Gene Gajewski

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Ach, was soll ich Sünder machen BVW 770

“Oh, what should I do, sinners”

Here is the organ piece I promised in the previous post. It was an interesting short little project. It is a chorale church piece to accompany a choir, by J.S, Bach.

The way the source originator put together the project in MuseScore was not what I expected. This was created as a multi-part composition where, in addition to an organ staff, there was a staff for each of the stops used. This gave me a bit of pause as I wasn’t sure of how I wanted to approach a production with this type unusual organization,

It’s important to note that I’m a neophyte when it comes to organs. My previous organ projects were created “all stops”, or rather pre-chosen set of stops in a single registration. There are hundreds of specific organs stops as you can see on I needed that site just to cross reference stop names used in MuseScore to something I have in the limited number of stops available to me.

The MuseScore organ part is certainly usable as is if your sampler is set up to switch organ stops on and off. You would simply use a few MIDI control codes to switch registrations, and your work would be complete. Classic Pipe Organs *which I am using here) does have a custom console mode where you can do just that. There are some limitations as there are 12 registration settings available: three ranks of four columns. Each rank has a specific menu you can choose from for its entries.

The other way to produce a recording, given the source, is to use those separate, individual staffs to drive individual pipe ranks, which is what I chose to do. Classic Pipe Organs also can place a single stop (pipe rank) on an individual midi channel. There are about eighteen pipe ranks in play done this way. (In a future organ project, I’ll try the console mode and see which production style works best for me. For actual keyboard performance, the console mode looks best.)

Having selected an approach, I had to do a bit of legwork before I could begin patching each rank to a midi channel. I needed to cross reference the stop, which are in German, to the available stops in Classic Pipe Organs. There are two important things to note here, though. I’m using the stops the organist/editor used in the score and selecting the closest match that I have in CPO. Secondly if you look at the Urtext reference PDF on you’ll see that there’s no registrations listed. So, I’m at the mercy of the creator of the MuseScore copy.

With a little googling, I found someone’s actual registrations for this BVW 700. Nice.

MAN: Bor8, Oct4
rh: MAN: Bor8, Nas3
lh: POS: Lged8, Fl4
POS: Lged8, Pr4, Oct2
POS: Lged8
rh: POS: Lged8, Fl4
lh: MAN: Qnt16, Viol8 (J. F. Agricola’s registration for the Trost at Altenburg, 1757);
rh: MAN: Bor8, Nas3, 1 3/5
lh: POS: Lged8, Fl4
POS: Fl4
MAN: Bor8, Oct2
POS: Lged8, Fl4
m. 3, etc.: MAN: Bor8, Oct4
POS: Lged8, Pr4, 2 2/3, Oct2, Mix
m. 5, etc.: MAN: Bor8, Oct4, Oct2

Heh. This type of info is hard to come by. Most of the information out there on Bach’s works is contained on academic web sites; you need to read past the scholarly puffery to get what you need. I will try these registrations, those I can match, for a second rendering to compare to my freshman effort here.

Interestingly there’s no pedal staff in the PDF reference edition here; the MuseScore copy has the pedal staff but it’s plain empty. Just the bass and treble staff. You play this piece with two hands and no feet. That matches up. What the reference PDF does has is editorials which indicate which keyboard manual should be played – particularly in the last few parts. These are in German, but they indicate whether it’s the Great, Solo, Choir.

So – I’ve patched everything up and added reverb and mastering. The first major change in registrations you’ll hear happens around the 2:20 mark. From then on, there’s changes in every part until the end of the recording. Not bad for a first try. I may have to research a bit on more specialist websites to get a better understand of the art of organ registrations.


N.B. This PDF shows the proper score. The MuseScore source I used multiple staffs for all the stops but had them hidden from view by default.

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