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Mander Organs


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Everything posted by ajsphead

  1. You don't carry any baggage. Gloucester's not particularly powerful but is sighted very effectively, and hence doesn't need to be that loud. The roof also acts as a fabulous soundboard to carry the sound around the building. My ears give me doubts over a lot of things that others rave about which doesn't necessarily make either view right or wrong but does give me the impression of 'latest new toy' or sometimes 'emperor's new clothes'. AJS
  2. Arthur Sullivan's tune 'Golden Sheaves' always points me in the direction of G&S more so than any of the others he wrote - it's great with an oompah beat and a policeman's bent knees 'ello ello what's all this then' at the end of each line. It could almost have been written by Lefebure-Wely. AJS
  3. The best organ might not be my favourite. I suppose the best one is the one that can do everything that's asked of it in the most effective way. So choral accompaniment, recital and effective congregational accompaniment and we can add integrity after that. So on that basis, Coventry Peterborough Liverpool Met Chester I have soft spots for Salisbury, Truro, Bristol, Wakefield, Blackburn, Gloucester & Southwark. Liverpool Anglican does next to nothing for me, but in that building I'm not sure anything would. AJS
  4. I always find 'Cruger' a very poor tune, and around here it often starts with the words 'Hell to the Lord's Anointed' Another worship song 'Jesus be the Centre' always makes me think of Quality Street. Meekness and Majesty, Sickness and Dysentery, need I go on. AJS
  5. What an absolute shame. Personally I love the feel of buildings like that when they're in a better state of repair. Have played in 2 50's churches, one the result of bomb damage, the other a rebuild of a temporary building. Both were filled with light and warmth and a super acoustic. Fortunately both were well designed and built and to my knowledge have never given any major problems even with a floor to ceiling glass brick West wall. Late afternoon Summer sunshine took on a whole new aura. AJS
  6. Copper conveyances are not unknown and magnets have copper windings.
  7. I was unable to understand the process of "carrick's" argument before, and I'm still unable, despite asking for clarification. It's an important topic and worthy of proper debate, but that debate must be reasoned. Bums on seats 'prove' nothing. The reasons why those bums are there, and may or may not continue to be there are so many and varied as to be impossible to judge broadly and then draw broad conclusions. I haven't found it boring, I just don't quite understand the point, so don't know where the argument is going. There is a difference between opinion and argument. Both are fine if tempered, reasoned and in context and if this subject is what I think it's about, necessary. AJS
  8. I too have just caught up with this and, seeing that I'm learning some smaller scale Elgar at the moment have found it fascinating. Natural reaction - picking up on MM's listen to the notes rather than the markings - actually before I'd read any comments - the Sumsion sat so comfortably; a touch ponderous here and there and lacking a bit in direction in some of the softer passages to the point that I felt the lyrical line was almost lost. Nonetheless I understood the piece. I listened then to Vernon Handley. It actually took two goes as I turned it off after 1:55 the first time; full of pops, squeaks and bangs and it went past so fast I couldn't even tell you the starting notes for some of the phrases. Very war like but not at all Imperial. AJS
  9. Well I admit to being dreadfully confused by all this. Is our erstwhile contributor saying that the organ needs a more popular style of approach and in the same breath criticises one of the most prominent people to do so for being rubbish. So is he saying that we should strive for more classical orientation, then criticising the responses for being snobbish. Forgive me but I'm struggling. Perhaps he would enlighten me by clarifying just what he does mean in simple terms as I clearly need that type of approach. Clearly my own experience of the joy and interest that young people have in the workings of the organ, which often leads them to the music is defunct. However, to suggest that organs should perform the same function as 'here today gone tomorrow' pop acts is to miss the point by such a wide margin as to be almost beyond view. The same criticisms could be levelled at choirs, orchestras, chamber groups and the like. Society does not consist entirely of populist culture, and I think it would be interesting to argue a case that says barriers can be easily overcome by some foray into it. Sure, it'll be a short term positive blip, but what then? This type of culture is transitory by its nature, the mistake that many who become involved with it seem to make. That is not to say exclusivity is right by any means either - bridges need to be built, and in capable hands they can be and have been - we all have a responsibility to do that to whatever extent we can manage. AJS
  10. I have been further investigating pitch and temperament in Victorian England with a view to more informed practice and have been left with some inescapable facts of significance. The main body of our organs in this country is predominantly Victorian, yet how many of them do we hear as their maker intended. I would wager that at least 90% of them are or claim to be tuned to equal temperament and at least half are at A440. The evidence for equal temperament prior to about 1895 is not strong, certainly not as strong as well temperament like Moore or a Broadwood type or the earlier Young types. Looking at the disposition of thirds in particular, in some of the better known temperaments of the period, I feel confident that our Victorian organ sound is a lot duller by virtue of tuning than theirs was. There has been much made of pre 19th century temperament for organs, but seemingly very little for 1850-1900 when most instruments were made - unseen by most, but by weight of numbers alone, a glaring omission resulting in an unnecessary dull period oeuvre with associated comment. Even the best that we laud now might be better still. Time to move the industry on to tune Victorian organs in a period well temperament or something like EBVT. As they are so usable and colourful without dissonance it might start to educate a whole generation and more to the sound they should be hearing and producing depending on which side of the coin they are rather than plodding acceptance of the norm, which is easy but not particularly defensible. Artistic piano tuners can manage it, so why can't more organ builders. There are clearly associated repertoire implications as well which others might wish to take forward. As for pitch, the period was one of great flux, but it has been interesting looking at the chosen regular pitches of our major makers, sadly without temperature modulation but we can take an educated approach about that. Some serious education of users is necessary as many seem unaware of the implications of temperature differentials between then and now, and the effect on instruments. Seeing so many instruments with pitch dogmatically changed to A440 at 18'C without knowledge of the building heating, organ position and makers historical intention (sometimes equating to A440@18, so we can't be too quick to criticise), with pipes tuned by all manner of externally applied means where for example a simple change to A444 at 16'C would settle everything down. There's enough change in scale between the 2 to hear a difference too. So our major body of instruments are very likely not to sound the way they should - on the dull and less interesting side - by virtue of enforced standardisation. Just a few thoughts for now. AJS
  11. So there's good and bad in everything. The best examples of good workmanship work well and you can feel the quality. One has to compare like with like to make a valid comparison and often that comparison is more closely defined than one might initially imagine. A well made charge pneumatic action has a lovely positive snap to it as you are after all in many of them, working a pallet with a key just like a mechanical action. There are so many pitfalls in t/pn action design that not everyone got it right every time and seeing different types of soundboard pallet control in the same instrument always makes you think that the original maker saw a reason for doing that - you then start to ask why and investigate, possibly drawing the same conclusion, and possibly not, although you may have the deficit in knowledge. The problem arises if we assume that over the entire evolution of a particular action type, we assume that every builder knew everything there was to know from day one and hence always produced the best result every time. Clearly this is nonsense otherwise no such evolution would have occurred. A positive approach here is to respect the type of action such as it is but to improve it in places where evolution of that action type has taught us how to make it work better. The slavish approach only retains the issues that were there, be they good or bad. The nature of the action, and its interaction with the rest of the instrument is in principle unaltered, but it works with the efficiency that I'm sure it's original maker would have wished and intended to achieve, and to the best of ability and knowledge at the time, did. AJS
  12. Difficult to say specifically but a technique I have used is to couple everything up to everything else, then depending on the size of the 8's add as many as you need using Sw ones mainly so as to get the effect of the box if you have one. Then listen horizontally at each pitch across the entire organ and organise your additions/subtractions accordingly and go from manual to manual a la francaise for dynamic changes. You can find yourself grabbing all sorts of odd combinations to bulk out thin little reeds, quintadenas are quite good and a soft wide scale tierce is a possibility. Pretty much avoid the mixtures if the choir are singing. Just a few thoughts AJS
  13. A good quality Abbott & Smith - get rid of the squeaky bits and you've a good solid instrument there. The pipework alone is worth saving. Who knows why places do this? It's endemic, sometimes justified and sometimes not. Best steer clear of the politics unless you know for certain. Nonetheless a basically well built decent organ, so long as it hasn't been mucked around. Got to be worth houseroom somewhere. AJS
  14. Greetings and welcome. Please feel free to ask whatever questions you would like to and we'll do our best to answer them. AJS
  15. Beauty is in the ear of the beholder. An Arthur Harrison Large Open is a wonderful thing yes possibly, but a beautiful thing, no. A solo stop, yes possibly, but a beautiful solo stop, again, no. You can solo with anything, but it's not by mistake that very few orchestral pieces have been written with a tuba solo and fewer still, ones that take it seriously. AJS
  16. I think Pierre is a very lucky man. There are simply too many variables in a tubular pneumatic design to even really use the term broadly. Tracker is far more likely to work but you're still at the mercy of whoever originally designed and built it. It is however much harder to make a tracker action that doesn't work at all than it is a t/pn one. AJS
  17. 16' Bottom D# is not a note I'd expect to give trouble from an overdrawing slide. When you checked it on a partial draw, did you go up to the top of the pedalboard and check the smaller pipes with a 4' principal drawn? Always possible the borings are well out I suppose and a duff slider seal might also explain it. Pipes off, upperboards off and take a look. before you do that though, don't overlook a bad stopper or a split. I've known bigger pipes to work when blown more gently but not work on their normal wind supply because of a bad stopper or a split. If you can, drop a pipe with the same sized foot on the hole and see if it goes. AJS
  18. You're very kind, thank you. I did toy with different aspects of the design, mainly aiming to try to factor out choice by interpretation which is why I was heartened to hear criticism of the performance on the preferred instrument. These were friends, and I know they would be honest. You have picked upon an interesting secondary research question which I had only briefly considered. I thought in this instance it would be better to address just one research question, to keep the participants' minds and ears focused as it were. The rationale behind the question appears many times here, in lectures and debates when we question what organ sound communicates the music and does not override it by communicating too much of itself. we are also forever talking about a way forward, and the choice of 2 instruments was deliberate to address that aspect. In the organ world I do believe we find it difficult to see the wood for the trees because we all know so much, and we know what we like, and we know how things 'ought' to be done, and the direction in which things 'ought' to be going. My rationale was to challenge that with musicians who have none of our preconceptions. To view this from an audience perspective could be a useful adjunct. AJS
  19. I thought I would investigate the sound of different instruments in some blinded tests. I chose eight musician friends who are either singers or instrumentalists to a good standard. Definitely no organists, organ lovers, organ builders or similar as I wanted this to be blinded and as unbiased as possible. I couldn't double blind as I know too much. What I wanted to know was which instrument of 5 I chose communicated the music best, stressing that I was not interested in musical interpretation but solely in the sounds. I managed to find the same group of pieces played across the 5 recordings, although sadly not all pieces were played in each recording but the comparison I think is nonetheless reasonable and the equipment used was high end and therefore sufficiently accurate for the tests as I know the instruments in the flesh and some of them intimately. I felt that avoiding the opinions of organ related people and asking musicians who are aware of the instrument but otherwise not particularly interested, might go some way to addressing the discourse around what is a good sound, what works and what communicates and be as far away as possible from 'what I like'. Inevitably there are limitations as I did not play any European works prior to the C19th or English works prior to C18th, so we have a caveat to start with. We are also to some extent at the mercy of recording engineers but as I know the instruments well enough, I know that the chosen recordings were sufficiently accurate to be comparable. A sample size of 8 is clearly a considerably limiting factor, but the results were more clear cut than I expected. I would have liked to test more instruments, but non organ people can only cope with a certain amount before their ears switch off. I tested an eclectic H&H, a thoroughbred Edwardian Arthur Harrison, an Edwardian Hill, an ostensibly Edwardian JWW and a good mid period Fr Willis. I think we would all have opinions on the choice, but this is the choice given the strictures placed, and the relevance to the UK organ world. I would have liked to have included a Compton, a 60's JWW, a further neo classique/baroque type instrument, an C18th century instrument and so on, but one can only ask people to do a certain amount in the name of research. The choice was therefore predominantly mainstream and typical. It is important to state that I am not in any way making any comment on the work of any of the firms who have or continue to have any involvement with the instruments in question, or continue to produce new instuments. So my findings proved very interesting in one sense, and did cross over into the bounds of similar opinion voiced many times here and elsewhere. Put simply I asked each of the people which sound communicated the music - mainly a range of English & European C19th and C20th repertoire - in what they felt was the most musical way. I had a resounding result for the favourite, and a near unanimous response for the second. The least favourite -God rest its soul as it no longer exists in its recorded state- was also unanimous. It is possible to pick the responses to bits, and like all good research, I have attempted to address the principle points above. So which one did they think was the most communicative... The Edwardian JWW, describing it as full of colour, rich and deep but without a loss of clarity. One respondent was reduced to tears at one point. It was also commented that they thought some of the performance less good, so were clearly not heavily swayed by that. Next, the Hill, only a bit behind, but the difference was in the tonal palette. Little to choose between the Arthur Harrison paraphrased by 'not without merit, but too dense - rather like being hit over the head with a brick even in the quieter passages', and the Fr Willis which won out overall for clarity 'but lacked weight and passion - all a bit sterile, and the responders could not believe it was a mid Victorian sound. An interesting point which could run and run in itself. No prizes then for last place 'thin, lightweight, bland etc'. I deliberately haven't named the instruments but will do so only by pm. The knowledgable could probably guess most of them as there are no surprises. An interesting bit of an evening's work. AJS
  20. OK. If it's sound after inspection, shoot it and leave as is. So long as the church have no plans to cook it, it should be fine. AJS
  21. Depends on the soundboard and the climate in the building in my book. AJS
  22. Indeed, the Sw 16' flue bass pipes at Bath are outside the box, mouths inside. Perfectly OK with stopped pipes. Half length reeds are fine if the shallots and scale of the whole rank are done correctly. Lots of examples of not so good ones which tend to tar the whole concept with a bad brush. AJS
  23. C517 at what temperature, and what is a normal heating on/off sort of temperature around where the organ is? Other things being equal 517 to 523.3 will fatten the tone of the flues a bit and possibly mean the reeds will lose some brilliance. You'll definitely hear it close up. An examination of the pipes including the amount of dirt in the pitch pipe, the effects of dirt on the pipes at the moment, and the tuning margins need to inform your decision and any records held at the Abbey would be interesting to establish whether 517 was the original pitch. If you haven't already done so, you should do this before assuming what you have is what Hill did. As for temperament, I'd leave it as equal, as any other temperament used in England on new instruments at the time is not going to be that far from equal for it to make any real difference. AJS
  24. I like the cherub creature holding a guitar; carved with an eye to the future or eyes closed to the past, or maybe both?
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