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 monody thinking perhaps of a solo cello piece:
Sunday, I decided to aim at something a little more sparkly and bright:
Do you have the courage to improvise only a single melodic line?
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.
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 and fifths. The psalm is published in the Audubon Park Psalter.
Next is the offertory. This is a simple improvised piece using the strings and a solo flute. Nothing complicated here. Just a slow pleasant relaxed moment for meditation.
One of the refrains that has survived from my first set of psalms written in 1995 with psalm tone and verses from the new Revised Grail Psalter. The choir is in a new location for this Mass, just over my right shoulder in the front area of the upper sanctuary. We have previously been in the back area of the upper sanctuary much closer to the organ.
Recorded live 2 April 2016 (iPhone)
Cathedral of Mary Our Queen
Psalm 103 with the response “The Lord is kind and merciful,” appears several times in the lectionary cycle. This was recorded at a wedding, so the small congregation is hard to hear. Only two verses are included in this video because the lack of memory on my iPhone prevented me from capturing the entire psalm setting.
This setting was newly composed this year and is not part of the Audubon Park Psalter. After years of writing psalm settings on an almost weekly basis, I still like to create new settings from time to time as there are many different ways to present the same text.
As one of my primary interests is improvisation, I am always looking for ways to include improvisation in the liturgy. Here is a responsorial psalm built over a simple two-chord progression. The refrain melody is composed to fit over the chords, and while there are verses written out in the score, the cantor (as demonstrated here) is free to improvise the melody for each of the verses.
This video was recorded at the Easter Vigil which begins in darkness, so the lighting is very dim. Sadly, my iPhone ran out of memory, so I am only able to share the first verse here.
The music for this composition is included in the Feasts and Solemnities volume of the Audubon Park Psalter.