The Gospel Organist

Having grown up in this tradition I thought I would pass along some of my thoughts for this style of playing. This style involves a warmer more theatrical sound as found in playing by organists such as Harold DeCou, Paul Mickelson, Loren Whitney and others.

The use of heavier more theatrical tremulants as well as stings, celestes, and little upper work beyond the 2' flutes exemplifies this sound. Diapasons at 2' pitch as well as Mixtures and Reeds are considered a NO! NO! Reeds however can be used for solo melodies. In addition, percussions are well suited to this as well.

The type of hymns suited for this style of registration may be typified by the following examples: In The Garden, When We All Get to Heaven, Living for Jesus, Power in the Blood just to name a few. Many of you will remember these as Camp Meeting or Sunday evening service songs.

Many purists will disagree with the idea of using classical tremulants let alone heavy or full tremulants. I certainly don't think that every verse of a hymn in this style should have the tremulants flying away but for a couple of stanzas it may be most appropriate.

In Gospel styling there will be found much more tying of the inner voices to create a warmer sound. It is extremely important that the melody line notes be repeated. In addition, the pedal is most important in giving the sense of pulse and rhythm. Often only the important beats in the measure are played such as in 4/4 beat 1 is played and tied to beat 2 but shortening the second beat and then repeating beat 3 tied to beat 4 using the same format. It gives that sense of bounce necessary to keep the rhythm moving forward.

I will include several of my favorite combinations for you to try.

With the tremulants, I refer to Full or Theatrical style.

Chimes with a 4' flute with tremulant for the solo with the flute or string celestes for the accompaniment. The pedal to balance.

Foundations at 8' pitch with any solo reed (French horn, Clarinet, Krumhorn, Trumpet etc) with tremulant played an octave lower than written for the melody. The accompaniment and pedal should balance.

Flutes at 8' and 2' pitch with tremulants and the accompaniment and pedal to balance.

Percussions such as the Celesta, Chrysoglott, can carry a melody nicely for preludes and offertories.

With Allen organs equipped with either our MDS Expander II™ or our new Ensemble™ sound modules even more possibilities exist. Pianos, Choir, String ensembles, Solo Violin, Bugle, Piccolo to name a few solo possibilities for melody lines are also alternatives. If you haven't had a chance to see our new MIDI module, the Ensemble, it's a must for this style of playing! Yes! It has Tibias!!!!!

For full Ensemble playing use all the 8' including the celestes on all divisions coupled to the Great with the Pedal to match with Full tremulants. You can continue building adding the 4's then 2' flutes. On occasion I will also add the 8'Oboe for color.

This just begins to scratch the surface of this style of playing. I hope you find this helpful and may your tremulants never fail you.


Scott Clark