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Thread: Does anyone else find organ music painful?

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    Senior Member Fabulin's Avatar
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    Default Does anyone else find organ music painful?

    I like quite a few pieces of organ music, especially Preludes and Fugues by Bach, and organ works by Max Reger. I love the concept of the instrument itself, its history and technical side, not to mention the majesty of its slow, powerful chords, and liturgical charisma.

    And yet organ music always causes a mild internal ache around the stomach / solar plexus when I listen to it. Sometimes it also causes temporary headaches. Something feels wrong about the way it resonates inside the body. This is also true for music which features the organ in the background. A friend of mine reported similar reactions when I recommended some organ music to him.

    Does anyone else experience something comparable about this instrument?
    Last edited by Fabulin; Oct-22-2019 at 21:46.

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    I have a friend who utterly detest organ music - it's too limited in nuance, dynamics, timbre, etc. I on the other hand love the sound and feel of a real organ in a real space. Among the most memorable concerts I've ever been to was an organ recital in Vienna at St Stephansdom with music of Schmidt, Reger, Bach and Mendelssohn. And I love the Wurlitzer theater organ, too. There is no instrument that is as difficult to replicate on a home stereo as organ. A great, powerful amp and subwoofer really help. Headphones are pointless. I don't listen to a lot of Bach on organ, but I do enjoy the late romantics: Reger, Schmidt, Vierne, Franck, and above all Widor. Doesn't cause me any of the problems you identify, but I know the music will sound so much better with a real organ.

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    Senior Member Bulldog's Avatar
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    The organ presents no problems for me - sounds great and is good for the body.

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    Senior Member Baron Scarpia's Avatar
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    No problem, but I guess the strong low frequency components could conceivably be felt in the body cause an unpleasant reaction.

    These days headphones are my only option, which is not ideal, but the shortcoming is not enough to make me give up listening to organ music entirely.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fabulin View Post
    I like quite a few pieces of organ music, especially Preludes and Fugues by Bach, and organ works by Max Reger. I love the concept of the instrument itself, its history and technical side, not to mention the majesty of its slow, powerful chords, and liturgical charisma.

    And yet organ music always causes a mild internal ache around the stomach / solar plexus when I listen to it. Sometimes it also causes temporary headaches. Something feels wrong about the way it resonates inside the body. This is also true for music which features the organ in the background. A friend of mine reported similar reactions when I recommended some organ music to him.

    Does anyone else experience something comparable about this instrument?

    That reminds me of a Sherlock Holmes story, where the detective was using his violin to experiment with different sounds which would repel flies.

    One thing to mention is that there are lots of different types of organs, if your response is caused by all organ sounds then it could well be psychosomatic, maybe caused by difficult experiences in church when you were a child.

    Or maybe just the fact that it’s called organ, with all its sexual connotations, is what’s triggering the response. In some languages even the word pipe has a sexual connotation.
    Last edited by Mandryka; Oct-23-2019 at 07:17.

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    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    Organ music always makes me think of this....


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    Senior Member Larkenfield's Avatar
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    Magnificent instrument. Some refer to it as the King of Instruments, under the control of only one person, … and I believe it is because of its power and range. It can vibrate every cell and molecules in one’s body in a beneficial way. It can also be thrilling and great works have been written for it:



    Awesome performance:

    Last edited by Larkenfield; Oct-23-2019 at 08:01.
    "That's all Folks!"

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    Senior Member Fabulin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mandryka View Post
    One thing to mention is that there are lots of different types of organs, if your response is caused by all organ sounds then it could well be psychosomatic, maybe caused by difficult experiences in church when you were a child.
    I consider the possibility that it has something to do with the association of organ music with being in a public place where focus and attention is required.

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    Senior Member KenOC's Avatar
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    I read, somewhere, that the overtones in some organ music simply rub listeners the wrong way.


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    I love organ music but unfortunately it's the only kind of music that is disrupted by my having tinnitus. I suppose it's because the constant tones in my head are similar to organ notes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KenOC View Post
    I read, somewhere, that the overtones in some organ music simply rub listeners the wrong way.

    It probably depends much upon the tuning of the organ in question. I think equal tuning is particularly harmful to organ music written before say 1800, because of the chaos of higher partials it produces combined with the organs sustain. On the other hand my impression is, that some modern organ composers use this effect to make the organ sound more aggressive.

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    Member ericdxx's Avatar
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    Currently listening to Alfred Desenclos, Messe de Requiem and it is a kind of headache inducing this mix of choir and organ. This might be the first and last time I listen to this piece...any love for this piece?

    On the other hand, I LOVE organ with a symphony orchestra like the ones by Camille Saint-Saëns.
    Last edited by ericdxx; Oct-23-2019 at 12:12. Reason: spelling

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    Senior Member elgars ghost's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Merl View Post
    Organ music always makes me think of this....

    Ironic that Iron Butterfly's only famous song is also one of the most turgid examples of late 60s overindulgence I know of.
    '...a violator of his word, a libertine over head and ears in debt and disgrace, a despiser of domestic ties, the companion of gamblers and demireps, a man who has just closed half a century without a single claim on the gratitude of his country or the respect of posterity...' - Leigh Hunt on the Prince Regent (later George IV).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fabulin View Post
    I like quite a few pieces of organ music, especially Preludes and Fugues by Bach, and organ works by Max Reger. I love the concept of the instrument itself, its history and technical side, not to mention the majesty of its slow, powerful chords, and liturgical charisma.

    And yet organ music always causes a mild internal ache around the stomach / solar plexus when I listen to it. Sometimes it also causes temporary headaches. Something feels wrong about the way it resonates inside the body. This is also true for music which features the organ in the background. A friend of mine reported similar reactions when I recommended some organ music to him.

    Does anyone else experience something comparable about this instrument?
    Since you mentioned that even low-level background organ sounds affect you, I don't think it's the actual vibration, but is psychsomatic.
    I think that you may have what Scientologists call an "engram," a bad memory which is imbedded in your unconscious, which is triggered by organ music.
    I suggest going to the nearest Scientology center and receiving "auditing" as soon as possible. And don't forget your wallet.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fabulin View Post
    A friend of mine reported similar reactions when I recommended some organ music to him.
    This makes sense if the two of you have some sort of affiliation which you share. Some institutions which use the organ (churches) might have some sort of ideological opposition to whatever it is you might represent and, by proxy, advocate, and this opposition is represented in the sound of the organ, which naturally evokes an unpleasant reaction for you.

    Similarly, certain groups of Americans are frightened by dogs, because of historical "resonances" which the dogs embody.
    Last edited by millionrainbows; Oct-23-2019 at 15:02.

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