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James White

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  1. According to the website of the Burtey Fen Collection, where the organ now with extra bells and whistles resides "...roof problems and subsequent damage caused the organ to become almost unplayable by the early 1980s." There's a bit more information about the removal and rebuild on this page.
  2. Just to clarify my point here - I believe that the manufactures indeed mimic enclosure for the swell but often do not when providing a similar pedal to the Great, as this is mainly done to compensate for over large specifications and not to give the impression of another box.
  3. There's a range of options for dealing with this (none of them that authentic!). Above general volume controls, some 'instruments' have 'voicing' parameters which extend at least to amplitude, per rank (and hopefully per note), which allows some control but can also create micro-tubas etc. Manufacturers also sometimes provide a volume pedal to the Great, but not in the manner of 'enclosing' the department, as the attenuation of higher frequencies is not simulated (- scale becomes quite confused.) Another possible option is compressor/limiter devices, which are used in Public Address and sound recording to control the dynamic range of audio signals. It's all fairly unpipelike, which isn't necessarily bad (e.g. I find it fairly easy to believe that the swell-box was invented to controll volume but not brightness of sound), but with our organ expectations, I guess the point is that these 'flight simulators' are ok for practice, but if you must have an electronic for preformance, go for custom-built Copeman Hart, Phoenix, etc.
  4. I seem to remember 'voluntary' implying freeness from the usual treatment of plainsong... Do you know 'Annum per Annum' by Arvo Pärt? It takes advantage of this blower-off effect (most safely on a mechanical key action), it's a great piece, especiall when the gaps between movements are filled by congregational gawps
  5. Few people seem inclined to describe the advantages of good electronic stops but these are numerous! I can see good argument against electronic 32' 'foundation stops' in buildings which are not large enough to accept the larger pipe work or to allow the sounds to propagate (a speaker enclosure or baffle to create these frequencies must also be fairly substantial in size). I'm not sure however that this argument extends to reeds, where the greater harmonic content allows more leeway (?) Further, the point that a building may be large enough to hold the lowest pipe but not the rest of the rank, makes the argument about these sounds being 'out of place' rather spurious. With regard to Southwell instruments, by far the least satisfying aspect of the electronic ranks (on the triforium organ) is the illuminated jamb-side switches; they sound well in the nave and provide a musical and useful addition to the specification. In a previous post, the idea of switchable voicing was impugned, but who doesn't sometimes wish their organ was better suited to Buxtehude or to Dubois, or whatever the voluntary is? That stops can be so easily altered and that their equipment can be used to produce a range of diffent timbre of reeds, flutes, diapasons is an advantage over actual pipework. I also believe that the electronic pedal stops of Blackburn Cathedral's main organ change volume with the general crescendo (?) As we are considering the use of electronics to augment proper pipe instruments, shouldn't we embrace this and suggest ways of making this technology as good as possible, rather than objecting to not using pipes, after all, I've played some pretty bad 'real instruments' too!
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