DVD 2 - Advanced Techniques - for those who are competent with the basics and are keen to improve
15 Variations on basic pedal technique
With a 13 note pedal board you are restricted by not only the number of notes but, due to the short nature of the there is no scope for "heel and toe" technique - having said that it is not just a case of sounding every or every other beat with a pedal note - that may be how you start off but, having reached a reasonable standard, it is then possible to introduce variations and even counter melodies .... see lesson 18 below ....
16 More complicated chords
This can be the subject of a DVD on its own - there are many books around that explain these chords - I will look at just a few - the more common, for example the major 7th - this comprises notes 1,3,5 and 7 but very often I play it with the 9th added ... I play the root note on the pedal and notes 1 ,3 5 and 7 on the lower manual and 3,5,7 and 9 on the upper manual. If you think of that in the key of F you will be playing F on the pedal with F, A, C and E on the lower manual with A, C, E and G on the upper manual .. now, if you think about it A, C, E and G is actually the chord of Am7th - so of you play F on the pedal, Fmaj7th on the lower manual and Am7th on the upper manual you have a nice sound that is Fmaj7/9 - look at the video on youtube - it isn't as complicated as it sounds.
Another area of food for thought - rather than play a simple, say C dominant 7th chord try C augmented with the dominant 7th and a flattened 9th - that is C on the pedal with E, G♯, E♭, D♭on the manual.
Modulation is the art of changing key - you will need to refer to the circle of chords - see lesson 3 DVD 1.
At its simplest if you are playing a piece in C and you then link it to a piece in F you will need to change key from C to F - if you look at the circle of chords F follows on from C therefore the C7th chord will lead you to F - if, however, you are moving from C to E♭it is more complicated but can be extremely effective .....
18 Counter melodies
When you sit at an organ you have an orchestra at your fingertips (and feet - tips) .. if you listen to an orchestra you will find that those parts of the orchestra that are accompanying the melody are often playing what appears to be another melody - this is probably not a tune in its own right but it adds to the melody and is known as a counter melody.
So - what you do is to look at your left hand as being split into two - what I suggest to begin with is to sustain the lower note of the chord .. so, if you are playing in C the left hand is likely to be playing G, C and E - assuming a quickstep you will perhaps be playing the chord on the 2nd and 4th beat - continue to do so but keep you finger on the G throughout - in musical notation terms this is the little finger of the left hand playing G as a semibreve with the second and first finger (thumb) playing C and E on the 2nd and 4th beat.
Once this has been mastered the next step is to play a tune with the little finger whilst vamping the balance of the chord with the 2nd and first finger (thumb).
A simple counter melody in the key of C would be to play, with the little finger, C, A and B as minims whilst vamping the balance of the chord on the 2nd and 4th beats.
Counter melodies can be as simple as that and used occasionally - or a lot more complicated and used more often.
To start with keep the counter melody simple and use when the chord in the left hand doesn't change - as and when you want to progress to something a bit more difficult follow the guidance in the DVD.
You very often find, for example with buskers books (or in the USA fake books), that there is no introduction or ending. If you buy the sheet music you may find that the introduction/ending is not very good and that breaks and fill-ins are non existent - you have to introduce your own ...
Introductions - you can do worse than use the last four bars - in fact if you are playing for sequence dancing you must use a four bar introduction ...... there are may sequences of chords that can be used - for example if your piece is in F one sequence would be , F major 7th, F ♯ diminished, Gm7th, C7th ...the DVD will give plenty of ideas for introductions, breaks, fill-ins and endings.
20 Changing key within a piece
This can be very effective - see the DVD for a couple of examples - this is relatively easy, is often used by professionals and can set you apart from the others.....
21 Change rhythm with in a piece
This is a simple way to add variety ot your playing - and impress others - if you are having difficulty imparting a jazz "feel" to your playing try a change in rhythm plus a little syncopation and you may be astounded at the end result.
Take Fly me to the Moon as an example - it is written as a waltz but also lends itself to a bossa nova/beguine type of tempo plus a four t the bar with the pedal as "walking bass" - see the example on You tube at
Easier to demonstrate than describe - see the video on You tube -
What I am talking about here are the likes of mordents, turns and mini trills --- there are examples on the you tube video but to get the full story you will need the DVD.
Not everybody can readily play jazz improvisation - and I fall into that category so all my improvisations are based around the chord that I see written in the music - what is vitally important is that you improvise around the melody - let me explain - for example - the melody consists of 32 bars and you play the tune once through - don't try to run before you walk - second time through try to improvise for, say, 4 bars and say those bars are going to be bars 5,6,7 and 8 -- play the tune for the first four bars then improvise or four bars the return to the melody as it is at bar 9 .... DO NOT return to the melody as at bar 5 or any other bar - return to the melody as it is at bar 9 -- the idea is that you improvise around the melody and that even though you deviate from the melody the listener can hear in his/her mind the original melody run in parallel to your improvisation and when you return to the melody it coincides exactly with the listener - at the exact same point - hope that makes sense - look at the you tube video .... or better still buy the DVD ...
25 Playing outside strict tempo and the use of the swell pedal
Everything so far has been in strict tempo - I now want to move away from that - yet another strait jacket to be removed .......
What I want is for you to come out through your music ... true story ...... I play at St Francis Church, Chester - we are lucky as there are three of us who play - I play at 9.15 Mass Sunday, we have an 11.15 organist and, at the same Mass, a choirmaster who is also an accomplished musician .... Dennis and Mary are regular attenders at the midweek lunchtime Masses - there are occasional funerals and when I am playing Dennis and Mary know that it is me .. it is me that comes through the music - and this is down to the way I use the swell pedal and the fact that, when playing incidental music, I play outside strict time - plus I improvise around the melody using the music as a guide ... I will include an excerpt from the organ at St Francis to try to explain what I mean .... I am not better than the other two organists - far from it - what I am saying is that others can tell it is me playing because I express myself through my music and I want to encourage you to express yourself through your music ...
When you press a note a pipe organ it sounds the same whether you press it gently or hit with a hammer - this limits the feeling that the organist can convey to the audience but of the organist but careful use of the swell pedal and playing outside strict tempo enables the organist to stamp their own character on the piece ..
The use of both hands on the same manual is of importance ...
The swell pedal is the heart and soul of the instrument and is essential to create your own individual style ...
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