrygian harmoniai to help make them stronger but avoid music in Lydian, Mixolydian or Ionian harmoniai, for fear of being softened. Plato believed that a change in the musical modes of the state would cause a wide-scale social revolution (Plato, Rep. III.10–III.12 = 398C–403C)

 

The philosophical writings of Plato and Aristotle (c. 350 BC) include sections that describe the effect of different harmoniai on mood and character formation. For example, Aristotle in the Politics (Aristotle 1895, viii:1340a:40–1340b:5):

But melodies themselves do contain imitations of character. This is perfectly clear, for the harmoniai have quite distinct natures from one another, so that those who hear them are differently affected and do not respond in the same way to each. To some, such as the one called Mixolydian, they respond with more grief and anxiety, to others, such as the relaxed harmoniai, with more mellowness of mind, and to one another with a special degree of moderation and firmness, Dorian being apparently the only one of the harmoniai to have this effect, while Phrygian creates ecstatic excitement. These points have been well expressed by those who have thought deeply about this kind of education; for they cull the evidence for what they say from the facts themselves. (Barker & 1984–89, 1:175–76)

Aristotle continues by describing the effects of rhythm, and concludes about the combined effect of rhythm and harmonia (viii:1340b:10–13):

From all this it is clear that music is capable of creating a particular quality of character [ἦθος] in the soul, and if it can do that, it is plain that it should be made use of, and that the young should be educated in it. (Barker & 1984–89, 1:176)

The word ethos (ἦθος) in this context means "moral character", and Greek ethos theory concerns the ways that music can convey, foster, and even generate ethical states (Anderson and Mathiesen 2001).

 

Well--there it is: the first mention of "musical propaganda".

 

Chris

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Prelude and Fugue in A minor, BWV 543

Some shots of a beautifully ornate St. Pierre's in Caen on what appears to be another tracker-type organ. 

 

 

Remember to turn it up to 83 dB at the listening position to hear the venue's complex and sweeping acoustics.

 

Chris

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Fugue in G Minor, BWV 542

Remember to turn it up to 83 dB at the listening position (otherwise you'll not hear/feel the pedal in balance with the manuals)...

 

 

Chris

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Some things that you might not know about pipe organists, and Bach Preludes and Fugues:

 

1. There are no indications for which pipe ranks to use in any of these musical pieces.  This is up to the organist to choose in their entirety.  The programming of the organ stop changes is a time consuming trial-and-error process which the organist must be able to push an under-manual button or a foot button in order to change the ranks in use in real time--by manual or for the entire console.  While there are different "schools of thought" for these pieces in terms of what's appropriate for stops to use in each piece, you'll still hear a great deal of variation on which combinations to use for each section of each piece.  Even the tempo markings can be interpreted faster or slower by sometimes large degrees among the different organists.  There are very "conservative" organists and very "flashy" ones that all command their own audiences, playing the same pieces.

 

2. The difficulty in performing with both hands and both feet simultaneously and independently is even more difficult than it looks.  Even the best organists can have trouble keeping an even meter on all passages at all times, and the extremely long reverberation and pipe voicing times of these famous cathedrals and other very large venues requires that the organist must play in front of the beat on his pedal, but usually not on the manuals (the hands).  In the case of the largest cathedrals, in which there are multiple organs all linked to a central console, the time-of-arrival delays between organs can be as much at 200 milliseconds due to the speed of sound delays in such large venues, thus forcing the organist trying to play more than one organ at a time to compensate in real time.  (To understand this difficulty in doing this, try piloting a UAV or UGV with 200 ms of video or controller delay--and watch what happens). 

 

3. One of the most famous organists of the 20th century, the flamboyant Virgil Fox, reportedly had more than 260 compositions (including most or all of the Bach Preludes and Fugues) committed to memory and could play any one of those full 260 pieces on request by memory.  But even he couldn't keep an even meter on all passages (which he typically took very up-tempo). 

 

4. The classical organist tradition includes the ability to improvise (...just like jazz). Classically trained organists (and pianists) must be able to completely re-harmonize on sight (in real time) in order to keep the congregation's attention on the repeating musical stanzas, and not just singing the melodies with words.  To hear a really great improvisationalist greatly adds to the performance experience of the common musical compositions used in service.

 

Chris

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Do you have any Youtube links to any of these music sessions ?


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They're embedded in the YouTube windows in this thread--just press the "YouTube" logo at the bottom right of the screen after you launch the video here.

 

Chris

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I had to change to web view as I use Tapatalk app. I forgot to turn my subs down first and the subs let me know pretty fast that they were not happy. Lol
I had them on 7.5 for movie watching
Real fast turn them down to 4
My wife about had a heart attack


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On 9/2/2019 at 6:08 PM, Chris A said:

1. There are no indications for which pipe ranks to use in any of these musical pieces.  This is up to the organist to choose in their entirety.  The programming of the organ stop changes is a time consuming trial-and-error process which the organist must be able to push an under-manual button or a foot button in order to change the ranks in use in real time--by manual or for the entire console.  While there are different "schools of thought" for these pieces in terms of what's appropriate for stops to use in each piece, you'll still hear a great deal of variation on which combinations to use for each section of each piece.  Even the tempo markings can be interpreted faster or slower by sometimes large degrees among the different organists.  There are very "conservative" organists and very "flashy" ones that all command their own audiences, playing the same pieces.

As an example of this point that I made above, consider the following performance by Doug Marshall (again, of M&O Organ fame) of the Passacaglia & Fugue in C minor, BWV 582, which was also the opening performance in this thread by Ton Koopman in Japan. 

 

Here, the organist has at his disposal a more modern and capable organ. The organist is showing his audience some of the versatility of this new brand new instrument by a very different rendition that pushes more of the boundaries of what is capable of this historically old instrument and this classical composition.  Marshall starts his performance at pianissimo levels, building to a local crescendo at 4:45, then back again to piano, then building again to the end of the passacaglia at 9:15, then immediately into the fugue, building again and showing his audience the breadth of this instrument. 

 

While the fff passages with 32 foot ranks can sound quite raucous in this recording, remember that the console is well within the nearfield of this pipe rank, thus lending a very edgy or even raw sound to the pedal at these crescendos.  The listener far from the instrument console (and 32' ranks) however would likely hear a very different sound than what we hear in this stereo recording on YouTube (an AAC lossy codec: a compressed format).  This is an otherwise very clean recording, but these passages will remind the YouTube listener of the limitations of the stereo format and especially where you put your microphones in order to capture the performance in this magnificent listening venue and with this very capable instrument.  I recommend starting this version at ~65-70 dBC at the listening position, and be ready to adjust downwards as this performance unfolds...

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Toccata and Fugue in F major, BWV 540

 

This week's selection is a composition that deserves particular emphasis within the classical organ repertoire.  While this performance is neither the best or the worst that I've heard, it is certainly a competent one, and most importantly for this audience: it actually sounds extremely good (i.e., at 83 dB at the listening position)

 

I auditioned perhaps a dozen different YouTube performances that had many great interpretations and performances, but in all cases, the recording quality was horrible by today's standards.  The great preludes and fugues bring into focus the limitations of the recording state of the art over my lifetime, and I can say without hesitation that many earlier recordings before the age of good digital recordings have been some of the worst that I've heard--where the recording engineer is gain-riding the volume during the performance and there are extreme levels of modulation distortion (IMD) that mar the highest frequency pipe ranks, thus leading to double-digit levels of "mud" being pushed at the listener over a sustained length of time.  But this recording is different.  It doesn't distort or incorporate high levels of IMD and maintains its clarity throughout.  I hope you will begin to see the potential of this composition as it would be experienced in real life-standing near the performer as it is played.  (Perhaps more discussion on the subject of organ recordings pushing the state of the art in recording technology will be forthcoming based on these observations.)

 

Additionally you get another treat: you get to hear the fugue, something that is typically omitted from most recordings.  Remember that Bach was the master of counterpoint, and it is the fugue that presents this musical structure to the listener.  Listen in particular to the independence of the voices to each other--not just harmonies and walking pedal lines that are so often heard today.  Also remember the time when this composition was written (early 1700s).  This is incredible in light of the state of the instruments (no electricity, for instance) and music development of the day, and brings into focus some of the genius that makes J.S. Bach the frequently performed composer that has survived over 300 years. 

 

While the performance here is less than dramatic--and is in fact extremely conservative--just remember that this is apparently a masters recital on a tracker-type organ, not a big-name recording artist's performance in a huge cathedral.  The organist gives a very solid presentation, and the camera work also adds to his performance by showing the listener the pedal work in addition to manuals. 

 

Chris

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Prelude and Fugue in B minor, BWV 544

 

Very good recording quality and performance in this video.

 

Chris

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