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ROCK ORGAN: Fantasy on Marty Haugen's "Gather Us In"

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Published on Oct 28, 2016

When I began serving early in October 2016 as a rotating organist (playing for Masses on alternating Saturdays) at Saint Martha Catholic church in Murrieta, California, I became especially inspired by their 2008 Robert Knight 3-manual and pedal organ: a hybrid organ with pipes (32 stops) and an Allen digital organ (25 stops). And, I should mention, one BIG reason the organ sounds so good is because of the TERRIFIC acoustics of the building: very spacious with hard, reflective surfaces.

I've always enjoyed playing the music of Marty Haugen, maybe because he grew up as a child of the sixties, and in my opinion at least, his music shows the influence of Rock Music. Not necessarily Classic Rock, Blues, or Heavy Metal, mind you, but I have a feeling he, like me, liked to listen to the more progressive, artistic and sophisticated bands like Moody Blues, Electric Light Orchestra, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Yes, and Genesis. At least that is what I hear in some of his music, especially "Gather Us In."

Anyway, I thought I would do a little improvisation on his tune "Gather Us In" for a prelude before one Saturday evening Mass. Before I knew it, my little improvisation turned into a (nearly) six-minute Fantasy. A "Rock Organ" Fantasy. Really. This piece would sound just as good (maybe better) if performed with two electric guitars, electric bass, an array of keyboards (organ and piano), and a battery of percussion and drums.

Most of my fantasy is based on Haugen's very distinctive opening motif: an ascending perfect fifth, with the fifth repeated twice (d a a a). This interval has an almost mystical quality; it is neither major nor minor, and has an ambiguous and ethereal quality. The theme is introduced in a Largo introduction first by the chimes, then by the oboe pipes, then by the Erzähler and Erzähler celeste pipes, and finally by the pedal diapason pipes.

The complete tune is introduced little by little by the left hand during the allegro section (1:06), and is accompanied by a rapidly-repeated ostinato figure (d a d) with high-pitched mixture pipes played by the right hand.

Some development sections follow, including a three-part canon on the octave (2:18), and then a little fughetta in four voices (2:48). The complete song is finally played in unison with the tutti organ (3:14), and then the fantasy gradually winds down with a recapitulation of the allegro ostinato section (3:55) and finally ends with the ascending motif heard in the Largo introduction (5:05).

When you're in southern California, please come to Mass at Saint Martha in Murietta, (see http://parishworld.org/web/?parishid=... for more about Saint Martha) and don't forget to visit http://henrydoktorski.com to hear more of my music. For more about the three-manual and pedal Robert Knight hybrid organ at Saint Martha, see https://www.facebook.com/saintmartham....

Sincerely,

Henry Doktorski

Update: I received an e-mail from Marty Haugen, the composer of "Gather Us In," which I am pleased to share with you below, with his permission.

November 8, 2016
Dear Henry,

I watched your excellent video on You Tube. Well done! You have a real gift for creating new and fascinating sounds, and a real talent for arranging. It sounds like the organ you are playing is an extension of your spirit.

I am honored that you put such time and energy in re-creating my piece. Blessings to you in your ministry.

Marty

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