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Mander Organs

Damian Beasley-Suffolk

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Everything posted by Damian Beasley-Suffolk

  1. The blower failure is known, and these things happen. Snooping around, there is also an "installation report" from a local air conditioning company explaining how they had completely replaced the system which had been installed around the organ, to keep the instrument at the same temperature as the choir. And speaking with the experience of the last few days, when the top floor of my house is uncomfortably warm even at 5AM, I would say it needed it, but probably interrupted things. I didn't know the Tickell could play the Rodgers, but this is hardly difficult these days, especially as it is an electric action. Coincidently, perhaps, Viscount have an installation in Manchester in which a rather nice pipe organ and one of their digital organs can each play each other, or both. There is a church here in The Hague - I forget its dedication, it's just known as the Elandstraat church - in which a nicely restored 3 manual Franssen, high up on a west gallery of an enormous church, can also be played from the console of the electronic in the choir. There's also a deconsecrated church in Scheveningen where they took the console out, but converted the action to Midi so anyone can plug in whatever they have to get it going. I was looking for, but could not find, the huge set of photos of the Tickell's installation which Adrian Lucas took. Really fascinating. It showed part of the action installation, looking very similar to the computer network installation of a small company, and using many of the same components. In particular, I was looking for console photos, as the Tickell is prepared for the planned Transept division. I think the plan was to move the current Transept case from the south to the north, and then provide a full 2-manual organ within it. With the rest of the technical part of the installation, actually hooking up the console would literally be "plug 'n play", although it's more sophisticated than midi.
  2. I'm reasonably sure that this is the Rodgers electronic. Why? Because I have a couple of pictures of my wife playing it, as well as the Tickell continuo organ, which is not so small. At that time, the Rodgers was in the choir, the Bradford was still in the nave, although it was getting rather ricketty by then. I remember Donald Hunt giving a recital on the Bradford in 1990-ish, and it sounded quite nice, although a huge acoustic helps. Like any cathedral organ it must have taken a hammering over so many years, so it was bound simply to wear out.
  3. A super performance, both musically and technically. Alkan's music is on IMSLP, I once looked at some but it was clearly well beyond me. But watching this it's such good music. Alkan is an interesting character. His Wikipedia entry is now much longer than the last time I looked, and well worth reading. This is the Temple Church. I'm slowly working through Anne Marsden-Thomas' book on Pedalling for Organists, and watching a video like this which shows pedalling technique so clearly is very instructive, although it will be some time until I get to this level ( Chapter 35: Chords ). I'll have to get my dancing shoes on!
  4. A news report from French TV, TF1, about works to remove the organ from Notre Dame for restoration. The plan is to have it ready for re-inauguration of the cathedral on 7 April 2024. Even for non-French speakers, a nice, optimistic report: https://www.facebook.com/TF1leJT/videos/210788290355722/ And more here from the local paper: https://www.leparisien.fr/paris-75/notre-dame-de-paris-cinq-mois-de-travaux-pour-demonter-l-orgue-03-08-2020-8362911.php
  5. An accessible obit in The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/music/2020/jul/30/jane-parker-smith-obituary
  6. Professor Magnus Williamson is giving, via YouTube, a live streamed concert on the Aubertin Organ in the King's Hall, Newcastle University, on Thursday 23rd July at 1.15 PM. Bruhns, Dandrieu, Bach, and Mendelssohn. https://www.ncl.ac.uk/press/articles/latest/2020/07/virtualorganrecital/
  7. The Introduction and Passacaglia is a very nice piece, and built on a nice theme. I'm partial to passacaglias as well, and have been working on it myself in my enthusiastic amateur's way. Some echos of Reger's I&P, but still original and not terribly difficult. I don't think I've ever heard it, which is a great pity, and needs putting right.
  8. The only thing I can find after a short search is this: https://tijdschriftraster.nl/de-kunst-van-het-machinelezen/viii-het-lezen/ See the picture under paragraph 103 Taal. It's short enough to copy and paste into Google translate. It's not detailed, but I think you'll get the general idea. As for why it never caught on in England, I don't really know. English ones are (usually) on the floor and close to the front of the church. Most of these side-saddle Dutch organs are bolted half way up the back walls of churches. Putting the console on the side makes it easier for the organist to see the action, and also requires less floor space and therefore is cheaper to build, an attractive consideration for the locals, ever keen to save a guilder or two 😉 I have no idea about background of the link above, but it is quite eclectic and fascinating. Scroll down to paragraph 107 Tekening, and it shows a couple of drawings with a tantalising reference to how the knowledge of organs spread from Ancient Greece via Arabic and Early-Islamic scholarship - a well-trodden intellectual path - to our age, and books in the British Museum.
  9. Interesting view of Hexham's front here https://www.google.com/maps/@54.9711954,-2.1023726,3a,75y,95.81h,95.17t/data=!3m8!1e1!3m6!1sAF1QipPqf5gURhfcmGvURDj4OMMxe5ToXUxs9FJx96Vi!2e10!3e11!6shttps:%2F%2Flh5.googleusercontent.com%2Fp%2FAF1QipPqf5gURhfcmGvURDj4OMMxe5ToXUxs9FJx96Vi%3Dw203-h100-k-no-pi-0-ya28.58945-ro-0-fo100!7i9728!8i4142 and a view of its much less interesting back https://www.google.com/maps/@54.9716057,-2.1025749,3a,75y,283.78h,104.84t/data=!3m8!1e1!3m6!1sAF1QipOrMe3R-eqAquxb67MY0fMNwxurHZ7mW-0wi-iG!2e10!3e11!6shttps:%2F%2Flh5.googleusercontent.com%2Fp%2FAF1QipOrMe3R-eqAquxb67MY0fMNwxurHZ7mW-0wi-iG%3Dw203-h100-k-no-pi-0-ya156.87067-ro-0-fo100!7i8704!8i4352 If you go up the stairs in the south transept and peer into the triforium adjacent to the organ, you can see what I think is the Echo organ of the previous instrument. Why is the back of this instrument so bland? I can't find an explanation of the ideas behind its design.
  10. Oops - I didn't expect people to spend money on my book recommendation! The edition I have is from 1977, so as Colin correctly says, since then the field has developed and even some principles reconsidered, but it is nevertheless representative of its time. The thread started with perceptions of pitch and diplaclusis - the sense of hearing the same tone differently in each ear. This is part of the field of psychoacoustics. Searching for a CV of a British engineer in the field which I had read, but whose name I have subsequently completely forgotten, I came across the WIkipedia entry for it. WIkipedia may have its faults, but for scientific and engineering matters it's usually pretty good as a guide to a subject if you're new to it, easy to see if someone has been sabotaging entries, and often has a good selection of proper references. If anyone's interested, especially for things often discussed here such as hearing non-existent fundamentals, octave illusions, masking etc, it makes for an interesting read, and anyone with access to an organ (real or virtual) could probably perform some decent experiments of their own. Something to stir the stir-crazy locked-down brains to mull over 🙂 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychoacoustics https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diplacusis https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuroscience_of_music https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music_psychology
  11. With all respect to our generous hosts, here is a link to the web site of van den Heuvel, of their restoration of the Leeflang organ at the Maranatha Church in DInteloord in the Netherlands. Scroll through the pictures of the works (click on the small picture) and there are several shots of the interior, where the stop and key actions can be seen. http://vandenheuvel-orgelbouw.nl/en/component/k2/item/661-maranathakerk-dinteloord-en.html#prettyPhoto Paul Isom is right about Dutch pedal boards, they are a pain in the small of the back, especially as they are made for long-legged Dutch organists, a tribe to which I, as a rather compact and sturdy Englishman, would never be admitted. In fact, recently I bought a lightweight portable organ bench with adjustable length legs to deal with this. The main problem of course is not getting enough practice time to get used to it, especially if you insist on playing dynamic romantic organ music which, if you don't like registrants or, as is often the case with these side-saddle consoles, there is no space for one, demand that you play with one hand and both feet while yanking stops with the other hand!
  12. This is indeed common here. Many organs in the Netherlands have their consoles at the side, and these often have rows of stops above the console for the great, or hoofdorgel. The couple that I know well have the stops in the order, front to back, of the ranks on the soundboard, and are directly connected to their respective sliders. I have always assumed, without knowing for certain, that this is simply practical, presenting the most direct and reliable connection from stop knob to slider, especially if they're a bit heavy. Obviously the key action has to take a right-turn somewhere, but it has to anyway. For example, the 1720 Zeemans organ in the Dorpskerk (village church) in Voorschoten, which I have been fortunate to play several times, has its hoofdorgel stops laid out left to right, front to back of the chest, as follows; Prestant 8, Roerfluit 8, Sesquialter II, Octaaf 4, Nasard 3, Fluit 4, Mixtuur VI, Octaaf 2, Trompette 8. This is not conclusive. For example, the Basilica of St Servaas in Maastricht has normal en fenetre console position, with two rows of stop knobs above the console. They're just as practical in use as any other arrangement, even if you do have to pay a bit more attention when reaching for a stop during a quick change.
  13. That's a fabulous photo of York, taken as a stereoscopic pair. Popular in Victorian times, Brian May of Queen is an enthusiastic and knowledgeable collector and curator of these pictures and the viewers for them. Many people can see the 3D effect clearly, unfortunately I can't, perhaps I should try harder, with the rest of that online collection.
  14. An interesting association of Cavaille-Coll and harmoniums. My new-ish electronic (which I should really stop going on about 🙂 ) is unusual in that it has 4 separate organ styles, each with its own appropriate stop list. The French-style voicing has reed specs of GO 8, Rec 16, 8, 8, 4, and Ped 16, as you might expect in a moderate 2 manual CC organ, and represent 25% of the stops. It actually sounds OK, with headphones on and the echo turned up, but gives a clear flavour of such French symphonic organs when compared with the other styles, especially the equally enjoyable English spec. Noting that much French organ music of the 19th century is often indicated as being suitable for a harmonium, for example Guilmant's works for the jobbing organist and, in particular, Vierne's Pieces en style libre, I've tried playing them using the reeds only, and experimenting with other parameters as only an electronic organ can provide, to approximate a harmonium, and the result is quite nice. I shall try this again with the knowledge of CC's experience of harmoniums in mind. For what it's worth, there is an organ builder in Bavaria, Thomas Reilich http://www.o-h-r.com/ who runs an organ business which includes a lot of work restoring and rebuilding harmoniums of all sizes, and is full of detailed pictures of his projects along with amusing and informative commentaries. Notwithstanding the joke that there are no organs in heaven because the keys are needed for all the accordeons in hell, as with many instruments there are players with enormous musicality and talent who appear able to play almost anything on them. And some of them are very young. One piece is the subject of so many cross-overs and arrangements I can't remember which is the original is Bach's Sinfonia from Cantata 29. Try here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S53yAtz0GiA
  15. 1996, Grafton Street, Dublin. Two lads playing BWV 593 on accordeons. Also magically transfixing. Life was indeed sweet that day.
  16. The difference between what we may measure objectively and what we perceive is a matter of everyday importance. White LED light bulbs are not white - a nominally white LED emits a piercing steely-blue light, so to make it appear to be white, usually a bit of green is thrown in, by adding a phosphorescent compound which radiates green. It appears to the eyes as pure white, but spectrally it comprises only a few components. Actually, electric lights in general have always had this problem, hence the Colour Rendering Index and other efforts to quantify it - but it's all to do with human perception and, as we know with colour blind people, this varies greatly. I have also read of people, predominantly women, who instead of three colour groups of colour receptors in their eyes, have four. Their perception of colour is, apparently, quite intense. Back to organs, as I write I am listening to Ben van Oosten playing the Finale of Guilmant V at Rouen. To my ears, along with the organ I can hear a huge choir singing "Ahhhh". I'm fairly sure that there isn't one there. Perhaps this is the effect of an enormous instrument which is for most purposes in tune, but the combined effect of hundreds of normal variations in frequency and phase contribute to this wonderful, broad, breathing sound, without sounding in the least out of tune.
  17. This intriguing question set me off to look for a book, " The Acoustical Foundations of Music", 2nd edition, by John Backus, published by W W Norton. This is the only technical book my wife possesses, and was a set book for her music degree. She claims never to have opened it - judging by its condition, I believe her. In a short chapter "Frequency and Pitch" it describes a few of the points made in this discussion. The good news is that we aren't hearing or imagining things, although how we perceive the same sounds varies between individuals. Just for interest, here they are: - The perceived pitch of a tone can vary depending on intensity. "The effect seems to vary greatly from person to person; some do not hear it at all. On the other hand, one individual reported an apparent drop of almost a whole tone when a sound of 200Hz was raised from 40 to 100dB. The effect apparently exists only for pure tones; it seems generally that complex tones show no change in pitch with intensity." - " The two ears with which we hear pitch are not necessarily identical. In some individuals, a sound of a given frequency may produce a certain pitch in one ear and a different one in the other; this condition is called diplacusis. It is apparently negligible in normal hearing but can be produced by disease or injury to the ear." - " As a result of recent work [as of 1977!] it now appears that the ear responds to a periodic change in the pattern of sound stimulus. This has already [in the book] been discussed in connection with beats; if we listen to two pure tones of frequencies of 500Hz and 501Hz, we hear one beat per second. In this case we have an actual rise and fall of sound intensity once each second. [...] However, if we sound together, say, two tones of frequencies 250Hz and 501Hz, we again hear a periodic change in the sound, once per second. In this case, there is no intensity change, but the waveform repeats once each second, and the ear can hear this change. If the change in the pattern of a sound stimulus is fast enough, the ear will hear a sound of this frequency, even though no such frequency is present in the original stimulus. The frequency so heard is called the periodicity pitch." That's enough quotation for the moment, but the point is that what we perceive from what we are hearing is within a rather broad range of normal. The text also makes a distinction between frequency, which can be measured, and pitch, which is perceived by the user in comparison with some internal reference. Personally, although aware of the subjective flattening of a chorus when a swell box is closed, I don't hear it, although I am aware of the more rapid attenuation of higher frequencies and change in tone colour as the shutters close. Similarly, I think, with the dying fall of a chord in a reverberant building. However, as someone pointed out above, some electronic instruments appear to model a slight flattening with reverberation. My quite new electronic does this, its longest "acoustic" setting is a Basilica with 8.7 seconds. With its Baroque specification, which is otherwise very nice, this electronic flattening makes the whole thing sound out of tune and is very unpleasant, and I can't turn it off - I have never experienced this in real life. It doesn't happen with the other specs, which makes me wonder if it's something to do with the many tierces and quints. This is where natural differences in perception cause interesting problems. My own auditory foible is that along with my thankfully still normal hearing across the standard spectrum, in my left ear I can hear very low tones, and in my right very high tones. I'm not sure what evolutionary advantage this gives me, but it's very handy for tuning my organ and harpsichord. And, as I grew up in Bristol and spent years listening for the infamous "Bristol hum", which is said to be within range of my left ear, I have never heard it, and I think it's just a myth or meme!
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
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