Do It Rite: Play the Downbeat!

Previous posts in the Do It Rite series:

Anthony Ruff, “The Organist as Conductor
Johan van Parys, “Why The Catholic Church Does Processions
Johan van Parys, “When Will the Catholic Church Stop Smoking?

 

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3 comments

  1. Thank you for this post! As an organist, I find myself sometimes explaining that playing a hymn on the organ does not mean playing the hymn SLOWLY or in a “boring” way. This was an effective tutorial which shows how rhythm and “feeling the big beat” helps us as organists! Also, great hymn tune choice!

  2. The big tip I got from my B.Mus years ago was to keep the pulse going all the way from the play over to the final chord. That way the people feel when the next verse starts. Too many congregations are sabotaged by not doing that.

  3. I tend to think of it as leading in from the pickup-beat*….arsis and thesis – the arsis bears the energy, released on the downbeat. It’s easier to feel this in voice or wind instruments, perhaps, but there you have it. But being mindful of this energetic direction can help avoid the pitch and timbre problems that can result from people failing to sustain and support the energy through the pickup into the downbeat.

    Mazurkas can help you counteract the tendency to think of upbeats as weak by its exaggerated treatment of what would be the pickup as a kind of emphatic punch (that is, the energy emphatically on one-two-THREE):

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVmDqLpcBRs

    * Of course, the opening figure of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony has a tripled articulation of this idea…which the all-important rest that starts it all being indicative of that.

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