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Everything posted by Clarabella8

  1. I was listening to someone on the radio over Christmas making predictions for the next decade, one of which involved the imminent explosion of virtual reality experiences. Before long, they said, virtual reality in certain areas of life will be better than the actual reality. In this respect, one might argue that the organ world is ahead of the curve. Using the kind of software of which most readers here will be aware, one can play some of the finest organs in the world from the comfort of the living room (or garden shed, in my case) with absolute ease and convenience. Given that the nearest mechanical action organ of any merit that I have access to is an hour's round trip from home, and with only limited opportunities for me to find time to go to it and for it to be available to me, the virtual reality is certainly a lot more attractive than the achievably actual one. I know of course that actually playing on Salisbury Cathedral organ (or wherever) is a far superior experience to the one I get in my shed, but the former is realistically unattainable for me, and the latter is more stimulating than anything I can get locally (and I don't suppose the staff at Salisbury would be very happy for me to quaff gin whilst practising, as I do at home). For those of us who love playing the organ but very much do not love the way the church has gone, as outlined above, or do not have access to top quality instruments, this is going to be the way forward I suspect. It's a very sad state of affairs for the real organ world - not least for the prospects of our hosts and their colleagues - but it's a very tempting option for organists.
  2. The architect George Pace designed quite a number of organ screens in the 1960s and 70s, most of them being of the sort you describe. They often incorporated a variety of elements of different heights, widths and sometimes colours that can make them quite interesting to look at, compared to the more bland and regular examples from the inter-war period.
  3. Thomas Dallam’s famous organ for Sultan Mehmet III included a ‘shaking stop’ in 1599. Later on, Christopher Simpson, in ‘The Division Viol’ (1659 if my memory is correct..?) described a ‘shake or tremble with the [viol] bow’ that resembled the ‘shaking stop of an organ’. Thomas Mace (1676) and Roger North (1724) also likened this bowing technique (which I imagine is the ‘tremolo con l’arco’ technique of varying the pressure of a single bow stroke) to shaking organ stops. Organs used with viols would have been chamber consort organs, but I’m not aware of any survivals of tremulant mechanisms on the extant instruments. Would these writers have known tremulants from contemporary church organs?
  4. Wren's design for his St Paul's Cathedral organ cases originally incorporated vertically sliding sash windows over the pipe fronts that protected the organ when not in use. Some of these survive in the works department, according to Plumley and Niland's history, which illustrates them. A similar arrangement was seen in the 17th century consort organ known as King James's Travelling Organ, sold to a buyer in the USA in the 1920s (by which time the sashes were missing) and now of uncertain whereabouts. The organ with the sashes intact is illustrated on p.275 of Boeringer's Organa Brittanica vol III if you have it, or if you search for "Stowe catalogue 1848" on the internet you should come across a facsimile of the sale catalogue from which it is taken - it's facing p.245. Hinged glazed doors became a feature of many 18th century chamber organs, but is anyone aware of any other examples of sliding sashes on organs, especially from the 17th century? Clarabella PS Another example appears to have been found on the organ at St James, Piccadilly: originally built by Harris for the Catholic Chapel at Whitehall, it was installed in Piccadilly by Smith in 1691. According to Barbara Owen, the sashes were kept closed when the organ was used during penitential seasons. Is a Smith peculiarity emerging here? Could this be an alternative source of inspiration for the first swell boxes?
  5. I'd like to buy some of the latest publications from PP but their website is blank, despite promising an update for some while, and the email address published there bounces back. Not ideal for promoting their products! If anyone knows of an outlet that stocks their books I'd be most grateful for the contact details. Many thanks indeed.
  6. Further to which, I see now that the gravestone inscription is misquoted in the version of the Dictionary of National Biography that I consulted: it actually says that Robert was the son of Thomas etc etc from Lancashire. So presumably he died in Oxford. Clarabella
  7. You may know that Robert Dallam is buried at the west door of New College chapel, Oxford. His gravestone records that he died in Lancaster on the last day of May 1665 at the age of 63. Given that he was not, as far as I know, a resident of Oxford, nor an alumnus of the university, does anyone know how he came to be afforded this honour? Obviously, the Dallam/Harris family undertook a good deal of work in Oxford, including Robert's organ for New College chapel in 1663 and (probably) the chamber organ later bought from the College by Sir John Sutton which is now in the possession of our host, but I wouldn't have thought that a relationship based on trade alone would be a sufficient reason for him to be granted burial there? Any thoughts would be most interesting. On another note, if anyone might be kindly willing to put me in touch with a copy of Dominic Gwynn's report on the Knole House organ pipework I would be hugely grateful: the link to it on the G&G website is broken. If you haven't yet discovered the Harley Reports available there I recommend a look: lots of invaluable info and made freely available by the good folk at G&G. Many thanks Clarabella
  8. I may soon be in the lucky position of commissioning a new organ for a prep school. The main function will be to accompany some 200 mostly unbroken voices in congregational singing. The chapel is quite dry when full. My experence hitherto has largely been of mixed adult voices, so I was wondering if anyone had any views or experience of the sort of tonal qualities that would best suit this particular circumstance? Space and budget would allow for about 6/7 stops, so there's not much room for manouevre on the stoplist, but I would be interested to know, for example, what style of voicing of the chorus would work best, or whether strong upperwork would be overpowering for young voices. Many thanks for any thoughts you may have. Clarabella
  9. Many thanks Philip - your mention of the website triggered a memory and I realised I already have a printout of the list in a dusty folder - I must catalogue my stuff! It was compiled by GF Howe in 1994. No mention of 'my' instrument though, either in its present or previous location. Clarabella
  10. I came across a reference in the NPOR to a catalogue of the organs of TS Jones and was wondering if anyone might know if this has been published in any books or journals in recent times? I am about to 'inherit' a little TS Jones in the chapel of my new school. It's a St Cecilia model with one manual and F-f3 compass. It's pleasant enough, as far as it goes (which isn't very far). A local builder has recently added a pedalboard, which might have been a good idea had there been sufficient distance between it and the bottom of the keyboard: as it is, I will have to attempt to play with my legs splayed in a most undignified manner... The aforementioned builder claims it was built by William Hill in 1740 !! I'm surprised he didn't say Father Smith... Many thanks for any info you can give. Clarabella
  11. I've played the organ part to several choral works with orchestra on the Chichester Allen when the chorus and orchestra were set up at the west end. It is indeed a 'good' example of an electronic of its vintage, but in the way that, for instance, blood-letting with leeches was a 'good' example of medieval surgery. Thinking of relics lurking in churches and cathedrals, there are a number of fascinating bits and bobs of organs and consoles in other places too. Some that spring to mind include the pre-1910 console of the organ at St Alfege's, Greenwich, with its reversed colour manual keys, which is preserved behind glass; another old set of keys at Framlingham PC; and parts of the original Schulze console on display at St Bartholomew's, Armley. When I was at Durham in the 1980s there was an old set of keyboards (I think they were the original Willis manuals rather than anything earlier?) in the monks' dormitory in the cloisters, but they were nowhere to be seen when I visited last year. Another tantalising set of fragments is the missing tower caps of the Harris case at Milton Abbey, which were at one time said to be lying around somewhere in the school. It would good to find those and restore the case to its original glory. And even more tantalising: have you seen Martin Renshaw's SoundsMedieval.org website in which he is researching surviving evidence of pre-Reformation organs? Absolutely fascinating stuff. Clarabella
  12. Those of you who have visited the parish church of St Lawrence in Mereworth, Kent, will have seen the trompe l'oeil organ painted on the west wall above the gallery. I assume it is contemporary with the church (1740s). It depicts a three-towered classical case with double-storied flats; the overall effect is a bit like the cases of that design by Harris, but the artist has stretched the case proportions sideways and the number of pipes is in excess of that which a real organ would possess. Perhaps the hope was that a real organ would one day grace the gallery? I recently came across an account in the Ecclesiologist (1844) of a similar painting in St Andrew, Rippingale, Lincolnshire. Does any trace of this remain, and do readers know of any other examples? Clarabella
  13. Many thanks for the replies. The pipes are arranged in two rows, with basses to the left and trebles to the right, each pipe a tone higher than its neighbour. It looks as though I will have to try it and see what happens, as Colin suggests. I'm no engineer, as you will have gathered, but at the back of my mind was the thought that maybe the wind enters at the treble end in order to give the treble pipes priority, as it were, for the new air coming in from the blower, in order to reduce the impact of the wind-hungry bass pipes on the trebles' speech. But I guess that it's more complicated than that in reality! If there's a risk of mucking up carefully done voicing (and I imagine that on very low pressure that risk is greater than normal) I think it'll be safest to arrange things so that the new entry point is as close to the present one as possible.
  14. I wonder if I might call upon the expertise of the readers of this forum to help with a quick question? I have a small chamber organ with a single rank of 4' wooden stopped pipes. I would like to make a new stand for it to replace the very utilitarian and ugly base on which it currently sits, and to do this I would ideally like to move the position at which the wind from the blower enters the soundboard. At the moment it comes in from below at the treble end; it would be possible to change this so that it enters at the rear, but I am wondering if it makes any significant difference if it were to be at the treble or bass end? There is presently a slight change in volume and tone (though not pitch) in the treble pipes if I play a chord with a significant number of bass pipes in it. Would this effect be worsened if the wind entered at the bass end? Your thoughts would be much appreciated!
  15. Fear not, it is very considerably easier! The main challenges are counting the many bars of rests (which I solve by following the vocal score, marked up with those places where one needs to jump to the organ part) and the usual problems of co-ordinating with an orchestra that may be some distance away, following a conductor who appears an inch high on a TV monitor, and making a rosbif organ sound suitably Gallic.
  16. My school chapel bell tolls in Db - life would be a lot easier if I could chisel a few lumps off it and get it up to D. Or maybe I should tune the organ to a415? Whilst playing in Germany I have come across a number of churches where the bells are controlled by the organist via a switchboard at the console. I first discovered this whilst practising late at night at one such church with one of my pupils acting as page turner. He started fiddling with what he took to be the controls of a PA system: having woken up most of the town we received a visit from a most disgruntled priest. Luckily I don't speak any Deutsch so it was he who had to deal with the fellow - served him right!
  17. Many thanks for the info - much appreciated! Clarabella
  18. I've been approached by a local orchestra who would like to perform this work, but no-one so far has been able to identify the publisher in order to establish whether the parts are available for hire. The only live performances I've been able to trace have been in the USA. If anyone can help with any info I would be most grateful. It sounds (from the version I heard on iTunes) like a good piece that deserves to be better known - something that even the ultra-conservative denizens of my nearby south coast town would enjoy! Many thanks Clarabella8
  19. We have just had a new piston system installed with the Scope facility: it works very well, and greatly increases the flexibility of the pistons - particularly useful if you haven't got very many at your disposal. In essence, you can "teach" any piston to be a general, departmental or reversible. It's quick and easy to do at the console. Do make a note of what you have changed, though, and leave a channel without changes to avoid confusing visitors! One note of caution: we had a good deal of trouble getting the electronics of the system to work with the electronics of the organ action (manufactured in 2002 by the same company). If you're adding this sort of system to an existing action check carefully that it is compatible. To the company's credit, they spared no pains in sorting it out, but it took a couple of weeks of repeated visits until it was working properly.
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