Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Journal No. 3

Jaime Tyser
Nov 13 2008

Journal Entry #3 Buxtehude: Organ Music

As the Renaissance unfolds into the Baroque era, an abundance of instrumental music becomes available. The haunting character of the organ began to fill halls more and more often with the sounds of preludes and chorales. As the popularity of the organ increased, the demand for proficient organists developed. One of the most prominent organists of the seventeenth century was Dieterich Buxtehude, his contribution of organ and vocal works helped to shape the development of music in its time, especially German organ preludes. Buxtehude’s music was played often in church and on concerts exposing his toccatas and preludes to numerous ears. His organ music was favored so much that JS Bach would frequently come listen to the music, thus inspiring the development of late Baroque music even more. Bine Bryndorf brings back to life some of Buxtehude’s organ music. The first volume exemplifies some of Buxtehude’s preludes at their best.
Bryndorf’s recording is a compilation of preludes, chorales, and ciaconas. The tracks varied in content making it interesting to listen to. It seemed that each piece alternated between fast and slow tempos and altered the amount of ornamentation included. The entire recording was solo organ, but the instrument has so many different register and timbre capabilities that it held my attention the whole way through. Some of the pieces would have the organ playing in a very low register and others in a very high register, one can also hear definite changes in the color of the sound; at times the instrument has a very airy and bright sound while others it is thick and broad in tone. The preludes had several characteristics of a toccata; they included a large amount of imitation and counterpoint while using several notes to show off proficiency of the performer. Another type of work on the recording was chorale hymns that were often slow in tempo and fairly simple in melodic content. A few of these chorale hymns had some slight ornamentation and did every now and then reach a moderately fast tempo. The other type of piece found on this recording was a ciacona, these pieces were more harmonically involved by using more notes in chords and incorporating the use of passing tones. Also, the use of chromatic movement was more common during these pieces and also used a significant amount of rhythmic and melodic imitation.
As a listener, I found this music to be very relaxing and intriguing. Almost all of these organ pieces moved in thirds or stepwise, many of the ornamentations and runs were based off of a scale. However, the complexity of the instrument allows these scale patterns to be dressed up with all the other chord possibilities of hands and feet playing together. The overall feel of the music switched between uplifting and pensive quite often. It gave a nice contrast of mood and feeling. These pieces would most likely have been found on the Abendmusik concerts on Sundays. This concert series was an open concert on Sunday evenings to the public, mainly performed for entertainment value. The concerts took place on the five Sundays before Christmas; which explains why the text that accompanies the hymn chorales was extremely sacred in meaning and dealt largely with Christmas time events. Reading the texts while listening to the recording made the experience more enjoyable to me, music is powerful as it is, but when you combine the emotional strength of text and sound, the impact is heightened even more.
It is also interesting to listen to the difference in each piece in how much ornamentation is used and in what way. As I listened, I tried to imagine sitting in an old church in Europe and listening to the new compositional technique that was being used. The colors of these works are beautiful, and I can see how Buxtehude was praised for his works. When I was looking up the texts the titles also brought up works by Bach, I believe that his music has been taken and revised several times. I am interested to look up these songs under Bach’s composition and see what kind of differences there are between the two composers and the time period they were written during.

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