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replacing a single rank


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#1 Westgate Morris

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Posted 08 February 2017 - 09:04 PM

Question about replacing a rank with another rank:

I would like to know if it is possible to simply plug and play a rank of flute pipes with another. I have a nondescript, really quiet, boring 8’ rank on the choir organ – Spitz flote 8’- 1950’s vintage ( it is NOT 'spitzy' at all). What is the chance I might find a used flue rank with the same scale/size and thus avoid re-sizing the racking boards etc. I was told I couldn’t do it. As I see it the current rank is taking up very expensive real-estate and is of no use what so ever. A new rank and all the work involved is out of the question. WM


"All you have been formed into one choir, to sing God's song together..." Ignatius of Antioch

#2 sprondel

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Posted 09 February 2017 - 10:37 AM

Plug-and-play would be quite improbable, since there are so many variables – or rather, so many ways in which a second-hand rank, without any adapting, may not fit in. What system was the rank voiced on, and what system will have to accommodate it? On what pressure was it voiced originally? Will its speech and scaling support blend with its new neighbours?

 

Maybe there would be a chance if the second-hand rank and your instrument were made by the same builder at approximately the same time, so that the same pipe-makers and voicers might have been involved, the same chest system was used and the same or a quite similar scale sheet be used. Builders like Willis used to produce pipes on an industrial scale and to industrial standards. But as soon as it gets to blend, speech and character, a plug-and-play approach will end up in trouble.

 

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Friedrich



#3 Vox Humana

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Posted 10 February 2017 - 01:40 PM

Precisely this has been done by a local builder when he was renovating a fairly large organ locally. Three ranks were added without any revoicing and the result is that all three completely fail to blend with the existing pipework. This is not the first time this has been done and the result is that what was doubtless originally a fine, vintage Walker organ now exhibits some noticeably inartistic traits.



#4 Contrabombarde

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Posted 10 February 2017 - 08:10 PM

Plug and play might be asking for problems, but plug, revoice and play? If you could find a rank from another instrument with approximately the right scaling, though quite possibly not the same wind pressure, how much work would have to be done to the pipes to get them to blend appropriately (if indeed it would be possible - though I assume it must be since plenty of old pipework seems to get recycled)?



#5 Colin Pykett

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Posted 11 February 2017 - 08:46 AM

We really need a good organ builder to respond here, but in case that does not happen I'll cast my two pence worth into the pool.  If that results in an organ builder or voicer replying, then this message will have served its purpose.

 

Yes, the replacement rank needs to be properly scaled and, yes, it obviously needs to be voiced.  (I was astonished to read Vox Humana's post #3 which said no voicing was done in the case he described).  But what do the terms 'properly scaled' and 'voiced' actually mean?  Scaling is a strange topic in that it is precisely defined on the one hand in terms of the arithmetical progression of pipe cross-sectional areas across the rank, yet on the other its subjective aural effects in a building remain vague and ill-defined (the late and well-respected organ designer, Stephen Bicknell, suggested that "scaling is better judged as a measure of intent than of actual results").  The meaning of voicing is obvious - isn't it?  Well, yes, but only if one recalls that it refers to a whole raft of things done over at least two stages of the life of a pipe.  When the pipe is first made it has to be brought onto speech at the factory so it speaks properly.  Then when it is put into the organ further adjustments are made as part of the tonal finishing process.

 

One of those adjustments relates to regulation, the process of adjusting the loudness or volume of each pipe so the rank stands comfortably within itself.  The bass pipes should not dominate the mid-range for example, and the trebles should not scream.  The whole rank also has to blend with the others in the instrument.  Pipes are regulated by varying the flow rate of wind by adjusting their footholes (unless open-foot voicing is used, when it is done at the mouth).  My personal view is that regulation is immensely important as part of tonal finishing, perhaps even more so than the nuances of timbral variation introduced by pipe scale and other types of voicing adjustment such as cutup at the mouth (which, in simple terms, varies the proportion of low to high frequencies in the sound).  The late Ralph Downes also held this view, and in his book 'Baroque Tricks' he described in detail how to regulate based on the practices of the well known American voicer Anton Gottfried.

 

So it is at least possible that the unsatisfactory pipe ranks mentioned in previous posts could be improved merely by re-regulating them as a first step before anything more drastic (and expensive) is done.  But it will need to be done by an expert organ builder.

 

CEP


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

 

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#6 Westgate Morris

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Posted 11 February 2017 - 03:15 PM

"Plug and play might be asking for problems, but plug, revoice and play?"

 

Thanks Contrabombarde and spondel, I was considering the 'revoice' but wasn't clear about that in my initial question. My biggest concern was the rack board and the hole in the chest. I can afford the cost of a vintage rank of pipes and the cost to revoice.

 

My builder was pushing a new rank, moving things around on the chest, new racks etc. etc. The cost was simply way out of the question and thus not worth the bother.

 

Colin:

 

I asked about a re-regulating but was given the cold shoulder, lack of interest. My organ builder is great but needs a little encouragement sometimes to work on the old stuff - he clearly has a passion for new pipes- easier and helps his bottom line as a business man. I will try a re-regulating/revoice one more time and combine it with work we are planning on a rank of reed pipes. I'll get quote for taking both to the shop.

 

Thanks for the information. I have a little more ammunition going forward.


"All you have been formed into one choir, to sing God's song together..." Ignatius of Antioch




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