PipeChat Digest #1618 - Sunday, October 15, 2000
 
Service Playing
  by <toelz@cetlink.net>
Re: Service Playing
  by "Jim" <bald1@prodigy.net>
Re: Service Playing
  by "Dr. Darryl Miller" <organdok@safari.net>
Re: Service Playing
  by <ORGANUT@aol.com>
Re: Service Playing & TREMULANTS
  by <quilisma@socal.rr.com>
Re: Service Playing & TREMULANTS
  by <ScottFop@aol.com>
Re: Service Playing & TREMULANTS
  by <ORGANUT@aol.com>
Service Playing vs. Public Performance
  by "Bob Scarborough" <desertbob@rglobal.net>
Re: Service Playing
  by "Bob Scarborough" <desertbob@rglobal.net>
Re: Service Playing & TREMULANTS
  by "Bob Scarborough" <desertbob@rglobal.net>
Re: Service Playing & TREMULANTS
  by "Bob Scarborough" <desertbob@rglobal.net>
 


(back) Subject: Service Playing From: <toelz@cetlink.net> Date: Sun, 15 Oct 2000 08:42:57 -0400   In the hopes of helping new organists, I will post a series containing my observations and suggestions for liturgical service playing. These observations are not intended to be the "last word"; rather, they are my own opinion based on my experiences. There are certainly other philosophies of organ playing, but maybe someone can glean something of value from mine. I am an Episcopalian, and these comments should be = useful for organists in any Mainline or Roman Catholic congregation with traditional services. They may be less useful for organists in = Evangelical congregations or congregations with non-traditional worship services. I have been a liturgical organist for almost 30 years. I take it for = granted that a church organist is in general agreement with the basic theological position of the church they serve.   The purpose of music in the church is to serve as an aid to the people in their worship of God. What is done musically in the church is an offering to aid the people in worship. The focus of the worship service is the = Word and Sacrament--not the organ. Those sentences pretty well sum up my philosophy of music in the church.   I presently have the most prominent organist position in this town. (Granted, it is not Riverside Church.) When this position came open, a music director friend of mine called and said I should apply, so I did. This was a very competitive position, and all the local "performers" = wanted it. Each applicant had an interview and audition, at which you were asked to play an example of a prelude. Then you would be given hymns to play = and some choral music to sight read. For my "prelude" I chose a very quiet, meditative piece. Every other applicant had chosen a loud, flashy piece. I was offered the position immediately.   Service playing is not a performance--it is not a recital--it is not a = time to show-off. Service playing is not a "gaudy flash." Since relatively = few people play the organ, churches have a limited pool of organists from = which to choose and thus sometimes use organists who are not really interested = in service playing. Thus, many people who play in churches are really performers who have no stage except the church. Their playing is not intended to serve as an aid to worship so much as it is intended to showcase their technical dexterity at the organ. These performers typically have a stormy relationship with the church, and aside from a relatively small group of supporters, most parishioners would be happy if they found another stage.   I ocassionally get inquries from music committes looking for an organist. The first thing they invariably tell me is that they are looking for a musician, not a performer and not an ego.   Once I read something written by a church organist. He said that in a congregation of over 300, there were only about a dozen parishioners who appreciated his playing. Now this fellow is a dexterous organist, capable of playing technically difficult pieces, and he plays them regularly. But he plays for less than 5% of the parishioners. There are always a few people in any group who will be impressed by technical ability to the = point that they want to hear it week after week. But most people get tired of the same old "flash." They're at church hopefully to worship God, not to see the Lawrence Welk Show. They deserve an aid to worship.   By the same token, very few people will appreciate a constant stream of Baroque pieces week after week. I mean, how much Pachelbel and Buxtehude can one listen to? Sometimes I think I would rather have a root canal = than hear "Canon in D" or one of Purcell's marches at another wedding. I have heard "Tu es Petra" (or whatever) enough to last a lifetime--in fact the first time I heard it was enough to last a lifetime. And as much as some of the Bach works are moving to those who are musically sophisticated, the general parishioner likes them ocassionally but not every Sunday. If = we're not careful, the organ music can become just the same-old-same-old boring background music that only a handful of parishioners pay attention to. = The attitude, "They don't like it, but I give it to 'em anyway" has no place = in service playing.   Some time ago I saw a survey which stated that a large number of respondents thought that the worship service would be improved if the = organ were eliminated. Most organists I know sniffed their noses and said, "Oh, those ignorant fools." But what they should have done is ask, "Why?" Is it because people don't want to hear the flashy, gaudy playing so = prominent in service playing today? Is it because they are tired of fanfares played on Trumpet stops and tired of hearing the "roar" of a 32' pedal reed under a mish-mash of notes played on the manuals at 120 mph? Is it because they are tired of having their eardrums blown out during the processional hymn? Is it because they are tired of the organist racing all over the keyboard and sounding wierd harmonies with brusque stops while they try to sing a hymn? Is it because they are tired of hearing nervous-sounding pieces written to show-off technical ability that sound as if the organist needs = a Valium? Is it because they are tired of hearing the organ shriek out yet another Baroque piece Sunday after Sunday--yet another Fugue, yet another Preludium, yet another Toccata, or yet another sterile yawner based on = some obscure Chorale that no one has ever heard? Something to think about--if one is really interested in playing as an aid to worship.   I once took a graduate course in Brahms in which each of us had to perform a Brahms work. One woman chose to perform a Brahms organ piece. The resident organ professor was called in to listen. This woman was a very good organist, the organ was one of those 4-manual early 20th century rich and warm sounding instruments, and she had spent a lot of time on her registration. I thought it was beautiful. But the organ professor didn't like it, naturally. He took the bench and proceeded to "show how it is done." He started with the Principal and Octave, added the Flutes, then the Mixture, then the Reeds, then took them off in reverse order. In = other words the same-old-same-old cookie-cutter registration--boring to death. The registration the woman had developed was much more interesting, and I would bet was something Brahms would have approved of--very = orchestral--and something that would have been beneficial to parishioners, but no, you = have to use the same old formula. Yes, I use the tremulant--pratically every service--sometimes even with full-organ-type combinations--at places in certain pieces that can be very effective. Yes, I use Swell 16, Swell 4, and Swell Unison Off all together--it sounds wonderful whether played in quiet chords or for a melody. I even use it on the Great sometimes in = full organ combinations. Try it sometimes, if you have it on the Great--you will be surprised. And I convinced an organ committee that it was a waste of money to have two 32' digital reed "stops" put on their new organ--they accepted my recommendation to eliminate those and the Crescendo Pedal and the Sequencer and get a Flute Celeste instead. Everyone needs a Flute Celeste, but frankly I think it should be against the law to put those = fake 32' pedal reeds on an organ--it is just asking for misuse. (I don't have anything against electronics, in fact I have one at home and love it.) = And I want all reed stops enclosed in a swell box--even the Great reed(s).   In further installments, I will give more detailed suggestions that the beginning organist may find helpful. Next installment--Hymn Playing. =      
(back) Subject: Re: Service Playing From: "Jim" <bald1@prodigy.net> Date: Sun, 15 Oct 2000 08:08:51 -0500   You have written precisely what one needs to do in order to continue to serve God and to continue to play the church organ as it was intended. We dicussed this same attitude about 2 years ago. I still say if you are = going to show off, do it for the postlude or when you are by yourself. That way you can pat your own back and turn other people off to the organ in = church.   Jim H. ----- Original Message ----- From: <toelz@cetlink.net> To: <pipechat@pipechat.org> Sent: Sunday, October 15, 2000 7:42 AM Subject: Service Playing     > In the hopes of helping new organists, I will post a series containing = my > observations and suggestions for liturgical service playing. Big Snip     > "Pipe Up and Be Heard!" > PipeChat: A discussion List for pipe/digital organs & related topics > HOMEPAGE : http://www.pipechat.org > List: mailto:pipechat@pipechat.org > Administration: mailto:admin@pipechat.org > Subscribe/Unsubscribe: mailto:requests@pipechat.org >    
(back) Subject: Re: Service Playing From: "Dr. Darryl Miller" <organdok@safari.net> Date: Sat, 14 Oct 2000 09:36:41 -0400   I have read this post with great interest since service playing is one of my favorite subjects to discuss and to teach.   I would have appreciated knowing your name and age range. It would add = much credibility to the post.   When I read your note about the organist who played the Brahms piece (you didn't say if it was a chorale prelude or one of the free pieces) and recalled John Weaver's beautiful "orchesration" of the preludes in Seattle this summer. Yes, John got panned in TAO but nonetheless, it was = beautiful, expressive playing.   Yours,   Darryl by the Sea         At 08:42 AM 10/15/00 -0400, you wrote: >In the hopes of helping new organists, I will post a series containing my >observations and suggestions for liturgical service playing. These >observations are not intended to be the "last word"; rather, they are my >own opinion based on my experiences. There are certainly other >philosophies of organ playing, but maybe someone can glean something of >value from mine. I am an Episcopalian, and these comments should be = useful >for organists in any Mainline or Roman Catholic congregation with >traditional services. They may be less useful for organists in = Evangelical >congregations or congregations with non-traditional worship services. I >have been a liturgical organist for almost 30 years. I take it for = granted >that a church organist is in general agreement with the basic theological >position of the church they serve. > >The purpose of music in the church is to serve as an aid to the people in >their worship of God. What is done musically in the church is an = offering >to aid the people in worship. The focus of the worship service is the = Word >and Sacrament--not the organ. Those sentences pretty well sum up my >philosophy of music in the church. > >I presently have the most prominent organist position in this town. >(Granted, it is not Riverside Church.) When this position came open, a >music director friend of mine called and said I should apply, so I did. >This was a very competitive position, and all the local "performers" = wanted >it. Each applicant had an interview and audition, at which you were = asked >to play an example of a prelude. Then you would be given hymns to play = and >some choral music to sight read. For my "prelude" I chose a very quiet, >meditative piece. Every other applicant had chosen a loud, flashy piece. >I was offered the position immediately. > >Service playing is not a performance--it is not a recital--it is not a = time >to show-off. Service playing is not a "gaudy flash." Since relatively = few >people play the organ, churches have a limited pool of organists from = which >to choose and thus sometimes use organists who are not really interested = in >service playing. Thus, many people who play in churches are really >performers who have no stage except the church. Their playing is not >intended to serve as an aid to worship so much as it is intended to >showcase their technical dexterity at the organ. These performers >typically have a stormy relationship with the church, and aside from a >relatively small group of supporters, most parishioners would be happy if >they found another stage. > >I ocassionally get inquries from music committes looking for an organist. >The first thing they invariably tell me is that they are looking for a >musician, not a performer and not an ego. > >Once I read something written by a church organist. He said that in a >congregation of over 300, there were only about a dozen parishioners who >appreciated his playing. Now this fellow is a dexterous organist, = capable >of playing technically difficult pieces, and he plays them regularly. = But >he plays for less than 5% of the parishioners. There are always a few >people in any group who will be impressed by technical ability to the = point >that they want to hear it week after week. But most people get tired of >the same old "flash." They're at church hopefully to worship God, not to >see the Lawrence Welk Show. They deserve an aid to worship. > >By the same token, very few people will appreciate a constant stream of >Baroque pieces week after week. I mean, how much Pachelbel and Buxtehude >can one listen to? Sometimes I think I would rather have a root canal = than >hear "Canon in D" or one of Purcell's marches at another wedding. I have >heard "Tu es Petra" (or whatever) enough to last a lifetime--in fact the >first time I heard it was enough to last a lifetime. And as much as some >of the Bach works are moving to those who are musically sophisticated, = the >general parishioner likes them ocassionally but not every Sunday. If = we're >not careful, the organ music can become just the same-old-same-old boring >background music that only a handful of parishioners pay attention to. = The >attitude, "They don't like it, but I give it to 'em anyway" has no place = in >service playing. > >Some time ago I saw a survey which stated that a large number of >respondents thought that the worship service would be improved if the = organ >were eliminated. Most organists I know sniffed their noses and said, = "Oh, >those ignorant fools." But what they should have done is ask, "Why?" Is >it because people don't want to hear the flashy, gaudy playing so = prominent >in service playing today? Is it because they are tired of fanfares = played >on Trumpet stops and tired of hearing the "roar" of a 32' pedal reed = under >a mish-mash of notes played on the manuals at 120 mph? Is it because = they >are tired of having their eardrums blown out during the processional = hymn? >Is it because they are tired of the organist racing all over the keyboard >and sounding wierd harmonies with brusque stops while they try to sing a >hymn? Is it because they are tired of hearing nervous-sounding pieces >written to show-off technical ability that sound as if the organist needs = a >Valium? Is it because they are tired of hearing the organ shriek out yet >another Baroque piece Sunday after Sunday--yet another Fugue, yet another >Preludium, yet another Toccata, or yet another sterile yawner based on = some >obscure Chorale that no one has ever heard? Something to think about--if >one is really interested in playing as an aid to worship. > >I once took a graduate course in Brahms in which each of us had to = perform >a Brahms work. One woman chose to perform a Brahms organ piece. The >resident organ professor was called in to listen. This woman was a very >good organist, the organ was one of those 4-manual early 20th century = rich >and warm sounding instruments, and she had spent a lot of time on her >registration. I thought it was beautiful. But the organ professor = didn't >like it, naturally. He took the bench and proceeded to "show how it is >done." He started with the Principal and Octave, added the Flutes, then >the Mixture, then the Reeds, then took them off in reverse order. In = other >words the same-old-same-old cookie-cutter registration--boring to death. >The registration the woman had developed was much more interesting, and I >would bet was something Brahms would have approved of--very = orchestral--and >something that would have been beneficial to parishioners, but no, you = have >to use the same old formula. Yes, I use the tremulant--pratically every >service--sometimes even with full-organ-type combinations--at places in >certain pieces that can be very effective. Yes, I use Swell 16, Swell 4, >and Swell Unison Off all together--it sounds wonderful whether played in >quiet chords or for a melody. I even use it on the Great sometimes in = full >organ combinations. Try it sometimes, if you have it on the Great--you >will be surprised. And I convinced an organ committee that it was a = waste >of money to have two 32' digital reed "stops" put on their new = organ--they >accepted my recommendation to eliminate those and the Crescendo Pedal and >the Sequencer and get a Flute Celeste instead. Everyone needs a Flute >Celeste, but frankly I think it should be against the law to put those = fake >32' pedal reeds on an organ--it is just asking for misuse. (I don't have >anything against electronics, in fact I have one at home and love it.) = And >I want all reed stops enclosed in a swell box--even the Great reed(s). > >In further installments, I will give more detailed suggestions that the >beginning organist may find helpful. Next installment--Hymn Playing. = > > >"Pipe Up and Be Heard!" >PipeChat: A discussion List for pipe/digital organs & related topics >HOMEPAGE : http://www.pipechat.org >List: mailto:pipechat@pipechat.org >Administration: mailto:admin@pipechat.org >Subscribe/Unsubscribe: mailto:requests@pipechat.org > >    
(back) Subject: Re: Service Playing From: <ORGANUT@aol.com> Date: Sun, 15 Oct 2000 10:11:27 EDT   In a message dated 10/15/2000 7:47:28 AM Central Daylight Time, toelz@cetlink.net writes:   << In the hopes of helping new organists, I will post a series containing = my observations and suggestions for liturgical service playing. These observations are not intended to be the "last word"; rather, they are my own opinion based on my experiences. There are certainly other philosophies of organ playing, but maybe someone can glean something of value from mine. >>   Thanks for such an informative article. I am new at the art of service playing, need to be given some guidelines to go by. What is appropriate = and inappropriate music for services? I would like to know if it is ok to = use tremulant while accompanying congregational singing. I think the = tremulant makes the organ sing and sound warmer. Does the trem sound mess up = someones ability to find and stay on pitch?   Later, Phil L.  
(back) Subject: Re: Service Playing & TREMULANTS From: <quilisma@socal.rr.com> Date: Sun, 15 Oct 2000 07:27:40 -0700   It depends on what kind of organ and what kind of church, Phil. If you = play an old Hammond with HAMMOND tone cabinets in an evangelical church, you'll = NEED to use Vibrato Chorus I (at LEAST) to take the curse off the Hammond sound. = But that's about the only instance I can think of where the tremulant is = appropriate for accompanying congregational singing. I use it for the old Gospel hymns = VERY occasionally, and for ONE verse of "Silent Night" at Midnight Mass ... = that's about it.   As to what's appropriate music ... again, it depends on the organ, the = church, and your playing abilities. Concordia and MorningStar publish all KINDS of = stuff for the beginning organist in the liturgical tradition; Lorenz publishes = The Organist, The Organ Portfolio, and The Sacred Organ Journal (in ascending = order of difficulty) ... they're quarterly (?) organ music magazines, aimed more = at mainline protestant organists ... Lorenz has all kinds of other easy = stuff, too.   I've worn out two or three copies of The Organ In Church (Asper) and At = The Console (grin). Those are two basic collections of easy organ music with = all the warhorses ... Jesu, Joy; Sheep May Safely Graze; Air in D, etc.   Cheers,   Bud   ORGANUT@aol.com wrote:   > In a message dated 10/15/2000 7:47:28 AM Central Daylight Time, > toelz@cetlink.net writes: > > << In the hopes of helping new organists, I will post a series = containing my > observations and suggestions for liturgical service playing. These > observations are not intended to be the "last word"; rather, they are = my > own opinion based on my experiences. There are certainly other > philosophies of organ playing, but maybe someone can glean something of > value from mine. >> > > Thanks for such an informative article. I am new at the art of service > playing, need to be given some guidelines to go by. What is appropriate = and > inappropriate music for services? I would like to know if it is ok to = use > tremulant while accompanying congregational singing. I think the = tremulant > makes the organ sing and sound warmer. Does the trem sound mess up = someones > ability to find and stay on pitch? > > Later, > Phil L. > > "Pipe Up and Be Heard!" > PipeChat: A discussion List for pipe/digital organs & related topics > HOMEPAGE : http://www.pipechat.org > List: mailto:pipechat@pipechat.org > Administration: mailto:admin@pipechat.org > Subscribe/Unsubscribe: mailto:requests@pipechat.org    
(back) Subject: Re: Service Playing & TREMULANTS From: <ScottFop@aol.com> Date: Sun, 15 Oct 2000 12:31:18 EDT   At the Shrine we have a piston set with all celestes and tremulants, = voxes, strings, celestes et all, and all coupled to the Great at 16, 8 and 4. We =   call it "full slush." It is AS good as Virgil's similar effect on the old =   Riverside recordings. And don't think for one second that people don't = sing- they really belt it out. For added "weight" to the sound- one can even = add the tibia (Gross Gedeckt) at 4' pitch, just as accompanying a sing along = on a theatre organ, and boy it is pretty! We ONLY do this, actually I only do = it- I don't think my assistant does, on the OCCASIONAL, rare verse of "I am = the Bread of Life" or a lighter such hymn. Thank you, Mr. Kilgen!   Scott Foppiano, National Shrine of the Little Flower  
(back) Subject: Re: Service Playing & TREMULANTS From: <ORGANUT@aol.com> Date: Sun, 15 Oct 2000 14:12:44 EDT   In a message dated 10/15/2000 9:29:18 AM Central Daylight Time, quilisma@socal.rr.com writes:   << It depends on what kind of organ and what kind of church, Phil. If you = play an old Hammond with HAMMOND tone cabinets in an evangelical church, you'll = NEED to >>   Thanks for the tip. We have a Hammond B3 with twin 122 Leslie tone = cabinets in sound chambers. The instrument has a very good trumpet preset with a diapason on the acc. and no trem or vibrato, for congregational singing. =   However, that instrument can really sing with the trem/vib on and and a = 16' 8' and 2' drawbar setting in the solo manual. Great for a bouncy gospel song. We will ocassionally do one for special music. (Baptist) (:>   Later, Phil L.  
(back) Subject: Service Playing vs. Public Performance From: "Bob Scarborough" <desertbob@rglobal.net> Date: Sun, 15 Oct 2000 13:35:45   At 08:08 AM 10/15/2000 -0500, you wrote: >You have written precisely what one needs to do in order to continue to >serve God and to continue to play the church organ as it was = intended.<snip>   The problem, for both the organ and its performers, is exactly what's stated here. The organ is a captive of "the church", an institution in slow decline, and one, whether one likes it or not, divorced from the realities of everyday life. Shut away in a space only used by the public on a weekly basis, the instrument loses its legitimacy in the world of music in general, and becomes, as I've said many times, a "church appliance". We must be VERY careful to differentiate the place of the organ in the church, where it is indeed a "church appliance", and the concert hall, where it must compete with the popularity of the symphony orchestra.   Although I find the initial posting on service playing (one of my least favorite activities) to be quite accurate and most useful, I also find = that it is a prescription for killing off the instrument for public performance when taken on a musical basis alone. Of course, most dreary church organs would be hard pressed to provide the range of tonality and excitement necessary for recital or concert work, and a clear delineation must be = made between the two. The current "fad" of TrackerMania in various concert venues across the country is a crucial mistake, anchoring the organ in the Baroque and foregoing its possibilities with literature of other eras, = even though its backers try to stuff "romantic" stops into them here and there. Recital and concert playing is quite the antithesis of service playing, as are the respective instruments, to be sure. Certainly, one can go overboard on "razzle-dazzle" (Fox comes to mind immediately), but suffice it to say that, if one applies principles of proper service playing to recital playing, one will certainly fail.   DeserTBoB  
(back) Subject: Re: Service Playing From: "Bob Scarborough" <desertbob@rglobal.net> Date: Sun, 15 Oct 2000 13:53:00   At 10:11 AM 10/15/2000 EDT, you wrote: >I would like to know if it is ok to use >tremulant while accompanying congregational singing. I think the = tremulant >makes the organ sing and sound warmer. Does the trem sound mess up = someones >ability to find and stay on pitch?<snip>   Tremulant for accompaniment is a major faux pas, especially with the less-skilled congregation. It muddles pitch definition for the singer who's trying to use to organ to stay on pitch. The deeper the trem, the worse the problem. This isn't to say that tremulant is off-limits for occassional, non-accompanimental music, but it is, in my book, anyway, a major goof to be avoided. Of course, evangelicals and gospellers wail = away to a Hammond with a Leslie, but the results of poor pitch adhesion by the singers is always evident in such cases. There seems to be a move towards inappropriate use of tremulants in churches where CCM and other such "non-classic" media are used, supposedly to make the music sound "more friendly". In my opinion, tremulating a four-part hymn robs it of its dignity, but, that's my opinion, and I'm stickin' to it! Your mileage may vary, of course.   DeserTBoB  
(back) Subject: Re: Service Playing & TREMULANTS From: "Bob Scarborough" <desertbob@rglobal.net> Date: Sun, 15 Oct 2000 14:04:42   At 07:27 AM 10/15/2000 -0700, you wrote: >If you play an >old Hammond with HAMMOND tone cabinets in an evangelical church, you'll NEED to >use Vibrato Chorus I (at LEAST) to take the curse off the Hammond sound.<snip>   Any self-respecting evangelical will have a B-3 with a Leslie 122, with = the rotor flipping back and forth ad nauseum. I NEVER used Hammond's "chorus" for accompanimental playing, as it is really just vibrato mixed with "dry" signal, and has not even the slightest aural similarity to a real organ "ensemble" effect. Of course, I hardly ever used the scanner vibrator at all, either, as it was much too fast (6.3 cycles per second) to be used as a tremulant. This is one reason why Leslie speakers were so wildly = popular in the '50s and '60s...to overcome John Hanert's scanner vibrato system's faults. I built a very decent "animation" system out of four HR-40 tone cabinets years ago, which used very slowly moving speaker baffles = suspended in the chambers. It was powered by a desk fan mounted on the wall of each chamber...the higher the fan speed, the more and faster the "chorus" effect. Cheap and laughable to look at...but it worked, and worked well! The local Hammond franchisee, upon seeing this, immediately started spouting Lauren Hammond's party line: "Our organs were NEVER meant to = sound like this!" Suffice it to say that NO one at Hammond remotely knew what = an organ was supposed to sound like in the first place!   On the H-100, one can slow down the racing speed of the scanner vibrato simply by changing pulley ratios. I found that a speed of 3.5 cps was still fast enough to provide the requisite phase shift to provide "pitch bending", while slowing the effect down to sound more dignified. Another method is to drive the scanners directly with a variable speed DC motor. All water under the bridge, and strictly the province of Hammond hobbiests now!   DeserTBoB      
(back) Subject: Re: Service Playing & TREMULANTS From: "Bob Scarborough" <desertbob@rglobal.net> Date: Sun, 15 Oct 2000 14:06:48   At 12:31 PM 10/15/2000 EDT, you wrote: >At the Shrine we have a piston set with all celestes and tremulants, = voxes, >strings, celestes et all, and all coupled to the Great at 16, 8 and 4. = We >call it "full slush."<snip>   Yes, an syrup pours forth from the grilles whenever it's selected! LOL!   Such combinations can be emotionally VERY powerful, but I certainly wouldn't want to count on singers to come in "on pitch" with it playing!!   DeserTBoB