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September 18, 2005
Vol. V, No. 19

"The Price Is Wrong"
It is claimed that classical music radio station listeners do not want to hear pipe organ music on their stations. I say claimed because in my 35 years of playing, I've never actually heard anyone say that they didn't like the sound of the pipe organ. Anyway, apparently this supposed dislike of the pipe organ has something to do with being reminded of church.

Why wouldn't someone want to be reminded of church? I read in BusinessWeek that some churches, in their drive to attract and retain new members, are working hard to avoid reminding people of, well, church, going so far as to remove all traces of the Cross from their sanctuaries.

Suddenly the attraction of Praise Bands in churches begins to make sense. Christian rock and pop groups have been around for a long time but they've generally kept their business out of the sanctuary. Now, with the move toward feel-goodism, a Praise Band is an all-out necessity. The hymns have to be replaced with music that for all intents and purposes is secular. Rather than biblical or theological references, they tend to stick to talking about God and Love or omit God and just talk about Love or perhaps only refer to "He."

Unfortunately, the congregation is left with a warm and fuzzy feeling inside and little else. It reminds me of the times I've attended tapings of TV shows where music is used to "warm up" the audience. Songs like "Play that Funky Music, White Boy" are pumped into the studio at gut-pounding levels until the audience is acting and thinking as one, hanging on the host's every word and laughing too hard at every joke.

This game show mentality has hijacked major portions of our culture here in the US. And what was once the realm of televangelists has merged with the Super-Size-It mentality to create mega-churches that represent everything that's wrong with America.

What's next? Sports Churches? If we really wanted to appeal to the lowest common denominator, why not simply convince people at large sporting events that they are actually at church. Think of the collections! Plenty of room at half time for music and some of them even have organs. Not only would this increase attendance numbers but it would eliminate the problem with people skipping Sunday morning services to go to the game.

This Rampage is for those organists (too many) who have lost their jobs because churches and/or clergy have succumbed to the Game Show Mentality. Don't for a minute think that because someone decides they want pabulum for music for the morning service that they are in any way in the right. Rather than contribute to the musical dumbing down of America, join the Global Struggle Against Musical Mediocrity. The message is that McMusic at a Super-Sized McChurch isn't any better for you than a McBurger at a McRestaurant. Finally, remember this: ANYTHING A PRAISE BAND CAN DO, AN ORGANIST CAN DO BETTER. In the words of a famous TV slogan, I'd rather fight than switch.

Click this link to read comments and offer your own:

Updated Pages
Your Stories:
Added is the first story in a year! Here is the opening paragraph of the story of Frank Mento, currently Titular Organist at Saint-Jean de Montmartre Church in Paris. "I grew up in an Italian-American family in Campbell, Ohio, where music was always in the air. Aunt Josephine heard Caruso sing and knew all the famous opera arias by heart (She sang them to me when I was small.). My cousins used to play the piano at grandma's house during Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter festivities. Consequently, I began studying piano at the age of 8 with a neighborhood teacher who also introduced me to the organ. She was organist at St. Joseph's Church, Youngstown, Ohio, where there was a pipe organ, an old 2-manual Wirsching. That was my first experience with a pipe organ, and it was a revelation!" Click the following link for more:

Articles Library:
Added is "Forgotten Bach Aria Turns Up in Shoebox" by Luke Harding in Berlin and Charlotte Higgins, The Guardian, June 8, 2005. "For three centuries it was hidden in an old shoebox, concealed beneath a couple of blank pages. But yesterday music experts across the world were hailing the discovery of a previously unknown work by the German composer and genius of the baroque era, Johann Sebastian Bach. The work, for a soprano and harpsichord, was written in October 1713 as a birthday present for Bach's patron, Duke Wilhelm Ernst of Saxe-Weimar."

RAMPAGE FLASHBACK (It was four years ago today, about)
"Elegy for Freedom" September 14, 2001
"Most of you probably aren't aware that I live and work in Manhattan. This past Tuesday, I was at work in Times Square, sitting at my desk when the first tower of the World Trade Center was hit. After the second tower was hit and it became obvious that this was no accident, I headed home to be with my family. By the time I arrived at our apartment, the towers were down and we watched in horror, along with the rest of the nation, the endless replaying of something unbelievable and incomprehensible." Click the following link for more:

WHAT I'M READING..."The Life and Work of Ernest M. Skinner" by Dorothy J. Holden. community member Gordon Clark Ramsey recommended this book to me. Thanks, Gordon! I'm more of a Baroque organ fan but so far I'm finding Skinner to be a fairly interesting fellow. I'm still reading about his early development. Click the link below for more information on this book:
Click this link to see all selections in Dan's Book Club:

Have a great week!

Dan Long

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