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Damian Beasley-Suffolk

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About Damian Beasley-Suffolk

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    Voorburg, The Netherlands

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  1. A couple of weeks ago I bought a double album by the German prog-rock band Inquire. The second disc is titled "Welcome to my rock and roll", and is their recreation of Louis Vierne's 3rd organ symphony. I love it! I think it's an intelligent and thoughtful reworking, but also fun and enjoyable. There are many recreations of organ works by people messing around with synthesisers, most not very good, but there are a couple which I also like. Anyone know of other good adaptations? Beyond Sky's Toccata, of course, which I loved as a kid, although I don't suppose anyone wants to be reminded of that singularly awful use of Saint-Saens 3rd in an early 80s pop song. If anyone comes across the Caribbean steel band version of Widor's toccata, I also love that. It's interesting that all sorts of people find continued inspiration from organ music.
  2. Well all wooden pipes are of necessity constructed by sealed grooves along their length, so joining in lateral sections similarly makes no difference to the tone. As with many wind instruments, mitring, bending, and twisting pipes doesn't have too much impact upon the sound. However, the moment you get the slightest leak, you know about it. I've heard Leiden's 32' wood, though haven't played it yet, and it sounds nice and clean to me, not even much wind noise. There's a photo of the 32s at Canterbury being installed, which are horizontal, with the heads of a few people popping out of the mouths. Just for a moment I revelled in a wicked day dream of taking some of the awful church folk groups I've met on a tour of an organ. "Just pop your heads through there now - feel the edge of the languid - sharp, isn't it? Mwah ha ha ... " But I mustn't. Acknowledging unreservedly that there are very good groups whose music I greatly enjoy even if it's not my thing, and that we should all be able to appreciate music and musicians of all genres.
  3. I don't know about St George's Hall's 32's, so in time-honoured tradition I shall answer a different question. The 32' case pipes in Birmingham Town Hall were made by Hill in his factory, and then sent by canal to the Venice of the Midlands. A rather suitable and convenient transport mode for such a load. I understood that in order to make these pipes, Hill invented the 3-roller metal sheet roller, with adjustable roller distances for different radii, which is in common use today. Unfortunately, I can't remember where I learnt this, but I did mention it in an essay in my A-level British Social and Economic History exam in 19.., and got a grade B in a subject which I only did for fun, so it must at least have convinced the examiner! As for 32' open woods, there are a few recently (Leiden, Canterbury) which have been made in interleaving sections, and assembled and sealed on site. There are also pictures of the lowest wooden pipes of Tickell's Worcester organ going into the cathedral in one piece, but I can't remember which octave they were.
  4. I've just finished reading MM's Compton book. I greatly enjoyed it, it is a fine narrative history of Compton, his work, and the people around him, along with the times in which they lived and worked. I appreciate it all the more for learning that the company's records were destroyed in WWII, so MM has done a great job researching and assembling the information for the book. I wonder how much is on the "cutting-room floor", so to speak. MM, please back up your research notes for some future researcher's reference! One aspect of Compton's work intrigues me. Concerning his interest in mixtures, and his approach to and understanding of synthesizing various sounds and his attitudes to correctly-understood mixtures in reinforcing natural harmonics of pipes, especially in his large church instruments, it strikes me that he might have laid the foundation of understanding these matters, at least, for the Orgelbewegung and neo-baroque enthusiasts. While MM presents the specification of a very late Compton organ (St Mary the Boltons) which had an almost-baroque specification, I also recall an article in OR a few years ago discussing a specification by Percy Whitlock for a similar instrument. Just a thought... There's also a rather funny comment about a string "stop", a "Solo Cello", which was a single violin string played by a rotating band. I have seen and heard one of these, on a Belgian band organ or dance organ, in the Mechanical Music museum (Museum van Speelklok tot Pierement) in Utrecht. Whilst it is an ingenious idea, and works well in such automated band organs, which are like a street organ but bigger and with no horse, and were installed in dance cafes and dance halls throughout the low countries, they are indeed not especially refined, shall we say ;-) So congratulations MM.
  5. Mine arrived yesterday and, at first sight, it looks good - a nice mix of text, drawings, photos and, of course, lots of specifications, and I look forward to settling down and reading it properly over the weekend.
  6. I can't say anything about temperature, although I often wonder whether humidity might play a role in sound production and propagation, but you're right about temperament. In 1998 I went to the re-opening recital of the restored 1446 van Hagerbeer organ in the Pieterskerk in Leiden. After many changes it had been returned to something like its state in 1643, with meantone tuning, and a' = 417 Hz. The last item on the programme was Sweelinck's Chromatic Fantasia. That was an experience! As the piece progressed, ears bled, teeth ground, and finger nails dug into chairs - but the final resolution was almost a physical relief. Not that it was bad - it was simply an extraordinary experience that few had had, me included. The tuning somehow added an extra edge and even (perception of) power to the instrument, and certainly demonstrated changes in emotion and waves of build and release of physical tension as the piece went through the keys. This would be very close to the experience you must have had listening to Buxtehude, and it is exciting. Coincidently, over the weekend I was playing with different temperaments on my electronic, playing classical French music with Dom Bedos, Corette etc. As I don't know what I'm doing, it's a bit hit and miss, but I'm at least beginning to get a feel for the colours these temperaments provide.
  7. Not tripe at all. I have played a couple of organs here in The Hague which have a single rank right next to the console, I think exactly for this reason, though also handy for alternatim accompaniment. On one, the console is at the other end of the church from the instrument, on the other the console is on a gallery underneath the organ, which itself is on a substantial gallery, but might as well be in the next street because of the time lag between it sounding and the organist hearing the sound after a 70-80 m round trip to the front of the church. It helps a lot in keeping organist and others on the gallery together, though doesn't really address the problem of a widely-dispersed instrument with the console at one end. The main problem, in my limited experience, is not hearing the instrument directly. In fact, this is just as bad if the console is at the side of the instrument. I played a nice 1930s instrument for the first time last weekend and found difficult to judge timing or volume because the console is in a little niche at the side of the instrument, which is a common arrangement in Dutch Protestant churches where the organ, lectern and altar are all at the front of the church. The somewhat ponderous pneumatic action added an extra degree of variation. As usual you never get enough time to explore, get used to, and start enjoying these organs. Some instruments have little grills by the console, or in the back wall of a positive, allowing some direct sound through to alleviate the problem.
  8. I rather like Guilmant's sonatas. 1, 5, and 8 are good all the way through, the rest perhaps less so, but only a little. I have a full set of Ben van Oosten playing the whole lot at St Ouen - just great. In fact, I'm rather fond of Guilmant's music in general. He has a lovely way with melodies, and his organ music in general is very accessible, by which I mean that it is not too demanding to play, although it takes me beyond my limits (playing in public at least), and it's good to listen to. Other works such as L'Orgue Pratique contain many shorter, and attractive pieces. Rheinberger I'm not so familiar with, though the 2nd movement of Sonata 3 is a beautiful, gentle piece. Some of Vierne's Pieces de Fantaisie are very lush, but they also tend to contain half a dozen sharps or flats. It's well known that Guilmant's stock as a composer rises and falls, and of course it's a matter of taste. For what it's worth, I cannot stand lieder, and to me Barber's Adagio played on any instrument(s) is just a teeth-grindingly screeching caterwaul. Chacun a son gout. But the most luxuriant, majestic, enveloping adagio I have ever heard was an improvisation by Sophie-Veronique Cauchefer-Choplin during a concert in Lisse here in the Netherlands a few weeks ago. I know this doesn't help, you had to be there, but it was just fantastic.
  9. Riffing a bit on the topic of compact subbass registers from the house organ thread, I read that Buckfast has installed an electronic 32' stop. Now, I'm of the view that one shouldn't complain unless prepared to pay for remedying the observed shortcomings, but this is still interesting. I have been to Buckfast once, in 1982, so have no clear idea how big the building is, but it's surprising that space or funding was not available for such a stop, considering the presence of the 32' reed in a very substantial instrument. With all due respect to the demands of confidentiality, it would be interesting to know why this approach (which is of course not unique) was taken. Considering some alternatives for fun leads to a repetition, albeit an octave lower, of the matters discussed in the house organ thread. Firstly, why not a Compton polyphone or cube? Kenneth Jones, writing in OR years ago about one of his organs in Australia, noted that they were quite good, and almost told the voicerhow to voice them. So apart from recycling one from a cinema organ, someone knows how to build them. Oberlinger's Cubus, suitably dimensioned, could similarly be considered. Secondly, the much-discussed technique of quinting. I imagine that most of us know the theory, but there are clearly differences in perception of its efectiveness. Personally, it works well for me, especially in a reverberant space, or on my electronic with the headphones on and the reverberation turned up - although because of this I did once absent-mindedly finish a piece on a real organ with a pedal fifth, and a real 32' stop drawn. That can really make a place rattle. Thirdly, I have heard a youtube demonstration of a "Harmonics of 32' " stop (St James the Great, Leicester, by Nicholsons), which seemed impressive, though perhaps this is intended only for reed stops. Just out of curiosity, as a mere dilettante, it would be interesting to know if these really are effective, non-electronic, substitutions.
  10. There's no detail about the problem, apart from the organ's wiring not conforming to the current wiring regulations. But after Notre Dame, who can blame them? Any suggestion of wiring problems, even if the installation is just old, could and should elicit a similar reaction. What's really a pity is that a schedule of works was approved in 2001, but nothing has been done. I wonder, without knowing of course, whether routine maintenance would have forestalled this.
  11. An interesting essay on the development of a house organ. https://rogerbrown.info/revision/resi.php
  12. My 2 Euro cents' worth on having a 16' subbas rank in a house organ. I have a Dutch house organ (de Koff, 1970) which was built with 2 manuals, 8, 4, II-III; 8,4,2, pedal pulldowns. It was subsequently revised to 8, 4, 3; 8, 4, 2, which was the spec when I bought it. Can you imagine a neo-baroque II-III mixture about 40 cm from your face!! All of the ranks are independent. The 8'ranks are stopped flutes up to middle C, each with a wooden bottom octave. Because the opportunity presented itself, in the form of a rank of 30 English 16' bourdon pipes of modest scale with their own soundboard, advertised enticingly on a German organ website, I decided to "complete" my house organ with the Untersatz it so obviously missed. This proved to be an expensive error. Firstly, the whole shebang cost rather more than I imagined. I shall spare my blushes with the details. Secondly, even though it all works it has never been satisfactory. It's often been said on this forum that tones in the 16' range need a fair volume of space in order to develop. My experience is that to begin with, they need a fair volume of space around them to start speaking properly. Mine are quite closely packed in the corner of a room, and because of this I'm not sure that they speak especially well in the first place. I wonder whether this is one of the contributors to the effectiveness of softer bass notes even when they are at the back of an organ, but speak freely into space. Either way, sometimes the noise of the air is a greater proportion of the emerging sound than one would imagine. Thirdly, even modestly-scaled 16' bourdon pipes take an enormous amount of air, and messing around to get the air supply right from what is a perfectly adequate blower has been even more of a faff, not least due to lack of space. In retrospect, the time and money I spent would have been better directed towards solving a problem which I recognised but did not properly appreciate. The bottom octaves of the manual 8's are spread around inside the organ case, fed off the single chest with copex tubing. Some are at the sides, some in the roof, and the lowest four of each rank are underneath the chest. The real problem is that these are voiced too quietly, and then muffled. A better solution would be to relocate these pipes from their dark corners, put them where they can clearly be heard - perhaps by opening op the back of the case with their mouths speaking into it (as visible in the expressive Brustwerk at Clifton Cathedral, for example) and revoice them to make themselves heard. I have played several quite small instruments here in the Netherlands which have no independent pedal ranks, but are still effective because their 8' ranks, either principle or flute, speak freely and are well-voiced all the way down to the bottom C. Because of this, assuming one's left foot is typically an octave lower than the left hand, the lack of a 16' is rarely noticeable. For a nice house instrument, this will not only be more than adequate, it will actually sound nice, clean, and distinct. As in the foreseeable future we will be moving house, depending on funds I plan to see if I can realise this on my current organ, and see if it works. Then, of course, I may well have a spare, direct electric action, 30 note pedal board. I plan to put a nice 8' Trompette on it so I can play all that lovely French baroque music at last. What could possibly go wrong?
  13. A little lesson in my day job :-) To inspect about 30 of Compton's organ-related patent applications, look here: https://worldwide.espacenet.com/searchResults?submitted=true&locale=en_EP&DB=EPODOC&ST=singleline&query=g10b+compton&Submit=Search One particular Compton Cube, which really is a huge ocarina, is this: https://worldwide.espacenet.com/publicationDetails/biblio?II=18&ND=3&adjacent=true&locale=en_EP&FT=D&date=19260805&CC=GB&NR=255988A&KC=A# If you're interested, you can search for any number of pipe organ, harmonium or similar applications on Espacenet - again, this is free, it's not a commercial or revenue-generating service of my employer, which is essentially a civil service organisation, it's simply the public access to all patent applications which has always been available, and which is now online. Patents have their own classification scheme, rather like the Dewey scheme for books. This is consistent worldwide. The classification reference for "Organs, harmomiums, or similar wind musical instruments with associated blowing apparatus" which is G10B. You can look at the CPC in general here: https://www.uspto.gov/web/patents/classification/cpc/html/cpc-G10B.html On the front page of Espacenet, here: https://worldwide.espacenet.com/?locale=en_EP in the "Smart search" box, you can type in, for example: G10B compton which will give the set of results above. For those who are interested, a bit of experimentation/messing around can reveal some interesting patent applications in the field. Admittedly, there isn't that much, and you will see that patent applications, although fascinating, still leave a lot of work for the "skilled person" to do in order to make a particular idea actually work.
  14. The Cubus was invented by Wolfgang Oberlinger of Oberlinger Orgelbau in Windesheim. They applied for a German patent on it in 1995, visible here, which can be inspected here (on Espacenet, a worldwide reference of patents provided for free by my employer, the EPO): https://worldwide.espacenet.com/publicationDetails/biblio?CC=DE&NR=19546312A1&KC=A1&FT=D&ND=3&date=19970619&DB=&locale=en_EP# Google Patent translation here: https://patents.google.com/patent/DE19546312A1/en The application number is DE 195 46 312. There is only one drawing (look at Original Document for this). I've never quite worked it out, but it is made from a series of chambers, not interconnected, within a single body. You can also see references to patent applications for other resonant bodies cited during the examination process, all with the purpose of providing 16 or 32 foot subbass sounds for small instruments. Although the patent will have expired by now, the Cubus name is, I think, still a registered trade mark. So the brave may build and experiment with one, but not use the name. These are indeed not just simple polyphone devices, which are bass pipes with a number of valves altering the speaking length of the pipe depending on which pedal is pressed, or indeed a simple ocarina-type resonating body with a number of valves at strategic places to alter pitch (Compton applied for a patent on such a device, but naturally I can't find it at the moment), but somewhere in between. I've never knowingly heard one, and opinion is divided as to how effective they are, particularly for their intended use in small-ish rooms.
  15. I have long coveted this. http://vandenheuvel-orgelbouw.nl/en/instruments/instruments-per-country/item/571-orguedesalon-dordrecht-en.html
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