organica 3

Christoph Bull

Organ music from Bach to Billy Joel, classical to cinematic, spiritual to improvisational.

Notes Second Edition 2016: This is the second edition of 'organica 3'. The reissued album consists of the same playlist from the original recording sessions. The artwork is original too, but it was adapted for DigiPak instead of jewel case CDs. Improvements were made in some of the edits and all tracks were remastered. This work took place in September of 2016.

Original Album Notes from the First Edition in 2007:

When I made organica 3, the number 3 played an important role. Very little of it was on purpose, most of it “just happened,” a lot of it I didn’t notice at first. I picked three pieces of a kind three times (3 pieces by Ramón Noble, 3 Jazz Organ Preludes by Johannes Michel, 3 Spirit Songs), and I chose three pieces with three movements, parts or sections (Carlos Seixas’ “Sonata in F,” Bach’s “Toccata, Adagio and Fugue in C,” and Gigout’s “Scherzo”). I recorded the album with engineers Terry Cutshall and Art Goulet in three sessions, spanning just over three months, with the last session being held on March 3, 2003 (3/3/3). I finally completed the editing of the album 3 years and 3 months after the last recording. I used three instruments (the two Allen organs and my voice) and recorded at three locations (churches in Camarillo and Eagle Rock, and my home studio, The Bull Pen). The Spirit Songs are all in 3, meter-wise, and two of them (“On The Wings Of A Dove” and “Rain Down”) have 3 verses, while on the recording of the third (“O Holy Dove”) I grouped three verses together. When I took a closer look at the sheet music for “Rain Down” I saw that the text is based on Psalm 33. That track turned out to be 3 minutes and 3 seconds long. The main motif in the driving section of “Improvisation on September 11, 2001” consists of three notes, and the third version of the piece (which is not on this album) I recorded on 3/3/3, take number 33 on my Smart Recorder disc, with the three-note section starting at 3:06. After picking Norton Wisdom’s beautiful front cover, which he painted live during one of my organ concerts, I realized that he had given me three keyboards to play (as I did on the Allen organ at St. Columba’s).

A few words about the Allen Renaissance organs I played on this album: I chose these instruments because of my friendship with the church communities that own them and because I enjoy them as musical instruments. With the sampling of real pipes, these organs have gotten very good and realistic and even offer advantages that some other organs don’t have, in terms of clarity, versatility, portability, and compatibility with other MIDI instruments. This record doesn’t make the case that sampled organs should replace pipe organs, but that they are a welcome addition to the family of keyboard instruments.

A few notes about a couple of the recordings: I recorded Ramón Noble’s “Toccatina” twice, because the first recording had some car noises on it. (St. Columba’s is located next to a busy street.) But after comparing the two recordings I preferred the original one and I realized that it was only appropriate that it had some car noises on it, as the composition was inspired by the busy hustle and bustle of Mexico City. The piece on ‘September 11, 2001’ is a free improvisation that originated at a live concert at St. Columba’s in 2002, shortly before I decided to make this record. It was little more than a year after the attacks that an audience member suggested an improvisation theme by submitting a scrap of paper that simply said ‘September 11, 2001.’ Another audience member suggested Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A Changin’.” I thought both subjects fit together, since our times surely changed after 9/11, and I had already recorded an arrangement of the song, called “2001: TimeChange,” before the attacks, for inclusion on my first ‘organica’ album, organica 2001. At the 2002 concert, I included Dylan’s theme in my improvisation and afterwards a good friend of mine came over to let me know that he thought it was brilliant that I included the spiritual “O When The Saints Go Marching In” which, of course, I hadn’t. However, the two themes have certain similarities. I thought the “O When The Saints” theme was a perfect tribute to the firefighters, policemen and other brave people on September 11, and I also liked the spiritual implications. And so I consciously incorporated the melody into the recording of the improvisation, which took place at St. Columba’s after an all-night session starting on Thanksgiving Day 2002. Besides “O When The Saints” I incorporated the theme from Bach’s “Little Fugue in G minor” which itself contains a segment from a German folk song. Others have already looked at the number symbolism of 9/11/2001, with 9 equaling 3 times 3, the individual numbers in “2001” adding up to 3, and the obvious correlation of 9/11 to the emergency phone number as well as the number 11 symbolizing the Twin Towers.

Numbers have always played an important role in music, in terms of the mathematical relationship of the different pitches and rhythms and also in terms of number symbolism. This was especially important to the master of organ music, Johann Sebastian Bach. The number 3 stands for the Christian Holy Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), and I believe that the Spirit was very present in the making of this record.


Christoph Bull, Los Angeles, California, January of 2007.

Special Thanks to: Terry Cutshall, Art Goulet, I-Chin, Benedikt Brydern, Martha & Tom Lamar and the good people at St. Columba’s Episcopal Church Camarillo, Richard & Joyce Gutsche and my many friends at Seventh-day Adventist Church Eagle Rock, Blessed Sacrament Church Hollywood, Precious Blood Catholic Church Los Angeles, Christuskirche Glendale, Henry Hunt, Bill Lightner, Hermann Schäffer, Sam Swartz, Cherry Rhodes, Ladd Thomas, Paul Jordan, Frank Brownstead, Tom Harmon, Jim Park, all my friends and family, my students and colleagues, Bob Woolsey, David Dahl, Namhee Han, Richard Martinez, Karin Ludwig, Danielle “ddd” Di Donato, Irving and Diana Groshier, Klaus Deschner, YOU, and God from Whom all blessings flow.

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