Nov. 15, 2020
New Hymn Of Praise, Part I
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A new hymn of praise can be constructed upon just about any hymn-like theme built from existing material.
For example, let's say that a new 4-voice Fugue has been composed having a fairly long, lyrical subject.
That subject and its countersubject (or 1st countersubject) can be inverted and all four moving lines made into a hymn-like tune of four phrases.
NOTE: Not every fugue is adaptable this way; the majority of them in fact are not; the melodic outline of the subject and countersubject must be long enough and make a singable tune when converted to longer notes and inverted in order to develop them into a hymn-like tune of four lines; one also can expect to alter certain notes and their values to refine this raw material into something with which a general congregation composed of mostly untrained voices can sing.
Once this tune is contrived it can be used then to either build a prelude to pair with the Fugue -- such as by working it in the 6-part form Louis Vierne taught his students for improvisation on a single free theme [See blog, Learning By Example] -- OR, with the addition of at least two stanzas of appropriate words, a hymn of praise.
An example of this is Toccata and Fugue in F Major Op. 19 [See blog, Getting Started With Writing, Part XXIII].
The Toccata from this work is built upon two themes, the first of which came from the Fugue's long subject and 1st countersubject which were inverted and built into a tune of four phrases.
When such a tune is contrived all that remains is to invent words for it and a conventional hymn of praise is born (photo).
At first it seems like a daunting task to create a brand new hymn of praise this way that will work, but there's nothing all that difficult about this; all it takes is a plan, understanding the basis for one's faith, a music writing application, a little knowledge of part-writing, and a willingness to set fear aside and take a stab at it [See Slide Shows, Slide Show 15].
In this case, this new hymn works when played quietly and slow or faster with a fuller sound; it's good for communion, offertory, Lent, Easter, or Thanksgiving.
Two versions of the score therefore have been prepared -- one for leading congregational singing at a more upbeat tempo and mezzo-forte dynamic (photo) -- and the other at a slower tempo and piano dynamic for quiet playing using a color reed on a secondary manual to bring out the canonic imitations of the tenor voice as it briefly follows the soprano [See blog, New Hymn Of Praise, Part II].
Placing a brand new hymn score arranged for organ like this in the hands of an organist friend is one way to remember that dedicated person with a gesture of appreciation and assist in gently nudging others in the audience one more inch along their path back to God, all at the same time.
(con't in Part II)