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learning how to improvise for church services

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learning how to improvise for church services

Postby fermata » Fri Oct 07, 2016 2:37 am

Does anyone have any methods to recommend...a systematic set-by-step approach? Or even tips to offer? This is a skill that seems to me essential for the church organist.
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Re: learning how to improvise for church services

Postby josq » Fri Oct 07, 2016 5:31 am

Yes, improvisation is essential. In a service, improvisation can always replace literature, but not the other way around.

It is key that you can improvise choral harmonizations, not only for accompanying congregational singing, but also for the other musical moments. With chorals, you can bring the theme of the service to the minds of the churchgoers, and thus prepare for and answer to the message of the sermon.

Chorals provide a solid and reliable inspiration for many kinds of improvisation and allow endless variation.

So my question to you is, do you know how to improvise simple choral harmonizations (4 voices, avoiding quint and octave parallels)? Perhaps we can give a few more tips depending on your answer.
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Re: learning how to improvise for church services

Postby profeluisegarcia » Fri Oct 07, 2016 8:55 am

Hello¡
A good book on modulation could be useful. I recommend this Max Reger´s little treatise:

https://es.scribd.com/doc/170560025/On- ... -Reger-pdf

Luis
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Re: learning how to improvise for church services

Postby fermata » Sat Oct 08, 2016 8:45 am

Thanks for replying!

As to improving chorals, I can figure out the harmonies, but not on the fly. I would have to sit at the keyboard, look at the melody, and figure out what sounds right with it, then check for parallel fifths and octaves. However, I should say that I've seen hymns with parallel fifths and octaves in them, thickly covered up by other harmonizations. (In any case, I would consider that the least of my worries!)

As to Max Reger, I'm looking at a bunch of cadences in his book online (thanks to Amazon.com), but I don't understand what to do with them, how to use them in order to improvise. If I knew what to do with them, this looks like material that could be useful.
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Re: learning how to improvise for church services

Postby adrianw » Sat Oct 08, 2016 10:01 am

I think the late Christopher Tambling's book is the best contemporary method for a beginner. "The Church Organist - A New Method Volume 3 Improvisation." It is hymn and chorale based and starts from scratch. It is stand-alone and does not require you to have the other volumes in the series.

- Adrian.
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Re: learning how to improvise for church services

Postby adrianw » Sat Oct 08, 2016 10:16 am

Checking on Amazon it looks as though the same (or very similar) material to Tambling vol 3 has been republished as a stand-alone book "Improvisation for Organists - A Practical Guide / Christopher Tambling". Cheaper, too!

- Adrian.
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Re: learning how to improvise for church services

Postby fermata » Sat Oct 08, 2016 10:29 am

I was just online at Amazon.com to check it out, too. Unfortunately, it is not available in my country (USA) :(
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Re: learning how to improvise for church services

Postby fermata » Sat Oct 08, 2016 11:03 am

Yea! Success! Thanks very much, Adrian!
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Re: learning how to improvise for church services

Postby profeluisegarcia » Sat Oct 08, 2016 11:20 am

fermata wrote:
As to Max Reger, I'm looking at a bunch of cadences in his book online (thanks to Amazon.com), but I don't understand what to do with them, how to use them in order to improvise. If I knew what to do with them, this looks like material that could be useful.


People naturally talented for composing or improvising have no problem going form a tonality to another (as Wolfgang Seiffen, whom I have meet several times). But we -common organists- need to learn how to travel far from C major -or any other key- and move among distant tonalities...and "come bach" to the main road This was the purpose of this concise book: to show ease ways for the transition between keys.
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Re: learning how to improvise for church services

Postby Opus1954 » Sat Oct 08, 2016 2:16 pm

Two aspects:
1. Improvising music is to me similar to someone who paints and draws. If you would ask: how can I learn how to draw animals or faces or landscapes - I would ask "how many did you try to draw? Did you try to copy what others did? What is a challenge for you?"....

Do you try to improvise? Do you learn parts of music by heart and try to play it back in different keys? Do you listen to the chords and chord progressions what you are making up..? What do you like, and what don't you like? Do you try to play back music that you heard others play..? Improvising is doing, trying and trying more. It is difficult to get started. And... it is not for everyone.

Not everyone can draw or paint. Many people never tried. And that's okay.

2. When you are able to draw and paint, it is time to look at techniques. What are the patterns, dimensions, colors, sizes, etc. What materials do you use? What is best in which situation?

When you dare and can improvise, it is time to look at what kind of music are you making. (you don't want ending up adding note after note and chord after chord and doing that for 10 minutes). What are you trying to communicate...? What is the structure of your improvisation? What musical grammar and rules are you applying? When do you use which stops and which manuals...?

My 2 cents... All the best!
Frank
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Re: learning how to improvise for church services

Postby castaway » Thu Oct 13, 2016 3:13 pm

The Reger treatise is available free for complete download.

Method:

**These directions prevent the website from downloading pdf conversion software onto your computer**

Go to the website: http://docslide.us/

Search for the document "on the theory of modulation" reger
Select one of the versions displayed.
Preview the document on your computer display and scan through the document to the last page.

1) At the bottom of the last page (50), click on "Download". This choice is to the left of 1-50 page notice.
(2) On the next page, follow the directions to prove you are not a Robot, and click on "Confirm".
(3) On the next page, click on second (lower) download button labelled DOWNLOAD PDF.
(4) Save the download to your desktop.
(5) Correct the downloaded document's name to include the file extension of ".pdf". (Note, that is "[period]pdf")
(6) Click on document on your desktop to have your pdf-reader open the document. (Use Abobe pdf reader or your own preferred pdf reader.)

Albert
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