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Member Since 12 Aug 2004
Offline Last Active Aug 12 2017 10:43 PM

Topics I've Started

Big organs in small cases?

26 May 2017 - 04:01 PM

This is a general question but prompted by a specific example. I played this organ http://www.npor.org.....html?RI=A00714 in the City of London today. Old case positioned over the West door. Swell box (painted to match the wall and ceiling) can just be seen protruding above the case at the rear. The spec is a 35-stop 3-manual and pedal organ with apparently 6 independent 16' stops (I’m assuming the 32' has no pipes of its own although NPOR doesn’t say) in a case that’s not much larger than the 8-stop Norman & Beard tracker I grew up with. Access for tuning must be extremely precarious.


I remember seeing photos of the insides of 3- or 4-hundred-year-old European organs and marvelling at how compactly the pipes had been fitted onto the chests. I gather there can be problems if this isn’t done extremely carefully.


My question is: have internal designs changed in recent years for practical and Health & Safety reasons? Could a new organ be manufactured with the same space-saving as was used in older organs?

Where is better for a manual 16' flue?

17 January 2017 - 12:35 PM

There seems to have been a shift from placing the only manual 16' flue on the Swell (often only down to Tenor C) in many small- and medium-sized English church organs in the 19th century to the Great in the 20th century. I suspect for much of the solo organ literature it might be more useful on the Great but what about service playing, hymns etc? Might a (full-compass) 16' flue be more useful on the Swell? Particularly if there is no Swell sub-octave coupler? Would the presence of a 16' reed in either division change your answer?

Organs in musical ensembles

09 October 2016 - 11:02 PM

I wonder how much organs are, or have been, used in small-to-medium sized ensembles. I’m excluding continuo in baroque-era music and use in symphony-sized orchestras. The Britten Church Parables, and the organ-harp-percussion version of Chichester Psalms come to mind immediately. I think there’s a version of the Duruflé Requiem for organ and string quintet (+optional brass and percussion). Many of the older, grander theatres used to have pipe organs 100-150 years ago—were they only used on their own or were they ever part of the theatre orchestra sound? Partly I’m asking as I’m currently playing keyboards for a production of Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd and I’m using a [whisper it] digital organ for much of the “meat” of the keyboard sound. It’s working quite well but would be even better with a proper instrument.