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May 3, 2003
Vol. III, No. 14

"Another Fine Alto Clef Mess I've Gotten Myself Into"
The "Nun Komm" workshop that I emailed last month generated a greater than usual amount of feedback. Since a majority of the feedback I receive comes directly to me via email rather than showing up on the Feedback page, I thought I would share some of it with the community.

As might have been predicted from the quotes I included from Stinson's book, the feedback regarding "Nun Komm" as a composition in general was that it is a beautiful piece that touches the emotional core of all who play it. This seemed to be true for players new to the piece as well as for those who had been playing it for years. It would be interesting to hear about how this universality among players translates to your congregations and other audiences.

Many community members responded with their registrations for "Nun Komm." The wide variety of registrations, sometimes more than one per person, indicated a broad range of tastes in the community as well as the variety of instruments that are played. Of course, it's also speaks volumes about Bach's genius that his work can be interpreted successfully in so many imaginative ways. Gordon Clark Ramsey recommends using the Orgelbuchlein "Nun Komm" as a first prelude to the larger "Nun Komm" for a "nice, ten-minute service prelude." I'm looking forward to trying this for a service and perhaps some of you already do.

The workshop offered an alto clef-free PDF version of "Nun Komm" for free download. This was aimed at two groups of people. The first group consisted of players who didn't play the piece because they didn't yet know of it. The second group consisted of players who knew the piece but didn't play it because of the alto clef issue. Both groups were well-represented in the emails I received. A third group responded and it consisted of players who knew the piece and either read alto clef or use an edition that is alto clef-free.

I didn't know that Novello publishes an alto clef-free edition and I obviously didn't know about the website to which Aarnoud de Groen referred me: offers plenty of Bach without alto clef for free download plus many other composers (see Featured Links below). In any event, the experience of transcribing "Nun Komm" was rewarding as it gave me the opportunity to do a little analysis along the way. Also, I like my version because the notes are big for easy reading.

I heard from a community member in France who I believe was expressing surprise that Americans had an issue with alto clef. I'm not exactly sure though because my incompetence at playing from alto clef is exceeded only by my incompetence at French.

Actually, I have nothing against playing from alto clef and I do it on occasion but not enough to be fluent at it. With "Nun Komm," I was simply too impatient to learn it from alto clef. It was so beautiful I had to play it as soon as possible. And I figured that other people might be in the same boat so I transcribed it.

Victor Frost had much of importance to say about the "Nun Komm" workshop as well he should have.
Victor authored Workshop #4: "Taming the Dreaded Alto Clef," that describes the benefits of using alto clef. I had intended to include a link to his workshop at the end of mine but time failed me as I rushed to complete it. I have since remedied the situation with a related link on my workshop but here it is directly:

Hopefully I have not undone all the good work Victor has accomplished in promoting the alto clef through his workshop. As he suggested in his feedback, my alto clef-free version of "Nun Komm" was offered as a shortcut with the hope that this will ultimately lead players to explore the original with alto clef. That is generally what I do and I highly recommend it as a way of becoming comfortable with playing from alto clef.

If you haven't already read Victor's feedback, you'll be happy to learn that he has completed the second half of his Twenty-four Preludes for organ and it is now available for free downloading (see Composition Free Exchange page below).

One last thing: Does anyone have an edition where the circled note below (measure 15 of "Nun Komm") is indicated to be an F#? I don't but it sounds like it might be a better choice here and I just wondered. Let me know.

Click this link to read comments and offer your own:

Updated Pages
Composition Free Exchange:
It's been far too long since I've had the pleasure to announce an addition of original music to the Composition Free Exchange page. The second half of Victor Frost's Twenty-four Preludes for organ has been posted and is now available for free downloading. Program notes are attached to the front of the first half PDF and performance notes are attached to the end of the second half PDF. The individual PDF files for the program and performance notes have been removed.

Featured Links:
Added is After you finish downloading all the free Bach, there's music of many more composers to explore at this site.

Independent Artists:
Added is keyboardist Dr. Bradley Lehman. His website offers a great deal of interest to music lovers.

Community Links:
Check out the latest recommendations and favorite websites of the community.

THANK YOU! I would like to convey my sincere gratitude to all of you who have chosen to support by making purchases from our affiliate sponsors. Your efforts have helped to keep on-line and sustain this community. Thank you!

Have a great week and tell a friend about!

Dan Long

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