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Mander Organs


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Everything posted by Contrabombarde

  1. Whilst I generally recoil from stoptab consoles I must confess that I find the Walker curving quadrant jambs with their distinctive curved pointy tabs (am I right in thinking they are known as "elephant tusks"?) very attractive to look at and comfortable to play. That console is a beauty, totally different from the later Nicholson drawstop console (which I also find very handsome in its own way).
  2. A clarinet on the Great with a 2 2/3 and 1 3/5 on the Swell - interesting. Sometimes I've seen both clarinet and cornet on the same manual, which seems a bit pointless at least for French baroque music.
  3. A Swell suboctave coupler could partially get around the lack of 16 foot tone, and would be fairly standard on romantic French organs. But would it work on an instrument such as this - and if not, and space or budget only allowed for one reed, what would be the most suitable reed I wonder?
  4. Radley - well spotted! The four manual organ gained a fifth manual in 1891, only to be removed and rebuilt five years later when moved to a larger chapel. It was apparently broken up during the 1930s and replaced with a three manual organ; the case was transferred elsewhere and is rather splendid: http://viewfinder.historicengland.org.uk/gallery/450/CC9/CC97_2417.jpg
  5. I see that the subject of previous five manual organs has come up before on these fora: At the end of the nineteenth century Norwich (Anglican) cathedral had a five manual console which was subsequently reduced to four (but with a larger stop list); Someone suggested Manchester Cathedral had five prior to its destruction in WW2 but I don't know that was corroborated.; The Colston Hall Bristol organ prior to its destruction in 1945 had both echo and solo divisions with couplers suggestive of five manuals. NPOR lists it as five though Thornsby's 'Dictionary of Organs and Organists' in 1912 lists it (and Manchester) has having five; The Boustead residence organ at Westfield, Wimbledon by Hunter had five manuals and with three 32 stops was probably the largest house organ ever built; it survived eight years before being broken up (http://cdmnet.org/Julian/schemes/trz/boustead.htm) That was the one I was thinking of earlier (not the Bryceston house organ of Nathaniel Holmes, also in London, and it ended up in Fort Augustus.) The Fort Augustus Abbey organ had five according to NPOR prior to its rebuild and pruning to a three manual by Rushworths. There appeares to have been uncertainty as to whether Hexham had four or five manuals: Tewksbury Abbey Interesting to be reminded of the Nathaniel Holmes organ - he was an early telegraph engineer and his 1862 Bryceston was inevitably an electric action organ. The attempted use of electric actions predates by some time the use of tubular pneumatic actions but the unreliability of electrics at the time precluded them from being widely adopted and hence tubular pneumatics won out (until electrics became sufficiently reliable to be of use in organs). Had electricity been better understood and tamed in the 1860s perhaps pneumatic action organs would never have been developed?
  6. Interesting reflection - I wonder if that extends to someone like George Ashdown Audsley who was foremost a noted architect and expert in Japanese art, and presumably stumbled across the Willis at St George's Hall during a phase of his life when he worked in Liverpool, thus propelling himself into the world of organs too. He subsequently positioned himself as the foremost authority on organbuilding. Interesting and indeed beautiful as the "Art of Organbuilding" is, I can't help but wonder what processes could have resulted in one person claiming world authority in so many different spheres of life.
  7. There must be a fair few organs that used to be five manuals but have either been reduced in size, reduced in manuals but retaining all the stops or simply lost altogether. Calne springs to mind for originally having two five manual organs, one in the parish chirch, the other in the church organ's donor's house! Birmingham Town Hall spent a few years as a five decker before sense prevailed (?) and the Bombarde division but not the keys was kept but floated. I recall reading about a five manual organ in a house in London before World War 2 but forget the details. And Hexham used to have a fiver.
  8. 1 foots - now I happen to think they can be quite special when used judiciously. On a three manual instrument I don't know if they are better off on the Swell or Choir, but maybe an interesting idea would be to have a great diapason chorus of 16 8 (5/1/3?) 4, 2\2\3, 2, 1/3/5, 1/1/3, (1/1/7?), 1. Would there be any need for a mixture too if that lot of mutations were available? Or how about having a mixture stop in addition, that when drawn would activate all the mutations whether already drawn or not?
  9. Interesting reflections Colin. As it happens i am on holiday near Atlantic City and am planning to see and hear the Boardwalk organ tomorrow. Last week i had a guided tour of the Wanamaker organ. I did not have the opportunity to sit at the latter's console but it was clear that the manuals were slightly shorter and closer together than some organs, and that no doubt makes the top manual more playable than otherwise it would be. I have played a few five manual organs in my life including David Pinnegar's and Liverpool Anglican Cathedral's and have always found the fop manual to be all but unreachable. Four manuals however I find no problem with (I use the top manual quite frequently on my home organ though the keyboards are slightly closer together than usual front to back and I did not rake the upper manuals at an angle. The design brief for the Atlantic City console was that it should be possible to play the top keyboard with one hand whilst changing stops at the bottom of the opposite stop jamb with the other hand. its designer Emerson Richards is shown in a photo doing precisely that here: http://www.boardwalkpipes.com/p282.php I shall suspend judgement as to the musicality of the instrument until I've actually heard it (I gather it is currently about half working and more than half of the $30 million fund required to fully restore it and create an endowment fund for future maintenance has already been raised, so it will overtake the Wanamaker as the world's largest playable instrument sooner than we might think). I have been reading its checquered history lately and must admit to being surprised just how musical its design seems to be with hindsight - Richards helped develop the "American classic" organ style but unlike his more orchestral advocates of the day, seems to have recognised the importance of principal choruses and well developed mixtures and mutations, spending a considerable period of time in Germany studying baroque organs prior to designing the Boardwalk instrument. its builder might have been considered a bit cheap and second rate (despite building one of Senator Richards' house organs) and several companies that were invited to quote to build (including Willis III, who nevertheless seems to have been a regular source of friendly advice to Richards) either refused to quote or gave outrageously expensive quotes to prevent them from winning the contract, as they felt that they would be compromising future business opportunities by taking on such a controversial project. Regardless of whether one actually needs seven manuals or whether one can reach them (maybe this time tomorrow I will be lucky enough to have tried that for myself....) I wonder what response firms today would give to the suggestion of building an organ in a hall probably ten times the size of a typical cathedral. On the assumption that you would need at least five manuals and that funds could provide for several hundred stops, would you go down the route of Boardwalk and have windpressures from 10 inches to 100 inches? Or would you build a much smaller instrument and electronically amplify it throughout the hall? If so would that be cheating- why not just build a monster digital electronic organ and not bother with pipes at all? Taking Colin's point about amplifying the organ, that was actually done. The organ was supposed to have several drums of different types but these proved inaudible in the hall so they were electronically amplified and played through speakers from the start of the instrument. in which case why stop at that and not amplify the rest of the organ?
  10. Ah, David thanks for mentioning the old RSCM Harrison now at St Alkmund Shrewsbury, I knew there was an oddball 16 foot somewhere else but couldn't remember which. Whilst I understand the logic of a 16 foot Swell reed, I'm stil perplexed why if an organ is only big enough for one expressive reed, that reed should be put at 16 foot pitch rather than 8 foot! If you wanted a 16 foot effect on the Swell without a dedicated 16 foot reed the alternatives would be to extend a suitable 8 foot down by an octave, or to have a Swell suboctave stop. Both options would be possible on a mechanical action organ; would either be any good musically? Come to think of it, would playing the 16 foot Swell reed up an octave if you needed an 8 foot solo reed sound terrible? The Clifton Rieger according to NPOR was revoiced by Cawstons in the 1980s and cleaned by Woods in the 2000s. I played it about a decade ago and thought it was an absolute gem, though I couldn't figure out what to do with the 16 foot Brustwerk reed! Other pointless stops - why would you have say a twelth and a sesquialtera when you could have a twelth and a seventeenth and just draw them both if you wanted a cornet? And why would you have a twelth and a fifteenth in addition to a III rank mixture that starts 12, 15.....?
  11. Further to the comment about Carisbrook, another kind of "what's the point of" stop I think is where something exists, but not at the pitch I would have expected. Clifton Cathedral springs to mind - its lovely Rieger, which I see has a Grade 1 historic organ certificate. I can understand why you might want a 16 foot reed on the organ's only enclosed Brustwerk division, if it is sort of acting as the Swell division. But why only go for a 16 foot reed and no 8 foot reed first, meaning that the only reed under expresive control on the entire organ is at 16 foot pitch?
  12. Having played a couple of monster American organs with both a Great 32 flue and Swell 32 reed I can testify that whilst the flue was barely noticable and just muddied the waters, the Swell reed was surprisingly useful in the climax to big French music - I guess replicating the effect, without resorting to suboctave couples and a tenor-C 64 foot manual reed effect(!), of a suboctave coupler to a full Swell that already had a 16 foot reed drawn. When you think of it, many Swells have both a suboctave coupler AND a 16 foot reed so the Swell 32 foot manual reed effect is commoner then we might think. Back to really useless stops - a variant of the original question would be stops that are useful, but please not there! I had the great pleasure fairly recently of being able to play the organ in Liverpool (Anglican) cathedral. Whilst an instrument of immense power but great beauty, I couldn't fathom why the Choir should have a Vox Humana but the Swell didn't (yet the Swell has no fewer than three 8 foot trumpets). How was I to play any of that French romantic repertoire that demands a Swell Vox H when the wretched thing is on the Choir?
  13. Looking at the discussion about the new American RC cathedral organ raised a few comments about stops with limited purpose. That got me thinking, what would be either the most pointless stops on an organ, or the stops that you would least ever need to use? I'll kick off with a pedal Septime 4-4/7 and a manual QUint 5 1/3, though I expect there will be a few unison suggestions too!
  14. Twenty years ago I was organist and choirmaster at st Paul's Herne Hill which had a modest three manual Normand and Beard. Tonally it wasn't the most exciting instrument (nothing above 4 foot except an insipd Swell III rank mixture) but it was pretty bulletproof, having survived with almost no maintenance against all the odds. Many years before I came the Choir soundboard suffered rain damage resulting in most of the notes not working. We got in a few companies to quote us for the work, and one company took the front panel off the soundboard to inspect the pneumatic motors beneath the palletts. To my surprise, just by tapping his finger on each motor in turn, when the panel was put back we found nearly all the notes started to work again! The biggest issue for any restoration was that the reservoirs were leaking and were built into the building frame, so the urgently overdue releathering of the reservoirs could only really be done by completely dismantling the organ which obviously pumped up the price very considerably. Not sure with hindsight that was a great way to design an organ (I seem to remember some years ago a Japanese car manufacturer welding the engine inside the floorpan of one of their models on the grounds it was so reliable it would never need to be exposed for maintenance). But it must have outlived many of its contemporaries and from the church's website it seems that it is still going. Just down the road in Tulse Hill (Holy Trinity) was an almost identical three manual NHB which Harrisons electrified and reduced to two manuals during the time that a vicar by the name of John Sentamu was serving there. I played it just after the rebuild and it was a really lovely instrument (with a lot more upperwork courtesy of Harrisons!).
  15. It probably deserves another thread of its own, but if you were the music director of a fairly large church and an anonymous benefactor sent a cheque for £5 million with the stipulation that it be spent on a grand new organ, what scheme would you come up with (even allowing for the fact that you would want to allocate a significant amount of the capital to an endowment fund for maintenance and musical development)? I can imagine many people would have a field day designing such an instrument. Dare I say it would be an even harder challenge to design something musical and coherent that it would be if you were given a budget of £50,000 for a new organ. But it's not impossible. I have never had the pleasure of hearing the Wanamaker organ live for instance, but those who I have met who have heard it live or even played it describe it as a breathtakingly wonderful instrument. It certainly sounds absolutely ravishing in the recordings I've heard. The brief given to its designers, including one Marcel Dupré, was that money was absolutely no object, so long as he created an instrument that exceeded his wildest dreams. Cue six manuals and the best part of 30,000 pipes, and the inspiration of many celebrated pieces including his Passion Symphony and Jongen's Symphonie Concertante. I hope that the Buckfast instrument, bizarre though its specification might seem, firmly puts Buckfast Abbey on the organ world map and may it lead in due course to its own significant contribution to the organ repertoire.
  16. This is most interesting. It is often said that tracker action organs are the longest lasting and most reliable, though a few of the above posts would suggest that is not always the case, whether the fault lies with having electric stop control or aluminium trackers. I have been pleasantly surprised at the longevity of tubular pneumatic action organs of the early 20th century, though I can't imagine any organ designer in this day and age would contemplate recommending a new pneumatic action organ. The adjustable mechanical combination actions that accompanied these organs are nothing short of incredible, and I have spent many happy hours pouring over the pages of Audley's Art of Organ Building in the feint hope of understanding how they work. But coming onto electric actions - what makes for a bulletproof-reliable electric action organ, one that will just keep going and keep going? What is the most reliable means of closing the initial circuit - gold key contacts, high voltage silver contacts, Hall effect sensors, reed switches? Why would a combination action begin to fail after only a couple of decades as suggested in post 44 (surely there can't be many companies that make electric stop actions)? For sheer reliability would a better option (one that visually I rather like, though I don't know a single pipe organ that uses them) be the illuminated "drawstops" that Johannus use on their higher spec models? Compton's mistake of course was to use light bulbs in his illuminated consoles which were similar, except they used buttons rather than knobs as stops, but with the almost unlimited lifespan of LEDs illuminated stop buttons or stop knobs should not blow, and I would expect to be far more reliable than solenoid operated drawstops. Onto the last bit of the mechanism - direct electric versus electropneumatic, my understanding was that EP tended to be longer lasting than direct electric? Would an EP slider chest be more reliable in the long term than a sliderless direct electric chest with one electromagnet per pipe? Idle speculation all that perhaps, but if the argument is that the lifetime cost of a tracker organ versus an electronic organ can be on a par, given that the former might cost 10x as much but lasts 10x as long, does it mean that electric or EP action organs are inherently less cost-effective than electronic toasters if their actions can be expected to need replacing more often than tracker action organs, and potentially as frequently as the electronics or a toaster since they share many components? Or can an electric action organ compete in reliability and lifetime costs favourably with a tracker action organ?
  17. I seem to recall some years ago a celebrated cathedral organist and his sidekick arrived at a modest parish church to play the Widor for a wedding only to discover the church's instrument was one manual, no pedals. At which point he turned to aforesaid sidekick and said words to the effect of, "I'll play the manuals if you can do a duet with me playing the pedals on the manual".
  18. St Peter and St Pauls Lavenham have just said farewell to their organist - the organ there started life as a three manual Father Willis transplanted from another church, with a fourth manual Solo apparently coming from the remains of a one manual local instrument.
  19. Contrabombarde


    This is really interesting - an example of how something that in many respects is an advance in technology (digital over analogue) can come back to bite the unwary. It's a recognised problem in concert halls around the world, so much so that many professional settings and TV broadcasters (Broadway theaters, Sydney Opera House etc al) have analogue video cameras of the conductor feeding to analogue CRT monitors. And a shed full of old CRT tellys round the back as a space for when the monitors break down (I don't even know if anyone still makes new CRTs). Samsung and probably other companies do still make analogue CCTVs for this reason. You can get professional broadcast standard monitors for a price (a few thousands of pounds) which boast typically less than 1 frame per second latency - but at 25 frames per second that still amounts to admitting up to 40ms latency! This is a real problem for avid computer gamers too as they need the picture on the screen to update as soon as they move their joystick. Gamer forums are full of discussions about which monitors have the lowest latency. Interestingly it can sometimes be the cheaper ones (since they have less advanced video processing to articificially "improve" the quality of the image being received from the camera). Some monitors have a "gamer" mode that disables the processing. (Conversely some upmarket audiovisual amplifiers have a built in adjustable sound delay so that you can slow your sound down to synchronise with the delay caused by your expensive TV's built in video processing that slows the picture down - an expensive solution to an expensive problem!) Some gamers advocate connecting a source directly via HDMI as digital out (in your case from a camera with HDMI out) to digital in should mean no additional processing of analogue to digital images (especially if the onboard processer is disabled). Others say use VGA or component out for certain monitors since if they can detect an HDMI signal and assume you want it to have additional processing! If you use off the shelf monitors there are additional considerations. There are two common types of LCD monitor, TN and IPS. TN is cheaper and has a faster response time (which is quite different from latency - it's how long an image persists for on the screen after the source has changed). So TN screens are better for gaming - fast movement can appear blurred. However, they have quite poor viewing angles other than viewed from head-on. If you are sitting at an organ bench and moving your head around, the colours of the screen will shift depending on which angle you are looking at it from. That's not the case with an IPS screen - but it might be slightly more blurry when the conductor is waving their arms around. Ideally you would want an IPS screen with minimal latency and minimal response time - but they come at a hefty price. OLED screens are a third type but are also in the very high price bracket. Frankly your cheapest "best bet" is perhaps to look for secondhand ex-broadcast equipment on Ebay. Failing that if you have the time to try out or seek out off the shelf combinations of camera, cable and monitor that work for you great, or pay for an expensive pro-grade set up. Make sure if you go for professional shopping advice that you explain why you need as close to zero lag/latency as possible. And if the shop assistant doesn't know what lag is, or confuses it with response time, go to another shop.
  20. Several photos of the rather splendid old Doncaster five manual console in its new home can be found here: http://www.paulderrett.co.uk/my_house_organ.html
  21. I always thought this was a particularly lovely example: http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=N03578 (1912, St John's Keswick) though it's a small two manual rebuild of a much larger three manual Gern (!) built just 20 years earlier. Here is a slightly larger instrument, very effective and deserves to be far better known. It's Grade 2* listed (3 manual 32 stops, King's Heath Methodist Church, Birmingham) http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=K00805 Across the road from the King's Heath organ is a smaller 3 manual Binns in the Baptist Church, though I haven't seen or heard it. On paper it looks very similar to the Gern that Harrisons worked on in Keswick.
  22. Given Ruffati's track record I wouldn't be surprised if when the specification comes out there will be a 64 foot stop. At least one. Come to think of it, provided there's an open 32 flue they could have a resultant 64 foot for the cost of an extra drawstop. Now, how many manuals did the OP say it was gonig to have? Any more than four and we need to discuss music desks. Don't you just love the way we meander in and out of topic?
  23. That implies you need music when playing that thing. Generally music is for musical instruments. (Dives for cover....)
  24. Indeed, though almost no organs with 64 foot stops don't have compound 64s ie harmonic bass, 32 and 21/1/3 quinted. Is Sydney's trombone 64 foot long or half (or less) length? Is the Atlantic City diaphone is 64 foot long?
  25. Thanks for the link. They have certainly had their fair share of monsters, several five manuals and a six manual. Though I noticed that in each of their five manual builds, some or indeed many of the stops were still "prepared for" making me wonder what chance these organs ever have of being completely finished? 100 stops in Buckfast sounds a lot, but how long for them all to be installed and working? As an aside, can anyone tell me if their five manual in San Francisco's Davies Symphony Hall is breaking any records by having TWO 64 foot stops?
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