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Lucien Nunes

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  1. Thank you Colin - it was a pleasure to get to grips with this system as it represented a truly modern approach to the design of data storage in its day. The extensive, unmodified electric action of the SGH organ offers an insight to the systematic approach taken in its design as an integrated whole. The disposition of the various parts, the standardisation of components, the arrangements for troubleshooting; all lend a sense of purpose to what might otherwise be just a rats' nest. The same is true of the tonal design, which at least can speak for itself against those who would challenge its conceptual basis. An organ must be more than a catalogue of its maker's various offerings even if its stoplist reads as such, and thus will you find Southampton.
  2. To celebrate 80 years of the SGH Compton, we are offering a novel view of the instrument on Oct. 1st 2017, in an afternoon of demonstrations, talks, brief open-console sessions and a 1-hour performance by Richard Hills. Compton opus A269 of 1937 is a multi-purpose civic-hall instrument comprising 50 ranks on 41 units, playable from two 4m consoles; one theatre-style and one classical, with resources and playing aids configured for the different repertoires. It can be played as a nearly-straight romantic or a very comprehensive unified orchestral / theatre instrument that excels at light music. With its original specification, voicing and action fully intact, Southampton is a textbook example of the work of the Compton firm, on which account it holds a grade 1 HOC. Also incorporated is 'Melotone' electrostatic tone generator serial No.1, a very early example of the integration of an electronic voice within a pipe organ. Dr. George Thalben-Ball was consultant and performed the inaugural concert. Two NPOR entries refer, one per console: http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=N11620 http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=N18285 Opportunities to see and hear this organ are limited to a few days per year due to it being within a commercially-operated modern music venue. For the anniversary, we had originally considered a concert with added chamber tours. With physical accessibility proving rather an obstacle, an alternative format was devised where a roving camera in the chambers will interact with a presenter on stage, relaying live images onto the big screen during a descriptive talk and demonstration of the voicing and resources of the instrument. As well as a comprehensive show-and-tell of the pipework, if things work out to plan we might even see such details as the inside of a unit chest being played and direct-electric combination capture action operating. We hope this will allow everyone in the audience to have a 'look around' the organ in comfort and safety. Come and see; hear; possibly play (if you are a player and you draw a lucky straw for an open-console slot) and talk Compton during the interval (refreshments available) - we are a friendly crowd! 02 Southampton Guildhall, West Marlands Road, Southampton SO14 7LP. 2pm 1/10/17 Tickets £12 / £10 concs. from the box office: 023 8063 2601 or at https://academymusicgroup.com/o2guildhallsouthampton/events/1014825/compton-organ-open-day-featuring-richard-hills-tickets We look forward to meeting you there Lucien
  3. A bit of an odd request this, but hopefully someone here might be able to help. To complete an artwork, a dozen or so metal flues perhaps 4-6' in length are needed in the next day or so in the London area. Does anyone have an incomplete or damaged rank of no further use musically, from which we might be able to obtain them. Conventional appearance is important as they need to be recognised for what they are, although musical character (or lack of it) is not! I have a few ranks answering that description but unfortunately none of them are accessible within the available time. Thanks in advance Lucien
  4. Much of the substance of the instrument has thankfully survived, including the majority of pipework, all slider and most unit windchests, the combination action and parts of the console including the distinctive EP stop-toggle action, being off-site in Browne's workshops and ours. The remainder, including winding system, casework, switchgear and the rest of the console are lost. Still, it would seem technically feasible to reconstruct something of mainly original N+B manufacture that sounds much as it ever did, using mostly original actions, and embodying most of the unique H-J design specifics. As far as the organ is concerned, if ever there was to be a fire, this was the least damaging time for it. A decade ago, not only would the material have been destroyed but also the information we have gleaned over recent years by documenting some of the more unusual aspects of its design in the run-up to restoration. Let us hope that BAC receive the support they need to return their home to its former glory, for the sake of all the organisations and members of the public who benefit from it!
  5. The Wormwood Scrubs installation is still in service, I think you are right about the Contra Tuba but don't have notes here to confirm this. With my specialism being action and electrics, what interests me most about this instrument is that it has one of the relatively few Compton electropneumatic relays. Lucien
  6. That is a good point - in 1930 Whitworth gives the date of the Estey design as 1923 but makes no mention of it in connection with any other builder. I had not realised they were this early. Must dig out some of the Compton patents when time permits. What about Compton's adjustable pistons? The all-electric selector action is ingenious but is it Compton's? Hill, Norman and Beard used a similar device that more closely resembled a crossbar telephone switch, Willis had something entirely different. But the work of American builders might reveal a forerunner of the Compton that was both entirely electric (not relying on the mechanical motion of stop controls to set or recall the combination) and laid out as a matrix with the elements at the crosspoints simplified to the greatest possible degree. Interestingly it more closely resembles a current-day memory IC than the memory systems used in electromechanical computing devices of the time. Lucien
  7. I agree that overall they are pleasantly reliable as small lamps go, the filament is generous, adequately supported and underrun, however a console loaded with hundreds of aged lamps is in aggregate significantly at risk of a failure during performance. Some original lamps still exist but in order to minimise accelerated ageing of the stopheads by heat I am generally in favour of converting to LED, for which purpose we are testing a new substitute that is almost indistinguishable from the filament lamp, even in its speed of response. In the theatre organ world double-touch stopkeys are de rigueur, indeed it is quite possible to make a drawstop with a second touch, so I am not sure that this benefit attaches to the luminous stop in particular. Regarding the visibility, some consoles were equipped with a dimmer switch that permitted a low setting using resistances in series with each lamp. One might infer that on the normal setting they were made as bright as Compton considered practical, which tended to dazzle in a darkened auditorium. I have not seen the effect of sunlight falling directly on a luminous stop jamb but imagine it could be quite disconcerting, losing all indication of what is drawn. Lucien.
  8. This thread has been silent for a while but is probably an ideal place to introduce myself and make a few noises about the very specific aspect of Compton's work with which I am familiar. I'm an electrical engineer and conservator of electrical technology, with a long-standing interest in the organ in both classical and theatrical guises. Perhaps inevitably, I have ended up spending an increasing fraction of my life inside Comptons, with and without soldering iron in hand. It is impossible to avoid drawing comparisons between Compton's electrics and other electrical equipment of his era, for example telephone apparatus and industrial switchgear. Even comparing a few details of Compton's actions with Hope Jones' also reveals a few chinks in the otherwise ingeniously-woven fabric of Compton electromechanical design. But I will save these observations for a later post. On the subject of a history of the firm, MM suggests that details of the electronic side of the business are fairly well pinned down. As I am actively researching this it will be interesting to compare notes (which I fear we will find lacking in upper harmonics) although I suspect that I am going for a more trainspotterish level of detail than would be appropriate here. In case I should later be found out as a traitor to the cause of the pipe organ I will admit now that I have a large collection of these electrostatic contraptions, some of which sound every bit as dull as my playing, purely for historical and research purposes you understand. Returning to the electric action of pipe organs, I would be most interested to hear opinions regarding the concept of Compton's patent luminous stop, one of the most visible (although inaudible) of his signature inventions. Ignore for now the foibles of its practical realisation e.g. the reliance on a relatively frail lamp, the ease with which the second touch can sometimes be engaged by accident, the erratic behaviour of incorrectly adjusted reversers. Is it a convenience or merely a gimmick? Is it evidence of MM's theory that invention at Acton sometimes ran ahead of necessity - a concern that Willis was quite vocal about in connection with action developments generally? I wonder about it during the long hours of reverser-adjusting and lamp-replacing! Lucien
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