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Colin Pykett

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About Colin Pykett

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    For those who really must know, hit the 'About the Author' button on my website.
  1. Canterbury Cathedral & Manchester Cathedral, New organs

    It can be useful to show people what's inside, and by raising their awareness it might help to find funds for restoring an ailing instrument or even save one that's under threat of disposal. I once played at a church that had a respectable 3 manual and I made it known that members of the congregation could have a look inside it if they contacted me - it had recently been overhauled and that itself had already created some interest, what with piles of pipes and sundry mechanism in the side aisles. Obviously I didn't let them roam about freely, but quite a lot could be seen from the tuner's access door in the panelled casework (which was kept locked so they couldn't get in themselves!). One of the things they seemed to enjoy was putting their hand into the mouth of CCC on the 16 foot pedal Open Wood when I played it, as well as hearing it at close quarters. This rank stood on the floor near to the door. The sheer size of the organ, its crowded innards and the feeling of suppressed power conveyed by the faint noises of escaping wind and blower rumble were also talking points as they departed. I got the impression it helped them to appreciate that the church had something of real value there, something to be treasured perhaps more than they had realised. But I've no idea what all this has to do with Canterbury and Manchester cathedrals - sorry for the digression. CEP
  2. Brindley & Foster Book

    That's very sad and I genuinely sympathise with the publishers and all others who have been affected. However it does seem to illustrate the importance of maintaining regular backups on a physically separate medium, i.e. one which is physically removed from the main computer immediately after each backup has been completed, as opposed to a second HDD say, which is just as vulnerable to attack as the main disc would be. I know I'll probably be berated for being smug and wise after the event for having preached the above homily, but I had an exactly similar problem some while ago in which I was the unhappy victim of an attack which my antivirus did not trap. Fortunately the backup protocol described above was in use. After each session on Word or whatever, a USB flash drive was inserted, the backup copy on it was updated, and the drive was then physically removed again. Everything of any value to me on the machine had been backed up in this way. So all I had to do was to reinstall Windows and then recover everything else from several memory sticks - it took a couple of hours or so and all I had lost were some trivial bits and pieces which I hadn't bothered to back up. It's boring and a real pain in the proverbial to do it, but in this case it worked a treat and with hindsight it was obviously worthwhile. Another method is to use only a totally offline machine for doing your most important work, preferably in addition to the protocol just described. I do this as well, having an icon on the desktop from which I can switch the internet port (wi-fi or ethernet) on and off. There's actually no need for me to have it 'always on' most of the time, and frankly it's just asking for trouble if it is allowed to be. And for belt-and-suspenders protection, I also scan the flash drives themselves from time to time as well - it only takes a few seconds. I certainly scanned them on another machine before using them as part of the major system re-install described above. As I said, forgive the sermon. It also goes without saying that I hope the book will now be a complete success, and thank you David for updating us. CEP
  3. Early Metronomes

    Without wishing to do the thing to death, on the matter of Cavaille-Coll counting 'double' values for frequency, I subsequently came across a footnote in Audsley (his book 'The Art of Organ Building') which also made the same point - so he had obviously come across it too. Apparently they knew each other, so maybe the matter was discussed between them on one of Audsley's visits to the 'atelier' of the great man as he charmingly put it! (Audsley may have been somewhat verbose, though many of his anecdotes and turns of phrase add colour to what he said, I find). CEP
  4. Early Metronomes

    Maybe, but it's each to his own I think. I wouldn't be able to hold a candle to you in terms of your musicianship, where I am enthusiastic but remain a mere fumbler! I find the spectrum of abilities and professions represented on this forum is perhaps its greatest strength, and I learn a lot from it. CEP
  5. Early Metronomes

    In the early decades of the 19th century there was still confusion and a lack of agreement over what we now take to be simple matters of physics which most school students understand today. The time period and frequency of an oscillating system such as a clock/watch or metronome were one example (I say "one example" rather than "two" because the two parameters are reciprocals of each other). I once got into a complete muddle trying to understand what Cavaille-Coll was on about in one of his early scientific papers relating to the end corrections of organ pipes. I have great admiration for his depth of understanding of acoustical physics, but was stymied in this particular case until it dawned on me that the figures he was using for frequency were twice those we use today. He was apparently counting two acoustic impulses per complete cycle of the sound waveform. It is even more obscure than that though, because he seemed to change his mind later on when he apparently adopted today's convention, perhaps because later in the century the measurement of frequency became internationally standardised along with many other physical constants (a movement in which the French themselves played a significant role). It is possible this might have something to do with the metronome problem being discussed here, as DyGW suggested above. CEP
  6. Music desks

    Contrabombarde rightly suggested we need an organ builder here. However, as an amateur one who has built a few consoles from scratch both for myself and others, I've found the following measurements work reasonably well. I also play so I have some experience from that angle (pun) as well, in terms of whether music does or does not fall off, etc. Inclination from vertical = 23 degrees approx. Slant height of desk = 32 cm approx. These figures give a desk from which the music has little tendency to fall off, and it is also high enough to prevent even the tallest books (e.g. those awkward European ones from a century or so ago) from bending backwards over the top of it. My current home organ with a console built in 2006 uses these measurements. As to desk hooks, yes, they can be a pain to get hold of. And even when you can get them, they often cost an arm and a leg for what they are. In my time I've written to suppliers who didn't bother to reply. However Kimber Allen stock them (or at least they did when I last looked at their catalogue) but they add a premium if you are not in the trade, though they are far more polite and always respond to an email in my experience. But the last time I got hold of a couple was when an upright piano appeared on a nearby street with a label attached encouraging someone to take it away. So I just walked off with the desk hooks, which now repose on said console! Hope this helps. CEP
  7. Youtube

    I think I need to respond to John Carter's post above. There was certainly no intention to be "pompous", "rude", nor to "rubbish" anything or anyone, and I am extremely sorry that it came over like that to him. I also apologise to any other members of the forum should they hold similar views. To try and clarify the matter, I was merely enquiring whether anyone had a view on the matter of tempo so that I could learn something from them - nothing more, nothing less. Many here are professional musicians (I am not) and far better players than I, and it seemed an innocuous enough question at the time. But having said that, surely one is entitled to remark on any performance by any performer? I am fully aware of the musical pedigree both of the player and his mentor(s), but in view of the turn the dialogue has taken I should like to emphasise that I also admire them enormously. Mr Carter used the word "amateur" to describe the performer. I would only respond that this describes me, rather than him. CEP
  8. Youtube

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GpAQI2TpNIU This (above link) is about the speed I have previously associated with this piece, as well as that I aspire to - because that's what I was taught many years ago. It's quite well played but the sound is rather poor and it doesn't do justice to the performer, and I have only used it because it's the first one I came across that makes the point. CEP
  9. Youtube

    I wonder what others here think of the above rendition. I've always assumed that it should be taken far faster, indeed it's marked Vivace in my Peters Edition copy. He also inserts quite a lot of rubato whereas I haven't come across that before. He also puts in the occasional ornament which might be gratuitous on his part. Still, one of the glories of the piece is that (as proved above) it seems to matter little what speed one plays it at, and his slower pace might well be better suited to the acoustic. CEP
  10. One of the many topics raised in Lucien's post concerned the " direct-electric combination capture action" of the Southampton Guildhall organ. For those who really are into the nuts and bolts of organ building, I described this in an article at: http://www.pykett.org.uk/electro-mechanical-capture-systems.htm#Compton This could not have been written without Lucien's assistance as it was he and his colleagues who actually did the refurbishment work, and this was why I described him in a recent post elsewhere as "the world's greatest living expert" on the system! So for this reason alone this special event could be well worth attending. CEP
  11. Psalters

    Abe Books seem to have it but it's priced in USD and with shipping it might be a bit steep for what you want: https://www.abebooks.com/servlet/BookDetailsPL?bi=22393589228&searchurl=tn%3Doxford%2Bpsalter%26sortby%3D17%26n%3D100121503 If you are unfamiliar with them I've used them and found them to be a reliable, if not the cheapest, firm. CEP
  12. Unusual audience member

    Many years ago I played at a small village church in rural Dorset and was waiting for the bellringers to finish doing their stuff. When they finally did, a dog belonging to one of them gave a single bark, whereupon the Rector said "Ah, the hounds of hell". The congregation including myself couldn't help laughing, so he then said "What a pity I don't get that much reaction from my sermons". CEP
  13. Mutation Madness

    It would seem that another organ builder once had similar thoughts. Among other things, he said: "By this means [basically, additive synthesis] any kind of timbre can be exactly reproduced, and the tone of each stop is mathematically the same from the top to the bottom of the compass. In saying any tone, we must understand not only those which existing organs, orchestras, and voices have rendered familiar to us, but also an infinite variety of new tones, some of them most charming" (The italics are mine). He also proposed the system whereby any rank in a sound pool of pipework can be used at any pitch on any manual and pedal division. His name? Robert Hope-Jones, who gave a lecture on these matters to the RCO in 1891. (Being more precise, they were not 'royal' then and they were just called the College of Organists). The quotation above is taken from the transcript of that lecture though in fact, and presciently, it referred to additive synthesis using electrical sound generation and reproduction rather than using pipes. And his 'sound pool' concept of 'warm foundation stops' (not that he called it that as far as I know) became the key underlying technology of the future theatre organ of course. And as for "sounds assembled which are hitherto unheard of", surely there is little scope left for innovation here in view of the many decades over which electronic sound synthesis has been practiced? If anything, the digital music industry has long since grown away from its early and somewhat juvenile enthusiasm to invent new sounds. It now concentrates more on trying to synthesise ever more accurately the sounds of real acoustic instruments electronically, as evidenced by the amount of investment being poured into techniques such as physical modelling. In other words, it's a case of been there, done that. So why should there be a market, and therefore paying audiences, for starting again just to do it with pipes? I might have got hold of the wrong end of the stick here, but I am having trouble seeing the rationale of it all. CEP
  14. Mutation Madness

    And in view of the difficulty of keeping it all in tune, I can only assume the instrument comes with its own permanently-resident tuner who lives in a neat little one-bed apartment tucked away inside. CEP
  15. Servite Priory Fulham

    The old builders certainly did like the effect of 16 foot registers even in small organs. For instance, in Schnitger's two manual organ at Cappel which I referred to above, there is a 16 foot Quintad on the Hauptwerk as well as the fractional 16 foot Dulcian on the Ruckpositiv. The manuals can also be coupled. I have Helmut Walcha's recordings of Bach's organ works recorded largely on this instrument, and he deployed full organ frequently. Its effect is very fine and grand even though the instrument is now in a church which is rather too small for it in terms of its acoustic. The contemporaneous instrument by Wender at the 'Bach church' in Arnstadt did not have room for 16 foot pipes on the Hauptwerk as it was shoved into the top balcony close to the ceiling, but it had an acoustic makeshift in the form of a 5 1/3 foot Quint. Acoustically this makes little sense because its pitch does not coincide with a harmonic elsewhere in the 8 foot plenum, but it produces a sort of ersatz 16 foot resultant growl in the lower part of the keyboard which has its own charm. (The organ was meticulously reconstructed in 2000 so one can hear it pretty much as Bach did, and the 'growl' is quite noticeable). I am not a musicologist, but my admittedly uneducated view is that these techniques might have been intended to balance the shrillness which is associated with instruments from this era. It might therefore be a mistake not to include 16 foot tone in neo-baroque organs whenever possible. CEP