Cláudio Pina

CESEM — FCSH: NOVA University

Extended techniques on the pipe organ

The pipe organ has an instrument for contemporary music is established by several composers such has; Ligeti, Xenakis, Saariaho, Hambraeus and Neyrinck, quoting a few. These composers used different approaches, some of them with great originality. The pipe organ is an instrument that is deeply rooted to a functionality and purpose, portrayed on the repertoire of solo and chamber music of the Baroque period. Besides having a strong backbone with Bach and several other baroque composers, some advances where made with the music of Messiaen, for example, but most of those advances are in the harmony domain. The main concern of this article is about several of the techniques used on the pipe organ. Some of these effects are similar, but not linked, to early repertoire, such has ‘thunder and cannon’ on early music for historical instruments. These kind of different interactions with the keyboard is a usual thing throughout the ages, specially in improvisation. Most of these techniques reside in the way you interact with the keyboard. Specially on a pipe organ that is not fully electronically enabled. Meaning that the keys are played with a traction mechanism, and the register stops are connected directly to the organ. If a pipe organ is not controlled electronically, one can achieve other kinds of effects and techniques. These techniques can be called extended, since they change the way you play and the sound of the instrument. Some examples of such techniques, used by the quoted composers are: Playing with weights that hold indefinably the key and the sound produced. Using the register stops in unusual ways, such has not fulling opening the stop, producing a muffled and atonal sound. Other way of achieving these type of effects is varying the pressure of the keys, in this particular example, one can control directly the sound being produced in a way that is similar with the modern aftertouch in synthesizers. The pipe organ, in a certain point of view, is akin to an additive synthesizer. One can pull stops to add layers of sound. The extended techniques of altering the way how an organist plays, can be mixed with each other. One can use weights to hold the keys and therefore, manipulate the stops and gradually open them. Or one can vary the pressure of the keys at the same time that the stops are manipulated. The possibilities are endless, and in this regard, the pipe organ behaves like a synthesizer, albeit being non-digital. Luk Vaes on his thesis Extended Piano Techniques writes about several techniques on the keyboard, that some of them can be translated to the pipe organ. Kurt Stone on his book Music Notation in the 20th century explores several extended techniques on the pipe organ, devoting a chapter to the instrument. With a brief analysis of the repertoire with extended techniques each composer uses different notation and different means to obtain certain effects and sounds. It is proposed a new notation for extended techniques on the pipe organ, based on the mentioned repertoire. The unusual appliance of techniques to achieve other sound effects are the spark that start an avant-garde approach to the pipe organ, culminated with the pipe organ works of Ligeti. Many things can still be made regarding the instrument, without the use of computers, effects, and altering the instrument in any way. During the presentation, several audio, photos and notation examples of extended techniques on the pipe organ will be displayed.

KEYWORDS: Pipe Organ, Extended Techniques, Notation


Cláudio Miguel Andrade Fonseca de Pina, born on August 2nd, 1977 in Lisbon. Started his musical studies at the age of 7 in Banda Filarmónica da Armada, studying music theory, organ, trumpet and guitar. At 12 years old he become choralist at Coro Infantil de Santa Maria de Belém, performing in several operas in Teatro Nacional de São Carlos. Few years later he enrolled in Pipe Organ degree at Instituto Gregoriano de Lisboa, studying gregorian chant, composition and music history, with João Vaz, Ana Paula Mendes, Armando Possante, César Viana and Maria Helena Pires de Matos. At the same time, he enrolls in Physics Engineering at Faculdade de Ciências de Lisboa. His interest in composition develops and he deepens his studies with workshops and masterclasses, besides private teaching with Eurico Carrapatoso. The following years he dedicated to Jazz, enroling in the advanced degree of Piano in Hot Jazz Club, where he studied with Felipe Melo and composition with Pedro Madaleno. He starts a Jazz quartet, playing Hammond organ. Due to his interest in Early Music, he develops several masterclasses with Adam Woolf and Win Becu. He performs regularly in the Parish where his the titular organist of a XVIII century historical portuguese organ made by António Xavier Machado e Cerveira, in the last 20 years. His interest in contemporary music develops and leads to studying Electroacoustic with Miguel Azguime, Adrian Moore and Jaime Reis. Studied Acoustic with Vincent Debut. Currently finishing his Master degree in Musical Arts at Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas, under the mentorship of Isabel Pires, where he develops modern extended techniques for Pipe Organ and Electrocoustic Mixed Music. Regarding composition he had several nominations nationally and internationality.