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Mander Organs

J Maslen

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  1. Shibboleths

    I have to say I don't quite understand the dislike of Mozart. I agree that some of his music is great fun but of no great merit, but surely the last few symphonies are far better than that? Counterpoint? Try the final movement of his 41st. Melody? I'm not as clever as many of you here, but he could and often did write melodies that are of melting beauty - the slow mvt of the Clarinet concerto springs to mind, but there are many others. Beethoven also - the 5th and 7th symphonies are among my favourites; you can keep the 9th, especially the bombastic and overblown final movement. Brahms is one composer that always satisfies - again I don't understand the dislike that some have professed for his music. Liszt wrote some spectacular showpieces for Organ, which I enjoy rather but wouldn't like to have as my entire listening experience. Bach? Most of his P & F's are well worth hearing (wish I could play them all, but alas - not good enough!), but most of his Chorale Preludes defeat me I'm afraid. Even if you know the tune and understand the words I find most (not all of course) simply tedious. What does interest me is the idea behind the topic, that there could even be a list of pieces which we dare not dislike. Who decides such a list? Popular opinion? From the replies it wouldn't seem so. Some coterie of highbrow know-it-alls? Heaven save us from such. The musical world has quite enough snobs without encouraging them. And speaking of musical snobs, I'm not keen on the perpetual silliness of opera either, although it has some nice tunes, nor of the wobbly voices of indeterminate pitch that shriek, hoot, howl and boom while 'singing' them. Give me Emma Kirkby any day over - well, take your pick - there are enough so-called 'great singers' in opera to choose from. The replies we've seen show clearly that we have very different ideas about what we find entertaining, interesting, boring, good, bad, indifferent. Vive la difference! Regards to all John
  2. Guitars And Organs

    Not really double standards, surely. The O & C is in a leadership role - the child is learning. Regards to all John
  3. Pedal Note Naming Convention - Gg, C, Aa Etc.

    And why is an Octave on the Great Organ 4ft and on the Pedal 8ft? Surely the stop names alone indicate that the basic pitch of the Pedal is 16ft. The comments about the pitch in Bach are, I feel, irrelevant. One can always find an exception to any rule. Regards to all John
  4. Guitars And Organs

    If you want a performance, yes. But we are not talking about performance - we're talking about worship. I, as a committed Christian as well as a not very expert Organist, would far prefer to have a competent but not expert Christian leading worship than an expert non-believer performing. With regard to the original question, the important matters to me with regard to church music are: 1) It doesn't matter what instrument is playing, but whoever plays it should be able to do so musically, rhythmically, and without too many mistakes. One of the problems, musically speaking, with some music groups is that their members are there for pastoral rather than musical reasons, not always to the benefit of the sound produced. 2) It doesn't matter, either, what style of music is played - 'trad' SATB & Organ, guitar and choruses - whatever. What does matter is that the music in question is good. That doesn't automatically exclude any particular style, but does exclude anything that sets one's teeth on edge. That includes not just the trash that passes for music in the chorus style, but also far too much of the tuneless rubbish played on R3 Choral Evensong - and so presumably in our great churches also. 3) It matters, above all else, that the performer(s) mean what they are doing. It isn't enough to be competent - I like them to be involved in worship, not just performing. I realise that in a Cathedral or Collegiate setting that may be difficult, and I do not intend to criticise those members of this board who find faith difficult, but nonetheless love the music that the faith has inspired. That is not an area in which I have much experience - I am speaking of the ordinary parish church, with maybe fifty or so members, no access to skilled musicians, not enough money to do much about it, with other priorities (like the pastoral care of parishioners, or keeping the roof on) for what funds they do have, struggling to keep the ship afloat and minister to those in their care. That is the true situation of many, perhaps even most, of the churches up and down this country. Finally, a plea. I realise that inevitably this board attracts musicians - that's why I read it most days - and those who love this monstrous instrument we love so much (and I do). But the church is not there to perform music, of any style or age. It is there to minister the Gospel, and music is just a part - to me and most of us, a very important part - of that aim. Regards to all John
  5. Interesting question. All of these, but there is also that little bit of 'magic' that is instantly recognisable, but impossible to define. Two examples. 'Messiah'. Sargent. Large choir, large orchestra, RAH Organ, orchestration greatly modified from Handel's original. Authentic? No way. Thrilling? Most certainly. The passion, the conviction, the 'guts' were all there, and I am glad to have heard such playing and singing. By contrast some of the recorded perfomance I've heard (and not just of the Messiah, either) sound as if the conductor has a train to catch and simply wants to get the job done as quickly as possible. Second. RFH. 5:55 recitals 30 yrs+ ago. Some included music by Couperin and similar that exploited the range of mutations and softer reeds that this Organ possesses. You know the sort of thing - all trills and twiddly bits. I was a teenager a the time, and attended many of these recitals with a friend, but after while we tended to avoid those players who concentrated their efforts on this type of music. Why? Because many (not all) of the performances were, frankly, as interesting as watching jelly set. I have no doubt that the scholarship behind the playing was immaculate, but if the result is tedious, what's the point? So, scholarship - yes please. Understand the times in which the piece was written, the conditions in which it was played, the style of performance as far as possible, obtain the most accurate score you can. But if what is played is gutless, uninspiring, dull, and lacking that little bit of 'magic', then I for one would not call the performer or performance 'great'. Regards to all John
  6. Harmonic Flutes

    Herbert and H. John Norman, 'The Organ Today', p157. After a description of the construction they say 'These harmonic pipe lengths are only from Tenor - Middle C upwards, the bass being of plain length, high cut up pipes simulating the tone well enough at the matching point'. There is also a description of the HF variants - the Concert Flute, Flauto Traverso, Zauberflote. and Harmonic Claribel, the latter being of wood. The point has already been made that these pipes would be very large for their pitch, and as the tone is indistiguishable from an open pipe in the bass registers the additional expense of making and supporting such a pipe doesn't justify the cost. Hope this helps - and you don't sound like a 'numpty' to me! Regards to all John.
  7. Post Classical Or Retrospective Romanticism?

    page 12. (The quote is slightly different, but the substance is essentially the same.)[/font] Thanks for that - I can't find my booklet on the Exeter job and was working from memory. This was Wells Cathedral; Sir F.A. G. Ouseley entreated FHW to retain the Samuel Green pipe-work and voicing. As you suggest, Willis contrived to 'mislay' the letter containing this request. And for this - I couldn't remember which Organ was involved. This is a shame - undulants and mild strings are so useful in providing that slightly-indefinable quality - 'atmosphere' - for example, at the end of the administraton of the elements at mass. A chiffing Gedeckt just does not do it for me. I didn't say I liked it! I agree entirely. There was usually a gentle tremulant, though, which was intended to provide a somewhat similar effect. Regards to all John.
  8. Post Classical Or Retrospective Romanticism?

    Surely that is the risk with all change. When steam trains were introduced they were seen to give swift, easy and relatively inexpensive transport compared to stage coaches, canals, or shanks' pony. When cameras wers first available they were big, expensive, cumbersome, and needed a whole range of chemicals, plates and expertise to make them work. Roll film changed all that, making it easier for all to own and use a camera, and with more general ownership came reduced price of both equipment and film. The limited number of pictures on early cameras was corrected by 35mm, taking not just 8 or 12, but 36, and in a smaller machine which could be easily carried, and whose film professional processors would print for you. Now this is also regarded as too few, as digital cameras easily hold hundreds of pictures, all of which are what you want, as failures can be deleted. No expense or material is involved printing in finding out if a picture is of use - a screen shows exactly what you have. But. With all change comes loss. Trains (and later motor cars) meant that the more leisurely forms of transport, especially canals, fell out of use, and a way of life died. Similarly stage coaches disappeared from our roads. Old cameras now are in museums, not in use, and to see, as one does occasionally, a 35mm camera (I sell cameras for a living) maks one realise how small, convenient and simple to use modern digital cameras are. Film to make them work is getting rarer, though, and no doubt sometime in the foreseeable future they also will be museum pieces. Organs are surely the same. Father Willis was responsible for the rebuilding and destruction of many old instruments. I believe it was Samuel Wesley who wrote, regarding the Organ in Exeter cathedral before FHW rebuilt it, that 'three times the power and brilliancy is available today than from pipes voiced in John Loosemore's days', and he was right. At the time it must have seemed a revelation. Elsewhere Willis apparently 'lost' a request to retain an existing Green chorus, and replaced it with his own, new pipework. All this was far earlier than 1900. Now we look back with regret at what we call, probably correctly, vandalism. Similarly the improvements in reed voicing techniques, giving sounds which actually sounded like clarinets, oboes, trumpets and the like rather than a rasping squawk must have wonderful to hear for the first time ever. Little wonder they wanted these new ways of doing things. When I learned to play, I was introduced to an Organ tutor by Walter Alcock, which included the comment that 'There can be little doubt that in recent years mixtures have become too prominent', suggesting a Dulciana Mixture instead, describing the tone as 'Silvery'. The demand then was for imitative voices, and that demand was driven by players, musicians, not builders. We now doubt their taste, but they were sincere men, and believed what they were asking for was the way forward. More recently the reaction aginst orchestral instruments led to the so-called baroque revival, resulting in instruments that future, even present generations, may come to dislike. I have a fairly recent book which I can't find at present, and whose author's name I can't remember, which remarks regarding neo-baroque Organs that 'they are not liked'. 'Was New College a good idea?' Need I say more? It seems to me that the much acclaimed virtues of a few years ago - balanced choruses, brilliant, clear mixtures, werkprinzip layouts and the rest, are being questioned and challenged today just as were Willis, Lewis, Hill and the rest challenged a hundred years ago, and they in their turn had challenged earlier ways of building Organs. This forum has asked on occasion for suggestions for stoplists for imagined instruments, and comments have often included the need for string tone. When I worked in 'the trade' strings were rare in a new Organ, apart from an occasional rather mild, full toned Salicional on the Swell, there to help fullness of 8ft tone as well as to provide string (ish) tone on its own. Beating ranks were rare. Times change, ideas change, that's the result of being alive. None of which answers the question about babies and bathwater, of course. Is it a risk? Of coure. The real problem when things are changing is to know which is which. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and I have no doubt that in the future some of our decisions will be regarded as unwarranted, flawed, regrettable. Which doesn't mean that we just do nothing; that is, unfortunately, rarely an option. Regards to all John
  9. Organ Anecdotes For Book Wanted

    I have no way of knowing if this is true; it was told to me many years ago by an ex-colleague whom I no longer see, so I can't verify the details, but here goes. Elgar was conducting a rehearsal of the 'Dream' in the RAH. When it came to 'Praise to the holiest' he stopped the performers after a few moments and asked the Organist to 'make more noise'. They started again. Once more, Sir Edward stopped proceedings after a few moments and asked 'Mr Organist' to 'make more noise'. Off they went for the third time, only to be stopped again. 'Mr Organist, do you have a Tuba on that thing?' 'Yes maestro - several'. 'Good - use them all!' I believe the story was noted down by the man who later conducted the Goldsmiths Choral Union in the 60's, and whose name I have been racking my brains for, (can anybody remember - it was a rather unusual name, but that's as far as my brain will take me) who was at that time a student, and whose own copy of the 'Dream' was duly annotated 'With Tubas'. Regards to all John
  10. Dulciana Mixtures

    As with any stop, it depends on what else is available on the same manual, and how it is voiced. On top of 8', 4' and 2' flutes it might have a purpose providing the blend was right. It seems to me, though, that mixtures need to be rather louder than the name would imply; Organs are expensive, and to include stops with little or no use seems rather wasteful. Regards to all John
  11. And.... We're Back!

    ... amen to all of that. Great to be back - thanks. Regards to all John
  12. Jsb Prelude And/or Fugue

    It depends. If you are talking about a recital, then the choice is yours, depending on whether or not you can defend your choice on musical or historical grounds. If you are talking about a voluntary, it would depend on the piece. Some are rather long, and you could finish up playing to an empty church, with the verger / warden / vicar jangling his keys, waiting to go home! That's my (amateur) opinion, anyway. The professionals may not agree. Regards to all John
  13. Organs On Screen (not The Screen!)

    In the TV film Goodnight Mr. Tom, John Thaw played the Organ in the village church. The film was set in wartime, but the Organ in question looked very 20th century to me! Anybody know which church it was? Regards to all John
  14. Re-engineering The Organ

    Turning out attention to the sliders, (our Secondary Valve Machine) these could be virtually eliminated by the use of simple sleeve valves; all of which (61 of them) could be connected to a single activating rod, and perhaps set in the upper-boards vertically, for ease of construction and subequent access. In fact, every sleeve valve (or perhaps rotary valve) could be of identical size and contruction (maybe a selection of standard sizes); the main variation being in the port-size at the outflow leading to the seperately constructed toe-boards on which the pipes would sit; that paeticular component bolted to the secondary valve machine. MM This sounds all rather complicatesd. The great advantage of the slider is that is one piece, operated by one mechanism. Rotary or sleeve valves may work, but I can't see that the engineering expertise involved in making them would be readily and affordably available to the Organ building industry, and in any case, unless I've misunderstood the nature of a sleeve valve, it is only a variant of the traditional slider anyway. A slider is, after all, simply a string of valves all on one long board. The more individual pieces of mechanism you have, the more there is to go wrong. A bit like a car - the more pistons the engine has, the easier it is for things to go out of adjustment, and with it the need for more maintenance. I'm also sorry to say that I don't follow your maths. 10 stops and 61 notes is 71 things to go wrong, not 610. It is a great tribute to the bar and slider chest that it is as reliable and long lasting as it is, especially in view of how seldom they are given major attention. Try leaving your car for 30 years without a major service! Regards to all John
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