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Contrabombarde

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  1. I've been asked if I can draw attention to this one manual and pedal Renn circa 1840 and featured in the Organ Magazine May 2018: https://www.ibo.co.uk/resources/pre-owned/detail.php?refNo=637 It's in a private home now and I understand the owner is seeking its relocation.
  2. Some good news at last - Government guidance issued last Friday now states that organists are now permitted to go into churches to practice the organ (provided we maintain appropriate social distancing and comply with all the other precautions). Obviously that means no page turners or registrants and still no lessons unless taught remotely via Zoom or Skype etc. Furthermore it has to be assumed that hard surfaces such as keys, stops and pistons could potentially be contaminated by someone who was playing whilst infectious, and remain so for possibly 72 hours. So if other people are hoping to play later in the week, a safe way needs to be established to decontaminate (bleach is probably not going to do wood or ivory much good, but wiping with dilute household detergent should be a reasonable compromise). We are in uncharted territory with this pandemic and a very careful and gradual release from lockdown is imperative to minimise the risk of rebounds. There is growing evidence that singing or shouting is an effective way of transmitting the virus to other people, so I'm afraid it looks like choirs will remain silent or practice "virtually" for some while to come. From this week's guidance: 4. Guidance for individual prayer within a place of worship Principles ... Activities such as singing and/or playing instruments should be avoided, with the exception of organists who are able to use buildings for practice with appropriate social distancing.
  3. Not sure about the logic of having a swimming pool on the roof but there is certainly precedent for baptismal pools at ground level. I once got into a spot of bother at a large evangelical Anglican church where I'd been asked to accompany a service as the regular organist was away that Sunday. Arriving moments before the start of the service due to delays on the Underground I was confronted by a large organ at the front of the church and lots of wires, plugs, sockets and switches in the vicinity of the organ but no obvious blower switch. By this point the vicar had come to the front of the church and had begun to announce the opening hymn. I started to panic. Flicking every switch and socked I could see, I eventually noticed the blower switch hidden away in one corner of the console. The organ burst into life and I saved the day, though I couldn't help wonder why the thing sounded so noisy when I wasn't playing. Halfway through the service a kindly churchwarden came alongside me. "I don't suppose you would have any idea why the baptimsal pool pump is running when the pool is empty, do you?" he enquired.
  4. Oh do be more ambitious! Three manuals? Check. 16 foot pedal? Check. May I present this example: https://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=N01165 I played it many moons ago on an organ crawl and most impressive it was, not least for being able to pack an eight stop three manual into a case seemingly no bigger than many two manual 8482 practice instruments. Or even more ambitious, https://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=N04526 More ambitious still, and with a resultant 32 foot in the pedals, https://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=N04594#PhotoSection
  5. Thanks for the Messian clip - that surely has to be one of the finest performances of La Nativite ever made, and not even on an organ! Hearing Dieu parmi nous played so convincingly on an accordian is beyond phenomenal.
  6. The Vierne is here. Nice to see that the band have credited Vierne as the composer! But I think the Widor is in a different parallel universe it's incredible.
  7. Interesting question. Here's the original case: https://www.orgelbau-krawinkel.com/organ-projects/organ-relocation/organ-st-bartholomaeus-gackenbach.php This is what it looks like after it was relocated from the UK to Germany and converted into a four manual instrument: http://orgel-gackenbach.de/die_orgeln/ That case has clearly been put on steroids but doesn't look big enough for three 32 foot stops. But no mention of "cheating" on the disposition list: https://www.orgelbau-krawinkel.com/organ-projects/organ-relocation/organ-st-bartholomaeus-gackenbach.php The church also boasts a two manual Cavaille-Coll style instrument on its west balcony - lucky them!
  8. Please correct me if I am uninformed but I thought that the livestreaming offered by Youtube and Facebook etc is essentially one way and hence not interactive? If you are broadcasting to several hundred people from a single location that's entirely appropriate. Our church service this morning consisted of about fifty families all watching one another on our laptop screens (over 100 people "attending") with the vicar having the ability to put the words of the hymns and the readings on everyone's screen to the side of the many user "windows" (for want of a better description). Although Zoom allows the "meeting organiser" to mute or unmute everyone else, in practice he didn't and it was up to individuals to mute themselves if not actively contributing because at various points in the service different people would read, I would accompany hymns, and all from our various living rooms. From the point of view of needing to conduct a service in which different people contribute from a variety of locations as opposed to being broadcast entirely from one location it met our needs very well; it would just be even better if we could improve the audio quality of live music. Whilst we've never worshipped in this way before as a church family, it was a profound experience.
  9. Thanks Tony, I tried that setting (it appears it has to be activated by the organiser, in my case the vicar) but it made little difference.
  10. My church must be one of many to be attempting its first livestreamed service tomorrow morning and I will be accompanying hymns from the relative safety of my living room. We are using the free version of Zoom with a Windows 10 laptop and I did a test run this morning with the vicar. I have a grand piano and organ in the living room; although the organ is digital and runs Hauptwerk I see no reason why it shouldn't sound any different to a pipe organ when recorded with a simple microphone and livestreamed. In the practice run this morning the piano worked fine but the organ apparently kept cutting in and out and was unusable. I later tried recording both instruments using the Windows video camera feature and found something probably similar - despite playing on a constant registration the sound kept dipping in and out. I have adjusted the Zoom audio settings with every available combination and level of filtering background noise etc including disabling filters altogether. However I cannot find any way of 1having constant audio levels when playing the organ. Yet the piano sounds fine and it looks like the hymns will have to be on that tomorrow instead. I have tried both the built in microphone and an external USB microphone but not found any improvement. If anyone can suggest how to make organ music more acceptable in Zoom I've love to know what you are doing differently.
  11. OK in fairness, the organ was controlled by two stop-tab consoles, one five manuals, the other seven. The five manual is currently disconnected and was an exhibit in the lobby when I visited a few years ago. My understanding from what was described (correct me if I'm wrong) was that the five manual was intended to be completely "straight" and reflected the entirety of the organ without duplication or transmission through extension, whereas the seven manual was the whole shebang. Not sure what the point of extension is in such an organ, but with over 30,000 pipes under its control the five manual console without the extensions is still pretty big as organs go!
  12. Whilst we're on the subject of 32 foot stops, the Austin has over 14,000 pipes, yet its only non-digital 32 rank is a (presumably) stopped Bourdon! It has four digital 32 foot flues and a 32 foot digital reed. You'd have thought it they wanted a proper 32 foot sound they could have swapped a few smaller ranks for 32 foot length pipes surely? As for Wanamaker and Atlantic City, I believe there was some friendly rivalry and of course they are only about 50 miles apart. Presumably this is long past as many of the team who look after the Wanamaker organ are also leading the Atlantic City restoration. Tonally they had quite different inspirations - Dupre amongst others advised the Wanamaker which is a much more "symphonic" instrument, whilst Senator Richards took a surprisingly classical inspiration for his choruses. If I had to choose one to play all day I think it would have to be the Wanamaker which just seems and sounds much more musical, but I'm glad the Atlantic City organ exists even if it is something of an organic monument to biting off more than one could reasonably chew. Senator Richards had huge problems just getting builders to tender for it - some of those who did respond deliberately put in impossibly high quotes as they didn't want the reputational risk of being involved in the project, and for a while he pursued Willis III fresh from his Liverpool Cathedral magnum opus, but to no avail. The range of pipework and materials - including some pipes built of papier maché - and the huge dynamic range that comes from such a wide range of wind pressures, the challenge of designing a console with seven reachable manuals, the world's loudest and longest organ pipes...it's a veritable textbook of organ building all right, just not one that's readily transferable to more modest buildings.
  13. Thanks for the link. I'm fortunate enough to have actually heard that pipe speak in the flesh (and seen it in the remarkably informative and popular tour inside the Atlantic City organ) and can best describe it as the sound I would expect a helicopter would make if one was landing in the hall. Or several helicopters, as the hall is big enough for an entire squadron to fly around it. It was heartening to read in the latest Organist's Review of the progress being made to restore it to full working order, it truly is a remarkable beast. I couldn't help but feel when I heard it four years ago that it was rather overblown and overscaled, though out of necessity given the size of the room. That might just have been the registrations available and working at the time. As it's a short drive from there to Philadelphia I also heard the Wanamaker in concert and of the two I'd take that in a heartbeat with its luscious strings and delicate beauty. The store has fallen on hard times over the years and whilst the central hall is several floors high, all but the lowest of the galleries are glazed in as most of the building is now offices rather than a giant department store. This must surely have changed the sound considerably (and possibly for the better I wonder - can anyone recall how it sounded when it played throughout all floors)?
  14. Considering the space and expense of the bottom octave of an Open Wood 32 I'm surprised this strategy hasn't been more widely adopted. Whilst the scaling of the two, three or however many more notes that share the same pipe would be increasingly wide as you go up the octave, is that effect any worse than the difference in scale that comes from playing middle C or treble C on an orchestral flute say? After all the flute is effectively a single pipe with a large number of valves!
  15. On another thread I recently commented on the way in which (whatever you may think about it) people are now able to construct a practice instrument out of a couple of MIDI keyboards, a pedalboard and a computer running virtual organ software. To be fair, such a "heath Robinson" approach to practising was probably similar to what many of the Baroque organists had at their disposal, though obviously they wouldn't have MIDI keyboards in those days. They would have had pedal harpsichords or stacked clavichords on top of one another, but that would still be enough to learn your trio sonatas on as this sensational new clip shows:
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