The organ has been called the “King of Instruments”. It’s a well-deserved title.
You many not know very much about this instrument. The pipe organ is a very common instrument in churches, so it will help you to know a little about it for planning your wedding ceremony music. Just a little.
A common instrument for a wedding: organ
If you’re getting married in a church, chances are that you’ll be having an organ involved in your wedding music. Of course, you don’t have to. You can choose a piano or bring in other instruments. But the organ is what most couples choose, partly because it’s an extremely convenient choice.
This is why so many of my music suggestions here at Wedding Music Unveiled are organ pieces (I do try to include music for other instruments when I can–here’s an article devoted just to instrumental music).
How it works
The pipe organ was essentially the world’s first synthesizer. This is because it can make a wide variety of sounds, thanks to its stops. These stops control air going to different sets of pipes (each set makes a different sound). “Pulling out a stop” means more pipes will play when a key is pressed.
Some churches have electronic organs rather than pipe organs. The sound can be but is not always similar. The concept is still the same. For you, thinking about a wedding, organs are organs. There’s no real difference to be concerned about.
The organ can play many different styles of music because of these stops and the variety of sounds they play. Being able to play multiple keyboards and pedals at the same time only increases this capability.
But it’s not for all music
But some music isn’t at all suited for the organ. Just like a harp can technically play notes from any piece of music doesn’t mean it’s going to sound good. A harp playing something written for an electric guitar is not going to be pretty.
Such is also true for the organ. Some music just won’t work.
I once heard a story from an organist friend in Germany. A bride gave him a CD of yoga music that featured chirping birds and even a zither and asked him to play this for her processional. He said he’d do his best. He spent many hours trying to simulate various sounds he heard from the CD on the organ and made a valiant attempt.
But it turned out the bride was expecting it to sound exactly like the CD and she was terribly disappointed. The sounds she wanted just weren’t possible on the organ.
What you also need to know
It’s also important for you to know that not only are organs very expensive instruments, but the technique for playing one is far different than for other instruments such as pianos and even electronic jazz- or rock-type organs (or keyboards). It’s just completely different.
For both of these reasons, churches tend to keep a close eye on who gets to play their instrument. For weddings, organists will need to be cleared with the church.
Ask the church for permission if you want to use your own musician. Be prepared to be asked whether your musician knows how to play such an organ.
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