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Mander Organs

John Robinson

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Everything posted by John Robinson

  1. My grovelling apologies. I meant to write DIAPHONES and not POLYPHONES, the former being what was under discussion. It was late and I was tired (that's my excuse anyway)! Of course, these are two completely different animals. Whereas I think that diaphones could be very useful in respect of the sounds they can produce, I'm afraid I'm no fan of polyphones which I regard as a cheap substitute. They must be tantamount to producing a rank of conventional pipes, each of exactly the same diameter/scale, in which case the sound would become increasingly more foundational as the notes progress upward.
  2. It sounds to me that polyphones can be very useful stops and have some distinct advantages over flues and reeds. Perhaps they should be more widely used. Perhaps they already are, as you often wouldn't know from the name alone.
  3. Many thanks for this, MM. I have been in Wakefield Cathedral, though the last time was many years ago before I moved to the inferior side of the Pennines. Even then, I don't remember ever actually hearing the organ. Also, I'm afraid that I wasn't aware that the Contra Bass was a diaphone, but thanks for the information. I suspect that there are many more of the beasts about of which I am unaware. I should be interested to read your 'tome' when it becomes available. Yes, I was aware that there is/was(?) a diaphone at Worcester. I believe that the original case (and contents?) is still present in (I think) a transept and have often wondered why it wasn't retained as playable when the new organ was installed. Perhaps they intend to restore it to use when they have a bit more brass. Yes, I recall reading some time ago that diaphones don't vary much in pitch with different wind pressures and am sure that the facility to alter the pressure, presumably from the console, could be very useful. I wonder whether that could be achieved with some sort of swell/crescendo pedal. I have a feeling that that may have been done with some free-reed stops, perhaps in Germany. I just listened to the link you kindly provided and, although I am no fan of cinema organs, I must admit that there is a variety of interesting sounds in that recording. I can only hear that on my quite limited laptop speakers which, of course, can only imagine the reproduction of a 32' sound! Nevertheless, the section where the diaphone appears (if I'm correct) is impressively loud. I must dig out my headphones, which will reproduce such sounds far more accurately, and have another listen. Thanks again.
  4. Thank you very much for that, not only for the information about the St Mary organ, but also for other of his informative articles I was unaware of. I'd still be very interested to hear that diaphone as I can honestly say that I have never actually heard one, at least in 'real life'! I'd hazard a guess that a diaphone would sound rather different from a reed, bearing in mind that it uses a beating valve that is either 'open' or 'shut' rather than a reed which, I assume, opens and closes gradually. I imagine that would be something along the lines of a square-wave compared to a sine-wave? Perhaps, if I discover a forthcoming recital, I might take the trouble to travel there - assuming, of course, that the diaphone would actually be used!
  5. Yes of course. As I mentioned, there has been much alteration (and additions) since the Hope-Jones original. I had intended to include a photograph I took on that visit of a wall plaque near the console which provides a brief explanation of its history. Unfortunately, in order to make the photograph acceptable for addition to this forum I had to reduce its size/detail substantially to the extent that the text was unreadable! One interesting detail that is not mentioned in Paul Hale's article (supplied by Damian, above) that was included on the plaque is that the original Hope-Jones organ action electromagnets were powered by "a great many Leclanche cells covering the chamber floor". I can't imagine the problems that must have existed in ensuring that they were all maintained in a charged-up state. This, of course, in the days before mains electrical supplies were common, especially in remote locations. Oh dear! Surely that church is not going 'happy clappy' like to many others have? What would happen to the organ?
  6. To be perfectly honest, I too am of the same motivation. Yes, I was a choirboy but (apart from my mother insisting I attended church and Sunday School) the real reason I went to church was to have a look (and possibly a listen) at the organ. It is with some slight embarrassment that I admit that despite having been confirmed at Bradford Cathedral, I have since 'seen the light'. Even now, to my wife's chagrin, wherever we go for a day out (or longer) we find ourselves inside (unless it is locked up) a promising church for that exact reason. As a slight aside, we recently stayed for a few days in the Lake District and, needless to say, popped into one or two churches. One in particular turned out to be particularly interesting. St Mary, Ambleside rejoices in possessing a Hope-Jones organ of 1898 which, although with the inevitable alterations, still contains a 16' Diaphone on the Pedal despite having a total of only 24 stops. It was restored in 1999 and, thankfully, is still fully playable. I should have loved to have heard it.
  7. I suppose they could have bought a synthesizer more cheaply!
  8. I completely agree. You would have thought that in the 21st century the London-centricism would have become passé, and people of this country would have been valued equally regardless of where they live. Not so, I'm afraid. Congratulations to Stephen Cleobury, though. Well deserved. I remember once, years ago, I wrote to him personally asking for some information about one of the pieces I'd heard on the Nine Lessons and Carols series (this before the days of Google!). I received a very nice response and explanation despite his being, I'm sure, a very busy gentleman.
  9. I'm afraid that I can't comment because I am unfamiliar with Kellner or any other unequal temperaments. I only remember listening to organs in ET. Ideally, I'd very much like to hear the same piece of music played on organs with ET and Kellner temperament for comparison. However, from your description, Kellner does sound a very attractive alternative. Is it the case that in Kellner there are no 'unusable' keys as there appear to be in other unequal temperaments? If such is the case, why is Kellner not more widely used? For accompanying choirs, the slight differences in temperament would surely hardly be noticed, and even less so by the average congregation, yet the music would likely be more 'musical'! If the organ were to be played alongside other instruments, if I understand it correctly, most of them would automatically (naturally or through the player's modifying their playing technique) sound in the same (Kellner) temperament. Apologies if I have misunderstood, and I look forward to being corrected if so, but if Kellner really is an attractive temperament compared to ET I'd love to hear it used more widely.
  10. Not trying to be funny, MM, but as I pointed out several years ago on the YouTube page, that's not Armley Parish Church (as I'm sure you're aware), but St George's next door to the Leeds General Infirmary. As someone else mentioned on the same page, St George's doesn't even have an organ; it's a 'happy clappy' church!
  11. I should also add that the 1831 organ in York Minster (by Elliott and Hill) featured eight independent pedal stops, four at 16' and four at 32'(!). The present organ has only three 32' stops (soon to be four again) and two of these date from the 1831 organ, some of the earliest 32' stops in this country. Just prior to this, around 1820, pedal stops were placed within the screen: seven on the right side and six more on the left side (presumably as viewed from the east). It is uncertain whether or not one of these two sections might have been played from the manuals. Of course, in early 1829 all of this was completely destroyed by the lunatic who set fire to the organ and surrounding furnishings in the choir.
  12. Excellent news. Presumably, funds will be found from all the generous contributions for restoration of the cathedral to ensure a full cleaning and any other work needed to make the organ sing again.
  13. It sounds absolutely ridiculous, to the extent that it must be some sort of joke. However, the way things are going these days (in this country at least) with the rise of the 'professionally offended', it wouldn't surprise me in the least if it was a serious condemnation of the instrument!
  14. I'm sure that's not too inaccurate; it does have several percussions, anyway, and an excellent Vox Humana.
  15. At the risk of displaying my ignorance, what's a regulator? Can't you just turn off the tremulants?
  16. 'Wobulation'! Brilliant! I have to say that I am no fan of theatre organs, at least when played like that. To be honest, I can't say I have ever heard one played without such 'wobulators', but I'd imagine that they could emulate traditional church and concert hall pipe organs if the player wanted to do so.
  17. I agree. However, I'm sure that there is 'restoration' and 'restoration'. There must be many levels of restoration, depending on such things as levels of damage (if any), replacements (if needed) of pipes, action or structure, etc., and even possible extension.
  18. A man who was not reserved in speaking his mind, so I believe!
  19. Isn't that great? How useful that would have been if it had been available fifty years ago when we were 'ordered' to harmonise a tune at school!
  20. I understand that 'Pedal divide' is becoming a more popular addition to organs. I can understand its value: one now has the option of four different voices at once - both hands and both feet. Five, if you include 'thumbing down'! I once saw an alien musician on 'Star Trek TNG' who had six arms. Just think what such an organist could do. 😲
  21. Hahaha! Yes, but that's what happens on a discussion forum. Actually, I started the thread and eagerly look forward to further discussion about the York rebuild, but if people want to talk about other matters that's OK by me!
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