Holy Week 2019
It's deputy blogging time!
Today I was working with some recordings of mine. One of them was an arrangement of 'Come, Christians Join to Sing'. However, there seemed to be a character limit in the filename, and so one possibility for the name was 'come christians join to sin.wav'
Naturally, this mistake was promptly corrected, but I began to wonder about the rhyme. The hymn goes:
Come, Christians, join to sing
Actually, 'Come, Christians, join to sin' is a much better rhyme! Compare, sin-amen, sing-amen. I have to wonder if the hymnodists noticed this. I bet they did, but sometimes one just has to compromise on word choice to stay theologically consistent.
Deputy blogger out!
More Deputy Blogging excitement!
Well, I saw Pirates of the Caribbean II: Dead Man's Chest today. I was completely unprepared for the principal villain, Davy Jones, to be an organist. This might be considered a spoiler by some, but Davy Jones has an octopus for a face. A scene shows him playing the organ with his face, which must have been necessary because his hands were crab claws.
A later scene features organ music blasting in the background, which abruptly stops when Jones is summoned to the deck of the ship. Clearly, this guy spends a lot of his spare time playing the organ.
Why this association of organs with villainy, and especially villainy of the undersea variety? The scene of Jones playing a fearsome tune with a toccata like accompaniment on an organ deep in the hold of his ship was nothing if not reminiscent of a similar scene in the original Disney version of 20,000 Leagues under the Sea. Being a typically illiterate moviegoer who has not read the novel, I have to wonder whether the association began with Jules Verne.
Wherever it started, it has certainly become archetypal. What is it about the organ that evokes this image of an evil, monomaniac performer? Sure, it's big, loud, and essentially a solo instrument, but is that really why we see a character who is a representation of the Devil incarnate playing it? I don't even want to think about the theological implications of this. Perhaps the misplaced context is supposed to be frightening.
Perhaps the answer is something different. Being evil is one thing, essentially an emotional state. Possessing a strong rational faculty in service of evil motivations is something else. This is what makes a genuine villain more than a mere scoundrel or brigand. The organ, the machine that produces emotionally moving music, and the technique of playing it, are together a physical representation of both the fearsome lucidity and accuracy of execution of the evil purpose of the villain who plays.
Provided the player is a villain, naturally.
A charming detail to watch and listen for in this film is that the theme Davy Jones initially introduces on the organ, to a swelling orchestral accompaniment as we cut to see his crew, later returns as the theme the music box gently plays as he sleeps at the console. This is a very cute example of thematic transformation. I thought it was a nice touch.
Deputy Blogger Parks signing off, wishing all you villainous organists happy villainy.
Deputy Blogger Lieutenant Parks tuning in!
Recently I was privileged to visit the Methuen Memorial Music Hall. This is really a fascinating place. The organ inside was built by Walcker, which initially made me think it was the find of a lifetime. Yes, I would be approximately that excited to find an original instrument built by this great German Romantic builder here in the United States. However, it was restored and tonally altered to a great degree by the E.M. Skinner company. Traces of its heritage are still audible in the darker tone of the principals, which the photographs on the site will show have a noticeably small cutup. I am left with a strong desire to try some Liszt on it.
Despite not being the find of a lifetime, this instrument is pretty neat, and the hall that contains it is positively gorgeous inside. Outside, next to a river that runs right by the parking lot, several castle-like outbuildings were visible, along the lines of miniature towers and parapets. When I asked a member of the foundation that runs the hall about them, he explained that it "was all Searles doing".
Edward F. Searles (pronounced SEE - ruhls) was responsible for building the hall, the organ, and countless other things around the area and region which I did not get to see. He was an independently wealthy architect and interior designer, who happened to marry enough money to become fabulously wealthy. I cannot begrudge a man of such taste any wealth. I wish there were people like him around today building organs, even if he did originally intend the music hall for his own private use.
All of this was courtesy of the invitation of Brandon Santini, who played Eugene Thayer's Sonata II. This piece was constructed out of national themes, highly appropriate for a concert on the 4th of July. I played a minor role in this performance, turning the pages. Of special note is that Eugene Thayer, an American organist and composer, actually played the same instrument at the inaugural concert when it was installed in the Boston Music Hall. I know this because they have a framed original copy of the program.
All in all, a pretty cool place, to which I plan to return.
Deputy Blogger out!
Good morning, fans of Sinden.org! As you well know, Sinden.org is the long-running blog of David Sinden, updated regularly with only the very best of content. Unfortunately, during this month, David will be returning to his longtime summer camp, where he has been assigned the rank of Captain and plays the organ for a service each day. During this time, he will be unable to post. His camp is provided with a pipe organ, but not internet access.
Captain Sinden has deputized me, Will Parks, to blog on his behalf. Because I clearly rank below him, I am assigning myself the rank of Lieutenant. As a longtime reader of Sinden.org, I am fully aware of the format and content you have come to expect from this blog. I hope my posts will be up to the high standards set by Captain Sinden.
Currently, I am spending the 4th of July in perhaps the most appropriate location in America: Lexington, Massachusetts. I have been assured by my hosts that this is where the Revolutionary War started, and wikipedia confirms that the Battle of Lexington was indeed the first engagement of the American Revolution. They had fireworks on July 3rd, in an apparent pre-4th of July celebration, keeping with their tradition of doing patriotic things first.
Meanwhile, the race is on to find my lodgings for next year. I have discovered the T, the Boston transit system. It works remarkably well, and has completely changed my thinking about transportation. I hope to find a room to rent within range of the subway, and so far, it looks like that will be possible.
It's that time of year again. The time when I ask that you send
I leave you now to resume my quasi-militaristic status as Capt. Sinden of Lake Delaware Boys' Camp (LDBC) in Delhi, New York.
Please send correspondence to:Capt. David L. Sinden, LDBC
Or you might enjoy my previous articles about LDBC:
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Full daintily it is dight.
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