Friday, August 26, 2011

Electronic organs

While being a student of organ, I was always taught to look down on "electronic organs" (read: an organ without pipes. Which pianist would prefer to play an electric Clavinova over a Steinway?)
And, in my experience, this was easy to do. But I had pretty much only ever played 30+ year old electronic organs.

That's one of the big accusations against them--how many other electronic devices do you know that dont last more than a few years? So isn't it obvious that these organs will all need to be replaced within our lifetimes? Contrast that to "real" organs; many of the good ones last well over 100 years, and just need the occasional re-leathering.

Obviously, for most or all churches who end up buying a new electronic organ, price is a huge factor. A "real" organ will easily be $200,000+, whilst a nice, large, electronic organ could run $20,000-$50,000. (I *think* my figures are about right. I kind of guesstimated, based on little things I've picked up over the years.) While the electronic one is still expensive, I wonder if churches forget to factor that they will probably have to buy a new one in 30 years? (Well, maybe nowadays most churches aren't thinking that far ahead--they're wondering if they will even be open by then!)

Other than the replacement likelihood, the real organ has other advantages, like the enjoyablity of playing it and how it *sounds* better. (Like, it sounds "real.")

I used to think that I could tell the difference, but the extent of my experience was from the 30-year old Allen that my first church had. (It was an awful instrument, if you can call it that...) More recently, my fiance, has been pointing out the occasional electronic organ, that sounds quite impressive to me, and pointing out how it is not real (and he would know as he has played on lots of electronic organs!)

And my surprise has led me to being quite impressed with some of the sounds that I have heard! And recently, I even was able to spend some time playing a brand new, very impressive Rodgers. I was pleasantly impressed with how much I enjoyed playing it. One thing I noticed, (compared with the only one other electronic new organ I have played recently,) it was LOUD. The volume was much more comparable to that of a real organ. For some situations, a single stop was enough. There was even one rank that I could not believe that didn't have pipes (it was a bourdon in the pedal for which a few of the middle notes, I *heard* some breathy, wind noise. [sorry, I don't know what the technical term for that is. I hope the organists understand!]) I looked for the pipes, and there didn't seem to be even a hidden rank, but, I should mention that the organist of that church was not there to verify if it did not have any ranks of pipes.

So what is this post about? My genuine surprise at the level of quality of some (at least one!) of the more recent electronic organs. Would I ever encourage a church to buy one? No. I will always value the artistic value of the craftsmanship that goes into making a pipe organ, as well as the other reasons listed above, and others I probably haven't mentioned, but I won't disdain some of the newer electronic organs as much as I used to.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

more on accompaniment books...

apparently, there IS more than one church in the world whose organist likes to lock the accompaniment book away in his office! wow! who would have guessed....

Also, word to the wise-- be sure to check *how much* you are getting paid with the person who is actually hiring you for a service, before you do it, and don't just believe anyone who tells you what they "think" you will get! :-/

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

holy moley!

A parish FIVE miles away just posted a job description that includes the word "schola!"

This is gonna get interesting...

Monday, August 22, 2011

So I THOUGHT all organists kept the accompaniment books in an obvious place...

I mean, every single church I had ever seen had the organist hymnal right next to the console, within grasp of the organist!

So I had to play a wedding this weekend at a church where I had never touched the organ, and I assumed they would be where the books always are, so I didn't bother swinging by St. P's to borrow their books.

oops, fail. apparently there is at least one organist in the world who keeps her books locked up in her office.

LUCKILY, the wedding was at 4 on a friday, so I was able to have the office lady open the MD's door for me to get the books! phew! no more assumptions about that! (and the kind of weird thing is that the MD *knew* was coming, and had been very helpful in all other ways; I just forgot to check if the hymnal would be out, and perhaps she assumed I wouldn't need it, or didn't think of it.)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

My liturgical life

A lot has been going on in the past couple months. Most significantly, I formally finished up my work at St. P's, where I have been for the past 5 years! (I left because I am moving to a new city!)

It leaves me in the interesting position of looking for a new job, which has its own repercussions...

For the first time in *years*, I am going to freely choose where to go to Mass on Sunday! I really don't know yet. I'm a huge fan of beautiful music, so I'd like to go to a church with that, but it's hard to know in advance when that will be! It's not like there is a published schedule put out by the diocese...

And secondly, until I find a formal job, I suspect that I will be "selling myself" (or I could use cruder terms...) anywhere as a sub. Goody. I'm going to be immersed in the full experience of a wide variety of liturgical styles, most of which I have been not only trying to avoid for the past several years, but also deliberately working to combat!

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

I suppose that's cool...

Apparently, the Mass setting that my mother co-wrote will be one of the 5 in the St. Augustine Hymnal. (Not that I am advocating for that particular hymnal ;-) but I still think it's pretty cool!)