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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. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. An interesting essay on the development of a house organ. https://rogerbrown.info/revision/resi.php
  5. 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 with. 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?
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. I have long coveted this. http://vandenheuvel-orgelbouw.nl/en/instruments/instruments-per-country/item/571-orguedesalon-dordrecht-en.html
  9. I think handsoff is probably right with the effect he wants to achieve. I used to play this https://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=N07673 regularly. With a clear principal chorus, and the secondary 8+4 flutes, it was indeed quite effective, even though accompanying typically Catholic alternatim music did require a lot of playing with the right hand and feet, while the left hand was busy yanking stops in and out. But it was worth it, and I played it in exactly the way handsoff describes. Interestingly, apart from having an completely different original specification, so some considerable acquisition of second hand pipes had already occurred, it was clearly also originally mostly enclosed in a swell box, apart from the Open Diapason. Perhaps, as the instrument is well maintained, you could ask the tuner to shuffle one of the 8' flutes around to experiment, and sacrifice the top octave for a time, perhaps later acquiring an appropriate rank from somewhere.
  10. Having mentioned it, it took time to find. Here's a link to a description of Bernhardt Edskes' reconstruction of the Schnitger organ in the Lutheran Church in Groningen, in the north of the Netherlands. It describes in particular the continuo keyboard, set forward of the organ, by the gallery ballustrade, so the organist can accompany and direct the choir. It mentions that Bach himself had a similar arrangement in the Thomaskirche from 1730, though that keyboard was on a gallery below the organ. Not much new, is there? http://www.orgelnieuws.nl/gereconstrueerd-schnitger-orgel-lutherse-kerk-groningen-gebruik/
  11. I'm not one for knocking, you can see the rationale behind this even though it's unusual. It's just as well that the description emphasises the importance of access for maintenance ! It wouldn't be the first time that an organ has two consoles for different purposes. Southampton's Guildhall Compton springs to mind. The original proposal for the Willis organ at the Hooglandse Kerk in Leiden had two consoles, the original mechanical en fenêtre, and then a larger electric console to play all of the original organ, plus a planned solo division and some other parts. By the way, that organ sounds superb in that building. Recently a couple of organs here in the Netherlands have had an additional single manual console provided, one on electric action, one actually a mechanical console connected to the rest of its organ's mechanical action, both enabling the organist to accompany the choir from a selection of stops on the organ as a continuo instrument. But if you can't afford, or have no space for, two separate organs, then of course the place to go to for inspiration is Japan. This is astonishing: https://www.geigeki.jp/english/house/organ.html And I recommend watching the video at the bottom of the page.
  12. The Dutch Orgelnieuws website has published a rather detailed analysis of the 1850 organ concerts taking place during the 4-month summer peak. This Saturday, 10th August, will be "Peak Organ", when 52 organ concerts are planned! Annoyingly, due to an ongoing commitment I may not be able to go to the one I really want to, the Willis in Leiden. Ah well. The link is below, Google will give a pretty good translation. http://www.orgelnieuws.nl/orgelconcerten-bereiken-zomerse-piek-meer-dan-1-850-concerten-in-vier-maanden/
  13. "This is simply using MIDI from the iPad, of course" In one of the videos that someone linked to showing the first sounds from Canterbury Cathedral, the chap appears to use his smartphone to control the swell shutters. There is an electronic there at the moment, connecting the two together could be fun!
  14. The separation of church and state in France is founded in the law of 1905. To learn more about this, the Wikipedia page is as good a place to start as any: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/1905_French_law_on_the_Separation_of_the_Churches_and_the_State This doesn't apply just to catholics. The principle of laïcité applies extensively. Recently, I saw a French TV programme in which the director of a school was having to order students coming in to adjust any overtly religious clothing. Mostly muslim girls, or course, although they were at least allowed to wear their headscarves as bandanas. But that's just one relatively small point in the grand scheme. A major part of what makes fin de siècle France so fascinating, in almost every respect - its many warts and all, but not least culturally, musically and organ-ly.
  15. A few recent organs (Sussex University, and somewhere in Oxford, I think) have used the buttons with in-built lights from lifts for stop selection. You could easily replace those disruptive moving stop knobs with them, probably without rewiring, just using the existing wiring for selection and turning the lights on and off. You could even adapt those attractively-voiced lift announcements - "I wouldn't do that if I were you Dave" for unwise combinations such as Voix Celestes and Tuba Mirabilis, or "TUTTI!!" when appropriate. Perhaps even have the backlight change colour according to the liturgical season. That would be a fun project for someone, shouldn't take too long to get working properly. Or alternatively, but much less fun, buy a smaller cup :)
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