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Loudest Tubas


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#41 Guest_Stanley Monkhouse_*

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Posted 17 July 2009 - 02:06 PM

here's another: Great Stopped Diap 8 on St Patrick's, Powerscourt (Enniskerry), Co Wicklow, about 16 miles south of Dublin. Those unaltered Conachers (there are a few of them around there) are lovely.

#42 kropf

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Posted 17 July 2009 - 07:41 PM

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Since one now has to rely on good quality recordings to assess the sound of the instrument prior to 1990, I find it to have been a thrilling, very percussive and surprisingly clear sound. Only during Cochereau's trademark fast-repeated chords played on the tutti does it become difficult to sort out the actual notes - not necessarily something peculiar to this instrument, or even French instruments in general.


Percussive it really is/was....
pc, what do you think was first? The inspiration by the new chamades? Or has Cocherau always been the guy to use hammering "raddaddaddatt" motives, and did he install what he needed to express himself.....?
I have much respect for him, as I would never dare to play in such a way. But someone has to. A pity that so many players tried to copy, but on much lower level, and then those sounds really get penetrating, as do so many of reed and chamade stops commissioned by such guys....
Karl-Bernhardin Kropf


#43 pcnd5584

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Posted 17 July 2009 - 09:44 PM

... By contrast, a beautiful single flute or principal can be endlessly musical. I cannot nominate the most beautiful in the country because I have not played that many organs, but some stops that I have played that never fail to enchant me are the Cor de Nuit on the choir at Coventry ...


If you mean the H&H at Coventry Cathedral, it is actually an 8ft. Harmonic Flute - but I agree, it is extraordinarily beautiful. In fact, I think that it is my favourite stop on this rather lovely instrument.
Pierre Cochereau rocked, man


#44 AJJ

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Posted 18 July 2009 - 07:11 AM

If you mean the H&H at Coventry Cathedral, it is actually an 8ft. Harmonic Flute - but I agree, it is extraordinarily beautiful. In fact, I think that it is my favourite stop on this rather lovely instrument.


One of my most often played CDs is the complete Durufle from there (David M Patrick on ASV) - each time I listen I hear more amazing sounds - it fits the music like a glove too a fact that I discovered on hearing S. Etienne du M. in Paris for the first time earlier this year.

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"…We can’t criticize the organ for being boring. In such cases it is the organist that is boring. There is no such thing as a boring organ."

#45 HarmonicsV

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Posted 19 July 2009 - 01:55 PM

[quote name='MAB' date='Jul 17 2009, 11:10 AM' post='47232']
I am rather pleased that Cynic broke ranks and tried to turn the discussion to the most beautiful stop you know, because he was only saying out loud what I was privately thinking. Isn't it a bit adolescent to compare stops on the basis of 'mine is bigger than yours' ? As musicians, shouldn't we have outgrown this ? Shouldn't we be more concerned with beauty than with force ?


I certainly see what you're getting at, and quite agree about the beauty of single stops, but actually music's about lots of things - beauty is only one of them. (Any kind of film music/opera which tried to convey only beauty would be very tedious...)

In another thread, someone mentioned a quote of Gordon Reynolds (?), reminding the organist not to forget that (s)he was once the small child down in the stalls whose toes clenched as full swell came shining through the great diapasons. (Apologies if I've mangled this!) A player who completely eschews all vulgarity, and performs only the most elevated pieces with immaculate taste won't attract the young or the Radio 2 audience (no condescension intended!) to the organ in the first place.

I think some of the hostility aimed at the Traditional Edwardian Tuba comes from a lack of understanding of its intended uses, and of the Edwardian style of playing. Francis Jackson somewhere mentions Bairstow's use of the tuba to solo the tenor line, in the style of orchestral trombones. FJ does this with great aplomb towards the end of the Stanford Postlude in D - and I've never heard this done by modern players. An important part of the tuba's role was also to augment the pedal line, rather than to swamp the manual choruses.

#46 Colin Harvey

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Posted 19 July 2009 - 03:13 PM


I am rather pleased that Cynic broke ranks and tried to turn the discussion to the most beautiful stop you know, because he was only saying out loud what I was privately thinking. Isn't it a bit adolescent to compare stops on the basis of 'mine is bigger than yours' ? As musicians, shouldn't we have outgrown this ? Shouldn't we be more concerned with beauty than with force ?

I certainly see what you're getting at, and quite agree about the beauty of single stops, but actually music's about lots of things - beauty is only one of them. (Any kind of film music/opera which tried to convey only beauty would be very tedious...)

Yes! Absolutely! I find considering beauty in single stops is a bit superficial in organs. One needs to look at the whole picture to see how the sounds fit in and that helps to sort a musical instrument from a box of whistles that make some pretty sounds. It's all very well talking about the beauty of the charmingly named Double Gedacht 32' on the Norwich Cathedral organ but if it doesn't fit in with the chorus, is it really that relevant? And we need to think in terms of the choruses of the organ and the swell effects as much as a pretty little lieblich gedacht (!) or harmonic flute. A beautiful organ depends on so many things...

I think some of the hostility aimed at the Traditional Edwardian Tuba comes from a lack of understanding of its intended uses, and of the Edwardian style of playing. Francis Jackson somewhere mentions Bairstow's use of the tuba to solo the tenor line, in the style of orchestral trombones. FJ does this with great aplomb towards the end of the Stanford Postlude in D - and I've never heard this done by modern players. An important part of the tuba's role was also to augment the pedal line, rather than to swamp the manual choruses.

Well, this is interesting! I know a few places where I'd like my left hand to go on to the tuba in the Stanford postlude and I've heard it done with great aplomb. I also agree with the idea of coupling the tuba to the pedals to give them further definition - especially if they're carrying a big tune against something else in the manuals, like a French Toccata. And need we forget a lot of early music where the pedal carries the cantus firmus on a large Trompet at unison pitch...

I can remember the old Novello edition of the Bach Toccata in F major called for the tuba to be coupled to the pedals in the part where the pedals play notes in octaves against the manual chords. I never (particularly wanted to) do this but I can see the point in it. Again, this is an Edwardian edition and I think it gives an insight into how the tuba might have been used by contemporary Edwardian organists.

I wonder, is it no coincidence that a friend of mine, who plays a large 1950s Willis III on the South Coast, remarked to me that he thought the tuba was more of a pedal reed extended upwards than a true solo stop and he tended to use the Gt reeds to choir transfer to augment the tuba when he used it in a solo?

#47 pcnd5584

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Posted 19 July 2009 - 03:56 PM

Percussive it really is/was....
pc, what do you think was first? The inspiration by the new chamades? Or has Cocherau always been the guy to use hammering "raddaddaddatt" motives, and did he install what he needed to express himself.....?
I have much respect for him, as I would never dare to play in such a way. But someone has to. A pity that so many players tried to copy, but on much lower level, and then those sounds really get penetrating, as do so many of reed and chamade stops commissioned by such guys....


Recordings made prior to the installation of the chamade ranks show that Cochereau had been using this technique for some time. They also show that, even by then, the richness of his harmonic language and his extensive knowledge of form were already well developed. The chamades were, I think, installed solely to provide adequate sound in the immense Nave when a really powerful tutti was required.

Pierre Cochereau rocked, man


#48 Nigel ALLCOAT

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Posted 19 July 2009 - 04:29 PM

I can remember the old Novello edition of the Bach Toccata in F major called for the tuba to be coupled to the pedals in the part where the pedals play notes in octaves against the manual chords. I never (particularly wanted to) do this but I can see the point in it. Again, this is an Edwardian edition and I think it gives an insight into how the tuba might have been used by contemporary Edwardian organists.


My first teacher Dr George Gray (an Articled Organist of Sir Edward Bairstow at York Minster and later, himself a Cathedral organist), always had the Tuba coupled to Pedal for the final entry of the "St Anne". He also was perhaps was one of the last Cathedral organists not to conduct the choir unless for unaccompanied music - sometimes on Radio 3 Choral Evensong (Psalms were considered some of the very finest in the land). The distance from organ to choir was some 80ft or more. The 'waterfall effect' of rolling from the uppermost note on the keyboard to the pedal one was part also of the Edwardian tradition - not a musical affectation, but a necessary one - as it demonstrated to the choir when to stop singing when they finished together - Stanford in C, for example.
Best wishes,
Nigel

#49 AJJ

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Posted 19 July 2009 - 05:33 PM

I wonder, is it no coincidence that a friend of mine, who plays a large 1950s Willis III on the South Coast, remarked to me that he thought the tuba was more of a pedal reed extended upwards than a true solo stop and he tended to use the Gt reeds to choir transfer to augment the tuba when he used it in a solo?


Funny that - I used to learn on a large 1950s Willis III on the S. Coast with a Tuba that was extended downwards to the Pedals ending up as a road drill!!

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"…We can’t criticize the organ for being boring. In such cases it is the organist that is boring. There is no such thing as a boring organ."

#50 Colin Harvey

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 04:08 PM

Funny that - I used to learn on a large 1950s Willis III on the S. Coast with a Tuba that was extended downwards to the Pedals ending up as a road drill!!

A

Yes, I think this is the very same. Was it a certain Dr. Williams, FRCO, who was organist there in those days? He's a bit before my time though. I don't know very much about him - happy to learn more though!

Would I be right that this 32' road drill is also housed in the Choir Swell box, on 15'' WP? It's still there, with its infinite graduation swell pedals.

I remember this organ was reviewed by Cecil/Sam Clutton in The Organ, circa 1950s.

#51 AJJ

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 05:00 PM

Yes, I think this is the very same. Was it a certain Dr. Williams, FRCO, who was organist there in those days? He's a bit before my time though. I don't know very much about him - happy to learn more though!

Would I be right that this 32' road drill is also housed in the Choir Swell box, on 15'' WP? It's still there, with its infinite graduation swell pedals.

I remember this organ was reviewed by Cecil/Sam Clutton in The Organ, circa 1950s.



The very same though I am not nearly old enough to have been there in the time of Williams. Jeremy Blandford was DOM in my time. I've not been back since I left the University - after the new organ went into the TS I had lessons there.

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"…We can’t criticize the organ for being boring. In such cases it is the organist that is boring. There is no such thing as a boring organ."

#52 bombarde32

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 12:16 AM

I too took lessons on that organ along with another friend of mine during jeremy blandford's time. To a fourteen year old the 32' reed sounded like the very opening of hell!!

#53 Colin Harvey

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 10:59 AM

It's a mighty impressive stop on a mighty impressive organ! I almost had to hang on to the pillars when I first heard it - somebody tried to talk to me over the top of the organ - she had to shout!

What's Jeremy Blandford doing these days?

#54 AJJ

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 04:13 PM

What's Jeremy Blandford doing these days?


In Norway - 'did recitals in York recently though - he was/is a good teacher - lots of patience with 'us undergrads'.

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"…We can’t criticize the organ for being boring. In such cases it is the organist that is boring. There is no such thing as a boring organ."

#55 MikeK

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Posted 22 July 2009 - 03:33 PM

Yes, I think this is the very same. Was it a certain Dr. Williams, FRCO, who was organist there in those days? He's a bit before my time though. I don't know very much about him - happy to learn more though!

Would I be right that this 32' road drill is also housed in the Choir Swell box, on 15'' WP? It's still there, with its infinite graduation swell pedals.

I remember this organ was reviewed by Cecil/Sam Clutton in The Organ, circa 1950s.


I was a pupil of Cecil Williams in the early 1960's, later becoming his assistant at St Mary's. I do not remember him as having a Doctorate though, perhaps we was awarded it after my time there. my memories of him have become a bit faded over the years but I remember him as a stern but good teacher. His influence led me to take up music professionally & we remained good friends until his death, indeed he played the organ for my wedding in1966. He did insist on choosing all the music though!
I remember the organ in St. Mary's with great affection & Cecil took great pride in demonstrating & talking about it. The specification was almost identical to the then Willis III in All Souls, Langham Place, but Cecil never admitted being influenced by this organ. The tuba was indeed extended down to 32' & housed in the choir box. The swell also had 2 16' reeds but no 16' flue. One death-trap I remember to my cost was a' blind' full-organ toe piston. The consequences of failing to cancel this at a Civic Service still send shivers down my spine some 50 years later! I would not be surprised if his Worship the Mayor suffered permanent deafness, such was the power of the aformentioned tuba! The console was situated some 12ft above the ground, between 2 pillars. It was accessed by a wooden spiral staircase & was affectionately known as 'Cecil's Folly'!
I gather the organ is now in a very sorry state, needing much work to the leatherwork etc. Hopefully some way will be found to restore this superb instrument to it's former glory?

#56 bwv572

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Posted 31 July 2009 - 11:19 AM

I confess that I'm less a fan of the tuba than I once was. Perhaps we should measure them by vulgarity rather than loudness?

As for my favourite sounds: the Lieblich Gedackt and Flutes on the Truro choir organ are simply the loveliest I've ever heard.

#57 Nick Bennett

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Posted 31 July 2009 - 09:37 PM

I suppose that making the tuba available on the pedal is the sole raison d'etre of the Solo to Pedal coupler on a 1920's Harrison. I can't imagine any other of the solo stops at Halifax being much use on the pedal - I've tried them and they are too quiet in the bass.

#58 Colin Harvey

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Posted 01 August 2009 - 09:00 AM

Yes, quite. Sometimes I think a solo reed (tuba or tuba-alternative) without the bottom octave of pipes is missing a big trick as you can't couple it to the pedals (unless you want a kind of pedal divide thing going on). This type of solo stop without the biggest and most expensive pipes seems to have become more prevalent in the 50s and 60s when budgets became smaller yet people wanted more and more organ stuffed into a smaller space... I can't think of many vintage Willis and H&Hs with a missing bottom octave of their tubas.

#59 Paul Morley

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Posted 01 August 2009 - 09:29 AM

...This type of solo stop without the biggest and most expensive pipes seems to have become more prevalent in the 50s and 60s when budgets became smaller yet people wanted more and more organ stuffed into a smaller space...

I'm sure that this was the real reason – despite the dodgy claims made by builders and consultants that there was artistic rationale behind the practice.

#60 Colin Harvey

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Posted 01 August 2009 - 09:59 AM

I'm sure that this was the real reason – despite the dodgy claims made by builders and consultants that there was artistic rationale behind the practice.

Yes, quite. It seems a shame the client organists couldn't use their newly-added Spanish Trompette en Chamade (or whatever excitingly-named meaningless gloss the consultant demanded was on the stop knob) for things like a Cantus Firmus in de Grigny... which repertoire these sorts of additions were usually touted to make possible - at least, that was usually the artistic rationale....




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