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John Robinson

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Posts posted by John Robinson

  1. 12 hours ago, Colin Pykett said:

    OK Stanley, since you asked so nicely, and because it's far too hot to think of going outside, here goes (with apologies to John if he thinks I'm paddling in his pond) ...

    Absolutely no apologies needed!

    I found your explanations both interesting and enlightening and I agree with them entirely.  I might add that I respect and enjoy the benefit of your far greater knowledge of the subject.

    I have heard for myself that organs with relatively low wind pressure can be at least as 'loud' as the high-pressure ones which held sway in this country in the early 20th century.  There are far more important factors in play: location within the building, the building itself, the use of strong mixtures, etc, etc.

    My personal preference has always been for a brighter sound, especially since my hearing has begun to deteriorate!

  2. On 23/06/2020 at 23:44, Stanley Monkhouse said:

    Thank you, Mr White Rose Man, now tinged pink.

    Southwell, York and Ripon all have wooden nave roofs. (I'm talking of York organ 1960 to 2019). 

    Still pristine and unadulterated white despite my present location, I assure you!

    Yes, of course, I'm sure that stone roofs carry the sound of an organ better than wooden roofs which, I'm sure, must absorb much of the higher harmonics.

  3. What an excellent post!

    I am almost certain that the majority of the sound from a flue pipe comes from the mouth (though I stand to be corrected!), I'd be very interested to hear responses from more knowledgeable members to the several other questions.

    I do hope you receive a comprehensive list of answers!

  4. 13 hours ago, Tony Newnham said:


    Regarding Cathedral entrance charges (which I personally disagree with - must be my Yorkshire heritage), Coventry announced last year that admission charges were going to be abolished.  I can't remember the timing, and obviously I don't know what effect the current situation will have on that.  The only times I've been there recently has been for Organist Association events starting at a relatively early hour, and there was no charge - nor any sign of anyone collection money when we left (also, these visits were Feb/March, so hardly the height of the tourist season!)

    Every Blessing


    We visited a cathedral 'darn sarf' last year and were pleased to see that they didn't demand anything.  Instead, they politely asked if anyone would like to contribute and suggested a suitable amount.  From what I could see, everyone coughed up without question. 

    Even I paid up perfectly willingly despite being, like you Tony, a 'tight-fisted Yorkshireman'!  (Sorry.)

    Needless to say, I thought it far more friendly to do things that way than demand a set admission fee and I wonder whether the overall income might be higher when asking politely.  'Demanding' certainly rubs up many people the wrong way, myself included.

  5. 14 hours ago, Niccolo Morandi said:

    Still working on the concept art so I don't have anything to show you just yet, but I recently came across a house organ that I had stumbled across a while ago but couldn't remember the name of.

    It's an instrument that I feel that I have to share with you, as although the specification only consist of three ranks of pipes the case design is quite a conversation piece.


    Good heavens!  It looks a bit like that Disney thing in America.

  6. 23 hours ago, DaveHarries said:

    Members of this forum might be interested to know that a YouTube channel was established about 3 months ago dedicated to the organs of Cologne Cathedral, Germany. There are - at the time of writing - 9 videos featuring not only music, interior tours of the crossing and nave organs and other things besides. The clips are mostly done by Winfried Bönig (organist of the Cathedral) but one of the clips also features some technical insight from an employee of Klais (Bonn) who built both instruments and the videos are in German.

    The YouTube channel can be found at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNAbpw1TN1AVttE3v2zRSSQ/ and there is also a Facebook page for anyone who has it - https://www.facebook.com/domorgel - which has been in existence longer than the YouTube channel.



    Very interesting.  Thank you.

  7. 1 hour ago, contraviolone said:

    Apologies for steering the conversation back to the York Minster organ. I do agree with the highlighted comment above by John Robinson. As you say the Cornet is firmly rooted in the English organ tradition, together with, dare I say, the Sesquialtera! These colourful stops owe nothing to influences from European continental organs. I fully understand the ethos of the current rebuilding of the Minster organ, but I am a little perplexed as to why at least the Cornet has been dropped?

    Perhaps Robert Sharpe may be patient enough to respond to this. I know in advance that such issues as space to accommodate a V rank stop (even commencing from tenor C) will always be an issue,  given the new specification for the organ. But I just feel, once all is complete, there may be some regret for the loss of at least the Cornet, with all the colour and versatility this stop can bring to the organ repertoire.

    Thank you.

    Whilst I agree that the York organ needed some changes to make it more powerful and able to project down the nave, I do like the idea of a wide tonal palette in an organ.  Perhaps that is of secondary importance in the accompaniment of services, although I'm sure it must be useful in psalms, for example, and certainly in organ recitals.
    Of the losses of mutations from the York organ, I feel that the Cornet is perhaps the one I'd most like to keep.  The Sesquialtera perhaps less so, and its replacement by the Harmonics might compensate to an extent depending on the sound of the latter stop.  The Larigot is probably the least important and the use of the Nazard with the 16' on the Choir might possibly produce a similar solo voice, although the Larigot being such a small stop might have found space somewhere in the instrument!

    I suppose I must sound like Ian Tracey's 'knackered cart horse' - always wanting another stop.

  8. 5 hours ago, WJ Swindells said:

    One of the consequences of "Lockdown" is having some time to peruse these developments from afar. York Minster Organ post 1960 was the one I recall as having iconic status and it's interesting how most British organs evolve every 30 years or so. The new specification reads much more in-line with one school of thought rather than the admittedly eclectic mix that it had evolved too, and which in his 2007 sleeve notes, John Scott Whiteley says had partly been the aim of the 1993 rebuild. (English Cathedral Organ Series CD XV) I have also been watching Daniel Moult's "English Organ" DVD in which he ruminates about what is "English Organ Culture?" and perhaps in 2020 we have the confidence as seems to be stated in this rebuild that we don't have to, any longer, defer to France, Germany or Denmark as ideal organ cultures but have confidence in our own pedigree. Will Gloucester Cathedral go back also to the pre- Ralph Downes ideal I wonder...) 

    I completely agree that we should have confidence in our own organ pedigree, but does that mean that we can't still take in some ideas from other national organ styles?  I have heard the 1993 York Minster organ, both on recordings and live, and I feel that it still sounded completely 'English', at least to my ears!
    As I have mentioned earlier in this thread, I welcome the changes presently being made by Harrisons and am sure that there will be noticeable improvements, especially with regard to power and projection.  However, I'd still have liked it to retain some of the voices being lost.  The Cornet, for example, would surely not be out of character as cornets have been a feature of English organs for centuries.

  9. 13 hours ago, Niccolo Morandi said:

    I guess the reason why I'm so concerned about the dimensions of organ pipes is that in order to draw up specification I need to know how much space each rank is going to take up, plus I'm concerned that I am a bit ambitious with wanting to fit so much into a small amount of space.

    My advice would be simply to examine some existing scale plans to gauge typical space requirements for different stops.  Of course, organ builders are expert at knowing how to squeeze things into limited spaces, but if you err on the side of generosity of space I think you'd be on safe ground!

  10. 6 hours ago, Niccolo Morandi said:

    My problem is that although I have drawn quite a few pipe organs in the past I have never drawn an organ that is to scale. Or a plan detailing where the pipes and components would be placed inside an organ case.

    Although I have absolutely no qualifications or practical experience in organ design, it is one of my favourite 'hobbies' to design organs.  Diagrammatically, I use an old, but still very workable installation of TurboCAD for detailed and accurately to scale projects, and also Photoshop Elements for less accurate attempts but with the advantage of modifying already published plans.

    I don't go so far as to include every single pipe and such things as electrical cabling, etc., but the basic layout of display pipes, wind chests, building frames and case work are more or less within my capabilities.

    Of course, written stop lists and the like are relatively easy!

  11. 11 hours ago, Stanley Monkhouse said:

    well, it'll not be long before that's the case here, I suspect - at least, organs that are playable. Organs in churches proliferated with the Oxford movement. Before that, fiddlers on the gallery at the back. Back to the future?

    More likely 'worship groups'!  Though not necessarily on the gallery.

  12. 10 hours ago, S_L said:

    I have to say that there is a lot of this post that I don't agree with! 

    Where do you get that the French people are not interested? It might be a slightly romantic view but I would say that Notre Dame is at the heart of the French nation!  And M. Macron is incompetent? 

    I think there is a good deal more interest, from the French people, in the rebuilding of Notre Dame than there was in the UK after the fire at York Minster - or Windsor! True that within the French population there is a sizeable anti-religion group. My next door neighbour's wife said "Let it burn!" But he was in tears! Sizeable audiences attend the organ recitals on a Sunday afternoon, and up and down the country, far more than ever would in the UK and, whilst the French don't go to church they pack the place on August 15th or at Toussaint


    Sadly, I agree.  I have been to many organ recitals where I feel sad at the apparent lack of public interest, going by the size of the audience.  I may have mentioned before that I attended a recital in Cologne Cathedral several years ago when the place was literally packed, many having brought along camping chairs to sit in the aisles as the pews were full.  And, if I recall, that was a recital mainly of Messaien!

  13. 2 hours ago, Karsten said:

    So let's give it a try and I apologize for any misstranslations in advance, I am not a native English speaker...

    Just a first paragraph. If you like it, I will see, if I can translate some other parts.

    Jürgen Ahrend about Helmut Walcha, the famous Schnitger organ at Cappel and his work as apprentice with Paul Ott there:





    Well that makes perfect sense to me!  Thank you.
    Interesting, though, that Cappel was in equal temperament.

  14. 21 hours ago, robertsharpe said:

    Hello John, and other readers. In answer to your question, the Mirabilis will not be affected by the solo octave couplers in the restored organ. The pedal divide has a fifth Solo Octave to Pedal coupler above the divide point, in addition to the standard four manuals to pedal ones, and this will affect the Mirabilis for when a tune in the middle of the compass on that stop is desired to be played by the right foot. Incidentally, the other Solo stops, when played through this pedal divide coupler and with additionally Solo Octave and Unison Off drawn, will play at double octave. i.e. Orchestral Oboe, Octave, Unison Off and pedal divide Solo Octave to Pedal will sound on the pedals above the divide point at 2’ pitch.

    How very interesting.  Clever use of different octave couplers to make full use of the available stops.  I wasn't aware of the 'Pedal Divide Solo Octave to Pedal' coupler until now. 

    The more I hear about this organ, the more fascinating it becomes.

    Thank you.

  15. 22 hours ago, Philip Moore said:

    When I first arrived at the Minster in 1983, the Octave and Suboctaves worked on the Tuba Mirabilis.  Unless every note was bang in tune, it could sound terrible even with either one of the couplers.  Those stops are at their best in single notes, iMHO.  In 1990 we decided not to connect them and I never missed them.  

    According to the 2020 Harrison specification, the Solo will include octave, unison off and sub-octave couplers, though it doesn't state whether or not the Tuba Mirabilis will be affected by these.  I think if it were to be so, it would produce a devastating sound.
    I'm sure Robert Sharpe could clarify matters.


  16. 17 hours ago, Philip Moore said:

    This site is a real time-waster and utterly absorbing!  (I have only just joined.)  I have read with great interest the comments about York Minster; Robert Sharpe and Harrisons must be congratulated for sorting out the organ so comprehensively.  Philip Marshall, (Lincoln) told me many years ago that you could feel a real punch from the pre-1961 organ even at the back of the Nave.  It's especially good that some of the case pipes will speak once again. 


    Yes, I have had an interest in the development of the York Minster organ for many years.  I remember reading somewhere that Francis Jackson described the instrument as changing 'chameleon-like' over the years to accommodate current tastes.  Francis, of course, added a number of mutations (Cornet, Sesquialtera, Nazard, Tierce, Larigot) during his tenure, only two of which remain in the current rebuild which I think is a shame.  Of course, we can't keep adding more and more stops into a limited amount of space and the additions and alterations being done by Harrisons at the moment will be, I think, a great advantage in making the instrument more assertive especially when being used with a full nave.  I particularly like the addition of a second 32' reed in the Pedal and a Harmonics mixture in the Great.
    When all is completed, I very much hope that Priory might be persuaded to produce a second DVD/BD of the York Minster organ, which would provide an interesting comparison of the new with the old (a copy of which I already have, of course).

  17. 4 hours ago, Damian Beasley-Suffolk said:

    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.

    I believe that such photos need to be viewed using a special apparatus such that the left picture is viewed by the left eye and the right with the right.
    I am able to cross my eyes to view such pictures, but the two would have to be exchanged side to side.  I might try that using Photoshop when I have a few minutes.

  18. 10 hours ago, OwenTurner said:

    Coincidentally I stumbled into this picture this evening https://collections.st-andrews.ac.uk/photographs/item/york-minster---the-stone-screen/610492/viewer#?#viewer&c=&m=&s=&cv=&manifest=https%3A%2F%2Fcollections.st-andrews.ac.uk%2F610492%2Fmanifest&xywh=-901%2C-195%2C8786%2C3895

    which shows west end chamades quite clearly. I would presume this photo to be from the late 19th century.


    Interesting.  I wonder what the boxes with crosses underneath the pipes are.  At first, I thought they might be wood pipes, but that would be pointless.

  19. Thanks for this.  We were there in March last year and, of course, visited St Stephan's.  I wondered at the time, looking at the no-longer-functioning console, what the rebuild might turn out like.
    It does look like the previous organ facade but, reading the information provided, the contents seem to have been enlarged and the description of the internal layout is particularly interesting.
    I, too, look forward to hearing it at some time in the future.

  20. 3 hours ago, P DeVile said:

    If you missed today's Bridgewater hall recital on youtube by Jonathan Scott - here it is: 



    Yes, I enjoyed that.  I thought the sound was really quite good even on my laptop speakers.  A good choice of music, too, which should please most.

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