Effective Sonic Balance Between Voice and Organ (Part 2)
Dear Dynamically Distressed,
Last month I suggested that you locate someone to play so that you could experience the varied sounds and dynamics of the organ from the vantage of the congregation. I hope that exercise may have been helpful for you to understand more realistically the sonority and dynamics of your particular organ in its unique acoustical environment.
Voices can balance larger organ sonorities when those sounds are produced within an enclosed chamber, such as a swell or choir box. This chamber reduces some of the overtones, thereby giving greater advantage to the singers. When employing large combinations of ranks for choral accompaniment, experiment with use of enclosed divisions. Alternatively, when playing on an unenclosed division, i.e. the Great, experiment with more space between pitches, thereby allowing the voices to be more easily heard. Of course during instrumental interludes between choral phrases, fuller resources of the organ can be used to effective advantage.
A large amount of choral accompaniment can be accomplished successfully with these four graduated pistons or variants thereof:
General 1 – Swell and Choir: flutes 8’, 4’ Ped.: soft bourdons 16’, 8’ Swell and Choir to Great 8’ Swell to Pedal 8’
General 2 – Swell and Choir: flute and strings 8’, flute 4’ Ped.: soft bourdons 16’, 8’ Swell and Choir to Great 8' Swell to Pedal 8’
General 3 – Swell, Choir and Great: principal 8’ Ped.: Bourdon 16’, Spitzflute 8’ Swell to Great 8’; Swell to Choir 8’; Swell and Choir to Pedal 8’
General 4 - Swell, Choir and Great: principals 8’, 4’ Ped.: Bourdon 16’, Principal 8’
Swell to Great 8’; Swell to Choir 8’; Swell and Choir to Pedal 8’
Additional general and divisional pistons may be employed to provide particular sonic color, such as oboe, clarinet, trumpet or French horn when implied in the score.
Next month I hope to suggest some basic organ registrations for hymn playing.