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Geoff McMahon

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Everything posted by Geoff McMahon

  1. As one of the firms which tendered for this work, I can assure everyone that there is no intention to modify the organ tonally at all. Great emphasis was placed on the importance of retaining the tonal attributes of the organ exactly as they were. I rather hope that the RFH organ curator, William McVicker will reply more fully to this post in due course, so I will not say more myself. However, if I may put my pedantic hat on for a moment, I am not at all sure that "eclectic" is the right term to be used for the RFH organ. It is certainly versatile but the term eclectic implies the synthesis of
  2. Ideally, the reeds should be tuned at least once every three months. It would not normally be necessary to tune them more often than once a month unless there was a sudden change in temperature. Of course, if you have a special occasion, there is no harm in tuning them for that. With regard to damage, if done carefully, there will be no damage to the pipes at all. One needs to be careful with the "reed knife" to ensure that one does not bash the wrong parts. You may be amused to know that as a very small boy (of about 6) I climbed into a newly restored organ which had been assembled and tu
  3. I have to say that I am impressed! It can't be THAT easy technically, but obviously it can be done. Well done Grönlunds Orgelbyggeri! It would be nice if they would publish details about this in the ISO Journal. John Pike Mander
  4. Tierce Mixtures remained in the English organ builders pallet right up through the romantic period. Hill used them (sometimes only in the lower registers) and Willis used them including (for example) on his Swell Organ at St. Paul's Cathedral where they remain to the present day. Opinions differ a little as to whether the Tierce ranks should be softer than the unison and Quint ranks, but usually they are a little softer. They impart a particular clarity to the chorus and are particularly useful in binding the chorus reeds to the flue chorus. I think their attributes are often misunderstood. Bu
  5. No concrete news as yet. We were indeed selected as the preferred builders of the organ, but nothing approaching a contract has been signed. The whole project has been fraught with difficulties and setbacks and this has resulted in the organ going very much on the back burner. We live in hope but can count on nothing. John Pike Mander
  6. A book is indeed planned and being worked on by Ian Bell. I am not sure that it is going to be a "coffee table" book though, rather one well researched and for real reading. It is planned to have it published in the late autumn and it is being published by John Brennon of Positif Press. It will be well announced when it is published. John Pike Mander
  7. There are a number of ways of tuning and as is so often the case, no single one which can be called "right". Your comment about the slightly boring result when using a very accurately laid equal temperament (ET) is a valid and perceptive one. It is part of the reason of the interest in unequal temperaments has grown over the past twenty years and more. In any unequal temperament, each key has its own character. One can of course use a meter for both ET and unequal temperaments. I prefer to do it by ear however. The main trouble with ET is that not only do all the keys have the same charact
  8. The organ for Sydney Grammar School is indeed complete. We finished it in May of this year and would have put it up on this web site, but for the fact that we are currently building a new web site, so elected to wait until that was done before doing so. However, there seems to be a certain amount of interest in the organ, so I will see if an interim description of the organ can be put here perhaps. It is a modest organ of 17 speaking stops (21 total, four also being playable on the Pedal) on a gallery which is also new. If anybody would like a .pdf file describing the instrument, just writ
  9. I would agree with your assessments wholeheartedly. The 1984 rebuild attempted to address both its muddiness and its inadequacy with respect to any sort of balance with the CBO. The result was an aggressiveness which is now unnecessary as well as undesirable as the CBO has its own hall and organ. I hope that this time round we may get it right and if the acoustic stays as it is now (which is SO much better than it was before all the interior was ripped out) we have a very good chance. The bad news is that we will have to wait till 2006 before we know (in answer to your question). John Pike
  10. The Royal Trumpets should be back in place in a month or two when the cleaning of that area is complete. We don't have a fixed date for that yet. John Pike Mander
  11. Tuning reeds is not really that difficult at all. On the continent and in Germany in particular, the church organists regularly tune their own reeds. I would welcome that in this country as well. All you need is a little bit of instruction and an ear good enough to hear the beats when the pipe is not in tune. One normally tunes to the Principal 4 on the manual concerned. Some organ tuners are reluctant to instruct the organists to tune as they fear it will put them out of a job, but in instances like your church, this really is a nonsense. See if you can find a local organ tuner who is prepare
  12. By coincidence I was at Birmingham Town Hall yesterday talking about just this matter. Preliminary work has started on the refurbishment of the Birmingham Town Hall and it is very exciting. The upper gallery is to be removed and the lower gallery is to be restored to closer to the original dimensions. The interior of the hall has been stripped of carpet and seating and this has led to one of the most remarkable transformations in the acoustics I have ever experienced. The organ has blossomed in a way I could never have imagined. I have to admit that the organ whilst interesting, never real
  13. Mark Wimpress asks: From a technical viewpoint, how could this 'problem' (if acknowledged as such) be overcome? Only with a new Double Ophicleide 32ft I am afraid. The present one is not of a large scale and is giving all it can. John Pike Mander
  14. The last minute tuning was not planned and is not usual. The organ was only just finished and some of the Solo reeds seemed not to want to stay in tune and we discovered at the last minute that the bellows was set a little too high. In lowering the bellows to a normal level, the pressure changed slightly, so that necessitated the re-tuning of all the reeds affected. We did not have enough time to set up the tuning keyboard we have inside the organ, so we had to relay the instructions to the person on the console which caused a little amusement in the audience I gather. I would not have known.
  15. Washington National Cathedral has just that facility (an adjustable pedal board) and it is adjusted electrically. It can't be done easily on a mechanical action pedal board though. John Pike Mander
  16. Douglas Corr posted a question about console proportions on the old list which was interesting. This subject comes up quite regularly in organ building circles with occasional requests that organ builders get their act together and adopt the same dimensions for all their instruments. That really isn't possible due to the wide range of styles of organs, but there are questions which can be addressed. There are standardised dimensions which have been established by the Bund der Deutsche Orgelbauer (BDO), The Royal College or Organists (RCO) and the American Guild of Organists (AGO). These la
  17. Just to clear up the confusion about the cost of the restoration of the RAH organ which was hanging over from the old discussion board, our charge to Taylor Woodrow, the main contractors was 1.4 million pounds which became a charge to the RAH of the quoted 1.7 million. One of the newspapers for some reason got this wrong and quoted over 7 million and that was picked up by the BBC, hence the announcement. John Pike Mander
  18. Brian Styles, who runs Orgue-L has allowed me to publish the re-launch of this discussion board on the Orgue-L list which is a closed list and sends postings directly to your mail box. He has asked if I would also publish this list on our discussion board which I am more than happy to do. Details of this list can be found at: http://cdmnet.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/orgue-l John Pike Mander
  19. This is a comment which has been made a few times already. I think there is something of a learning curve to be worked through regarding the microphone placement and it is not an easy one to solve because of the sound reflector above the orchestra which normally sits at about the level of the Great Organ, effectively masking all that is above it. The internal layout, with the Solo and Swell organs being so far back does not help of course, but that balance is much better than it was also due in part to the removal of the roof. I am sure the BEEB will get it all sorted in the end, but the b
  20. Thank you for the nice first posting, Paul. I hope the discussion board gets good and lively once more. Your "tiny criticism" is well founded and a number of people have made this point. The Double Ophicleide is certainly not softer than it was, but the restored winding and pressures seem to have enhanced the large manual reeds so much that it has rather lost its impact. The improvement in the reeds on the top level is also undoubtedly due in part to the removal of the roof but we suspect that this has actually been detrimental to the 32ft reed in question. It is known that a roof sometime
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