Music touches us in all of its renderings.
Albrightsville pipe organist Thomas Dressler, who holds a master's degree in music from the Westminster Choir College, believes that handmade music connects the musician to the listener more effectively than the popular electronic music of today. Dressler, 50, is very passionate about handmade music.
His verve for handmade and electronically unadulterated music inspired him to record a new CD, in which he performs Baroque era classics by Bach, Sorge, Böhm, and Buxtehude on a hand crafted-pipe organ at the Princeton Theological Seminary.
The 21 compositions that he chose to record were picked because he felt that the energy expressed by Baroque era composers would be appropriately channeled through the bellows and to the reeds of each pipe.
The organ itself has two manuals with 34 stops; it was hand crafted by renowned Washington-based organ builder Paul Fritts, who uses a traditional German organ crafting method. The harmonizing sounds of the organ vibrate in synchrony with emotional frequencies, thus invoking visualizations in the mind of the listener.
The sheer power of a pipe organ has the ability to vibrate the floor and jiggle internal organs, yet Dressler channels these forces into creative and enthralling musical mastery that balances cacophony with soft and dulcet tones.
Music is a powerful force that has the ability to move us emotionally through the vibration of air particles. Music is dependent upon the power of sound to invoke an emotional response.
Most popular music today is recorded in such a manner that separates the musicians from each other as they play their respective parts, which are later edited together electronically to create harmony. Auto tune, drum machines, and electronic sounds permeate contemporary music.
According to Dressler, a hands-on approach to playing and recording music is more likely to provide a musician with a unique outlet for their feelings while establishing a closer connection to the band, instrument, and self.
"Modern recording methods separate the members of the band as they play their parts; the result lacks the connection and artistic errors that make music an art form," says Dressler.
"Music performed by hand has its imperfections which reflect the emotions of the artist. Computers do not feel, drum machines and auto tune create artificial perfection, which is inhuman. People are flawed, art is flawed, and that is what makes it art."
Dressler is a great proponent of music as an emotional outlet. Music, in its rawest form, has the power to connect us to our emotions while the musician translates his or her own feelings into audible art.
"Even though a punked-out rocker and a classical musician play different styles of music, they are simply using an alternative method to express the same feelings. People are people. We all feel what distinguishes us, is how we express those feelings."
Despite his dislike for the negative and often materialistic message of some popular music, Dressler enjoys any music with a positive energy and peaceful message. He acknowledges that there will always be a give and take between popular and classical music.
"Musicians see classical and popular music as two different styles, yet many rock musicians take classical music lessons to improve their technique, and they benefit from it," Dressler says.
Many people see music as a hobby, and despite the discipline required to be a successful classical musician, classical music is assigned this stigma more readily than popular music.
Dressler is undeterred and he feels rewarded by his career in classical music. His duties as a music director at his church in Coopersburg include playing the organ for Sunday services and teaching choir.
He has taught general music at Saint Bridget's School in Philadelphia, Saint Anne's in Raritan, and Warren County Community College in New Jersey.
He is confident that classical music will live on as long as an interest remains; he celebrates a great personal triumph when a young person, who may normally head bang to Slayer or crump out to Insane Clown Posse, takes an interest in classical composers like Vivaldi and Mozart.
His recordings are available as downloads and compact discs on his website thomasdressler.com.