Organist Scott Ziegler talks about the FPC pipe organ with a gentle reverence.
He is careful about everything, from not putting a coffee cup on the organ console (the piece most of us know as the ‘organ’ is actually referred to as the ‘console,’ while the forced air and the pipes are more acurately termed the ‘organ.’) to wearing special shoes when playing.
“The shoes I wear to play have special heels that allow me to use them to play. It essentially gives me four touch points instead of two. And these shoes have never been outside. I don’t want sand or dirt on the organ. They also have suede soles to allow swift movement over the pedals.”
“Every organ is unique,” Scott explains. “It is built for the space it is in,” he continues. “Our organ is built to enhance the echo.”
“You have to be there to practice on it. You cannot just know how to play an organ. You have to know how to play that organ. It is the only one of its kind.”
Scott spends hours each week practicing for Sunday’s worship services, mapping out how he will present the music for the service and how he will bring the music to life.
Scott takes the music for each week and goes through the hymns line by line evaluating the emotional impact each line was designed to pull from the worshipper. His hymnal is marked with notes and thoughts.
He then determines how he can best draw that level of emotion from the organ. And he goes through an elaborate dance with the music and instrument of finding just the right combination of notes and tones.
“You can do dialogues with different parts of the organ,” Scott points out. “I can play the melody louder if we are singing a new hymn so people can learn it more quickly.”
In the FPC organ, built by Austin Organ Company in 1994, there are 3,549 unique pipes with 60 different ranks. Ranks are individual rows of pipes (as pictured above). Air is captured in reservoirs (such as the one pictured to the left) and is forced into the pipes when Scott pulls selected ‘stops’ and then plays the keys.
Pistons, which act as memory files, similar to files on a computer, allow Scott to create effects and save them to one of these files for each hymn he plans to play. The organ has 50 of these pistons.
The organ console also has three keyboards, which control various areas of the organ – the pipes themselves. He can control the sound of the organ through these keyboards.
All of the technical and creative work Scott does combines to provide us with the amazing music we hear each Sunday.
“I love helping people make music together.”