Hymn Tune Psalms

One of the challenges in the Roman Catholic Church is trying to find ways to encourage and enable the congregation to sing. Unless you use a seasonal psalm refrain, this generally means the congregation has a new melody to learn every week with the responsorial psalm. Sure, you can build up a repertoire over time, but there’s not a lot of repetition in the three-year lectionary cycle. One of the easiest ways to learn a piece is through repetition, so I decided to use hymn tunes as melodies for the psalms. This reinforces the singing of the hymns and gives something familiar to the people for the psalm. I created numerous of these settings while at the Cathedral in Albany and now am in the process of revising them (and perhaps finishing the set) to go with the new Revised Grail Psalms. We used the first of these new revised hymn tune psalms at Mass this weekend for Advent 2.
Psalm 72 – Justice Shall Flourish
Refrain based on EIN FESTE BURG with Gelineau-style tone by Wm. Glenn Osborne

Music Requires Participation

A brief recruitment message given over the weekend at Mass demonstrating that making music is dependent upon people. I would love to have more people participate in music at the Cathedral. Visit http://www.cathedralofmary.org/music-ministry/ for more information about music at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen.

Psalms for Jazz Vespers

Jazz and Roman Catholic are two worlds that don’t meet up very often. Jazz has been used in other worship traditions, but the liturgical structure of Roman Catholic worship provides challenges for the free improvisatory nature of jazz. Yes, there are Jazz Masses that have been composed, but even most … Continue reading

Psalm 17

When I composed the Audubon Park Psalter, my intention was that most all of the settings would be flexible enough to work in a traditional setting with organ and choir as well as a more contemporary setting with piano and guitar. While I have attempted to make recordings of the … Continue reading

Vierne for Improvistion

My last lesson for www.organimprovisation.com featured instructions on transposition and suggested using a piece by Louis Vierne as the transposition exercise and a model for improvising. The piece is a relatively simple piece from the 24 Pièces en style libre: 1. Préambule.

As transposition practice, I played it in C# major, D Major, Eb Major, and started it in several other keys.

After that, I followed the score as a model and improvised some imitation Vierne in F Major and in G minor. There are some hesitations as I searched for similar interesting tonal gestures without following exactly what Vierne did, but that’s why we practice. I decided to make this exercise my prelude this weekend, so there are two more that follow the score less slavishly in A minor and D minor as well.

Monody

Organists always love to make lots of sound. Improvisers typically use both hands and feet to play almost all the time while improvising. This weekend, I thought I’d do something a little different and play only one note at a time during the offertory. Saturday evening, I improvised a slow … Continue reading

Vater unser im Himmelreich

Georg Böhm wrote three settings of the chorale Vater unser im Himmelreich. This past weekend at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, I played the first one as prelude. With a rhythmic repeated chord accompaniment and ornamented solo presentation of the melody, it has inspired many of my improvisations.

The other two settings could also be models for improvisations, though the last is much more complicated. The second setting is a duo while the last one presents each phrase of the chorale in quasi-fugal imitation.

Psalm 66 and an Improvisation

Here are two new videos from this Saturday’s 5pm Mass at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen. First up is the responsorial psalm for the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C. While the chords are triadic in summary, both the right and left hands almost always play only fourths … Continue reading