Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Piano vs. Organ

I just want to post a comparison between my piano playing and my organ playing (as of this moment). I still think that my capacity to express articulation on the organ is at a baby stage. I'm a little better on piano.

There's obviously a different articulation approach on the organ. I hear the A-List players and they are so expressive. But an organ has a square envelope, as they say. There is no decay. So I haven't found the answer yet.

Articulation, as you get more advanced is about dynamics at each note, and micro-time control at the note level. These are subtle elements that often cannot be heard by beginners. I can do it to some degree on piano now. Now that I'm able to hear it on piano, it's glaringly absent on organ and it is frustrating.



I'm thinking though that learning control of the organ articulation may add to development in piano control, at least at the time level (clearly not in dynamics).

Friday, May 23, 2014

Started on Organ!

I just got myself a Nord Electro 4 HP 73, which, in addition to the sounds of my prior Nord Piano 88 (Piano/EP), now has a Hammond Organ sound.

I'm frequently corrected that I'm not on a real organ, but a "clonewheel". But I'm no purist here. It is not likely that I will be bringing some 400 lb beast to my house. I will always have a clone wheel.

Anyway, just to set some sort of starting point here, I recorded a practice session playing Giant Steps.

The first recording is the Piano sound. Then I switch over to Organ. There's so much to think about on organ at this point so it's a bit distracting. I've got to control two feet with some fine motor movement required for the expression pedal. So sometimes I lose track. Anyway, I'm not posting this because it's good. It's simply a marker and then we'll see how long it takes to get better.

Actually, I don't think it will take that long as long as I exclude playing Left Hand or Foot Pedal Bass.



(Edit: Here's a recording the next day)

I'm more comfortable on piano at the moment. But this is an exciting new endeavor. I will try to document the learning process because the instrument is a bit different.

For example, on piano you do the articulation by control of accents and time of attack. On organ, there is no velocity control, but you do have to time your RELEASE exactly as well. Because it's opposite of piano, there's a bit of practice required to play it perfectly. Not so bad though. I realized today that the proper way to articulate this is to play detached rather than staccato (a longer version of staccato but not legato). This allows the percussion effect to be heard.

Anyway, here's my first goal on organ.

1.  Comping. I've practiced this and it's quite doable. Use the expression pedal to control the shape of the comping with more volume on the attack then quickly pulling back as I've heard from Larry Goldings.

2. Being in the pocket is important on organ. Even more critical it seems than piano because the volume of the instrument screams out your errors. So I will focus on it more than ever.

3. Next I will just practice playing a mix of detached and legato playing. Keeping it simple for now. I will not worry about other organ effects.

4. Learn to use expression pedal, Fast Leslie, CV, and percussion to shape a line. This can be planned out in advance.

I will prioritize on these for now. There's a tendency to want to experiment on too many different things but I have to think like I did when practicing piano. Bite in small chunks.