At the Oracle of Delphi - An Organ Improvisation by Michael Calabris | Secrets of Organ Playing Contest Week 71

in secretsoforganplaying •  5 months ago  (edited)

Photo by DiChatz on Unsplash

My entry for this week's Secrets of Organ Playing contest is an organ improvisation entitled At the Oracle of Delphi.

The title refers to the mysterious Oracle of Apollo at Delphi; an oracle consulted by nations all around the Mediterranean in the ancient world.

Photo by Laslovarga - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

For an interesting account (written with a general audience in mind) of the history of the famous Temple of Apollo at Delphi, and particularly the divination practiced there, I would recommend reading "What is the Oracle of Delphi and How Did She Prophecize? (

Given that this improvisation took as its inspiration an oracle from the ancient Greek world I thought it only proper to employ as the tonal foundation a beautiful ancient Greek scale (or its modern equally-tempered approximation) known as the "Olympos Pentatonic Scale."

The scale as I play it in this improvisation is: B-C-E-F#-G-B.

The improvisation is in four parts:

  1. Introduction (0:05 - 1:21)
  2. Dance (1:22 - 2:16)
  3. The Pythia (2:17 - 2:56)
  4. Conclusion (2:57 - 3:44)

The music is mostly diatonic though some chromatic pitches are heard, notably in "Dance" and "The Pythia."

The registration for this improvisation was:

Swell: Gedackt 8', Viola Celeste 8', Sw. to Gt. 8' (+ Choir (MIDI))
Great: Principal 10 2/3
Choir: Lute (MIDI), Flûte Harmonique 8'
Pedal: Gemshorn 16', Lieblich Gedackt 16', Flûte Harmonique 8'

I hope you enjoy this improvisation!

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You are lucky to have an assortment of additional colours on this organ!

Thank you! Yes, the extra MIDI sounds are a lot of fun!

Thanks for your entry!