I wish I’d met Ralph Downes. His autobographical book Baroque Tricks, subtitled Adventures with the Organ Builders, is difficult to get hold of now* but gives a vivid impression of the man, and his battles with the organ establishment of the 30s and 40s. Much of the book is taken up with his account of the design and build of the Royal Festival Hall Organ at the Southbank in
If you think that making snarky comments under the protection of a pseudonym came with the internet, you’d be wrong. The public forums for musical discussion were more slow-moving then, but the letters pages of the Musical World and the Musical Standard in the nineteenth century were full of correspondents sniping away under pen names such as A Looker-On, A Clergyman, Manuals, Oboe, An Organist*. (Can’t help feeling that modern
The Royal School of Church Music (RSCM) has published an excellent listing of organ music for manuals only, for organists who have no pedals or have not yet mastered the pedals. It includes relatively simple music from John Alcock and John Marsh, through music of moderate difficulty by Stanley, Boyce, Russell and Walond, to the more complex music of Maurice Greene, Matthew Locke and Thomas Roseingrave. There are also examples
A mark of a civilised community is the recognition of the concept of copyright, says the Music Publishers Association, and they have published a code of practice explaining when the use of the photocopier is fair, and when it is an abuse of the rights of creative people. It covers copying music of band and chorus parts, copying for private study and research, and for teaching and examination purposes. Download
For those of us asked to play Happy Birthday to You on a regular basis – and vaguely wondering each time about the copyright issues – there’s a comforting lawsuit (that’s a rarity) going through the US courts. See this article in the New York Times. And here’s more detail of the lawsuit and the evidence stacked against Warner/Chappell, from BoingBoing.net
Want to know if music is public domain? Here’s a useful guide from the IMSLP Petrucci Library which defines what exactly qualifies as public domain* music in Canada, the US, the EU, and China, Korea, Japan and South Africa. * ie no longer protected by copyright and can be freely distributed.
I have had a a couple of brilliant emails from Michael Wong in the States discussing pedals-only repertoire, after my blog post on Joyce Jones. Michael’s suggestions are on a new page here. There’s another page of pedals-only in production, just as soon as I’ve sorted out all the links. You might also like: Something more dramatic for the feet Joyce Jones – queen of
It’s hard enough learning a new instrument, but mastering notation at the same time can make music just too much of a struggle for youngsters. Blake West and Mike Sall in Austin Texas have come up with an alternative notation, which they say visualises the music in a more intuitive way. No more counting ledger lines, or memorising rest symbols – everything has both a symbol and a spatial element.
Following my recent moan about sight-reading resources, Mark Ellis of atticbooks drew my attention to Sight-Read the Pedals! by Richard Ellis. Eighty short pieces for organ sight reading: the pedal line starts with just two notes (C and F) and gradually gets more complicated to cover the whole of the pedalboard. Mark makes the point that many “introduction to the organ” books move rapidly from single line pedal exercises to
Carey Beebe is a globe-trotting harpsichord maker, based in Sydney Australia, and I recommend his website to organists if they really, really want to get to grips with tuning and temperaments. He explains the Pythagorean comma before launching into a discussion of no fewer than 18 different temperaments, with instructions of how to tune each one. So now I understand Pythagorean, Kirnberger and Werckmeister and Valotti – the latter a
I have Ruth Brons (@things4strings on Twitter) to thank for a link to The Bulletproof Musician, a blog solely about sports psychology for musicians, from Dr Noa Kageyama. He suggests ways to develop courage and confidence, discusses mental practice, slow practice, stage fright, raw technique versus functional technique, the importance of run throughs….take a look. If you sign up to his newsletter, you get a free Practice Hacks download.
The authors of this book, Robert Leach and Barry Williams, cheerfully describe it as a dog’s breakfast of law, accounts, science, theology, regulation and received wisdom. They are being modest – it’s an essential guide to all those aspects of working as a professional organist which they don’t teach you at music school. Goodwill is not always enough when relationships with the clergy or vestry become strained, when child
Was John Blow a contemporary of Albinoni? Find out with these classical composer timelines from Classical Net which you can download for free as pdfs. They helped me put all those Baroque composers in their rightful place when studying Bach for my exam.
For all you organ geeks out there (you know who you are) here’s a starter list of appropriate web links: though perhaps I should say aspiring organ geeks, because true geeks will have found these sites and more already (in which case please tell me about them!) MOISSON D’ORGUES, site d’Alain Barbier Thousands (yes) of organ pictures from around the world, organized by geographic area. In French, but don’t