Improvisation

Today’s improvisation continues my thoughts about exploring individual stops and the possibilities a single sound might contain.  Something I feel is not always taught well is how to register an instrument well.  That’s a broad statement for a different discussion, but something that needs close attention, especially in instruments of lesser quality like the one I play on, is the quality of the various octaves.  The wind system on the Monastery organ usually under blows the lower third of the keyboard and over blows the top third.

The 4′ Waldflote is an excellent example of this ‘problem.’  The bottom third has a rich, thick texture that one might expect from such a stop, the middle is a bland flute, and the top is shrill.  As an improvisor, it is my job to manipulate this rather than simply with the instrument was better.  Well, I do wish the instrument had better stops, but acoustic is great!

One last note, this improv has two techniques explicitly stolen.  The first is minimalist, which can be found in a composition I wrote for piano.  And the other is directly lifted from one of my favorite William Albright compositions from his Organbook III, Nocturne (with an excellent performance the inimitable Jens Korndörfer).  The waldflote handles Albright’s “wobble” texture with good effect.

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