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#1720401 - 07/25/11 02:25 AM Improvising on the church organ  
Joined: Jan 2007
Posts: 115
VillageOrganist3 Offline
Full Member
VillageOrganist3  Offline
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Joined: Jan 2007
Posts: 115
UK
I'm trying to develop some expertise on extemporisation, beyond the "filling in" after a voluntary before the clergy are ready.

I'm having a go with Gerre Hancock's system but find it hard-going. Eventually I hope to improvise a whole piece, like Habdcock himself does:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r_tPQogv-c8

Has anyone any advice to give me a good start?

Advice would be most appreciated.



"Play Bach for me". (How Chopin ended his letters.)
#1725012 - 08/02/11 05:20 AM Re: Improvising on the church organ [Re: VillageOrganist3]  
Joined: Jun 2010
Posts: 318
Vectistim Offline
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Vectistim  Offline
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Joined: Jun 2010
Posts: 318
Reading, UK
Lets say you have a hymn on the stand. You can try playing it with the tenor line as the melody and then improvise chords based on the bass line that fit with the tenor 'tune' You can do the same with an alto line - but they tend to be less melodic.

Return to the tune, slow it up and find a new way to get from one note to the next - a scale, arp, trilling on each note of a scale on the way, change the rhythms etc.

As for starting from scratch think of chordal progressions, eg:
Eb maj, from there its easy to go to C minor, then to C major, G major, G minor, Bb major and back to Eb maj. Playing with that chordal progression in the left hand the right hand can mostly wander around staying in the appropriate key.

Another option (which I find requires more concentration) is to find some sort of ground bass repeated pattern, stick to that and just make something up over the top that fits, eg: C,F,G,E,G,B,C,rest - I reckon that gives you a two bar bass pattern.

Either way - both of those options seem to be about setting some rules for the left hand and then hoping that the right hand will meander musically.

#1753521 - 09/16/11 11:07 AM Re: Improvising on the church organ [Re: Vectistim]  
Joined: Jan 2007
Posts: 115
VillageOrganist3 Offline
Full Member
VillageOrganist3  Offline
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Joined: Jan 2007
Posts: 115
UK
Many thanks -- I'm trying your ideas out.



"Play Bach for me". (How Chopin ended his letters.)
#1768699 - 10/11/11 12:33 PM Re: Improvising on the church organ [Re: Vectistim]  
Joined: Jan 2007
Posts: 115
VillageOrganist3 Offline
Full Member
VillageOrganist3  Offline
Full Member

Joined: Jan 2007
Posts: 115
UK
Originally Posted by Vectistim
Lets say you have a hymn on the stand. You can try playing it with the tenor line as the melody and then improvise chords based on the bass line that fit with the tenor 'tune' You can do the same with an alto line - but they tend to be less melodic.

Return to the tune, slow it up and find a new way to get from one note to the next - a scale, arp, trilling on each note of a scale on the way, change the rhythms etc.

As for starting from scratch think of chordal progressions, eg:
Eb maj, from there its easy to go to C minor, then to C major, G major, G minor, Bb major and back to Eb maj. Playing with that chordal progression in the left hand the right hand can mostly wander around staying in the appropriate key.

Another option (which I find requires more concentration) is to find some sort of ground bass repeated pattern, stick to that and just make something up over the top that fits, eg: C,F,G,E,G,B,C,rest - I reckon that gives you a two bar bass pattern.

Either way - both of those options seem to be about setting some rules for the left hand and then hoping that the right hand will meander musically.


Once again many thanks -- I'm finding your suggestions very useful.

I use your hymn tune Bass and Tenor (or alto) and sometimes alternate between the two (with passing-notes, suspensions etc of course) and if I'm lazy I play the hymn (with variations) just without the Soprano. The Bach chorale harmonisations are the best for this because of their varied and interesting treatment, but I tend to stick to the standard hymns because the congregation like it when I finish with the complete hymn tune that they know.

Your modulation suggestions have led me to my own system and I like your Chaconne idea. When I was young and fearless I enjoyed the Rheinberger Passacaglia (Sonata 8) but I can't manage this now. However, I thought that a project for the distant future might be to extemporise on the Rheinberger Bass (B/E-D/G,-A/B-Dsh,/E,-E'/A-D/B-G/AFshB/E,-// but this is for far later. Meanwhile, I'm still using Gerre Hancock.

Once again, many thanks. You have given me ideas to widen my imagination, still using the Common Practice procedure.



"Play Bach for me". (How Chopin ended his letters.)
#1780439 - 10/31/11 10:25 AM Re: Improvising on the church organ [Re: VillageOrganist3]  
Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 19,862
apple* Offline
apple*  Offline


Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 19,862
Kansas
i do a couple things..

find a simple accompaniment to a beautiful piece. like pie jesu..

find the chord progression.. play the root of the chord with the pedals.. put your left hand on the Great and play the chord and go to town on the Swell with your right... kind of always landing on the root of the chord or one of it's components.

or

choose a chord progression that you like and is fairly simple. I like Dm Am Em Dm.... and kind of play it the same way. if you his a wrong note, it usually sounds pretty cool, and you can just get it to resolve.. tempo is not an issue nor is strict adhesion to a melody or number of notes per 'measure'.

it's so much easier.. you can go really slowly and 3 manuals create a wonderful sound. I'd put maybe a reed on the swell, but otherwise go with mostly flutes... depending on how loud you want it to be, and the mood you want to evoke.


accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, ├Ľun (apple in Estonian)

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