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J Maslen

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Everything posted by J Maslen

  1. When my niece married she held the reception in Darlaston town hall, and I managed to have a go on the Organ. Three manual Binns, I think, recently restored the caretaker told me. It sounded quite well at the console, but I think it must be a bit difficult to hear clearly in the hall as it is buried behind the proscenium arch of the stage. Acoustics awful - completely dead. Regards John.
  2. I played a service or two on a small-ish 2m Walker some years ago which had the Sw 8' flute and Dulciana, the 4' flute also, playable on the Gt., which was not enclosed. I can't remember if the 8 + 4 flutes were extended - I think they were. They were quite useful for accompanying the Sw Oboe, as I recall, but it's 40yrs ago now and I'm not sure. It was a Methodist church in Wembley, but that's the limit of my memory - perhaps someone else knows more? Interesting - on playing one of the hymns I forgot to draw the Sw - Gt, so it didn't make a lot of noise, and the cong. refused to sing 'til I did! Regards to all John.
  3. Roffensis, how can the clergy (and laity as well, for that matter), proclaim Christian truth and avoid politics? They have to connect at some point, as both are about people and their actions and reactions, although their viewpoints are inevitably different. I do agree with you, though - the blame for the problems faced by the church cannot be laid at the door of the music (which is where we started I think), any more than it can be laid at the door of the clergy, TV, football, education, science, Sunday trading, or any other single object of blame. So much has conspired to weaken the church, including the words and actions of some of the clergy, causing us to lose contact with the general public (whatever that may mean) and we see the consequences in our everyday lives. And there we're back with politics again, I'm afraid. A question, by the way, for those whose knowlege of these matters is less rusty than my own. Is it not true that S S Wesley was so appalled at the low standard of choral singing that he set about reviving it, and that the universal tradition of CE as we know it dates from that revival. Little more that 150, 200 yrs ago? Still worth preserving (I was listening to CE from Clare College earlier - lovely stuff - I did enjoy it) MM, thank you - you're right, I do care, I hope about the truth. I have a profound respect for science and scientists, but truth is not what science is about. Rather, it is about facts, and that isn't necessarily the same thing. Questions raised by science are not always the sort of questions the church should be trying to answer - that is not what we are for. They are usually about 'how'; we are about 'why'. Ask a scientist 'why' and eventually he'll have to admit he doesn't know. And I agree completely, love has to be the key to it all, though how you show that love to a people who don't seem to want to connect with the church we know and love is a different question, and a difficult one. My apology was because I felt as if I was going on rather - well, I am a Reader! Regards to you all John.
  4. MM, forgive me, but you confuse me. You say, rightly, that the the world wants facts, the church responds with articles of faith and platitudes, and the victim of it all is truth. You also state that the early church didn't have creeds. This isn't strictly true. Paul refers to the simple statement 'Jesus Christ is Lord' - the first, if basic, creed. What we know as The Creeds grew from a need to express what the truth you rightly seek actually is. Reflect - every article in the creeds ('only begotten'... 'born' ... 'suffered' ... 'died and was buried' ... 'rose again' ... etc.) is there to deny an actual, real, expressed heresy, which at some point or other threatened the church's understanding of truth. As for the Bible, the OT is largely the Jewish scriptures, which the early church certainly DID have, and the rest was written by them, or rather, their leaders, and were compiled over a period of time, after consideration, formal and informal, to include those writings which reflect or proclaim the Christian message, and exclude those which do neither. These things take time, and are no worse for that. As for science, I cannot recall a single pronouncement of any scientist that affects to any degree what I understand to be the Christian faith, with the sole exception of the timescale of Creation. (But that story is about truth rather than about history, so even that doesn't matter.) Indeed, the more I hear from the scientists, the more staggered I am by the sheer cleverness of Almighty God! Then there's the matter of what you call a Medieval mindset. I'm not quite sure what you mean by this, to be honest. If we are talking about, for example, crime and punishment, then I would be with you all the way. But the fundamental truth, expressed in BCP and contemporary services, rightly remains - mankind is a fallen race, and God has stepped into history as one of us to redeem us from our fallen state. That is not a medieval mindset, that is eternal truth, and will never change. Only the words to express it. CE is just one of the possibilities, and very lovely it is, too. As for VH's comment about a business needing to respond to the needs of its customers - you're right. They haven't changed, though - we still stand in need of redemption. What has changed is that modern man doesn't believe any longer that he is fundamentally corrupt and offensive to God, and if he does, he doesn't care. Perhaps this is the Medieval mindset MM refers to? If it is, surely we need to restore it, not forget it or pretend it doesn't matter. Finally, clergy - I seem to recall that Jesus Himself had quite a bit of trouble with them! A long post - my apologies. How did such an innocent enquiry get to this? My regards to you all. John.
  5. MM, I understand what you are saying, but every time I try anything approaching an 'oompah' between LH and feet, it almost immediately becomes 'pa-omm', then 'pa-pa' or 'oom-oom'. Not for the want of trying, but for me it just doesn't seem to work. Regards to all John
  6. I have only one problem with rhythm on a church Organ - I can't play it. Get my left hand and feet in a terrible stew, so I admire greatly those who can get 'em rocking in the aisles, but that unfortunately doesn't include me. I sometimes use a piano, but that doen't work well in our church either, as the instrument in question is somewhat aged. Can't win! Regards to all. John
  7. I have to say that the case of the Mander of St. Ignatious Loyolla which greets me every time I visit this site is rather special. Worst? From what I recall of a rather poor photo, the Walt Disney thing is rather odd, to say the least, and as for New College - least said, soonest mended. The Organ's a cracker though. Love most of the Polish ones!
  8. I've been reading the posts on this one, thinking long and hard - and like many of you, I cannot answer the question. I love the F Major T&F, the P&F in G Major, the Passacaglia and F, the Fantasia and F in min - the list goes on. I think the greatness of Bach is that he wrote so much that is wonderful to play, to listen to, to marvel at. Some - 'O mensch' for example - quiet, slow, almost unbearably beautiful, others - perhaps the T&F I mentioned above - thrilling. The wonder, for me, is that one mind could produce both - that is true greatness. What a man. Regards to all. John.
  9. I may have missed it, but no-one seems to have nominated 'Tell out my soul' - surely one of the great 20th century hymns? As for non-favourites, I have yet to come across anything written by Fred Kaan that doesn't make me wince. And much (though by no means all) of the sort of thing flogged to death by 'Spring Harvest' and the like isn't worth the paper it is printed on. Much of G. Kendrick's stuff is at the worst pleasant, some of it (Shine, Jesus, shine' for example), very uplifting - well, I like it! Others from this background include 'As the deer', 'Father, we love you', 'Majesty', and 'You are the King of Glory'. I know these aren't necessarily the finest music, or the best poetry either, but in context, played and sung carefully and thoughtfully, they have much to offer the worshipping congregation. But I wouldn't want a diet of music chosen exclusively from this sort of thing - a nice variety, as Rev. Newnham has said, suits me just fine. But I'm lucky - I choose the hymns - we don't have a boss at present. Incidentally, on a different thread the repetition of simple phrases over and again was criticised - rightly. G.K. used to tell a story of a church he visited where it was quickly evident that to get a repeat, all you had to do was to start to sing it again. So he did - 14 times I think - before someone stopped it. Makes you wonder. Regards to all John
  10. Vox H. raises an interesting point. Everyone loves a showman, and the Organ world is seen as one bereft of showmen - a dull, lifeless world in which elderley gentlemen play boring music in half empty buildings, or to a departing congregation who don't care a fig for his efforts. Well known showmen would indeed be welcome. But hang on a minute. Many of those mentioned in this thread I have never heard play, but I have heard Carlo Curley, and I have heard Wayne Marshall. The former played a few years ago here in Bristol on the newly restored H & H in St. Mary Redcliffe ('the fairest and goodliest ...' etc.). He a) played too much of his program far too fast and used the Tuba far too frequently (even in that Festing piece which GT-B arranged for Organ). I'm not totally convinced about his playing of the Bach D minor either. Later Wayne Marshall played in the same series, and he also played far too fast, leaving the music too litte time to 'breath' - the Liszt 'Ad nos' was finished in around 25 minutes as I recall. He also improvised rather too much on themes by Gershwin for my liking, but we'll let that pass. I also heard, years ago, Simon Preston play at the RFH. He ended his recital (immaculately played as ever) with a thrilling performance of the Liszt BACH which justly received a standing ovation. Before it had completely died away he was back on the stool, full organ piston, and straight into finale of Vierne no. 1. Showmanship? Yes, but allied to superb musicianship. I would welcome showmen to play and attract crowds (which, to be fair, CC does) to popularise the Organ - it would help with combating EU directives as well if people in general actually appreciated its music, and liked the wonderful 'noise it makes' - but please, let them be musical as well. Showmanship alone doesn't 'do it' for me.
  11. The Keraulophon was an early attempt at string tone, but whereas most string stops (Gamba, Salicional etc) have a slot near the top the K. had a round hole. I have only ever seen one, on a Gray and Davison if I recall correctly, but it was a long time ago and I don't recall the church. It sounds, as others have said, like a mild string. Regards to all John
  12. He seems to have some sort of technique, 'cos he starts reasonably well. It crosses my mind - could he be sight-reading? But if so, why allow the result to be recorded? Interesting, though! Regards to all John
  13. Many years ago, I and a colleague delivered a small (2 stop) chamber Organ to a college just outside Norwich, as part of an exhibition of small Organs. Compton had a large electronic instrument there, and their rep let me have a go. It sounded quite impressive, but when I had finished a member of the music staff asked me to play a few notes on the choir Gedacht. He then played the same few notes on our little chamber job - no contest. Mention has been made of the limitations of loudspeakers. This Compton had around twenty loudspeakers, some the size of a wardrobe, arranged on the gallery at the back of the chapel. Outside the chapel was a cabinet full of electronic 'gubbins', including some pretty impressive amplifiers. But even then, a small (tiny!) pipe Organ sounded better. I am not sure why, but at least part of it may be the way in which pipes produce sound. Each pipe does one job - sounds like a flute, middle C - whatever. A loudspeaker has to produce the sound of many different stops, many different pitches, and in trying to be a jack of all trades is a master of none. There is also matter that, as I understand it, loudspeakers work differently to pipes. Pipes move a lot of air a little way, loudspeakers tend to move a little air a long way, especially if you compare 16' basses and big 'speakers. It is certainly true, to my ears at least, that 'speakers (horn loaded for example) which do move a lot of air gently sound more 'relaxed' than normal units that use a lot of power to squeeze a lot of sound out a loudspeaker, and I wonder if this is what is giving your correspondent a headache. Regards to all John
  14. An interesting question. I came to 'the trade' many years ago as a player, and was puzzled by the antipathy of Organ builders (the men on the shop floor, not the guys in charge) towards those who played as well as made. I never got to the bottom of it, I'm afraid, and it puzzles me still. The men I worked with, though, all knew where the various notes of the keyboard were, and every maintenance man I ever met played chromatic scales rather well! I think the basic reason is a dislike of the music - I don't recall any workman who enjoyed the music of the instrument he was making, except for the voicers, some of whom were accomplished players. And, of course, there was the belief that those who played the Organ would waste time rather than do the job. I left the trade 30ys ago now - I hope it has changed. It seemed a shame that the care and attention I saw my colleagues put into making Organs work properly (and they did - the words loving care spring to mind) produced instruments that they didn't enjoy at all. Sad. Regards John
  15. I may be wrong, but I recall reading in a book about 'Father' Willis that he used to use an open wood stop which he called Violone in his small instruments. Can anybody confirm this, has anyone ever played one, and was it a viable alternative to the Bourdon? If I remember rightly the author seemed to think so - was he right? Regards John
  16. I am no expert on the history of Organs, but I have always believed that the Trumpet was originally intended to be part of the principal chorus, and it wasn't until the improved voicing techniques of the 19th century came along that it was regular enough in tone to be used as a solo. Did not 'Organo Pleno' include a reed? Regards John.
  17. I confess that I do not have the musical ability or technical skill possessed by many of your correspondents. I do, though, love the music of JSB - I only wish I had studied and practised earlier in life so that I could play it well. No other composer I have heard has the same power to move, to thrill, to overwhelm with his genius. I recall Peter Hurford, I think, telling on the radio that when he had recorded the Passaglia and Fugue, he was unable to speak for some time afterwards. I have never had that experience, but I think I can understand what he was saying. One point bothers me in all discussions of JSB's music. It sometimes feels as if we imagine that his own playing of his music was somehow static; that he used the same registration, played at the same speed, whichever instrument he was playing, whatever occasion. Our own experience of playing different Organs shows this cannot be true - witness MM.'s experience at Alkmaar and Haarlem (and I echo the thanks expressed for his sharing of his experiences). Bach was a practical musician, using his own and other people's music in different forms for different purposes. Which is authentic? Does it matter? I have enjoyed JSB in so many different places, played so many different ways, on so many different styles of Organ, from ancient instruments to modern, big and small - as I am sure we all have - and have also been bored by a too technically correct but lifeless rendering on some ocasions also. Surely, what matters is not that we use 'authentic' registrations, on Organs of the right type, but that we approach his music with the respect it deserves, and (as with all musical interpretation) try to use such skill as we have to bring out some of the spirit of the man, to reveal whatever it was he was trying to say, regardless of the instrument we are using. I believe that means there are times when we have to admit defeat with some pieces. Some just do not 'go' on a given instrument; something about the sound produced just doesn't sound right. Will it ever be perfect? Of course not; but much marvellous music making will take place, many will, we trust, be moved and uplifted by the music. Surely we can ask for no more.
  18. Many years ago, while I was still at school, a friend of mine was asked to play a wedding at St. John's church, Harrow. This had a Rothwell organ with stop tabs betwen the manuals. I think it was a two manual, but it's 40 yrs ago now, I could be wrong. I do recall it as being a very bright sounding instrument - almost shrill in fact. I didn't actually play it, unfortunately - the Vicar wouldn't let me. These tabs were connected to the main array of tabs above the upper manual - operating one worked the other. My friend commented that you have to careful changing manuals, but found it to be a quite useful arrangement as I recall. Pistons, I think, were under the lower manual and above the pedal board in the usual way, but in one sequence. The manual pistons were the odd numbers, the pedal ones the even numbers. Different! Years later, while working for HNB, we dismantled a Rothwell instrument, and I recall one of my colleagues describing the console being built to a very high standard, with the refinement and quality of, in his words, a watch. Apparently the tabs were joined by threads, but I didn't actually see the console innards, so I'm not sure how it all worked. Regards to all John
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