Jump to content
Mander Organ Builders Forum

John Robinson

  • Content Count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Posts posted by John Robinson

  1. 20 minutes ago, DariusB said:

    For those who might be interested, I've created a page with information about the history of the organ (with links to specifications and a much more detailed history), a bit about the City Organists, and an outline of the future plans for the organ.   More details will gradually follow.  Any comments welcome!



    I for one am very grateful to you for this information.  I believe we (I say 'we', although I no longer live in God's County) are very lucky to have such an excellent instrument, especially at the time when it seems that interest in the organ is dwindling and instruments continue to be replaced by electronic substitutes or scrapped completely.  I think that we are also fortunate that work is to be done to improve and/or extend the instrument.

    I should be particularly interested to learn of the proposed alterations and improvements to the organ as and when these become available, and would ask if you might kindly provide such details on this forum.

    In the meantime may I ask you whether, in view of the addition of a fourth manual, the stops of this new division will be taken from the existing ones or be new additions?  Also, is the enclosed fourth manual division to be sited above the Swell or located elsewhere?

    Thank you again.

  2. 11 hours ago, Colin Pykett said:

    The orchestra is sometimes deficient in bass, but I'm unconvinced that importing ever more bizarre and expensive large instruments will solve that problem for reasons of simple physics.  The traditional approach has been to employ a pipe organ when necessary, and it grieves me when the instrument is omitted by some conductors who think works such as Gerontius, Cockaigne, Enigma and the Pomps and Circumstances can get away without it.  Good old Elgar knew what he was about when it came to orchestration and mixing a good sound palette ...

    It grieves me too, but it also puzzles me!

    Why?  Why do they decide not to include the organ when it really should be necessary?  Is it because there would be the additional cost of ONE more player?  Surely not.  Nobody's that tight-fisted.

    Is is because of some innate dislike of the organ?  I believe that some musicians regard the organ as strictly not a 'real' musical instrument at all!

    Perhaps I've missed something.   Any other suggestions?

  3. On 03/11/2019 at 07:52, Tony Newnham said:

    Yes, EMS was on North Parade above Woods music shop.  When they sold out to the Williams group, who shortly after went bankrupt, EMS has moved to Salts Mill in Saltaire and is still going strong.  And to keep things on topic they often have a couple of Positive organs on display.

    Every Blessing


    Ah, worth a visit then, even though I no longer live in God's County.

  4. 13 hours ago, Tony Newnham said:


    Further to Inate's comment about the Clavichord, which I also have read was a common practice instrument in Bach's time, there have been Pedal Clavichords (and Pedal Harpsichords).  I saw a pedal Clavichord for sale in the Early Music Shop in Bradford a good few years ago now.  Sadly, it was beyond my means.

    Every Blessing


    Yes, I spent many days of my childhood looking around that place (wasn't it on North Parade?) imagining that I could buy one of those items.
    I shouldn't complain, though.  I did, after all, acquire a wheezy old harmonium (with very leaky bellows), a cast-off from the local church, which my dad and his mate struggled to carry up two floors to my bedroom.  I distinctly remember it having a fan tremulant which actually rotated!

  5. 10 hours ago, OwenTurner said:

    An idealistic, through ridiculous, extrapolation of this dialogue is that the expected audience, organ consultant, voicer and player all need to be similar ages!

    Even more ridiculous, give each member of the audience one of those 'clicker' things they seem to use on game shows, whereby each audience member can select 'brighter' or 'duller', and go with the majority vote!

  6. 23 hours ago, Steve Goodwin said:

    ... and it's also going to depend on the age of the voicer. We all suffer from age-related hearing degradation even if we don't need a hearing aid so the same pipe is likely to sound different to a 40 year old or a 60 year old organ builder.

    Yes, of course.  In my earlier post I suggested that they might be able to us technology to determine the exact strength of all the frequencies present in each note.

  7. 11 hours ago, OwenTurner said:

    Picking up on John Robinson's  (‎20‎/‎10‎/‎2019 at 08:42) point: "Perhaps they might look at a typical organ recital audience and think, "Yes, we should go for the 60+ option"!  (I'm only half-joking.)"

    I wonder whether the customary glance down the nave once a service has started, to decide how hard to thump the hymns, should include a rough age scan as well as just quantity to give consideration of using brighter choruses for play throughs. Also giving the incumbent (+20 yr older than me) 8+4, or an 8 with strong partials, for a chanting note might be fairer than a box muffled 8, or even to ask the chap's opinion on a few options.

    😄  Yes!

    On the other hand, I was wondering whether organ builders consider how brightly they voice their instruments bearing in mind the potential audience - predominantly young or aged.

    For example, most churches - perhaps brighter upper work to enable older people to hear it; university colleges - hold back on the strong upper work so as not to deafen the younger ones.

  8. On 20/10/2019 at 08:42, Colin Pykett said:

    Over 10 years ago I put together an article about age-related hearing loss (the most common type which eventually affects many if not all of us) and its relation to the sounds of the organ.  It's at http://www.pykett.org.uk/arhlandob.htm if you are interested.  It includes mp3 clips of how organs might sound to people having varying degrees of ARHL and these have since been used quite widely as demo pieces in educational, musical and audio circles.

    Having now had the opportunity to read your article thoroughly, I'd like to thank you for this highly interesting and educational article.

    One of the things that occurred to me is to question how organ builders/voicers should create their instruments.  Assuming that, whatever the level of their hearing, they have the means to (perhaps electronically?) accurately determine and quantify the frequency content of the various pipes they create, should they voice the pipes/organs to suit a young audience or an old audience?

    Perhaps they might look at a typical organ recital audience and think, "Yes, we should go for the 60+ option"!  (I'm only half-joking.)

    In all seriousness, I believe it is not possible to voice an organ to suit perfectly the hearing of both typical young and typical old listeners.

  9. 23 hours ago, john carter said:

    John, in the "normal" program, your hearing aid, like mine, probably switches between different settings automatically, depending on what it thinks you want to hear.  That is fine for most of the time.  The change I have made is to have the option of fixing it in the "speech in loud noise" mode, which makes it easier to concentrate on the conversation you want. 

    Thanks.  I hadn't though of that.  I'll ask if it could be fixed in that setting or, perhaps, switchable into fixed mode.

  10. 6 hours ago, john carter said:

    I would say to John Robinson that I have had the same difficulty in restaurants.  I have even resorted to a personal microphone, connected by Bluetooth, for my dinner guest - but that is rather inconvenient!  This week my audiologist has set up a new program for me, fixing the hearing aid into the "speech in loud noise" setting and reducing the overall levels slightly.  My first impressions are very encouraging as the hearing aids seem to focus more on the person I am listening to.

    Thanks for that!   I believe that mine have a 'speech in loud noise' facility, though I hadn't considered that it might not be activated.  I'll have a word with the audiologist when I next see him.


    Er... may I please apologise for making FOUR posts in rapid succession.  I promise that I am not trying to take over this very helpful thread!

  11. 6 hours ago, sbarber49 said:

    I have Boots hearing aids. They were, at the time I got them, more or less "top of the range". I got these rather than NHS ones especially since I know cheaper ones were not good for music - in particular, organ music.

    I have since also got NHS hearing aids which are very good for normal use but do have some distortion when listening to organ music.

    I bought mine about three years ago from Boots - Phonak B90.

    Since you mention it, I still have my (free) NHS hearing aids.  Having heard what you and others have said, I think I'll invest in some new batteries and try them to compare with the  (expensive) private ones.

  12. I have a pair of the 'several thousand pounds' hearing aids, yet I cannot hear the top end of a 1' stop or even of a 2' stop.

    I assume that, whereas the hearing aids are able to amplify sounds within my hearing range, above a certain point I can only assume that my hearing ability is non-existent, presumably due to too much Emerson, Lake and Palmer at high volumes during my youth.

    Incidentally, nothing to do with organs, but I can hear voices behind me in a crowded restaurant very well, but struggle to hear clearly people sitting in front of me!

  13. 14 hours ago, handsoff said:

    I recently bumped into a couple whom I know slightly and they asked me if I was still playing the organ. I told them that I was and asked which church they attended, knowing that they had been regulars at a local establishment for years. "The Revival Church at the college", I was told, "You know, the happy-clappies. You'd hate it; bangs, twangs and whistles!" I asked if they objected to the phrase even though they had used it themselves, "No, of course not, that's what we are. It's the snowflakes who butt in and object on our behalf even though we don't know them,  like those sighted people who say blind people should be called visually impaired even though the blind person calls themself "blind"". 

    A rather common occurrence these days!  The 'perpetually offended'.

  14. I am fortunate to possess a copy of his autobiography:  'Music for a Long While'.

    A fascinating read.  I seem to remember a photograph of him in the war holding a piano accordion with which he'd entertain his fellow soldiers - not an officer, surprisingly, but a down-to-earth 'ordinary rank', though he is far from ordinary in reality of course!

    In fact, he has led an extraordinary life by all accounts and achieved a great deal.  A man to be admired.

  15. 13 hours ago, Rowland Wateridge said:

    I’m very intrigued by DariusB saying a propos 81 stops on three manuals “we hope it won’t be for much longer ...”

    Me too.  Perhaps Darius might enlighten us as to whether existing stops are to be relocated in a new division, or (even better) a completely new division might be included.  Just a personal little foible and I know it's not to everyone's taste, but I'd have included a Vox Humana as well.

    15 hours ago, DariusB said:

    That's an interesting site - thanks.  Though it does list the Leeds organ incorrectly as having 73 stops instead of 81.  Even if you exclude the pedal borrowings it's still 78.  But it still strikes me as odd that anyone would think that cramming a large number of stops onto three manuals is a good thing!

    Yes.  There is another inaccuracy on that site, or at least on the version I have ( I once bought a CD from him).  It lists both Octave Twelfth 2 2/3 and Flute Nazard 2 2/3 on the Swell!  I'm sure that isn't the case.

  • Create New...