Category Archives: Sheet Music

Georg Böhm – Vater unser im Himmelreich – Sheet music release

Georg Böhm used the chorale »Vater unser im Himmelreich« to write two pieces. Both have been attributed to Johann Sebastian Bach in former times. Thus they are also known as BWV-760 and BWV-761.

There are two editions of BWV-760 published by Breitkopf & Härtel. The later publication »Georg Böhm (1661-1733), Sämtliche Werke für Orgel« of Klaus Beckmann contains far less ornaments than the earlier »Georg Böhm (1661-1733), Sämtliche Werke für Tasteninstrumente« by Gesa respectively Johannes Wolgast. The International Music Score Library Project offers a Scan of the issue of 1927. The piece can be found in volume 2 on page 136. Menno van Delft played it on a historic instrument of Arp Schnitger.

Bernard Greenberg offers the Beckmann version via musescore.com. I used his work to transform the score into the Wolgast version by adding the ornaments according to the scan. The archive contains three files:

  • The three pages of the piece of the scanned document.
  • The Muse Score sheet music file (so you can taylor it to your likings).
  • A PDF of the score.

Have fun playing it.

Georg Böhm – Vater unser im Himmelreich

Im Bachwerkeverzeichnis sind drei Bearbeitungen des Luther’schen Chorals »Vater unser im Himmelreich« als BWV-760, BWV-761 und BWV-762 gelistet, wovon die ersten beiden inzwischen Georg Böhm zugeschrieben werden. Unter anderem hat Aldo Locatelli BWV-761 eingespielt.

Ich beschäftige mich derzeit mit BWV-760. Noten finden sich in einer weniger verzierten Fassung beispielsweise bei Breitkopf & Härtel als »Georg Böhm (1661-1733), Sämtliche Werke für Orgel« von Klaus Beckmann. Auch von Bernard Greenberg gibt es eine weniger verzierte Version auf musescore.com.

Zum anderen findet sich ebenfalls bei Breitkopf & Härtel »Georg Böhm (1661-1733), Sämtliche Werke für Tasteninstrumente« von Gesa (bzw. Johannes) Wolgast, die reich an Ornamenten ist. Das International Music Score Library Project bietet einen Scan der Ausgabe von 1927 an. Das Stück findet sich in Band 2 auf Seite 136. Menno van Delft hat das Werk an einem Instrument von Arp Schnitger ziemlich beeindruckend eingespielt.

Auf bach-cantatas.com finden sich verschiedene Melodiefassungen des Chorals, darunter ein Abzug des Werkes von Böhm, in dem die Melodietöne farblich hervorgehoben sind.

Die Pedalstimme besteht ausschließlich aus durchlaufenden Achtelnoten. Auch in der linken Hand finden sich viele Achtelnoten, die den Puls des Stückes stützen. Nur an wenigen Stellen finden sich ein paar Sechzehntelnoten. Die Solostimme der rechten Hand setzt am Ende des sechsten Taktes ein. Hier finden sich zahlreiche Ornamente wie Triller, Mordente, Vorschlagnoten und Umspielungen, die nicht einfach zu verstehen sind. Beim Üben kommt es sehr leicht vor, dass ich im Pedal – fast im wahren Sinne des Wortes – “aus dem Tritt” komme, also den durchlaufenden Puls verliere. Die Sechzehntelnoten interpretiere ich ternär – für mich ist das Stück ein gutes Indiz dafür, dass Notes inégales – »Die ungleichen Geschwister« auch den Komponisten im deutschen Sprachraum bekannt waren.

Ich bin gespannt, ob ich das Stück konzerttauglich hinbekommen werde.

Coping with a Duo of Louis-Nicolas Clérambault

About two months ago I wrote about the Plein Jeu of Clérambault, which I still didn’t master. Today I was at the Dubois organ at Wissembourg, which I’m allowed to play every now and then. One of the pièces I’m currently studying is the Duo of the very same mass (here’s a recording of a recital by Marie-Claire Alain, the Duo starting at 2′ 32″).

Many, if not any, french organ masses contain a Duo. The three characters tell the organist at couple of things:

  • The pièce consists of two voices, one in the left hand on the great organ, one in the right hand on the positif or Reçit.
  • Unlike the registrations of the other pièces of a french organ mass, there are two registrations known for Duos, one with labial stops only (with an emphasis on the thirds), another one with lingual stops (I found further information in the book Orgelschule zur historischen Aufführungspraxis, Teil 1 – Barock und Klassik of Jon Laukvik 2017, page 165).
  • Vivid playing.

All of this information is great, though I still had no clue how to interpret it. I got the essential hint by Bernhard Marx, who played at the Dubois organ in August of 2016. Unlike the other concerts, he also did the presentation. While announcing the mass of Grigny, he mentioned that the Duo is a dance. That was the crucial information I missed beforehand. Since then, I try to play the pièce as such. If it was a dance, I need to choose a matching tempo. I have to keep a steady beat so that the dancer is able to follow. Additionally, I can help the dancer by precisely articulating the notes and rhythmicity.

Orgelschule zur historischen Aufführungspraxis – Jon Laukvik

Auf knapp dreihundert gleichermaßen großformatigen wie kleingedruckten Seiten liefert Jon Laukvik in Band 1 jede Menge Informationen zu Barock und Klassik. Ich habe die Version mit beiliegendem Notenheft erworben, in dem die nicht ganz so leicht zu beschaffenden Beispiele abgedruckt sind.

Ich konnte gestern nur kurz einen Blick hineinwerfen. Als Autodidakt konnte ich bereits die ersten Erkenntnisse gewinnen, sowohl in Bezug auf Aspekte, die mich in meiner bisherigen Arbeit bestätigen, als auch Dinge, die ich bisher überhaupt nicht berücksichtigt habe.

Besonders freue ich mich über die Hinweise zu den Messen von Clérambault, an deren Interpretation ich jetzt schon eine ganze Weile feile.

Ich habe ob des Preises von 75€ lange mit dem Kauf gezögert. Um so mehr freue ich mich, das Werk endlich vorliegen zu haben.

How to fix a broken PDF for online printing

I collected all of the classical pieces I’m currently playing in one PDF, mainly to get it printed by an online service, epubli.de.

The PDF consists of items from various sources. Several pages of sheet music have been downloaded, others have been typeset by myself and exported to PDF. Additionally there are two pages I exported from OpenOffice (Cover and a registration page).

I used the Preview app of Mac OS X (an amazing app, BTW, including a lot of cool hidden features) to put all pages into one huge document, and I used the very same application to add tons of annotations, mainly fingering and pedaling information.

A recent attempt to get the document printed online resulted in a non prinable document. The main reason of the issues appearently are the many annotations. After removing them, a lot of warnings of the upload form disappeared. But without my fingering and pedaling annotations, the printed sheet music is almost useless. An additionaly issue was the page size of the individual pages.

The provider recommended to use a tool to unify the page sizes. So I did:

  • docupub.de has the advantage that the annotations remain editable. Its disadvantage is that annotations in form of lines are misplaced after the conversion (text remained intact).
  • online2pdf.com did the job. Almost all issued disappeared. A minor drawback is the fact that the annotations are no longer editable in Preview app. Not an issue, but to keep in mind.

One further issue was that the upload did work in Safari (6.1.6 aka 7537.78.2), but not in Firefox (48.0.2). The web service immediately complained it was not a PDF file. I presume that it’s just an issue concerning the MIME type transmitted, but I do not know exactly.

I hope the printed result will look as expected. I’ll know in about two weeks.

Coping with a Plein Jeu of Louis-Nicolas Clérambault

In 1710 Louis-Nicolas Clérambault published a Livre d’orgue containing two suites (Suite du premier ton et Suite du deuxième ton) in the style of the french organ school. I’m working on a couple of pieces of the latter one. The first piece is a Plein Jeu which I’m playing for almost two years now, and I’m still not content with the outcome. This posting tells why.

At first sight, the piece is not that difficult to play. Just two pages of sheet music, partly even without pedaling, and only a couple of sixteenth notes. Actually I did not notice any issues until I mastered playing the piece mechanically and started interpreting it. What I was playing at that time just was sounding dull. It was obvious that the composer had things in mind I didn’t understand yet.

Speed

The piece is structured in four parts. It starts with the «Petit plein jeu au positif» (without pedaling), in bar ten it swaps to the «Grand plein jeu» (with the pedalboard joining in bar 13), back to positif in bar 22 and back in bar 32. A couple of things happen at the interfaces:

  • The keybed changes.
  • The time signature changes between “2” and the infamous alla breve.
  • The parts on the Positif are marked as «Gay»ment, the parts of the great as «Lentement» (or even «fort lentement» for the last couple of bars).

I was confused by the latter two points. Fortunately I found some additional information concerning french Plein Jeux in the book »Zur Interpretation der französischen Orgelmusik«. Beginning with page 14, Hans Musch cites several contemporary composers:

  • Nicolas Lebègue: «Le Prélude et Plein Jeu so doit toucher gravement, et le Plein Jeu du Positif légerement.»
  • André Raison: «Le grand plein jeu so touche fort lentement. […] Le petit plein jeu je se touche légèrement et le bien couleur.»
  • Jacques Boyvin and Gaspard Corrette both state the agility applied to the positif, e.g. by using trills.

After a lot of experimenting I’m currently using the following approach. I interpret the «2» of the positif as a time signature of 2/2. I use a speed of 56 beats per minute, which is equivalent to a speed of about 112 bpm in case the time signature was 4/4. And I interpret the alla breve of the grand plein jeu as a 4/4 using the very same pulse of 56 bpm. This actually means a bar of the grand plein jeu has twice the duration of a bar on the positif. This allows me to keep a steady pulse throughout the complete pièce while still playing the positif twice as fast as the grand plein jeu. This is exactly the opposite of what an organ player might do when only reading the sheet music.

Steady Pulse

A steady pulse, which guides the listener through a piece, is a very important aspect of a good interpretation. I try to keep the aforementioned tempo of 56 bpm throughout the piece, except for the last couple of bars. This is hindered by a couple of issues. One of the impediments are the trills (e.g. bars 1,2, and 22 ), another the rests before the sixteenths (e.g. bars 1, 2, 10, 16, 17, 18, 19). A further issue is the relative length of the sixteenth notes. Especially on the grand plein jeu, I tend to play the sixteenths way too fast. But the very same is valid for the quarter notes. Frankly, it actually is difficult to play the quarter notes as slow as necessary. I always feel like «Those can’t be that long».

I’m currently experimenting with a metronome to educate myself. Interestingly, I’m now playing the second petit plein jeux part (bar 22) much slower than before. And it is difficult. I do not intend to play the piece exacly like this, since Agogic is an important part of an interpretation. But for the moment it helps me to figure out a correct straightforward approach. It’s just the baseline before applying some deviations.

Notes inégales

In short, the piece sounds boring without them. Since the meter is even, notes inégales can be applied to the notes of one quater of the “denominator”. On the petit plein jeux, those are the eighth notes. But what about the grand plein jeu in alla breve?!? I only see one solution, which is applying notes inégales to the eigth notes on the main as well (e.g. bars 14 and 15).

The infamous last line

I had difficulties to bring the last line to life. Until I started to apply notes inégales to it as well, though the typical rules of notes inégales are not obviously visible. But they helped a lot. Beginning from the 2nd half of bar 42 until the end of the pièce, I have to count the triplets loudly to cope with this issue. But it’s well worth the effort. Since I treat the eigths notes as the thirds of a triplet, I get much better results. I keep it this way even during the ritardando of the last three bars. And I still apply them to the trill on the very last half note.

Plein Jeu, Grand Jeu – Grand Plein Jeu!

The french organ school of that time knows the Plein Jeu as the choir of principals (including mixtures), and the Grand Jeu as a combination of labial and lingual stops. As far as I know at the moment, they neither didn’t know of a Tutti nor a combination of the Plein Jeu with the Grand Jeu. The only exception I know of is the Plein Chant, a Plein Jeu with a 8′ Trompette added to the pedal.

The mistake I made was to interpret the term “Grand Plein Jeu” as the combination of a Plein and a Grand Jeu. Meanwhile I dismissed this practice. It just means the Plein Jeu of the great organ in contrast to the Plein Jeu of the positif. Note that a Plein Jeu also requires the positif to be coupled to the great organ.

Verdict

A lot of difficulties, well worth the effort. French organ masses consist of relatively short pièces. And every pièce is different of all others. Yes, it’s a lot of work to fiddle with the characteristics of all those short piéces. And this is what makes baroque french organ music different. There’s a lot of stuff densely packed into relatively short pièces. I’m deeply impressed what the musicians of that period have to offer. The longer I spend time coping with their music, the more I believe they anticipated jazz music – centuries before it was invented.

Abraham van den Kerckhoven – Fantasia in d – Sheet music release

Last year I was looking for a piece of pipe organ music I could use to play a cornet (one of my favourite stops, BTW). I finally found the Fantasia in d by Abraham van den Kerckhoven. Sheet music is available through the International Music Score Library Project. It’s the piece at pages 69 through 71 of the scan, or pages 87 through 89 of the PDF.

There’s a great recording performed by Nico Declerck. He plays it very accurately.

I found it hard to read in »Werken voor Orgel«. For example, there is no separate row for the pedalboard, and the awesome solo line is just a series of many sixteenths, not structured by slurs or caesuras. Thus I rewrote the score using the excellent Muse Score notation software. My release contains a PDF and the Muse Score source file so anyone can easily taylor the layout to her likings:

Abraham van den Kerckhoven – Fantasia in D

Have fun playing!

Dietrich Buxtehude – Passacaglia (BuxWV 161) – Sheet music release

The passacaglia in d minor of Dietrich Buxtehude (BuxWV 161) »is generally acknowledged as one of his most important works, and was possibly an influence on Bach’s Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor (BWV 582), as well as Brahms’ music.«

There’s an awesome performance by Harald Vogel, playing the historic Arp Schnitger organ of St. Ludgeri, Norden. Sheet music is available through the International Music Score Library Project. However, I was not content with the sheets I found. For example, I wanted to decouple the left hand accompaniment (see bars 103 and 110) from the right hand for better readability, since I play both on different keybeds. Thus I rewrote the score using the excellent Muse Score notation software. My release contains a PDF and the Muse Score source file so anyone can easily taylor the layout to her likings:

Dietrich Buxtehude – Passacaglia in d – BuxWV 161

Have fun playing!