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Half-draw stops

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#1 innate

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Posted 21 April 2016 - 12:58 PM

Half-draw stops appear quite often on the specifications of small- and medium-sized mechanical action instruments from Continental and North American builders these days. I’m not aware of many instruments from UK builders with them, Generally they draw a single component from a Compound stop eg a Fifteenth from a Mixture or a Twelfth or Nazard from a Sesquialtera or 2- or 3-rank Cornet. Sometimes they have a different function eg providing a choice of lowest note on a Cornet, or changing the composition of a Mixture for a 16' plenum.

 

My questions are:

 

Are these half-draw stops a good idea?

 

Are they only appropriate on smaller instruments?

 

Are they only practical on instruments with completely mechanical stop-action or are they compatible with electric combination systems?

 

 



#2 CTT

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Posted 21 April 2016 - 01:25 PM

Half drawn stops would be compatible with almost any type of action. If the soundboards were slider soundboards, it would work so long as there was some type of action to drawn one slide out of the slides for that particular stop. 

I guess one reason for half drawn stops on smaller instruments is that of space for the drawstop knobs. It provides the option for two stops with only one drawstop. With a larger instrument, there would be the space for two individual knobs for exactly the same result. (ie: a Twelfth and Mixture. 



#3 David Drinkell

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Posted 21 April 2016 - 05:32 PM

Neil Richerby (Lammermuir Pipe Organs) has Chair Larigot and Great Quinte by half-draw from their respective mixtures on his organ at St. Mary's, Haddington, Lothian, about which I have raved before on this forum.

 

One occasionally finds a soft pedal stop obtained by reduced wind to the Bourdon.  Wells-Kennedy added one at Ballywalter Church, Co. Down, some time after the Walker rebuild (to Lord Dunleath's specification) of the Conacher organ there.  There are two drawstops, though.

 

I've mentioned this one before - the Walker at Wivenhoe Church, Essex, had an octopod Swell consisting of Open, Stopped, "Echo Gamba, Lieblich Bass", Voix Celeste and Oboe.  In 1971, Cedric Arnold replaced the Gamba and Celeste with a Gemshorn 4' and Mixture II, to the instrument's great advantage (it sounded more like an old Walker than it did originally!).  When I gave a concert to mark the organ's 125th birthday in 2010 (having played it a lot for weddings in my teens so the organist - he's still there - could play cricket), I found that an absolutely ravishing celeste could be obtained by half-drawing the Swell Open with the Stopped Diapason.  It doesn't work everywhere, but it does here.  Our hosts' organ at St. Andrew, Holborn, has an "Undulant" which works on the same principle, but done "scientific".

 

I had to explain to the lady playing the hand-blown Bevington at Trinity Church, Newfoundland, that it was a bad idea to half draw the stops to make them softer.  John Budgen related a similar story to me about an organist in East Anglia, also of the Essex church where they wanted a balanced swell pedal, despite that fact that there was no swell-box.



#4 Tony Newnham

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Posted 21 April 2016 - 07:13 PM

Hi

 

Love the swell pedal story David - when we were at Heaton Baptist (c,1820 Chamber Organ) a visiting organist's first question was "Where's the swell pedal" - she was somewhat surprised when I said there wasn't one!

 

There are a handful of UK organs with half-draw stops - I've come across a few on NPOR - but not (yet) played one.

 

It may be possible to use a half draw on some stops (with mechanical stop action) to provide a celeste effect - but the position of the stop knob is critical, and the effect will probably only really be useable across a limited compass.  Andrew Teague (former organist of Bradford Cathedral) used this technique to good effect on the aforementiond Heaton organ at the re-opening recital after its restoration by Willis'.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony



#5 innate

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Posted 21 April 2016 - 07:57 PM

I think the Aubertin at St John’s College, Oxford (the big one), has a half draw on the Cornet to select the lowest note as C# instead of C.

 

My father used to use the half-draw celeste effect on the not-quite octopod 8-stop 1912 Norman and Beard I grew up with.

 

To CTT’s point, I am not an expert but I always assumed that a half-draw on a slider chest operates a slider with two sets of holes: one set for the full draw and one for the half-draw, so that any electric stop-action would have to accurately position the slider in the right half-draw position. I'm sure it's possible but has it been done reliably?



#6 Deinonychus

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Posted 21 April 2016 - 08:18 PM

This is the only organ I've played with a half-draw stop: http://www.npor.org.....html?RI=R00538
In this case it adds a lot of versatility to the instrument, which is already a lovely organ to play. In fact I can't think of a better distribution of just 11 stops, for maximum potential.

#7 Vox Humana

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Posted 22 April 2016 - 03:16 PM

This organ has a two-draw Sesquialtera (I think the composition is 12.15.17.19). The half-draw gives the quint and octave ranks; the full draw adds the seventeenth. I would much rather have two stop knobs.

Incidentally, this modest village church has two organs: the G&G in the west gallery and a rather lovely two-manual by G. Hawkins of Newton Abbot at the east end. The G&G owes its existence to a former vicar who had a passion for organs, especially those classically voiced. 



#8 David Drinkell

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Posted 22 April 2016 - 03:32 PM

Ah yes!  I remember the chancel organ from many, many years ago when I was on holiday round those parts (I also made the acquaintance of the wonderful Yates at Kilkhampton).  I remember going to ringing practice at Marldon and a few other towers round there - traditional Devon call-changes including raising and lowering the bells before and after each "peal".  The G&G post-dates my visit by a long way!



#9 Damian Beasley-Suffolk

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Posted 22 April 2016 - 07:52 PM

The G&G at St John and St Philip in The Hague (http://www.goetzegwy...ag-netherlands/) also has a half-draw on its Sesquialtera IV (dropping the tierce). If it also had a half/alternative 16'/8' drawstop for the pedal reed it would also be great for French classical music.

 

The Flentrop choir organ in the Sint Paschalis Baylon church in The Hague ( http://home.planet.n...chaliskoor.html) which I played in its former home at the now demolished Liduina Kerk in The Hague, has a I-II/II-I manual coupler, manual II being the swell. The drawknob fully in is I-II, half draw is uncoupled, fully out is II-I. This also adds flexibility to a relatively small mechanical instrument, although I have no idea how complex, costly, and reliable the mechanical actions for such couplers would be.



#10 SomeChap

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Posted 25 April 2016 - 02:27 PM

I think what I'd most like to know is: in what way is a 1/2 draw stop better than providing two separate knobs?  

 

So far we have one vote for 'taking up less room at the console'.  Perhaps it also takes up less room on the soundboard if two separate sliders can be avoided?

 

 I've never played an organ with 1/2 draw-ers but I've got a feeling they might be a bit fiddly in practice? G&G have been mentioned, but Orgues St-Martin use them a lot as well.   How do you know when you've correctly managed to pull a stop 1/2 way out (as opposed to 2/5 or 5/8, both of which presumably count as 'close but no cigar')?

 

I can think of one organ where the draw stops were so stiff that the organists had to grow massive biceps for psalm playing; that instrument did not have any 1/2 draw-ers but maybe it would have been a bonus not to have to heave out the quint and tierce separately? Otherwise I'm at a loss...  thanks in advance!



#11 Deinonychus

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Posted 25 April 2016 - 03:47 PM

I've never played an organ with 1/2 draw-ers but I've got a feeling they might be a bit fiddly in practice? G&G have been mentioned, but Orgues St-Martin use them a lot as well.   How do you know when you've correctly managed to pull a stop 1/2 way out (as opposed to 2/5 or 5/8, both of which presumably count as 'close but no cigar')?


On the organ I mentioned above, you pull the stop out the usual distance for the 2', then pull it out further for the mixture. There is also a mark on the stem of the stop, indicating the halfway point. I've only played it the once, but it seemed to me to be completely intuitive, and didn't give me any problems.



#12 John Robinson

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Posted 25 April 2016 - 09:05 PM

On the organ I mentioned above, you the the stop out the usual distance for the 2', then pull it out further for the mixture. There is also a mark on the stem of the stop, indicating the halfway point. I've only played it the once, but it seemed to me to be completely intuitive, and didn't give me any problems.

Perhaps it would make life easier (and less prone to mistakes) if such stops had a detent at the half-way point.



#13 Colin Pykett

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Posted 26 April 2016 - 10:12 AM

Not quite a draw stop, but Robert Hope-Jones used double touch stop keys frequently (well, tilting tablets actually).  You pressed them once and they did something, and again to get them to do something else.  Celestes were a case in point - the first touch brought on the perfectly tuned rank and the second touch added the detuned one.  There is still one like this in his small 2M&P organ of 1898 at Pilton, Devon (or there was when I last played it).  In fairly recent 20th century rebuilds the organ builders retained the facility even though the action was converted to electronic transmission.  In his Worcester cathedral organ of 1896 he went a step further - the first touch brought on the in-tune and a sharp rank, and the second touch added a third (flat) rank as well.

 

In this organ (and some later ones) there were also double touch tablets for some of the unison couplers.  These were quite complicated functionally - you pressed them once to get the coupler as usual, but if you pressed them again the coupler would then only act via second touch on the keyboard.  So in the latter case you had to press the keys harder to get a louder sound - logical, but probably surprising to organists at the time.  Useful for accented effects in pieces such as Elgar's Sonata in G (which was not written for this instrument though, as often stated incorrectly).  Hugh Blair, the organist, was a great fan of this system.  He wrote "is it too wild a flight of fancy to hope that now we may find a solution to that problem - hitherto unsolved by organ builders - of obtaining variation of tone directly from the fingers?" 

 

He had to wait about a century for that to happen with the 'aftertouch' facility incorporated in electronic keyboards, which we were discussing on another thread only recently.

 

CEP


"You can never know everything about something. But you can always know something about everything" - Amit Kumar

 

www.pykett.org.uk


#14 innate

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Posted 26 April 2016 - 01:31 PM

Perhaps it would make life easier (and less prone to mistakes) if such stops had a detent at the half-way point.

 

I would hope that there is some lightly-sprung “clunk” at the half-way point.



#15 JJK

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Posted 04 May 2016 - 09:57 PM

The St Martin organ at St Peter's, Petersham has two half-draw stops - a 12-17 Cornet with the 12th on the half draw, and a Fourniture IV with a 15th on half-draw. There is a notch in each drawstop - if drawn with a slight upwards pressure then then the notch will engage and hold at the halfway point, whereas slight downwards pressure allows the full draw. Sounds fiddly, but it actually works well. Initially, the builders used a spring detent to the halfway point, but fully drawing quickly through the detent resulted in a loud clunk, so they changed it in favour of the notch.

 

While separate stops and sliders would be preferable, and there is some compromise in the mixture scaling, I believe this approach does save space on the soundboard. I would far rather have the half-draws than not have them.

 

JJK



#16 innate

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Posted 05 May 2016 - 12:34 PM

Thank you for that information, JJK. I remember Mark Blatchly’s despondence when discovering that he couldn’t play Le Banquet Celeste with the specified 2⅔' coupled to the pedal on the then brand new Rieger at Christ Church, Oxford as the only isolatable twelfth was the Nazard on the Récit which was providing the Celestes. The stop on the Positif labelled 2⅔' was the 12, 17 Sesquialtera. If only that Sesquialtera had been a double draw.



#17 David Drinkell

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Posted 05 May 2016 - 02:42 PM

He might just have managed the celeste with the Positif Bourdon and a half-draw on the Montre....



#18 innate

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Posted 05 May 2016 - 08:13 PM

Very good idea, David!







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