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#21 Denis O'Connor

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Posted 13 July 2006 - 05:41 PM

Hi

If you mean Whitworth's "Cinema & Theatre Organ" then I have a copy in my library.  Or is there another one?

In comment on a later post, I played a couple of Compton Theatre organs earlier in the year, and you can make a pretty respectable Compton church organ sound - and if the trems of their church organs are heavy enough, the reverse is also true.

Every Blessing

Tony

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#22 Denis O'Connor

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Posted 13 July 2006 - 05:45 PM

Hi

If you mean Whitworth's "Cinema & Theatre Organ" then I have a copy in my library.  Or is there another one?

In comment on a later post, I played a couple of Compton Theatre organs earlier in the year, and you can make a pretty respectable Compton church organ sound - and if the trems of their church organs are heavy enough, the reverse is also true.

Every Blessing

Tony

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I have 4 books by Reginald Whitworth. The most substantial is"The Electric Organ"which treats of the development and application of electricity to the organ.His other works are:Organ Stops and their Use,The Cinema and Theatre Organ andA Student's Guide to the Organ.

#23 headcase

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Posted 13 July 2006 - 06:09 PM

Does anyone know more of the story of Compton's organ for Selby Abbey (from memory c.1907) which was consumed in a fire before it was completed ? When I were a lowly apprentice I recall it being suggested that the fire was perhaps 'convenient'...??

H

#24 vamathou

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Posted 13 July 2006 - 10:48 PM

Hi

If you mean Whitworth's "Cinema & Theatre Organ" then I have a copy in my library.  Or is there another one?

In comment on a later post, I played a couple of Compton Theatre organs earlier in the year, and you can make a pretty respectable Compton church organ sound - and if the trems of their church organs are heavy enough, the reverse is also true.

Every Blessing

Tony

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I assume the book in question is Whitworth's 'The Electric Organ' (1948 being the last edition I think). Whitworth clearly had a profound admiration for Compton's work and deals extensively and exhaustively with Compton's innovations. Although the primary concern is with the use of electric mechanisms in the control of pipe organs, he also deals with electronic instruments, insofar as they had evolved at the time of writing. This book is invaluable in putting Compton's work in a wider context both nationally and internationally; I'm less sure that it addresses the issues that MusingMuso poses.

Regards.

#25 Tony Newnham

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Posted 14 July 2006 - 08:55 AM

Does anyone know more of the story of Compton's organ for Selby Abbey (from memory c.1907) which was consumed in a fire before it was completed ?  When I were a lowly apprentice I recall it being suggested that the fire was perhaps 'convenient'...??

H

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Hi

I did the NPOR updates for Selby Abbey a while ago - the COmpton (a substantial rebuild of an earlier Binns organ) "was dedicated on 27/9/1906 and destroyed by fire 22 days later;" There's some info in "Pipes and Actions" Laurence Elvin pp.45-46, and the update info on NPOR came from "The Organs of Selby Abbey" New Edition 1976. NPOR Ref. is N07130.

Possibly the shortest-lived organ ever?

Every Blessing

Tony

#26 Tony Newnham

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Posted 14 July 2006 - 08:58 AM

I assume the book in question is Whitworth's 'The Electric Organ' (1948 being the last edition I think).  Whitworth clearly had a profound admiration for Compton's work and deals extensively and exhaustively with Compton's innovations.  Although the primary concern is with the use of electric mechanisms in the control of pipe organs, he also deals with electronic instruments, insofar as they had evolved at the time of writing.  This book is invaluable in putting Compton's work in a wider context both nationally and internationally; I'm less sure that it addresses the issues that MusingMuso poses.

Regards.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Hi

Quite likely - I have read it - but a long time ago. It's a far better book than his Theatre organ one. Sadly, I don't have a copy - maybe if I find one in a s/h bookshop when I've got some spare cash I'll buy it.

Every Blessing

Tony

#27 MusingMuso

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Posted 14 July 2006 - 02:15 PM

I assume the book in question is Whitworth's 'The Electric Organ' (1948 being the last edition I think).  Whitworth clearly had a profound admiration for Compton's work and deals extensively and exhaustively with Compton's innovations.  Although the primary concern is with the use of electric mechanisms in the control of pipe organs, he also deals with electronic instruments, insofar as they had evolved at the time of writing.  This book is invaluable in putting Compton's work in a wider context both nationally and internationally; I'm less sure that it addresses the issues that MusingMuso poses.

Regards.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



===============================


The following site offers a very interesting comparison between the style of sound associated with the John Compton theatre organ, and that of other makers such as Wurlitzer.

It's interesting to compare the lineage of the one against the lineage of the other, and convincingly demonstrates that to which I refer when mentioning the build up of tonal synthesis (Compton) and the brassier, sassier orchestral style of Wurlitzer; derived from the Hope-Jones style of "one man orchestra".

Sadly, the tracks do not demonstrate the Compton "Melotone" unit, which added a haunting, ethereal, electronic sound to the ensemble, but nevertheless, I don't think a pipe-organ can get much closer to the sound of a good electronic valve-organ of the period than this.

As a period piece, this is absolutely wonderful, for the tracks have been re-processed and cleaned up from the old 78 rpm discs, and the playing is to an exceptionally high standard; perhaps a style of "Palm Court" playing associated with people like the legendary Percy Whitlock at Bournemouth, when he wasn't playing real organ-music and composing.

Whatever one's personal preferences in music, the clean, vibrant playing of Robinson Cleaver FRCO in the two tracks presented, is simply wonderful and so very British.

http://organreplay.com/

You need to scroll right down to the bottom for the tracks mentioned.

MM

#28 Frank Fowler

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Posted 14 July 2006 - 04:18 PM

===============================
The following site offers a very interesting comparison between the style of sound associated with the John Compton theatre organ, and that of other makers such as Wurlitzer.

It's interesting to compare the lineage of the one against the lineage of the other, and convincingly demonstrates that to which I refer when mentioning the build up of tonal synthesis (Compton) and the brassier, sassier orchestral style of Wurlitzer; derived from the Hope-Jones style of "one man orchestra".

Sadly, the tracks do not demonstrate the Compton "Melotone" unit, which added a haunting, ethereal, electronic sound to the ensemble, but nevertheless, I don't think a pipe-organ can get much closer to the sound of a good electronic valve-organ of the period than this.

As a period piece, this is absolutely wonderful, for the tracks have been re-processed and cleaned up from the old 78 rpm discs, and the playing is to an exceptionally high standard; perhaps a style of "Palm Court" playing associated with people like the legendary Percy Whitlock at Bournemouth, when he wasn't playing real organ-music and composing.

Whatever one's personal preferences in music, the clean, vibrant playing of Robinson Cleaver FRCO in the two tracks presented, is simply wonderful and so very British.

http://organreplay.com/

You need to scroll right down to the bottom for the tracks mentioned.

MM

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I hate to appear to be niggly but as far as I know Robbie Cleaver was only an ARCO but whatever he had was immaterial he was a wonderful performer - in church or cinema.

FF

#29 MusingMuso

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Posted 21 July 2006 - 04:55 PM

I'm finding out some very interesting things about John Compton and his life-work, but something fairly leapt of the screen when I was hunting down the subject of electronic-organs and additive sine-wave synthesis.

I can across a brief reference to a patent (1933?) under the name of John Haywood Compton (I'm sure that is too rare a name to be anyone else) concerning a device which switched to another set of tuning-values using two keyboards; one of which was a few musical commas away from the other.

I can only guess that this was some sort of experimental attempt to embrace the "perfect" harmonic intervals and combine them with the less perfect intervals of the tempered scale, as one finds in the pipe-organ, and which contributes greatly to the overall effect of real pipes.

Whilst I am aware that Compton did not work alone, I just wonder to what extent John Compton himself was personally responsible, or whether it was one of his specialist employees who was involved in this sort of theoretical work?

The more I read, the more impressed I become, beause it is self-evident that Compton was really at the absolute cutting-edge of music technology, at the heart of which, was the desire to create the best possible organ sound, using both pipes and electronics in a completely interchangeable way.

I recall (I think correctly) Stephen Bicknell writing something on the lines of, "the 32ft harmonics (Bass Cornet) work because the pipes are very dull in tone".

In effect, if this is translated differently, perhaps what Stephen Bicknell wrote about is a sort of natural organ-pipe additive sine-wave synthesis phenomenon, which of course is exactly what John Compton was doing with the electronic organ.

Even at this early stage, I would venture to suggest that John Compton was easily the most innovative and brilliant mind in British organ-building: certainly in the years 1930 - 1950.

It is absolutely fascinating, but ever so difficult to piece together from the evidence readily available.

Anyone know which school he went to? I bet he had a good Physics teacher.

MM

#30 vamathou

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Posted 21 July 2006 - 06:53 PM

.

Anyone know which school he went to?  I bet he had a good Physics teacher.

MM

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Elvin notes that Compton went to King Edward's School, Birmingham (and was head boy).

Regards.

#31 MusingMuso

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Posted 22 July 2006 - 01:55 PM

Elvin notes that Compton went to King Edward's School, Birmingham (and was head boy).

Regards.

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=====================


As I suspected; one very bright cookie!

Permitting my imagination to wander a little, I can't help but wonder what it was like to be educated at a top school in a city like Birmingham, where the white-heat of technology was possibly on a par with anything in the world. In those days, schools had very strong links with local industry, learned societies, tradesmen and technological institutions.......the grammar schools being the resource from which the next generation of engineers and craftsmen were drawn.

In fact, I can only think of Manchester as the other possible rival in the technology stakes.

Looking back at my own grammar school education, science and technology were a powerful presence in the school, and I think I was all of thirteen when I started to learn how to use machinery such as lathes, grinders, milling machines and drills, as well as saw wood, plane it, glue it, sand it and french-polish it. We even had lessons in "Technical Drawing" which have come in handy over the years.

I wonder how many school-leavers to-day could re-build a car engine, lap a bearing or replace interference-fit valve-guides into a cylinder-head?

Add to all this the technology and science of electronics and electrical-engineering (then all the rage), audio-electrical acoustics and rapid advances in materials science, and it amounts to a quite extraordinary hot-house of new, exciting ideas, into which the young John Compton must have been planted.

The more I read, the more I am convinced that John Compton was a product of that unique age; ever experimenting with new ideas and, perhaps, only brought to an end by the retro-movement of "classical revival".

What I find fascinating, is the fact that John Compton may well have been initially inspired by the work of Robert Hope-Jones, as well as being a major UK competitor to the Rudolph Wurlitzer company, but what Compton did was technically far in advance of anything that they achieved, and to a very high quality.

As for the aesthetic of installing those ghastly little toggle-switches for the ventil controls, I have often wondered why they had to be so noisy in operation, and look so awful.

The the truth dawns, that these nasty little switches still work perfectly after sixty years.

As for the Solo Cello and Melotone units; the engineering was just amazing, and I immediately think of old Ferrograph tape-recorders and BBC broadcasting equipment of the 1950's and early 60's.....and they still work too!

Quite, quite fascinating.

MM

#32 Heckelphone

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Posted 23 July 2006 - 11:50 AM

Something I was shown that impressed me a great deal was an iris valve for adjusting the wind to large bass pipes. Rather than the traditional slide under the pipe foot, there was a circular device which opened like the lens of a camera ensuring that the wind was always delivered to the centre of the foot and speech wasn't therefore affected. Simple and clever.

#33 Frank Fowler

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Posted 26 July 2006 - 10:09 AM

Something I was shown that impressed me a great deal was an iris valve for adjusting the wind to large bass pipes.  Rather than the traditional slide under the pipe foot, there was a circular device which opened like the lens of a camera ensuring that the wind was always delivered to the centre of the foot and speech wasn't therefore affected.  Simple and clever.

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This was a great idea and various other devices such as in the foot of a large pipe, a circular piece of card on a dowell that could be rotated or a cord wrapped round a dowell that could be `wound in' to increase the wind way obstruction did the trick but so often it was simply blocks of wood jammed in the foot of the pipe that meant the pipe had to be heaved out to make any adjustment.

This was fine in the `good old days' but with modern heating and resulting lack of humidity, these stopping blocks could shrink, fall out on to the pallet below causing all sorts of problems and often needed considerable strength to get the fault sorted out.

FF

#34 MusingMuso

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Posted 26 July 2006 - 11:01 AM

This was a great idea and various other devices such as in the foot of a large pipe, a circular piece of card on a dowell that could be rotated or a cord wrapped round a dowell that could be `wound in' to increase the wind way obstruction did the trick but so often it was simply blocks of wood jammed in the foot of the pipe that meant the pipe had to be heaved out to make any adjustment.

This was fine in the `good old days' but with modern heating and resulting lack of humidity, these stopping blocks could shrink, fall out on to the pallet below causing all sorts of problems and often needed considerable strength to get the fault sorted out.

FF

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========================


Now let me guess.......

Were those iris valves made from Bakelite?

Compton liked his Bakelite....I have a Compton ashtray made of the stuff.

MM

#35 Tony Newnham

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Posted 26 July 2006 - 11:45 AM

Hi

Following from earlier comments, John Compton's description of his enforced stay in Italy in WW2 are recounted in The Organ no.114 (Vol.XXIX - Oct 1949) pp.60f

the article is titled "Towards a more complete Diapason Chorus".

I shall re-read it when I've got some spare time!

Every Blessing

Tony

#36 Stephen Dutfield

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Posted 26 July 2006 - 11:53 AM

========================
Now let me guess.......

Were those iris valves made from Bakelite?

Compton liked his Bakelite....I have a Compton ashtray made of the stuff.

MM

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Well the iris leaves themselves were of thin brass, but the rim of the unit was indeed bakelite. The foot of the pipe was sized so as to rest in this bakelite 'cup' without exerting any pressure on the iris valve itself, so that you didn't have to remove the pipe to make any adjustment.

Compton's engineering workshop included bakelite presses, so they manufactured all these items, including electric stop actions, magnet caps and bases, compound magnet units, ashtrays etc. themselves on site.

The ash trays (assuming yours is the same as the ones I've seen) were a promotional give-away to organists, cinema owners, company directors and such like during the 1930s. The picture in the bottom is, I think, the console of the Windsor Playhouse Compton.

#37 MusingMuso

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Posted 28 July 2006 - 09:45 AM

Well the iris leaves themselves were of thin brass, but the rim of the unit was indeed bakelite. The foot of the pipe was sized so as to rest in this bakelite 'cup' without exerting any pressure on the iris valve itself, so that you didn't have to remove the pipe to make any adjustment.

Compton's engineering workshop included bakelite presses, so they manufactured all these items, including electric stop actions, magnet caps and bases, compound magnet units, ashtrays etc. themselves on site.

The ash trays (assuming yours is the same as the ones I've seen) were a promotional give-away to organists, cinema owners, company directors and such like during the 1930s. The picture in the bottom is, I think, the console of the Windsor Playhouse Compton.

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=========================


I just read through this without much thought......but on re-reading it, I was struck by the phrase "Compton's engineering workshop."

Did any other organ-builders ever have such a thing, I wonder?

MM

#38 heva

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Posted 28 July 2006 - 11:35 AM

This link about Compton wasn't mentioned yet, was it?

#39 Frank Fowler

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Posted 28 July 2006 - 09:29 PM

=========================
I just read through this without much thought......but on re-reading it, I was struck by the phrase "Compton's engineering workshop."

Did any other organ-builders ever have such a thing, I wonder?

MM

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Back in the days of the large firms, most of them had an `engineering workshop' of some sort where the ironwork components etc. were manufactured. i.e. reed stay supports, bellows counterbalances and supporting brackets, but I don't think there was anything to compare with Compton's set up.

FF

#40 Pierre Lauwers

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Posted 28 July 2006 - 09:39 PM

Walcker even had "Think tanks", leading prospective reflexions
about the future of the organ and its music. The organ of Sinzing
was issued from such programs.

Pierre




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