I finally tracked down this fragment of a tune that was running through my head, as “Baubles Bangles and Beads” from the movie Kismet.
Hear how they jing, jinga-linga
Baubles, bangles, bright shiny beads
Her heart will sing, singa-linga
Wearing baubles, bangles and beads
She’ll glitter and gleam so
Make somebody dream so
That someday I may
Buy her a ring, ringa-linga
I’ve heard that’s where it leads
Wearing baubles, bangles and beads
This has been made into a film a half a dozen times – it’s some double romance set in Baghdad, since it depends on some kind of sorcery for the plot development – and there are also several iconic recordings of the tune.
The reed organ was quite popular around 1900, but gradually became supplanted by the pipe organ in churches, and the piano in homes.
Mark Twain had a piano for his daughters, but his roots were with the older music of the reed organ.
So what did they all play? Let’s get the Bach out of the way first.
Here is “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor” ( no idea which one), played on a reed organ by a Canadian guy, Rodney Jantzi, who repairs them. (Yes, I have been binge-watching reed organ repair videos on YouTube, and am up to part 6, they are fascinating, even better than Barbour’s car engine disassemblies.)
And of course we must have a woman, here is Diane Bish playing it on the world’s largest outdoor organ (although it is a pipe organ, not a reed organ).
And just to go off on a tangent, here she is playing the oldest playable organ in the world, on a mountaintop in Switzerland. The bellows to play the thing are larger than she is. But again, this is a pipe organ, not a reed organ.
So here are some reed organ standards, historical stuff, or just stuff people like to play on them: (links to scores in green)
Arthur Bird, the first name that always comes up since he wrote specifically for this intrument: Music for the American Harmonium (composed for Mason & Hamlin), see essay by Artis Wodehouse: “Liszt was especially interested in Bird’s compositions and often played them at the private soirées…” also “The purest examples of Bird’s ﬂuency in deploying counterpoint are demonstrated in the unpublished Preludes and Fugues found at the Library of Congress.” (1897 Pastorale) * 10 Pieces for Harmonium, Op.37 by Bird, Arthur H. (Internet archive) *American Melodies by Bird, Arthur H. (Internet archive) [Star spangled banner, Old folks at home, Home sweet home, Auld lang syne, Annie Laurie, Ancient melody. Angel Gabriel]
Largo (from the opera Xerxes) – G.F. Handel “…from the opera Xerxes, called “Ombra mai fu”. The opera was a commercial failure, lasting only five performances in London after its premiere. In the 19th century, however, this aria was rediscovered and became one of Handel’s best-known pieces.”
The Church’s One Foundation (Variations) commonly based on the tune Aurelia. The music was composed by S. Wesley, and this arrangement is by J.E. Newell.
Petrucci Music Library, IMSLP.org “Sharing the world’s public domain music”. A collection of free downloadable scores,
White’s School for the reed organ : containing a full and comprehensive method of instruction : also scales, studies, exercises, voluntaries, songs, marches, waltzes, polkas, opera melodies, hymns, tunes, etc., by White, C. A. (Charles Albert), 1875 (Internet Archive) (another on Internet Archive)
Reed organ player; Sunday music for organ or piano, a collection of pieces for all occasions by Lewis, Walter (Internet Archive)
A few from ebay, once you know something exists, you might be able to find it online:
Whitney’s Improved Easy Method Parlor Organ, Lyon & Healy, Chicago, Illinois, 1886. 100-page music lesson book
Selected Compositions, Harmonium, Organ, American Organ Church Voluntaries, edited and arranged by J.S. Anderson. Vintage Piano/Organ Sheet Music
Messe Solennelle Aquatre Voix Soli & Choeurs, G. Rossini, Music Libretto, c1870. Solennelle, Aquatre Voix, Composee et dediee Madame La Comtesse Pillet-Will, Par G. Rossini, Partition pour Chant Avec Accompagnement de Piano et Orgue-Harmonium. Propiete des Editeurs Enregistre aux Archives del Union; Mayence Chez Les Fils De B. Schott 20067.Gioachino Antonio Rossini (29 February 1792 – 13 November 1868) was an Italian composer who gained fame for his 39 operas, although he also wrote many songs, some chamber music and piano pieces, and some sacred music. He set new standards for both comic and serious opera before retiring from large-scale composition while still in his thirties, at the height of his popularity. RARE LIBRETTO C1870s, MUSIC FOR PIANO AND HARMONIUM ORGAN
National Guide to Reed Organ Playing, by W F Sudds, pub by Oliver Ditson Co., Boston, 1882.
Josephine James (1934 – September 9, 2019?) was an American gospel singer and songwriter. Although she made a huge number of recordings under her own name, she is probably best known for her duets with her brother, the pastor and broadcaster Cleophus Robinson (1932 – 1998).
Josephine James was born in born in Camden, Mississippi, the seventh of nine children. Her parents were Coleman and Lillie Robinson. When she was 12 years old they moved to Canton, Mississippi.
‘Keep On Stepping’ at the age of 17, on a Nashboro label subsidiary and
‘Consolation’ (Savoy, 1980),
‘Back Again’ (Malaco, 1993) and
‘What You Need’ (Malaco, 1995).
He died Dec. 23, 2014, aged 57.
The most famous musician in her family was her brother, Mississippi pastor and broadcastor Cleophus Robinson. In 1949, Cleophus recorded four sides for Miracle Records — two were released as the 78 “Miracle 142”, which contained “Now Lord” and a very slow “I Love the Name Jesus” — but it did not sell well. In 1953, Cleophus was brought to the attention of Don Robey, who owned the labels Duke and Peacock labels that were producing rhythm ‘n’ blues and gospel hits, and Robinson recorded ten tracks over three years with the Spirit of Memphis Quartet. Again, the recordings did not sell well. Listen here to “Shout, shout” on Peacock Records with the wonderful Napoleon Brown on piano who he worked with for many years.
In 1956, Cleophus Robinson convinced Robey to record him and Josephine in a live, spontaneous church setting, and the result was the hit “Pray For Me”, attributed to “Rev. Cleophus Robinson and his sister Josephine James”.
By 1957, Josephine ‘s brother had moved from Memphis to St. Louis, and married Bertha L. Thomas of Mobile, Alabama in 1956 (Bertha Lou Robinson, 1937–2006). He become a popular figure on the radio program Hour Of Faith on radio station KATZ. The “Pray For Me” album was released by the Peacock recording label in 1962, and Peacock also recorded solos by Bertha Robinson in 1963. Roebuck Staples of the Staple Singers had just signed to Riverside, and Josephine’s brother Cleophus Robinson now signed a contract with Battle, a subsidiary of jazz label Riverside run by Orrin Keepnews. You can listen to her at “Bertha Robinson live in 1997”: Bertha Robinson Live/Well Well Well!
Bertha Robinson and her husband Rev. Cleophus Robinson sing together on “Live in St. Louis” in 1997, a year before his death. This is a really nice video recording done in front of a small church group:
“I Can See So Much (Live)“- Cleophus Robinson & Josephine James, Rev Cleophus Robinson & The Robinson Family Album Live In St. Louis Licensed to YouTube by [Merlin] The Malaco Music Group (on behalf of Malaco Records); UMPG Publishing, BMI – Broadcast Music Inc., and 3 Music Rights Societies
Rev Cleophus Robinson Live/ All My Help, Rev Cleophus Robinson & The Robinson Family, Live In St. Louis
“Lord send me” Track A-2 on “Four Women in Christ” (1974) compiled by ABC, a collection of recordings on Peacock/Songbird label. Featured artists include Josephine James, Bertha Robinson, Jessie Mae Renfro, and Rhonda Davis.“
Four Women In Christ – Various Artists, … Sister Josephine James/God Will Hear An Honest Prayer – Sister Josephine James/Lord Send Me – Sister Josephine James/Bless Me Lord – Sister Josephine James/Hold My Hand – Sister Josephine James [with Blind Boys of Mississippi]/Deliver Me – Sister Josephine James [with Blind Boys of Mississippi]/Softly And Tenderly – Sister Josephine James [with Blind Boys of Mississippi]/Have Your Own Way Lord – Sister Josephine James/Well Well Well… Peacock Album PLP-194 (Note, “Five Blind Boys of Mississippi”, with the recognizable high-pitched voice of Archie Brownlee, was originally “The Jackson Harmoneers”. I cannot seem to find any recording of them with Josephine James, although this source seems very certain that it happened.)
PLP-107 – Pray For Me – Cleophus Robinson & Josephine James  Pray for Me/Sweet Home/I Believe/Everlasting Life/Everybody Talking About Heaven/Ain’t Going/I know What the Lord Can Do/He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands/All I Need/sweet Bye and Bye/Amazing Grace
“Wrapped Up, Tied Up, Tangled Up”, Cleophus Robinson, perhaps his most successful recording on Nashboro, where he recorded 18 albums. Sister Josephine joins the preacher on the final choruses
“Help Me To Carry On” , Sister Josephine James and Bertha Robinson duet on “Leaning On The Lord” for the flip side, 1956.
It’s Monday and time to get some stuff done. (Do the days of the week just blend together now?)
Guess what has been unleashed in the internets…women playing bandura! Two days ago, when I wrote the bandura post, you would be hard-pressed to find even one. Now they are coming out of the woodwork. So here’s a little soundtrack for your chores.
Alina Pash feat. «Ой, сивая та і зозуленька» (Oh, gray and cuckoo)
B&B Project plays cover versions of Germain group Rammstein on bandura and accordion.
Another by B&B project, Storm (Presto) from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons “Summer”
Performer unknown, the work is “Концертний етюд” (Concert etude).
Марини Круть (Marina Krut) plays a cover of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.
The torban (Торбан), an instrument related to bandura, its precursor I suppose. Maria Viksnina plays an Irish jig, “Брызги росы”(sprig of dew)
Okay, not bandura, but an Israeli group, Habibti Ensemble – Baghdad | Live at Zappa Jerusalem. A long instrumental at the beginning, typical of Arab music, before the vocals kick in…the violin is very nice, and imagine this part being played in the manner of medieval Swedish tradition substituted with a wooden flute.
“During summer nights, Baghdad is raising, sleeping on the rooftopsDelicate sounds of night, heavy breaths, quiet whispersBetween the rooftops, snake streets, twist and sighInto the twilight, gate where the nights turn into days.
“في ليالي الصيف، تعلو بغداد لتنام على السطوح ضوضاء الليل، الأنفاس الثقيلة والهمسات الهادئة بين سطوح المنازل، شوارع ثعبانيّة متعرّجة، تتنهّد نحو الشفق، بوّابة الليالي إلى الأيام
“בלילות הקיץ בגדד עולה לישון על הגגות רחשי הליל נשימות כבדות לחישות שקטות בין גגות בתים רחובות נחש מתפתלים נאנחים אל הדמדומים, שער הלילות אל הימים”
Kind of nice for sukkot, which is technically over, but if you already have the sukkah set up to eat in the back yard, are you really ready to give it up yet?
Charles Albert Tindley was pastor of one of the largest churches in Philadelphia, a songwriter, and the creator of the American gospel music genre. He was the first hymn writer to have a hymn copyrighted. He wrote some 47 songs, including the 1903 “I shall overcome” which became the 1960’s civil rights anthem “We shall overcome”. One of his best-known hymns was “Leave It There.” In 1916 he published a hymn collection titled New Songs Of Paradise.
Here is reed organ collector, Artis Wodehouse (red link), playing two of his hymns in an abandoned church in New York.
The songs are “I Am a Pilgrim of Sorrow” and “You Ask Me Where I Get the Joys”.
Yes, they are in the public domain.
“Stand by me” is probably his most popular tune. It was popularized by Elvis, his fans will tell you what a great voice he had for gospel and how his gospel work is so often overlooked. Here are a few on YouTube:
“Stand by me”sung by Josephine James (red link) (d.9/10/2019?) with a stormy piano and organ background, from the album “God is all” on Savoy. She also made several recordings with her brother, Rev. Cleophus Robinson Sr (Wikipedia). This may be the version that was sung on Little House on the Prairie, season 5 episode 23 Mortal Misson.
Boston Children’s Chorus: “To conclude our 19/20 season, BCC’s singers offer Charles Albert Tindley’s anthem of hope and resilience, ‘The Storm is Passing Over.'” Really little kids, some outside with their parents.
Crystal Notes: A choice collection of new temperance hymns and songs for red, white and blue ribbon clubs, gospel meetings and every phase of the temple Date:1878
Great Joy!: A new and favorite collection of hymns and music, for gospel meetings, prayer, temperance, and camp meetings, and for Sunday schools; Author: Warren W. Bentley; Publisher: George D. Newhill & Co. Cincinnati, OH.; Date: 1881
Songs Of The New Crusade: A collection of twentieth century temperance songs. Author: Elisha A. Hoffman; Publisher: Chicage: Hope; Date: 1916
[The list of Bilhorn hymn collections that was here has been moved to Peter Bilhorn under the “Available from the Internet Archive” heading.]
And were there women composers in those times gone by? Yes, indeed.
Scriptural Songs: Mrs. Currier was composer of most tunes in the book. Many of the texts are by her friend, Fanny Crosby. Portraits of both are included; Author: Mary E. Upham Currier (red link); Fanny Crosby; Publisher: R. B. Currier; Springfield Mass; Date: 1908
Kobza was a Ukrainian psychedelic folk band established in the 60’s by a group of students from the Kyiv School of Music. It was named after the Ukranian kobza, a traditional pear-shaped stringed instrument related to the lute.
Kobza has sometimes served as an official representative of the state at Ukrainian cultural events.
The initial members of the group were bandura players Konstantin Novitsky and Vladimir Kushpet, and flutist Georgy Garbar. The banduras were an innovation: the electric bandura. The director was student Alexander Zuev, who later became a composer.
The kobza first entered Ukrainian history as an instrument played by wandering blind musicians called kobzars.
The instrument was taken up by Cossack soldiers, then later by traveling philosopher bards, who became embroiled in political intrigues.
In the 16th and 17th centuries, additional treble strings, and even bass strings were added to the body of the instrument, thus were born the archlute, chitarrone or theorbo, harp-cittern, poliphant, and bandura. Of these, only the bandura survived.
The kobza suffered additional indignities during Soviet occupation when it was suppressed, and the scholar who had written its chronicles, Hnat Khotkevych, was shot by the Soviets.
“In Soviet times scholars in Ukraine had to quote Famintsyn whose views on the history of the kobza and bandura were thoroughly debunked by Hnat Khotkevych (1930). The tragedy lay in the fact that Khotkevych had been shot by Soviet authorities and his works were proscribed for decades, while Famintsyn became a mandatory source.”
In 2018, the last school in Ukraine offering kobza instruction was shut down abruptly, with no explanation. There had been only two applications for new kobza students that year. The school by tradition only accepted male students. Many graduates of the program went on to be music teachers or lead vocalists in prominent Ukrainian music ensembles.
But I digress, back to the group….
The Kobza (Кобза) album
Their first album was Kobza (Кобза). It was recorded in 1970, and is believed to be the first LP produced in the Ukraine, as well as one of the earliest documented examples of Ukrainian folk-rock.
The album is divided between arrangements of pop/folk songs by local contemporary composers, and traditional folk songs rewritten for electric organ, bass, drums, woodwinds and three banduras. The bandura is similar to the kobza, but with shorter treble strings added along the right side of the soundboard. Some say the bandura is another type of kobza, but only time will tell whether this gains general acceptance.
There is supposed to be a remastered CD version of this album available.
The group was initially invited to the “Melodia”«Мелодия» recording studio to back up singer Valentina Kuprina, but the sponsors liked the group’s original material so much they decided to make an album, and Valeriy Viter was specifically invited in for vocals.
The group’s website also specifically credits Georgiy Garbar with sopilka on the album, which is a hand-carved wooden instrument with six to ten fingering holes and a fipple (whistle) mouthpiece. It is a popular Ukrainian folk instrument typically played by shepherds and mountain dwellers, especially Hutsuls. The instrument is described on the “chiff and fipple” forum as a chromatic “Klezma” whistle useful for playing Irish tunes at sessions.
The Wikipedia sopilka article says this is a permanent dead link, but quelle surprise, I have it here: http://www.ku.edu/~crees/outreach/sopilka.pdf. Also the archived http://www.manchesterklezmer.org/ and their repertoire page for midis and sheet music downloads. Wikipedia also says the Kobza group was the first pop group to use the instrument in performances, but “citation needed” on that one.
A1Ой При Лужку, При Лужку (Oh At the Meadow, At the Meadow)
A2Нiч Яка Мiсячна (A Moonlit Night)
A4Балада Про Двох Лебедiв (Ballad About Two Swans)
A6На Івана Купала (On Ivan Kupala)
B3Ой Поїхав За Снопами (Oh, I went for the Sheaves)
B4Ой Кину Я Бук На Яму (Oh Throw I Beech On The Pit)
B5Лiсова Пiсня (Forest Song)
B6Та Й Орав Мужик Край Дороги (Yes and Orav the Man by the Road)
Водограй / Веснянка / Та Й Орав Мужик Край Дороги / Голубівна / Лісова Пісня, Мелодия 1972
[Vodograi / Vesnyanka / Ta Y Orav Muzhik Edge of the Road / Golubivna / Lisova Pisnya, Melody 1972]
Кобза – Волшебница album art Волшебница, Мелодия 1972
[Kobza – Sorceress album art Sorceress, Melody 1972]
Кобза – Эстрадные Ансамбли Украины album art Кобза / Магистраль (2) – Эстрадные Ансамбли Украины (7″) Мелодия 33 С 62—12063—64 1979
[Kobza – Pop Ensembles of Ukraine album art Kobza / Magistral (2) – Pop Ensembles of Ukraine (7 “), 1979]
KOBZA, (Кобза II) 1977. Vocal and instrumental ensemble (“Melody”) 33С60-10941-42 – 1977. Released in 1978. Returning musicians were Novitsky, Viter, Kushpet, and Garbar, in addition, Oleg Lednev ( bass guitar), Evgeny Kovalenko (keyboards), Nikolai Beregovoy (violin), Gennady Tatarchenko (guitar) and Vasily Kolektsionov (drums). The album was a mixture of Ukrainian folk song arrangements and songs of Ukrainian composers. (YouTube)
Kobza – Canadian Tour ’82 / Yevshan – YFP 1018. (YouTube 2:58).
Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections, Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, ref FP-1983-CT-0039, 1983.
Women’s Bandura Ensemble of North America (red link) (see list on Wikipedia) does live concerts and has gathered quite a number of favorable reviews. Unfortunately the quality of most of their YouTube recordings is cringeworthy, with unimpressive unison vocals, or a heavy-on-the-tremulo contralto in the foreground overshadowing the rest of the ensemble, or even someone whispering in the audience who can be heard over the performance. The possible exception might be their latest special COVID distance performance video, that seems to have better sound balance.
There is also a Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus of North America – apparently there was a diaspora after the Stalinist bandura purge – but it’s all dudes, and once you get past the gorgeous traditional costumes, it’s just sausagefest. I’m sorry but there is something about the male chorus that maybe just doesn’t go with the instrument. The instruments are totes awesome, you can see some description here. But maybe a mixed chorus, or the trios that seem to be so popular with women in the Ukraine…. There is a mixed chorus here from a university in Ukraine, and it is only a rehearsal but sounds very nice.
BUT WHERE ARE THE WOMEN!!!?!
In spite of being prohibited from the formal instruction that has been the stepping stone for so many male careers, some women have still managed to play the kobza, or bandura.
Oriana (Оріана) is a three-woman ensemble that performs in traditional costumes. Members are Наталія Гоцик (Natalia Gotsyk), Неоніла Іваноньків (Neonila Ivanonkiv), and Юлія Рудницька (Yulia Rudnytska). The recording quality of this video is really poor, but it has some nice closeup shots of the instruments being played, so you can see the bandura’s thin sides, and the string action. A similar one here, from a musical festival, supposed to be “Ave Maria”, and with the same sound problems. Here is one with better sound quality, from a local TV station; the fake snow does not particularly add to the gravitas of the performance, but this is the one to watch if you just want to hear the group. Their vocals are very tight, and in spite of the sound quality, do blend well with the strings.
The female bandura trio seems to have become quite a Thing in the Ukraine; there is a compilation of videos here, in Ukrainian language (perhaps a collection of contest winners?) (volume warning, turn down sound before opening).
If you just want to see the instrument played well, this is Tatiana Gordiychuk (Татьяна Гордийчук). She has played bandura for dance performances of the Swedish group “Moving Torup“. The first piece here is Myroslav Skoryk‘s “Melody in A Minor” (Мелодия Ля мінор). It was dedicated to the memory of the victims of the Holodomor (Stalin’s “starvation genocide”) in Ukraine in 1932-1933, to the memory of the lost generation. The second piece is unidentified.