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Colin Pykett

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    For those who really must know, hit the 'About the Author' button on my website.

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  1. Thank you Tony, and also for your advice privately earlier this year about making youtube videos. My camera, though good for pictures at resolutions up to full HD, is utterly hopeless for sound. So I now record a separate high quality sound track on a Zoom machine as a WAV file and then marry it up post-production in a video editor using the time honoured syncing method of a handclap. I've found the free version of VideoPad to be excellent, in fact unbelievably sophisticated for freeware even though it does not offer the full capabilities of the paid version. Sorry to bore everyone with this, though my excuse is that there might be some with similar interests.
  2. I was privileged to have known Mr Warrell when reading physics at King's College London. I refer to him rather formally because almost everybody seemed call him something different! He was kind and welcoming to me, a mere amateur among many common oiks with whom he came into contact, even though there were a number of very good players mainly within the music and theological faculties. As an undergraduate he tolerated me accompanying his lunchtime rehearsals of the King's Singers, and when I stayed on to do a PhD he let me have a key to the organ. This fitted in well with my student-y working hours between getting in and going home very late. In any case, it was virtually impossible to use the organ during the day without attracting howls of protest owing to its position above the Great Hall and below the medical faculty. I still treasure memories of playing in the deserted chapel late in the evening when everyone else had gone home. Well, not quite everyone, because an occasional visitor would sometimes creep into the gloom and listen. Among them was the then-Dean, the Rev Canon Sydney Hall Evans (another nice man I might add). Thank you, Ernie.
  3. Niccolo, I read some of your recent posts with some dismay, and although computer problems prevented me responding at the time, I'd still like to say what I had in mind. In my view, internet forums can be compared to a bunch of like-minded people sitting comfortably together in a room and having a chat. In all probability drinks will be on offer, just as they are, no doubt, to the individuals who sometimes post here (!). So in this sort of setting people will sound off at random about the subject under discussion, with some agreeing and others disagreeing with what is said. Sometimes one person might raise a subject which gets no response at all, perhaps because somebody else interjects with something completely irrelevant yet which attracts interest. So the conversation veers all over the place, and (not to put too fine a point on it) some of what is said will be utter nonsense to be taken with a large pinch of salt. However, it might also be entertaining at the same time. If there are disagreements, they will mostly be fleeting and forgotten within a minute or two even if they were expressed forcibly or even rudely. It is much easier to to forget the spoken word than when the remarks are written down, as they are here. People will tend to laugh when together in a room rather than get too hot under the collar, and it is also possible to read their body language whereas on a forum this is impossible. So for what it's worth, my advice to anyone who posts on a chat forum is that they should not take it too seriously. Being more specific, Niccolo, I have always followed what you have said with great interest, and although it's some time ago now, I found your posts on house organs particularly stimulating. Having said all this, there are a few people here who do post offensively. In these cases I apply the dictum that "we are what we write". In other words, their posts say more about them than anything else. The worst thing one can do is to take their remarks to heart. Best wishes Colin Pykett
  4. Many thanks, bigwold. I'll try posting something later, cookie problems permitting.
  5. Thank you, kind sir! Thanks also to our Webmaster for help in sorting some problems I was having. If anyone's interested, the solution was to delete all cookies with 'mander' and 'invision' in their names. Sorry that the whole world had to know about it though.
  6. I feel moved to say something in response to this. Although there are indeed acerbic members on this forum, I had not got you down as one of them, SL. Having said that, it's no particular sin and it doesn't matter to me as it's a trait which adds colour to the discourse in my view. And with Ph.D., M.A., B.Mus., F.R.S.A., A.R.C.M., yes, you are indeed 'slightly well qualified', which is one of the reasons I've enjoyed reading your posts, often learning something from them as well. I'm sorry we won't be 'seeing' you again. That's yet another of the losses of this sad situation. All good wishes to you for the future.
  7. It's a good question which I've been pondering on as well, doubtless like many other members. This is the only forum I belong to, so if I want to continue to air my views I'll have to find another I suppose, though this is an obvious opportunity to consider whether to join one at all. However, I like the ABRSM affiliation of their 'Viva Organ' forum, and have often wondered why it has been so little used for quite a long time. Some members here post on it occasionally. As far as I can see it also exists without having to rely on advertising, other than the ABRSM banners. The Magle forum is also a possibility, but IMHO it suffers from the opposite problem - it could be said to be over-subscribed. Both forums cover a wider field than this one if only because they permit discussion of digital organs for those so inclined, without being dominated by them as at least some of the alternative options seem to be.
  8. What a shocking thing it is whenever a source of any ancient craft disappears. Apart from anything else, its practitioners thereafter can rapidly cease to exist. Voicers and their incomparably skilled colleagues cannot just be brought off the street when required by placing ads in a local job centre. It's not unlike the almost complete disappearance of mechanical (clockwork) timepieces. Politely disregarding the output of the Beijing watch factory, a few of these are still made commercially at enormous cost for the more discerning super-wealthy, but mostly the art is kept alive within the wider horological community which still pursues things like ever more accurate pendulum clocks as a subject with its own fascination. The late mathematician Philip Woodward with his W5 clock was a leading light in this activity, whom I was privileged to know in the early stages of my scientific career (and he was an organist too, playing at places like Malvern Priory from time to time). But a big difference between mechanical horology and organs is that the latter are still broadly useful to the wider community and they serve a purpose as well as bringing a lot of pleasure to a lot of people (not that I'm for a moment decrying the pursuit of clockwork as a beautiful intellectual activity with roots in pre-Galileo days). Like others who have posted above, I hope that a positive solution might emerge to rescue the firm.
  9. I don't know which source(s) Cantoris had in mind, but one answer to Rowland's question is: https://religionmediacentre.org.uk/news-comment/religion-news-7-july-3-2/ I came across this a couple of weeks ago or so. It does seem that there is some basis for the story, though it doesn't mention the music specifically.
  10. The original and quite popular Compton Miniatura was later sold in two versions: an 'A' model and a 'B'. According to one advertisement the synoptic stop list of the 'A' was Ped 16.8; Great; Swell That of the 'B' was Ped 16.8.4; Great 2/3.2; Solo 2/3.2. According to the makers, 'A' was intended for leading the worship of '150 voices', and 'B' for the 'practice and performance of polyphonic organ music'. The ads also said that it was 'more quietly voiced than Miniatura A and is therefore more suitable for practice rooms and private residences'. 'A' had 2 ranks: stopped flute and principal. 'B' also had 2 ranks but stopped flute and mild string. However it is likely the latter became more principal-like towards the top of its range in some instances, or an additional principal rank might have been added in others. This is because clients were invited to customise the stop list to their requirements within certain limits. (The Compton Electrone model 348 of 1948 was more or less an electronic version of the 'A' model. Its fully-preformed complex waveforms were engraved directly on the rotating electrostatic generators rather than as the sine waves used in other Electrones (from which the desired tone colours were derived by additive synthesis - mixing the various sine waves as desired). I once owned a 348 and in my opinion this feature gave its sounds a considerable freshness which I never thought the additive synthesis models achieved, which sounded rather cloying in comparison to my ears). There was also the 'Augmentum' available as a 'first stage' with one manual and pedals and again 2 tone colours - stopped flute and principal, though it seems this was a straight (not extended) instrument of 4 manual stops, but with all 3 pedal stops derived from the great 8 foot flute. It could be converted into a 'second stage' which had a second manual and 6 stops. Again, this did not seem to use extension since the 3-rank mixture had its own 183 pipes, and there was even a celeste. The 'Cecilian' on the other hand was smaller than the Miniatura, having only one 49-note manual with a 16 foot automatic pedal bass operating over the lowest 1 1/2 octaves. Its stop list was almost identical with the swell organ of the Miniatura 'B'. When you consider this against the similar ranges of small pipe organs available from other contemporaneous builders as mentioned by Tony, the prospective customer was pretty much spoilt for choice in the mid-20th century when it came to house organs.
  11. I don't think I can add much to what I said previously, but would like to emphasise should there be any doubt that in no way was I intending to slight or criticise Professor Wilkes. In fact his lecture sounds very interesting and I wish I had been there to enjoy it.
  12. It's a book of two halves by two authors with two rather different perspectives. They make no secret of this, saying in the Preface that " ... we naturally do not see eye to eye on every detail. For instance, we differ somewhat on the merits of organs built before about 1850". They also say that "it may seem the height of presumption for the authors, neither of whom could, by any stretch of the imagination, be regarded as a competent organ player, to attempt to deal with Registration". Quite. But also honest. It does what it says on the tin. I enjoyed reading it the first time I came across it, which is more than I can say about some other stuff authored by this pair, and pick it up from time to time to find the enjoyment undiminished. It's a useful reference work if read against the spirit of its time in my estimation.
  13. "One could ask 50 organists for their thoughts on any piece and probably get 51 opinions. It's a very interesting discussion though." Yes, it is interesting, and the same seems to apply to any other discipline. Physicists and mathematicians are regularly asked to vote for their most beautiful equation. (FWIW, Euler's identity often comes out top or very near to the top of the list ... ). 'Beauty' pervades all human experience. It's fascinating that even in something so apparently black-and-white as physics or maths, exactly the same emotions are aroused as they are in music and all other endeavours.
  14. Yes Stanley, I'm sorry, but I have to agree with SL here! But never having been one to let go once having got a rat between my teeth (a bit like Stanley in this respect I think, and I know he won't mind me having said so), how abouts a bit of the truth about at least some professional organists? I'm of an age when I was lucky enough to be have been able to attend the weekly organ recitals at the Royal Festival Hall on Wednesdays at 5:55 (because I spent 7 years at King's just across the river in the 1960s/70s). So twixt then and now I've attended an awful lot of them, and not only in this country either. Here's just a sprinkling of the less impressive memories. I'm naming only those who can't sue me. It's far from a complete list. Jacques van Oortmerssen: shuddered to a dead stop in the middle of 'the' toccata at the Royal Albert Hall. Slow hand clap at the end. So embarrassing but, as the unknown guy sitting on my right said, "I'll be asking for my money back". Robert Joyce: casually let his foot produce an extended pedal drone, which is not in any edition I've seen, during the Pastorale of Guilmant's 1st sonata at Llandaff cathedral. Knowing glances between knowledgeable members of the audience. A cathedral organist, not performing on his home instrument, who accidentally brought on full organ (or something approaching it) in a quiet movement of a Mendelssohn sonata. To be fair, it might have been his registrant who was performing near-lunatic acrobatics at the console. (And as an aside, how many other instruments need more than one player? Might this have anything to do with the low esteem in which the organ is held by many other musicians?). I could go on - at length. However to counter all this, we need to remember that the perfect renditions we hear on recordings are largely synthetic and unrepresentative of reality. The average CD contains over 1000 edits. Some recordings are produced by snipping the best bits out of, and then replaying via the instrument itself, several MIDI recordings which many modern pipe organs facilitate. None of this is ever made clear to Joe Public who has to shell out hard earned cash to buy the result. Prior to the days when such things could be done, Walter Alcock at Salisbury Cathedral was said to cough discreetly when his blemishes appeared on his 78 rpm recordings when friends persuaded him to play them. We simply cannot demand this level of flawlessness in live performances and it is unreasonable to expect otherwise. But by the same token, I would respectfully ask that some of these self-styled paragons of virtue might therefore temper their criticisms of the amateur, without whom Christianity as we have come to know it in countless thousands of churches and chapels across this country would be the poorer. There is a parallel forum to this one where there is currently and regrettably not much activity, but quite often amateur organists (who typically style themselves 'reluctant pianists') ask for, and receive, a lot of assistance from kindly professionals without a hint of the cant which I am afraid sometimes surfaces here. Wouldn't it be nice if the reluctant pianists felt able to join our ranks?
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