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  1. In a previous life as a piano tuner, I saw a few of these, never in good condition. They were all, as this one is, cheap overdamper pianos with poor bass, and all the felting was well worn. To restore one to good condition would surely cost more than it would be worth. Apart from anything else, the touch is all wrong for organ practice. Taking up Colin's reference to the Willis-Ellingford pedalboard, back in the sixties, I had a couple of lessons with Caleb Jarvis at St George's Hall, Liverpool - we had to use another venue after that because the judge in the law courts below complained about the noise. I recall him talking about the pedalboard there at some length. He said it was of a special Willis design, not a simple arc from a single point, but rather straighter in the centre and curving more sharply at the ends, reflecting the fact that one's two legs pivot from different points, which makes sense, if you think about it. He said it was the most comfortable pedalboard he'd come across, and he'd come across a few......would this be the design Colin's referring to?
  2. When I had my first chuch post, back in 1967, fees were 2 guineas for funerals and 3 guineas for weddings. Put it in context by noting that when I went to college a couple of years later, my rent for my student bedsit was three pounds a week. Since rent or a student bedsit is now well over 100 a week, it seems to me that there's been no real inflation in our charges other than the general inflation which is all around us, and is far greater than the government would have us believe..... Anyway, if the couple want an organist, let them pay. They can learn Widor's Toccata for themselves if they preger not to cough up! A wedding on a Saturday is one of my weekend days pretty much taken up, so it has to be worth my while, in my view. After all, these people are often nothing to do with the church particularly, they're just acting out a fantasy in most cases.
  3. Am I alone in finding that playing without shoes is more comfortable? Stout socks, of course, to avoid any splinters in the soles, but I find that neary-bare feet allow me very good feel on the pedalboard, and socks allow your foor to slide very easily along a pedal when required. I reckon myself to have a good pedal technique in spite of this heresey.....I play the Bach D major and A minor for example, and several of the trio-sonatas.......but I have to admit that it wouldn't look good on a big screen as in some recent recitals (not least because of the cloven hooves... ).
  4. scholars of Elgar and of Hope-Jones and the W****** organ may well find this piece of original research of interest............... link to the Enigma
  5. Surely the point of all this pipe vs toast argument is that it is not comparing like with like at all....? Leaving aside the action points for the moment, any reasonably competent organ builder is going to spend a great deal of time firstly designiong a coherent spec, and then voicing and finishing the organ in situ to suit the building. This represents an enormous amount of time and skill, and rarely, if ever, is matched by electronic organ builders. The giveaway in the description of the Viscount is that it is voiced using samples from a variety of north German organs.....a pick and mix approach which is hardly likely to produce success, given that each stop is voiced to fit in a particular scheme and in a particular building. In a different space, the balance and evenness of these stops will be surely compromised, and the chances of a diapason from one organ fitting perfectly with a principal of another are small. I know that some firms offer voicing on site, but given the limited sample pool available and the rather fixed nature of the samples, there is not a great deal of room for manouvre in the process, and the results are bound to be poor. Add to this the unavoidable harmonic distortion introduced by feeding too many notes through one loudspeaker, and the results are going to be inferior whatever you do. These organs should really be best compared with other "off the shelf" products like a Compton Miniatura, for example.....all very well for what it is, but never more than a compromise. Surely the way forward is to build organs with much better speaker systems, that is to say, with multiple speakers not only per department but perhaps per note name...all Cs to one speaker, all c# to the next and so forth....expensive, but not approaching pipes although you may end up with up to 24 speakers per division......and then creating, not sampling, sounds which are manipulated in the building concerned to produce the desired results. This requires electronic organ builders who have an understanding of voicing style, not merely a bank of samples to choose from. While many builders do something along these lines, I doubt there are any who can start from scratch and create a stop and match it perfectly to the building, and I doubt that many installations have the sort of speaker set up that is really necessary to reduce the distortion which ruins larger ensembles so much. Now all of this wouldn't come cheap, and the skills required do not exist in an quantity as yet, that is something that will have to be developed. However, it's still going to come in at a great deal less than pipes, and can be a real alternative. Quality consoles are also a requirement; it's no use using inferior materials for these instruments and then complaining they won't last very long. As for reliability in the electronic sense, why then, the answer is surely to use a PC, just as Hauptwerk does, and also Colin Pykett's excellent Prog-Organ. I understand that many people would be concerned about reliability with a PC, but hey, that's an approach to the matter that belongs in another age. If you have a quality console, and a good speaker system, then the PC element fades into insignificance.........have two PCs. Set you organ up with the required spec and voice it to suit, and then just copy all the programming onto a second computer. If the first fails, then just undo a few cables and use the second, while you have the frirst sorted out, or better yet, replaced...After all, the cost of a PC is now very low indeed, and a very good Hauptwerk compatible computer can be had for probably less than the cost of a pipe organ's annual tuning contract in many cases. So thre is no issue with reliability, the PC is here to stay and getting cheaper every year. If it gives trouble, give it to the kids to surf on and get another. Now all this is going to require a larger outlay than the average toaster off the shelf, firstly a quality console, and then a great deal of sound system expense, and then a LOT of quality voicing time and time to create the soundfiles in the first place, but the actual nuts and bolts of the computer generation is now unbelievably cheap, and it has this great advantage, in flexibility. Different insruments can be stored to give good accounts of varying periods, without having a huge and unmanageable spec; and small changes can be made easily, given the proper voicing skills. The science in toasters is getting to be very well advanced. The trouble is, that the art in them is still in its infancy and it will take some considerable time before we are discussing the merits of the Viscount style of reed voicing versus the Allen style. Trouble is, they are as yet only copyists, and it will take many years before they become artists in their own right. But the day will come, and we should be grateful for it. One more thing, one wondeers how those Mendelssohn sonatas were recorded? In the average private residence, it is unlikely that the acoustic would be any good for recording on account of standing waves etc, and so it is likely that the instrument was recorded direclty...in which case, an instrument voiced for one room is then playing via you hifi into a room very different, and therefore any question of balace will be much altered....so not really a fair way to assess its quality. George
  6. this one.... http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=N10984 has a full dulciana chorus from 16' to mixture, including a twelfth......Prof Tracy was organist here before he went to Liverpool Cathedral. Nice Compton rebuild of a Rushworth and Dreaper, but being a Compton rebuild, I wouldn't be surprised if it were an extended rank. Still a very nice sound, sort of an echo great, but a bit feeble for a second chorus in Bach.
  7. just one little tip.....make sure you get brass ones, they are also available in plated steel, but steel screwed into oak sets up a reaction with the tannins in the wood, which will seize up the screw and eventually cause breakage again.
  8. One gets a little tired of all these tedious Luddites making snide remarks about "toasters". I've just had a lovely afternoon polishing up my Bach trios on my 3 manual GEM digital, and without a) freezing to death or being badgered by christians! If you don't like electronics, then don't play them; most of us can't afford a house organ, nor would we have the room, and to be able to play at home when one wishes is very convenient, especially if we don't have the time or the patience to put up with a church job. I can recommend two repairers, http://www.classicorgans.co.uk/ is Ron Coates' website, he is a very experienced technician in Surrey. David S Houlgate > Musical Instruments in Brighton Tel: 01273 846789 - Claycroft Farmhouse Beacon Rd, Ditchling, Hassocks, West Sussex, BN6 8XB David recently put new digital pedal stops into the Dome Organ at Brighton Pavilion. Both are very knowledgeable and friendly, and while neither is cheap, it pays to get an expert in for these things. Good luck with getting it fixed....although it doesn't sound too hopeful, mains voltage into a solid state circuit is not to be recommended......
  9. Do I recall hearing once a version of the Prelude and Fugue in C Minor by Vaughan Williams for organ and orchestra? Seem to remember it was a pretty impressive sound, especially in all those crashing passages in the prelude...... Worked better, I think, than the solo organ version, which is a pig to play and even harder to bring off convincingly.
  10. Over the years, I've tried all sorts of footwear (barring stilettos) and I still find nothing more comfortable than bare feet with a thickish pair of socks. I don't find the lack of a heel a problem at all, I can feel where I am much better, and sliding along the keys is much easier. I think it's a lot to do with how arched your feet are? Certainly, I feel it's much more comfortable and accurate, after all, how many of us play with gloves on? And as for any comments from incumbents, I've always dealt with that by telling them that if they don't like it, they can play themselves....I don't need comments on foot fashion from a man in a frock! I wonder, though, what was worn in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries? Did shoes have thick soles then? Or heels built up? Not, I suppose, something much written about in the learned treatises of the time, but it would be interesting to know. Maybe there's some record somewhere of an organist dying, like Lully, of blood poisoning from a splinter in the foot......?
  11. Back in the seventies, when I used to work for the Bechstein agents as a piano tuner, a story went the rounds that at the Royal Festival Hall, where they often had a piano on hire for lunchtime music in the foyer area, a couple of men came in, dismantled a Steinway concert grand, strapped it to a shoe and wheeled it out. This was a commonplace happening there, since the pianos were hired. No-one thought to question the men, since they seemed to know what they were doing. The piano was never seen again...... Possibly apocryphal, but a nice story......so long as it wasn't your Steinway.......
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