Final draft

In my last post, you could hopefully see from the image that I had finished the melody and had mapped out the harmony of the accompanying, but hadn’t got particularly far with the accompaniment patters. One restriction on the accompaniment for the first performance is that, because the service is taking place in the Eastern Crypt of Canterbury Cathedral, the only instrument for accompaniment is a small one manual chamber organ with three stops (8′, 4′ & 2′). Originally built to accompany Tudor music in the Quire, it is more than capable of filling the space, but the restrictions it imposes on me is both that the accompaniment must easily lie under the hands – there are no pedals to take the bass notes, or a sustain pedal as you would get on a piano, and the dynamic range is restricted due to the small number of stops – an organ doesn’t play louder or quieter depending on how hard you press the keys like a piano would, so the dynamic contrasts can only be made by adding or reducing the number of stops, or what is called more correctly, the registration.

Personally, I find it easier to compose on a piano, but I was careful to regularly try my accompaniment out on an organ, just with a single 8′ flute stop, to make sure that what worked on the piano (and in my mind), worked equally well on the organ.

There are two main styles to the accompaniment: one loosely based on an arpeggio-style pattern, and one on repeated syncopated chords. Both of these include my own fingerprint of added notes that aren’t in the basic triad, and some counter-melodies hidden within the accompaniment textures. To give the piece a sense of completion, I wanted to return to the opening style towards the end – to give the piece a sense of winding down, of regaining the calmness that the opening held; the repetition of the opening melodic material and text helped to make this easier. The change in the middle to the more syncopated style gave the piece a drive and a contrast. It is essential in a good piece of music to carefully balance repetition with contrast. Hopefully I’m somewhere close to getting this right in this piece – I’ll have to wait and hear the opinion of others to see if they agree.