MP3 Arlan Wareham - Emet V´Shalom
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18 MP3 Songs
CLASSICAL: Organ, SPIRITUAL: Judaica
This album is named in honor of the Reform congregation "Emet v'Shalom" in Nahariya, Israel. Tracks 3 through 8 are all based on melodies that are used regularly there during Friday night services. We joined this congregation last summer (2007) and have been enthusiastic members since then despite the fact that it takes nearly an hour to drive from our home in Tsfat to Nahariya. For those of you whose Hebrew is a little rusty, "Emet v'Shalom" means "Truth and Peace".
The art work for this album is a photograph that I took myself at Rosh HaNikra, located at the extreme northwest corner of Israel. This is a view looking north-northwest over the Mediterranean Sea just before sunset. Nahariya, where Congregation Emet v'Shalom is located, is only a few kilometers south of here, and Lebanon is less than a kilometer to the north.
The first track is a setting of "Mode Ani", the prayer that one says upon arising in the morning. This is a setting in 16th-century contrapuntal style, with the melody in the tenor part. It serves as a quiet, reflective opening for the album.
The second track is based on a melody for "Y'did Nefesh", a song sung on Friday nights to welcome the Shabbat. The melody on this album is different from the one that I set on my previous album, "Aliyah", in that this melody covers the entire poem rather than only the first few lines. This is also a tune I learned at the other congregation where we are members, "HaMinyan HaMishpachti", in Kfar Vradim. What I have really done here is to create a series of variations on the melody. Perhaps the last is the most interesting, since it is also a full fugue whose subject is based on the opening notes of the melody.
As I mentioned above, tracks 3 through 8 are setting of melodies used in Friday services at Congregation Emet v'Shalom (EVS, for short). Track 3 is a setting of the niggun (a melody without words) that we sing at the very beginning of the service.
The fourth track, "Havu L'Adonai", is based on the tune to which we sing Psalm 29. In fact, you can actually sing the entire psalm using this setting.
The fifth track, "L'cha Dodi", is the tune to which we at EVS sing this famous poem welcoming the Shabbat bride. This poem was written in the 16th century by Rabbi Shlomo Alkabets (the first letters of each of the stanzas spell out his name in Hebrew, "Shlomo HaLevi"!) right here in Tsfat, our home town! This poem begins and ends with a refrain, which also follows each of its 9 stanzas. You can actually sing L'cha Dodi to my setting.
The sixth track is a setting of the blessing which comes immediately after the "Barchu", the call to worship, in the evening service. Its name is the Hebrew word "maariv", which means "bringing on the evening". I want to add a personal note here: as I was first learning this melody at EVS, I was also reading a book in Hebrew called "HaMapatz HaGadol" ("The Big Bang"), which is actually a very interesting and well-written book (translated from English) about the history of astronomy. The resonance between the word "kochavim" (stars) in this ancient blessing, which describes the Holy One as "m'sader et ha-kochavim b'mishmrotehem ba-rakia k'irtzono" (ordering the stars in their watches in the firmament according to His will) and the very same word appearing in this very modern book was very moving for me. Certainly, our ideas about the stars and the universe have changed vastly since ancient times, but, if anything, the notion of the Creator and Orderer of this immensely vast universe is even more awesome.
The seventh track is the music that we use to sing a part of the "g'ula" (redemption) prayer, beginning with the words "v'ra'u vanav gvurato" (and His children saw His might) and continuing through the "Mi chamocha" (who is like You) to the end of this prayer. This tune may actually be familiar to some of you from a very different source. See if you can figure out where!
Track 8 is a setting of the beautiful melody that is used at EVS for "Adon Olam", a poem that is often used to end various Jewish services (both morning and evening). It's quite possible that this tune, as well as several of the other EVS tunes, also comes from another source that I'm not aware of. In any case, they are all very lovely and eminently singable melodies.
Tracks 9 through 12 constitute a set of variations of a familiar melody for singing Psalm 150, the very last psalm. First is the theme, followed by a Bach-chorale-style harmonization of it. Then we have a light-hearted chorale prelude. Next, there is a change of mood, with the "Meditation", a slower setting of the melody, slightly altered, played over long, quiet, sustained chords. The final variation is a toccata whose beginning, themes, and ending are all borrowed unabashedly from J. S. Bach's "Dorian" Toccata (you can hear Bach's original on another of my previous albums, "Big Bach Bash"!).
Track 13 is a simple setting of the well-known tune for the prayer "Avinu Malkenu", which is sung at High Holy Days. I first learned this haunting melody from my high school choral director, Estyn Goss, who had learned it when he was a tenor soloist for the High Holy Days at the Wilshire Boulevard Temple in Los Angeles. I hope that I have succeeded in capturing at least a little of its pleading quality.
Tracks 14 and 15 are organ settings of two very well-known Yiddish melodies, "Bai Mir Bistu Shen" (to me you are beautiful) and "Oifn Pripitchik" (in the fireplace).
"Hava Nagila" (come, let us be glad) is a favorite Israeli folk tune (and dance). Basically, I have done a series of variations on it, concluding with a bombastic toccata. I think you'll really enjoy this one!
Track 17 is another arrangement in 16th-century contrapuntal style. The melody here is "HaTikvah" (the hope), the national anthem of Israel. Unless you listen carefully, though, you may not hear it, since it's somewhat buried in the tenor voice. Even if you don't particularly like this one, you'll have to admit that it's a very unusual setting of HaTikvah!
For track 18, I made a series of variations on a very popular Carlebach melody for "Od Yishama" (there will yet be heard). Because of its last phrase, "kol chatan v'kol kalah" (voice of the groom and voice of the bride), this one is a favorite at nearly all Jewish weddings!
ABOUT THE ORGANIST
I began piano lessons before I started school, so I literally learned to read music before I learned to read! My first piano teacher, Mrs Rittenhouse, taught me to love music. When she had to retire, I studied with Mrs Hempel, who taught me how to go beyond just the written notes. My third piano teacher, Mr Hicks, who was also my first organ teacher, introduced me to the joys and the rigor of classical music. All of my teachers gave me a good foundation in musical theory, as well, which I really learned with gusto.
In college, I couldn't decide whether to major in math or in music, so I did both! The music major was by far the more demanding of the two, requiring more units and occupying much more of my time, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Here, I expanded my knowledge of music theory, composition. history, and, of course, performance. Besides improving my playing skills, my organ teacher, Donald Vaughn, taught me an immense amount about the history and design of this unique and powerful instrument. I also learned a great deal from my composition teacher, the late Perry Beach.
In graduate school, I studied math, and my career has been based on that. However, in recent years, my interest in the organ and in musical compositions has been rekindled. And advances in technology have allowed me to bring you this music, recordings of real pipe organs meticulously and carefully crafted from my own home studio in Tsfat, Israel. I hope that you enjoy this music as much as I enjoyed making it!
ABOUT THE INSTRUMENT
The organ that I used in these recordings was completed in 2001 in the town of Litomysl, in the Czech Republic, by Vladimir Grygar. This is a largely Baroque-style organ, with 51 bright and crisp stops arrayed over four manual divisions and the pedal division. As you will notice, though, the instrument also has some very lovely lush string stops, which I have used to good effect in quite a few of the pieces on this album.
HOW THIS MUSIC WAS MADE
If you've read this far, congratulations! If you've REALLY been paying attention, you may well be wondering exactly how I made this music.
The process begins with someone (not me!) meticulously recording each pipe of the organ, individually. This means literally thousands of recordings for only one organ! The organ used on this album was recorded by Sonus Paradisi. I bought these samples from them.
But this alone is not enough. Each pipe makes a particular sound when the air first enters it (when one first presses the key on the keyboard) and another unique sound when the air is cut off (when one releases the key). During the time in between, the sound is quite steady, so the sample can be looped to allow the note to be played as long or as short as desired. Also, a way is needed to select the various pipes in a manner similar to the way a live organist sitting at the organ console does, that is, by selecting the stops desired and pressing the keys. All of this is handled by a program running on my Windows PC called Hauptwerk, from Crumhorn Labs. In other words, Hauptwerk provides the front end to play the organ samples. By the way, the word "Hauptwerk" is German for "high work" and is generally the name of the main manual division on a German organ (whose pipes are mounted immediately in front of but high above the organ console in a traditional organ). In English, this manual division is usually called the "Great".
This still leaves the question of how to play the organ. Here's where something called MIDI ("Musical Instruments Digital Interface") comes in. This is a protocol that was developed more than 20 years ago to allow electronic musical instruments to communicate with each other. This is used, for example, to let a musician control a wide assortment of synthesizers, sampled sounds, drum machines, and even lighting controls from a single keyboard or other electronic instruments, such as an electric guitar.
So, one way to play these organs is to have an organ console that is equipped with MIDI. This is NOT how I do it, however! Instead, I have another program, Digital Performer, which is a sequencing program, that runs on my Macintosh. This program sends the MIDI messages to Hauptwerk (on the other computer) via MIDI cables, and this is what actually "plays" the organ. Of course, Digital Performer allows me to determine exactly which notes on which manual or pedal will be played, when they will begin, and when they will end. It also allows me to set when the stops will change. With Hauptwerk, I pre-set which combinations of stops to use, and Digital Performer merely sends Hauptwerk a signal telling it to move to the next (or the previous) combination. Luckily, Digital Performer has a pretty good user interface, including some musical notation, so this process is not as hard as you might think. I do have an electronic keyboard, also connected to the computers by MIDI, and usually use it to enter the notes. I don't have to enter every single note this way, however. In fact, copy and paste come in VERY handy here!
The sounds of the organ come out of the PC sound system, either through the speakers or through the earphones, depending on which I plug in. But, when I want to record, Hauptwerk can also send the sound to a WAV file (the standard musical file on a regular music CD) in addition. This means that only the organ sound gets into the file (on my PC hard disk). I don't have to worry about ambient sounds, such as someone slamming a door, or the A/C fan, or a mooing cow (yes, we do sometimes have cows near our house here!), or a big construction track vehicle rumbling by (which also happens here!).
Of course, the main challenge for me in all of this is to make the music SOUND as though a live organist were playing it. The organist is basically note perfect, since I DON'T see any reason to DELIBERATELY enter wrong notes! But I DO pay considerable attention to the lengths of notes, especially repeated notes, and to making subtle variations in tempo, as I would certainly do if playing the music live. As for results, I'll leave you to judge, but I think you'll be amazed at how realistic it sounds! I must say, it's quite a thrill for me!
People who are interested in Ton Koopman E. Power Biggs should consider this download.
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