Music History & Facts

Interesting facts about music, music history, etc.

The question of how hard is it to play a pipe organ cannot be simply answered with how difficult it actualy is to play, because there is also the fact that this is not an instrument you can easily purchase and bring home, so why would you learn to play such a bothersome instrument? and how hard is it to master?

History of the Pipe Organ

The first organ design. Greek.

The Organ has been around for quite some time, dating back to 200 BC in Greece, and it is beleived that it was made by a man called Ctesibius, however he did not mean to make a musical instrument ike the one it came to be, it was mostly to explain and demonstrate the principles of hydraulics.

Many years after that it started being used as an instrument and eventually around 400 BC it was used during weddings and other celebrations.

The first organ design was also not sustainable, and eventually the design was made simple by replacing the piston, valves, and water cistern. However after this redesign the world did not see much organs until around 900 BC when the medieval church organ came to be and after that it kept evolving while its popularity increased all around Europe.

Hard To Play?

Saying that it’s hard to play may be accurate, of course any instrument is hard to play at first, but there are a few things that make this instrument a bit more intimidating than others.

The thing about the pipe organ is that there are many things you need to be aware of when playing it.

It’s not the hardest instrument to play but it’s by far the easiest,to master the instrument and feel comfortable, your body needs to do a lot of things at the same time, more specifically, it requires you to be thinking about five different things at same time while playing.

You’ll be playing the keys on the organ, using your feet to control pedals and holding the notes, since there is no sustain pedal like on the piano.

When it comes to stops, which produce the range of notes needed, you will also have to control the sound by changing the positioning of these stops.

In conclusion, easy to learn, very hard to master.

Katelyn Emerson

In an interview with bachvirtuosifestival.org Katelyn Emerson talks about her experience playing in beautiful cathedrals.

BVF: Share your feelings about playing in some of the most world-renowned cathedrals around the world?

KE: Since even the smallest of pipe organs has a few dozen pipes and the largest have several thousand, it is far too cumbersome to bring along one’s own organ when traveling, so one of the most unique and interesting parts of being an organist is getting to know a new instrument (or more than one!) for each recital. What comes along with such a unique challenge is also being able to view extraordinary place from the most unusual angles: seeing the Cathédrale Notre-Dame from the balcony, being the organist of whom hundreds of tourists are taking photographs at the Hallgrímskirkja in Reykjavik, Iceland, seeing the façade of the Walt Disney Concert Hall organ from the console on the stage during a recital, enjoying the incredible serenity of Spain’s Montserrat Monastery prior to the concert – all of these are experiences that I would never have had if I weren’t fortunate enough to do what I do. Perhaps the most important thing is simply being interested in having such experiences. So much of the time, playing the organ seems to require interest in history, in architecture, and in art before any note is played. Without the curiosity in what makes our world, our lives, and our music “tick,” such experiences merely become a completed checklist, not life-changing memories

The pipe organ has special connections to specific places which makes it a very unique instrument.

Click the link for an interesting beginner’s guide.

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There are myths everywhere and people who find them interesting but it’s not always entertaining, as it can also be harmful. The music industry is no exception to myths and rumours, and there can often discrourage aspiring musicians or chnge the point of view of a person about something, while it’s not true at all.

While this is not something that should be directly taught to music students, it may be good to keep it in mind and maybe slip it under the rug during class.

These days it’s easy to share thoughts, and many of these “thoughts” or stories, may not be accurate or helpful when it comes to getting started in the music industry.

Big Ambitions Doesn’t Do You Any Good

This is definately a myth but it can do harm if taken the wrong way. Being ambitious is good because it gives you the strength you need to pursue a career as a musician, however this doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily hit jackpot and turn famous in a few months.

Being a musician means lots of hard work, hard work means doing things you don’t like. The whole idea of being a musician is not just about recording music and playing in front of an audience, it’s about investing both time and money, meeting new people, traveling and being open to learn new things.

So you can have ambitions, but remember to keep your feet on the ground.

You Need to Be Like…

Many people say that there are specific personalities, genres, and overall idea of a musician that you need to fullfil in order to make it in the music industry, but this doesn’t make sense.

Being a musician is about innovating every single time a song is made, sometimes it’s easier to see the “new” sometimes it’s the little things, but copying and imitating other succesful artists in the end will get you nowhere.

No More Albums or CD’s

With all these new platforms on the internet, music streaming and YouTube, some people have gotten the idea that the way music was made before is no longer viable. This is true to some extent but when it comes to making singles instead of albums and going all digital instead of releasing physical copies, there is not enough evidence to say this is the only way.

Today people enjoy physical copies more than a few years back when streaming was new. At first digital music sounds great, you could almost say you can now listen to music for free, but as time keeps passing by, several feelings like nostalgia or the sens of belonging, starts to call for CDs and even Vinyl.

From the musician’s point of view, the new “single approach” usually works very well, but that doesn’t mean that releasing albums is a bad idea. This is something that can reach the ears of a new artist and can make the fact of recording an entire album very intimidating or just not worth it.

The thing is that the album is the real deal, releasing a few singles is a good idea for people to know what they are getting into but it’s not the whole picture. Of course this may depend on how the artist develops the idea of the album and the concept behind it.

The best way to confirm if these are really myths or not is to go through it with a clear mind. Experience will be the best judge, but it’s good to have someone to tell you to not listen to some of these myths, in the end they only bring you and your creative wings down.

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For many people music can help them concentrate and keep them focused on a specific task this applies to studying, working out and many other tasks, however sometimes we ask ourselves, does it really helps with work or is it just a distraction to make something tedious and boring a little less heavy?

It is known that music has strong effects on our state of mind, change our mood and helps the brain release dopamine which makes us happy, but does that really mean we can be more efficient while listening to music? not necessarily, at least not for everyone.

Even though it may not work out for everyone, there is good reason to believe that it can boost productivity while working.

There are a few things to consider when trying to listen to music to concentrate while working.

No Lyrics

Music with no lyrics tend to be a better choice when trying to focus on a task, so anything from classical orchestral music to electronic dance music are definitely a good choice.

Headphones

This may be a bit obvious but when using headphones to listen to music, there is a sort of bubble that isolates the listener from other distracting sounds, this makes it so that the person listening to music, is willingly choosing what to hear while blocking other sounds. The result is that it’s easier to concentrate due to being in control of one of the most distracting factors when trying to concentrate which is unwanted sounds.

Music That You Know

Working with music that is very familiar also helps to concentrate. According to neuroscientists, after recent studies: “The regions of our brain that improve concentration are more active when we listen to music we’ve heard before”.

According to Karen Landay, a former professional violinist and graduate student at the University of Alabama:

Historically, music and work have always been intertwined. Think about romantic visions of peasants singing as they harvest, or sea chanteys sung by sailors as they work on their ships. And since most people enjoy listening to music of some kind in at least some contexts, it’s perfectly natural to feel that music must have some sort of positive impact on our work.

In an article from the BBC, there is a great example of working with music:

Michael Vettraino, who founded the London-based music consultancy MAV music, says the company has helped to introduce background music to several offices. While their main focus is on providing bespoke playlists for restaurants, casinos and hotels, recently they have branched out into supplying offices, many of which are introducing music for the first time.

“Our clients have told us that it’s increased their productivity when they’ve had the right music playing in the office, in terms of staff motivation,” says Alex Hill, who works as MAV’s head of music and operations. They are always careful to factor in the demographics of their audience – their age, etc. – and fit the music to how they’re likely to be feeling at different times of day.

“When you’re concentrating you’ll want calmer, more relaxing music and at the end of the day when you’re feeling tired, you’ll want something more upbeat. We know that a graphic design agency in Shoreditch is going to want very different music to a high street bank Gloucester. But if you get it right, it should hopefully help people to work harder.”

Of course one thing to bear in mind is that there are many factors that make all of this a bit subjective, this means that it’s not something that comes with a set of rules and then it will definitely work, it’s more like something each person has to try and find out how it can work for them depending on the job, the place and the music. It can also happen that after trying to concentrate with music, a person can find that it just doesn’t work, and that’s ok.

In the end, music in the workplace is not for everyone, but it is a interesting aspect of music that is worth trying out.

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