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Mander Organ Builders Forum


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    Organ building construction techniques, restoring pneumatic actions where appropriate, selection of materials to withstand humidity extremes, romantic voicing and the physics of it.
    Other interests: the usual steam engines, model railways, Victorian engineering and cycling everywhere to keep fit so I can still squeeze in narrow passage boards to tune.

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  1. The article by Huw Edwards highlights an important issue, but Martin Renshaw's suggestion that having an organ listed along with the building will protect the organ is demonstrably not true. In the last 10 years in Cornwall alone, it is hard to find any organ that has survived once a listed building has closed. The listing more often than not means that the organ must stay in the building. It is almost impossible to find a viable future for the building with an organ in situ and so it remains closed and unheated. With no income for maintenance, inevitably the organ is damaged beyond repair by a combination of leaking roofs, vandals and metal thieves. It is clear from this sorry state of affairs that if a new home for the organ in a closed church has been offered then it should be allowed to leave the building. In this way both building and organ may find new viable futures without losing their history. Historic England might claim success for the large Methodist Church which was purchased by a well know chain of restaurants, as the architect was able to incorporate the organ in the final scheme to the satisfaction of Historic England's conservation officers. But in fact the only structure that was retained from the original Sweetland Organ of 1886 was the console in a corner and the facade pipes used as a backdrop to the bar. All the organ's interior was destroyed. https://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=N02386 I have written a letter to the Times to request an urgent reassessment of Historic England's policy towards organs.
  2. And the LEDs use low voltage, hence the transformer, usually at the plug-in end, so if you need to use metal as a shade there won't be a risk of shock.
  3. Perhaps my TV's sound system is better than others - or was it the generous volume I always require for the last night of the proms - but I felt that the organ was sounding as good as ever. This year I made a special effort to sing along with all the old favourites, particularly given the last minute U-turn of the BBC. Weirdly the main thing I missed was the raucous cacophony of car horns and klaxons during the horn pipe.
  4. Out of respect for physics, I'm sure you'll allow me to rephrase Maurice Grant's justification of low pressure wind.. Both liquids and gases are fluids. A high pressure gas is more like a liquid (molecules closer together), however, the lower the pressure the more fluid it is, so yes low pressure wind would pass more easily through any aperture. Once it arrived at the pipe though it would have less energy than high pressure wind and so there would be hardly any audible upper harmonics. Early organs for this reason employed mixtures to make up for this. Hand or foot blowing meant that higher pressures were not easy to produce even if you had a football team on hand to man the bellows. You were also limited to the number of stops you could have per pallet before the touch became too heavy. Gambe and similar string tone pipes were being introduced within Bach's lifetime by builders such as Wagner, but they were quite slow to speak and a low pressure gambe is a tricky thing to voice. And low pressure reeds do tend to wander out of tune - without which I would not earn quite as much from tuning! With the advent of higher wind pressures and assisted action, more energy was available to create a rich string tone and a full chorus sound was achieved with mainly 8' pipes and the odd 4'. The advantage of this system was that fewer ranks were required. Robert Hope-Jones took this art to new heights. From a voicing point of view, having more available pressure at the foot allows a wider variety of tone to be produced and coupled with the beard or frein harmonique, a string tone pipe can be made to speak relatively promptly. In addition, you don't have to resort to altering the windway in order to change the volume which risks moving or disturbing the wind stream. With higher pressures, as was mentioned, you may close the toe hole to create a sound that a lower pressure wind would produce, but with an organ with only low pressure there is a limit to the volume and certainly the variety of tone you can produce.
  5. I feel that all your questions were answered by Colin most specifically, but perhaps you might accept a little more acoustics relating to how the lantern at Southwell manages to 'swallow' sound. As sound radiates in all directions, only that travelling in a direction through the relatively low arch on the other side of the crossing will be heard in the nave. The sound that hits the wall either side and above the arch will be reflected both into the east and west transepts and up into the lantern. As the dimensions of the crossing are both low and narrow, the sound will make several reflections before just possibly finding a direct path back into the nave and have lost most of its energy.
  6. And just to add even more to Colin's accurate description of why a candle would not be extinguished at the top of a flue pipe: the sound wave in the pipe is a stationary wave. The air particles are moving backwards and forwards in the direction of the pipe length but are not flowing far enough to extinguish a candle flame. in other words, air is not constantly blowing out of the top of the flue pipe (in a reed it is, but that's probably going to be Stanley's next question!). Another way to think of sound waves is as slight increases and decreases of air density. The sound waves then travel away from the top and mouth of the pipe in all directions there is air, but the air is not flowing towards the listener, your ear just detects the changes in air density. It is hoped that the original experiment was performed with a pipe placed horizontally with its mouth facing to the side, so the candle flame would always be at right angles to both the direction of flow of air at the mouth and the direction of the sound wave's amplitude at the open end of the pipe. I'm glad somebody mentioned the obvious sound absorbing properties of wood, particularly lanterns. There are two main material properties that govern sound reflection: 1. The rigidity - so that as little energy is lost from the sound wave in moving the wood/plaster panel or window as it reflects. 2. The surface roughness - this has the effect of sending some of the sound waves off in different directions resulting in destructive interference. Then of course there is the shape and size of every possible part of the building, fixed and moving which effects how far different sound frequencies travel. This just highlights the overriding importance of the building on the sound of any organ. But still so many churches just love their thick wall-to-wall carpet - hence we make the tubas even louder!
  7. Making the pipes in sections would increase their strength and they would be far less likely to warp and split the longitudinal joints, which in today's constantly heated cathedrals is an important consideration. It is also likely that the cost of several shorter planks of wood is less than one long one and putting them through the planing machine would be a lot easier. As the sound is generated by alternating compression and rarefaction of the air at both ends of an open pipe, a few minor changes in density or flexibility at any lateral glue bond would not make any difference to the sound produced. Any vibration of the body of the pipe is not moving anywhere near as much air as that going in and out of the mouth. I suspect the reason there may be more 'composite' pipes recently is also linked to PVA glue being tougher than traditional hot glues which are not terribly strong in tension. (When not 'doing organs' I'm a materials physicist)
  8. At the turn of the 19/20 century the Cavaillé-Coll company would regularly order reeds in from Merklin. Perhaps this explains why the Vox humana from Keighley did not look like an early Cavaillé-Coll reed. In this period the CC company were producing so many organs for export that out-sourcing was very often used. Concerning metal v. wood prices in 19th C Britain, assuming that the 32' metal pipes were made from zinc rather than tin which has always been more expensive than pine/spruce: After Napoleon blockaded the Baltic wood trade before 1815, prices rose until Canada's exports become cost effective and by 1860 soft wood prices were relatively low and stayed low until WWI. Zinc prices were much more volatile rising sharply during the 1850s as the industrial revolution took off, peaking in 1857. Then the US civil war spread panic and prices fell. The price struggled to rise but had a brief high during 1866 when the Austro-Prussian war closed zinc mines in Silesia. Prices recovered by 1870, peaking in 1875 which put pressure on countries to find their own supply, thus prices fell again. The German producers didn't like this and formed a Cartel in 1879 along with other European countries in 1882 in an attempt to keep the price high. Their attempts failed and the price had fallen by 1885. The Cartel acted again managing to push prices up to a peak in 1890. Again this forced other producers to come on line and the price dropped slightly, but then rose steadily until WWI helped by the Spelter Convention of 1909. After the war prices rose slowly until a peak in 1920 during the economic boom, but fell during the crash and didn't recover until after WWII. The source for this data is Martin Stuermer, Dept. of Economics, University of Bonn. However, without knowing the costs per ton and just how much material is used in making a 32' pipe, the above is of little use. What I can say is that the production of a 32' zinc pipe is not quite as easy as some think. For a start zinc is produced in rolls but the width of the roll is not 32' ! So either the sheet has to be unrolled and then rolled at 90° to make a tube or the pipe made in several short sections. The equipment needed to roll such large sheets of zinc is expensive and takes up space. Unlike lead/tin alloys, zinc is not easily beaten around a mandrel. For most builders as the call for a 32' facade was quite rare, it was easier to make the pipes from wood and hide them at the back laid horizontally if necessary. It is not advisable to place a 32' zinc pipe on its side as it will rattle, deform, or worse still, roll away taking out half the choir! So I tend to think the choice would be for visual effect rather than for reasons of cost, particularly as one of the zinc price peaks coincides with Willis's 32' zinc pipes at Carlisle.
  9. However, many 2 rank celestes do have both ranks quite close and function perfectly well. My celeste is separated by just one rank (bourdon 8'). If the two undulating ranks are placed too far apart, then any temperature difference (caused by winter heating etc.) might noticeably slow or speed up the undulation. I've read of the idea that pipes playing close together tend to pull one against the other, but I've yet to hear a physics-based explanation unless their mouths are close and facing each other. The C /C# pipe planting has more to do with weight and space distribution on the soundboard than sound - though I hope to illicit some interesting comments to the contrary. Chromatic soundboards seem to sound the same to my ears.
  10. Did Laurie mean to refer to Olivier Latry, or is there another organist we have never heard of whose name is not helping his career?
  11. There are a couple of pictures of the organ and console taken earier this year on the web: pic.twitter.com/Zv7RwCyEIK with visible evidence of it being used at least from time to time. And a pic of the pipes looking quite safe too!
  12. Audsley (Vol.1 p. 513) says that it is usual to complete the last octave of Clarions with labial pipes. He also quotes the French Regnier who says that in France the alternative to using labial pipes is to break back an octave at the top and to make sure the Clarion is drawn along with the prestant 4' and doublette 2' so the break is not so obvious. Reed pipes above those of an 8' rank are often replaced by labial pipes because they are harder to manufacture, almost impossible to tune and to keep in tune, and require a certain pressure below which they are unstable. As the vibrating length of the tongue in this range is only a few mms it is also difficult to attain sufficient volume. The ear is also not really able to distinguish the difference in the upper harmonics between a reed and a labial pipe in this range (as was mentioned previously) so there is really no point.
  13. So, the answer to the original question is 'no, Nicholson decided/were advised to dispense with the free reed Clarionet 16'' '. Free reed stops are becoming very rare, I guard my 1878 Walcker Oboe very carefully, I don't care that it goes out of tune with the slightest temperature rise and that it does a creditable impression of a Harmonium. I'm just waiting for the organist of the Votive Kirche in Vienna to get fed up with his/hers so that mine is then the oldest in the world - well the oldest Walcker free reed oboe at least.
  14. According to the info included with Paul Derrett's 1989 recording the Solo Clarionet 16' is the original Anneessens free reed stop from the choir, or at least that was how Laycock and Bannister left it after their 1968 rebuild. I believe Nicholson's recent work has preserved all the Anneessens pipes.
  15. I refer the honourable gentleman to my previous post re finding a Tierce on a N&B of 1909. Although I agree the 1859 Hill specification for York has to be one of the oddest I've seen. And the general Tierce hunt has got its own thread now, but the game has some restrictions: A new organ built between 1895 and 1925.
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