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Mander Organs

John Maslen

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Everything posted by John Maslen

  1. Wow! So it can happen in this country as well. I do hope that the Organ stays in CCC - I only played it once and it would IMHO be an act of crass cultural vandalism to destroy it. I think also it could land the church with a huge bill to replace it in the future, as I can't see the shallowness of some (by no means all) modern 'band led' music holding sway for ever; sooner or later sense will prevail and the value of the traditional hymns will be recognised, and bands usually do hymns very badly in my experience - no variety and far too slow. Why is it that music in church seems to have two warring camps - one insisting that the old has nothing to contribute to worship and all should be modern, guitar and drum led, rhythmic stuff, and the other insisting that this style, often derided as 'happy-clappy', has nothing to offer and that 'trad. is best'? IMHO both views are supremely arrogant, and quite mistaken. To the 'keep it trad.' brigade I would say that there is plenty of attractive, useable music in the newer style, and to the 'sweep it all away and start again' brigade I would say 'would you take the same attitude to the bible - over 2K yrs old, so it must be out of date surely?' In my own church we try to use the best of both within our resources - me doing the trad. stuff on the Organ, and a small group doing the more modern, rhythmic stuff (no drums - we have to draw the line somewhere, and this noisy and unnecessary addition to 'the band' has no place in worship - IM not very!! HO). It works very well, everyone seems to enjoy it, the congregation is growing, and most importantly of all, God is worshipped and glorified in it. Surely that is what it's all about, not this silly 'sweep it all away and start again' attitude - or its reverse? Or am I being perverse?! End of rant! Regards to all John
  2. When I was training to be a Reader I and a fellow trainee visited Christ Church Clifton in the days when Berj Topalian was DOM. His musical setup was very much along these lines, although less extensive - two choirs and an orchestra / music team with a rather nice three row Walker. Lovely stuff! Not sure of the current setup, though; Berj was Ordained some time ago and the then Vicar, Paul Berg, is long gone. His Curate did well though - James Jones, Bishop of Liverpool; one of the best preachers I've ever heard. Regards to all John
  3. Many years ago Ralph Downes (I think) played some of Haydn's 'Clock pieces' at the RFH. Short and great fun - he played four of them if memory serves. Regards to all John
  4. I forgot to say - in my book, end in the minor for the Fantasia, and I think the major for the Fugue, though I can see arguments for either way. I just wish I could play it!! John.
  5. It's 'Introduction to Bach', and my very battered copy is my constant companion - very useful selection of pieces for services, from simple chorales to the five part C minor Fantasia. I think it's still in print, but I'm not sure. Registration suggestions are, though, not very useful as observed elsewhere. Regards to all. John
  6. This time I'm not tongue in cheek! MM asks if we should not make hymns relevant to 21st century youth (sorry, I can't find the original entry to quote it properly). I suppose the answer has to be yes, but it raises in my mind two further questions. The first is - how? I can hardly believe anyone seriously wants to perpetuate some of the drivel quoted in earlier posts - indeed I find it difficult to believe that anyone included them in any published work at all. Yet the words of the songs youngsters listen to today, and for some time past, aren't exactly Milton or Shakespeare. So do we encourage those writing new worship material for teenagers match the poverty of expression in the 'hit parade', or aim rather higher and risk simply writing a new set of songs which are still out of touch with 'modern youth'? Bear also in mind that any use of modern teenage slang is likely to be out of date within the time it takes to publish the song anyway, and may be irrelevant in all but a few places as well. The second is, should we not rather make our concern the need to make the whole Christian gospel relevant to modern youngsters? This also prompts the question, 'how'? Simply preaching to them doesn't work - it didn't to my generation, and I can't see, frankly, why it should. Someone said that the Gospel isn't taught, it's caught. I suspect that has a large grain of truth in it, in which case, how do those whose privilege it is to lead worship, preach and teach become infectious? I realise this question is maybe outside the scope of a web site dedicated to the music of the Organ, but all of us involved in church life need to be aware of the issue. Or are we simply asking the wrong question? Is the point not that we should try to make hymnody in whatever form relevant to modern youngsters, but to help them see that it, together with the Gospel of which it is an expression, is relevant to their lives? That, I feel, is the real challenge. Regards to all John
  7. The problem with threads like this one is that they bring out, in this case hymns, disliked by some, but not by all. I must be in some sort of limbo as I quite enjoy every single hymn and chorus so roundly castigated by all and sundry! Amazing grace? What's wrong with the tune - at least the congregation sing it. Slane? What's wrong with it? Fine old tune - love it. Shine, Jesus, shine - a plea for righteousness in our land - why not? God knows we need it. I do agree on one, though. Although I would never willingly attend a service at which Immaculate Mary was sung, I also don't like the tune or the way the words fit it. One further thought occurs to me, though. Reading through this thread, we do like moaning, don't we! Regards to all John (slightly tongue in cheek!)
  8. When I were but a lad I was a key holder for Walkers for a couple of years. One of the men I worked with would lay the 'bearings' on the Great Principal, then would 'ease the temper'. I'm not quite sure what he meant, but I assume he was tuning to not-quite-equal temperament. It's a long time ago now, but when I asked him why I think I recall correctly that he said that pure equal temperament didn't sound quite right, and adjusting it slightly improved the sound of the Organ. I don't think he'd heard of the fancy names for various tuning methods bandied around here, but seemed to have found his own way to what I suspect is a very similar result. Regards to all John
  9. My distant recollection of the effects of incense smoke on Organ pipes is that it depends what they are made of. Lead doesn't react much to the acids on the smoke, but zinc pipes do, giving them a rough, pitted surface where they are not painted (front pipes, for example, may not show the effect much). Regardless of damage, though, it leaves a filthy sticky mess over everything. What did cause immense damage to Organs was a form of heating called flueless gas heating. At a time when gas was derived from coal, and produced sulphuric acid when burned, the fumes from this form of heating condensed on any metal surface, turning brass plaques green, eating its way through pull down wires, eating into front pipes, and ruining the leather inside. It did little to improve brickwork and stone either. I believe it was eventually banned - quite right too, but it left many an Organ in a parlous state. On the H&S matter, I was told, and I have no way of knowing whether this is true or not, that the effects of incense smoke on the eyes was severe, and was the reason many Catholic priests need glasses, and some were going blind. Perhaps there is a Doctor in the house who could comment on this. Regards to all John
  10. Funny thing is, while I saw a fair few 'Positives' while a key holder for Walkers, I don't remember any tremulants at all. In all probability that is my faulty memory, though. I have a vague recollection of the tuner I worked with moaning that the only way to get a tremulant on these instruments was to use a fan type, which he regarded as worse than second rate! The 'nudging' device was on an instrument we built at HNB for, if I recall correctly, St. Mary's (?) Horsell, near Woking. Regards top all John
  11. On a double rise reservoir the inverted ribs are there because those that poke out from the reservoir tend to cause it to collapse from the pressure inside, while those that poke into the reservoir tend to cause it to inflate. Use both, join top, bottom and the centre frame with the 'z' hinged brackets you will find on all double rise units, and the two effects cancel each other out. Pressure is maintaned with weights. The big problem with this type of reservoir is that if a large demand is removed (taking ones foot off the pedal with the Open Wood drawn for example) the pressure will jump because of the large mass of the top plate - often very audibly. Single rise reservoirs use springs to maintain pressure. The reason is that as the reservoir opens, the effect of wind pressure on the ribs, causing them to try to turn inside out, increases, and the pressure reduces. As springs exert more force as they stretch, they compensate for this effect. However, they also have a problem, as the lightness of the top board of the reservoir means that it can be made to vibrate. Sometimes some of the springs are replaced with bellows weights, as the resulting increased mass of the top plate is less likely to vibrate, although wind pressure is not so constant as the reservoir rises and falls with demand. Nothing is perfect! Regards to all John.
  12. Or you can use a device which imparts a rhythmic 'nudge' the the pan. These are easily regulated for both depth and speed and work well. John
  13. Strumpet en chemise - organist's girlfriend. Sorry. John
  14. Wonderful! - and from me. Have a great time. Regards to all John
  15. While playing in a very cold church recently, I found that after about an hours hard work my fingers, previously VERY cold from touching cold keys, became quite warm and practising became far easier. Unfortunately my time was up, other duties called, and I had to leave - you can't win! Incidentally, spare a thought for the poor chap sitting at the console holding keys for the tuner - he is often absolutely frozen in this weather as he can take no form of excercise (like pedalling for example) to keep warm. And of course the tuner's hard work in such temperatures wll be largely wasted as the thing will be out of tune when the heat is on come Sunday. Good tuners can make allowances, but it's an uncertain business. And in any case, surely an organisation that is supposed to care about people should ensure that they are looked after properly when on the premises and the building heated to a reasonable level. Sorry about the rant, but I spent many frozen hours key-holding as a tuner's boy - it wasn't fun! Regards to all John
  16. When I were but a lad and helped with one or two cleanings, we cleaned metal pipework with fairy liquid and warm water, with various brushes for the inside - mind you don't disturb the area round the mouth though. Got the grime off very well, but didn't leave a gleaming shine. Spotted metal is usually fairly stiff, so bruising isn't too much of a problem, but take care as dents are difficult to remove. Regards to all John.
  17. It's some time since I last sat at a Wurlitzer console, but I'm pretty sure they do, especially on the bigger consoles. Regards to all John
  18. I also have this image, in 'The Modern British Organ' by messrs Norman, father and son. The drawing looks very much like the work of Norman senior, who was an architect, and shows HNB's standard console dimensions. He had the most beautiful italic handwriting, and some of HNB's specification handouts were fascimile copies of his work. It's some time ago now, but I'm pretty sure that when I worked in their console shop they did indeed incline the upper manuals slightly, and very comfortable they were too. Happy days. Regards to all John
  19. Vox, depressed, yes, cynical, maybe. But with a post that shines with a desire to offer God the very best we can, and detesting the second rate, surely 'agnostic' is a bit strong? Keep up the good work. We all appreciate your intentions, and I'm quite sure the Good Lord does also. One day the pendulum will swing back - the sooner the better as far as I for one am concerned. My best wishes to you John.
  20. When I were but a lad, and hoping to go to college to study music full time (which I never did - I wasn't good enough) I worked for Walkers as a key holder. I also helped with a cleaning or two. There really is no easy way to clean under the pedals without removing them. This is not usually difficult, (providing the action is electric - tracker actions need treating with care, so if you don't know what you're doing leave well alone) but when they are replaced you would need to check the weight to be applied to each in order to play it. Again not difficult, IF you have a suitable weight. I don't, Organ builders do. So probably best left to them, or perhaps a friendly chat may yield a loan of one and some useful hints as to method in your particular circumstances. Have fun! Regards to all John.
  21. I haven't accompanied the psalms for many years, more's the pity. I regard them as almost the music of heaven, sung and accompanied well. Only three things can spoil them for me. Firstly, the use of certain chants (sorry, don't know details, but they're all too popular in some places of worship as revealed by R3s Choral Evensong broadcasts) which have no discernable hamonic progression, but which meander aimlessly from discord to discord before limping to a final chord. Secondly, accompaniment which doesn't 'play the words', but which whispers away almost inaudibly in the background throughout. I feel like begging the organist to put some 'wellie' into it - the psalms are not airy-fairy, pretty little pieces, but strong and muscular, often the cry of a broken heart, or of anger at injustice. Not the stuff for Swell flutes! 'Playing the words' of course can involve playing quietly, perhaps an improvised descant if your choir's up to carrying on while you do it. Beautiful. And thirdly, rhythm which is 'stretched' to produce an 'arty' effect rather than singing the words as they would be spoken. But having read the above posts on the subject, I don't think I'm alone in any of this. As far as the original question goes, I would sugggest that for the immediate problem of actually playing the Organ for the psalms, while it would be lovely to remember all the words of all the psalms, and accepting completely that those who play them every day for years will inevitably learn them by heart, the most useful thing you can do is to learn the chant you're playing by heart. Then you can read the words as you play, and if you know the instrument well, let your imagination do the rest. Regards to all John.
  22. This is good news. Many years ago I worked for G & D, and was told by an 'old hand' that the then managers had destroyed many old drawings as being of no interest - something which he regarded as criminal. While they were of limited importance towards the end, they had been, as we know, a major builder in the past, and if these drawings were destroyed then much important information is lost for ever. I'm glad that some at least have survived. Regards to all John
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