Hi, and welcome to this months segment. This month, I would like to talk about the wonderful and powerful music created from the Organ. This will not be limited to the pipe organ, I will try to include as much variety as possible, and show how music with the Organ has evolved over time. Let's get started!
1. Now, as we all know, I cannot mention the Organ, with out mentioning both Johann Sebastian Bach and his Toccata and Fugue in D minor. Bach's unparalleled use of contrapuntal ideas and brilliant ideas shine in this piece, in the darkest of ways. Many associate this piece with Halloween or things similar. But few who know the classic motif, have listened to the piece in its entirety. I would suggest a full and critical listen of this piece to truly hear its brilliance. This was written in sometime between 1703 and 1707.
Here's a version played a little faster than usual.
2. Next up, is a piece composed by Felix Mendelssohn. It is his first Organ Sonata in F minor. It features a more dynamic use of the organ in Mendelssohn's way of writing for the instrument. This piece is also played on a traditional pipe organ. I particularly enjoy the use of the left hand accompaniment in this piece. It seems more individualized than previous organ compositions.
3. Jumping ahead in time, lets go to 1935, when the worlds first Hammond organ was created by Laurens Hammond and John Hanert. This revolutionary organ, found its place among many different styles in the 1900's. More commonly, it is associated with jazz and progressive rock. Here is a piece by Steve Winwood in 1966, which features the Hammond organ in it's prime.
4. Here is a piece written by Kansas, a progressive rock group of the 70's. It was one of Kansas's biggest hits, and it features the organ used in a more subdued manner. Playing an interesting accompaniment and syncopations, it really shows how diverse the organ is. There is also an organ solo in this song, which I believe took the organ to a new level in how it is used sparingly.
5. Today's last piece is written by Nobuo Eumatsu. The organ has even found its way into contemporary video game music. Nobuo uses the dark and scary associations with the organ, to create this dark and sinister track to accompany the video game's villain "Kefka" of Final Fantasy VI. It features a whole section of just the organ in itself, as well as contrapuntal ideas of earlier composers. This piece is actually written by Nobuo, but performed by the Distant Worlds Symphony and conducted by Arnie Roth. Hope you enjoy!
Matthew Harnage is a professional music composer, and arranger who works out of Raleigh, North Carolina.