Tuesday, March 09, 2010

the volume of the organ

A parishioner told me recently that he was at another parish in the city, and that the organ was "so loud!" compared to my organ, I supposed.

Really, he doesn't know, but if I HAD a bigger organ (more than, ahem, a 3-rank Moller...) it would most certainly be louder than it is now!

I was planning on blogging on how interesting that was that people thought that this other organist played too loud...but then, I just happened to be talking to another person who goes to this other parish, and they are not necessarily musically inclined, but they told me that they did NOT think that their organist was too loud, (that in fact, they loved the postludes after Mass.)

So...is loudness relative? I wish my organ could be louder. How I long for a Trompette en Chamade for the final, rousing verse on Easter Sunday morning! But perhaps my parishioners have just gotten used to my organ being quieter than a much bigger organ in a much bigger church?

I've heard lots of stories about parishioners at other churches complaining about the organ being too loud. Apparently, mine don't complain b/c the organ CAN'T get as loud as I want it! (well, once I had someone tell me that. but they go to the least crowded Mass, so the sound isn't absorbed by the people, and there is no choir singing, just me, so I should just sing louder. Their actual complaint was that they can't hear ME singing.)

So the problem is, how can the organist tell how loud is too loud, since we are up in the loft, and can never test out the sound on a full church?


Anonymous said...

Loud organ music is THE BEST, imo. Esp. for recessionals. Bump it with the Trompette! I'm sorry yours can't get any louder. People who complain about the organ being too loud need to get over themselves.

totustuusmaria said...

speaking for myself, I have concluded that one of the major things that turned me off to organ in my childhood was that the organ was always overwhelming, and usually accompanied by an overwhelmingly loud mic'd cantor. There was no sense of "invitation to prayer" in the organ playing, and every sense of in-your-face performance.

When I got involved in the TLM, I saw a totally different sort of organ playing: a prayerful organ playing where the organ was almost an extension of the human voice, both the voices of the schola and of the congregation.

That opened my heart to organ music. At this time, I enjoy organ music well played, whether loud or soft. But my opinion is that organ music should be generally soft and inviting when it is accompanying singing -- that is unless the music makes it appropriate for it to swell to crescendo at certain points (but I think it's easy for this to last too long).

Loud organ is a tool, I think. It has to be used carefully and skilfully. Then it's okay.

Brent L said...

You'll never please everyone.