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Trimming


Westgate Morris
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I have outlined a proposed spec. for an organ that is about to be built (re-built). The project is approaching the magic budget line and is now considering trimming a couple stops to bring the whole thing inline. Alternate suggestions include ‘preparing’ a couple of the stops and raising funds to have them installed at some future date.

 

Suggestions for trimming…

Comments about ‘preparing stops’. Any personal experience with this?

 

WM

 

(please excuse the short forms)

Great

Open D 8, Ged 8, Princ 4, Fifte 2, Mix III-V,

Sw

Open D 8, Viola 8, VCel 8, St.Dia 8, GeigPrin 4, Harm Fl 4, Picco 2, Mix IV, C.Oboe 16, Oboe 8

Ch

Dulciana 8, Melod 8, UndaMar 8, Flu 4, Flageo 2, Sesquialtera II, Nineteen 1 1/3, Clar 8

Solo

Contraviolon 16, Harm Fl 8, Viocello 8, Spire Flu 4, Nazard 2 2/3, Tromba 8, Cor Anglais 8

Pedal

Major Bas 16(resultant), Bourdon 16, Gedeckt 16, Prin 8, Violoncelle 8, Bass Fl 8, Octav 4, Harm Fl 4, Tromba 16, C.Oboe 16, Tromba 8

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I have outlined a proposed spec. for an organ that is about to be built (re-built). The project is approaching the magic budget line and is now considering trimming a couple stops to bring the whole thing inline. Alternate suggestions include ‘preparing’ a couple of the stops and raising funds to have them installed at some future date.

 

Suggestions for trimming…

Comments about ‘preparing stops’. Any personal experience with this?

 

WM

 

(please excuse the short forms)

Great

Open D 8, Ged 8, Princ 4, Fifte 2, Mix III-V,

Sw

Open D 8, Viola 8, VCel 8, St.Dia 8, GeigPrin 4, Harm Fl 4, Picco 2, Mix IV, C.Oboe 16, Oboe 8

Ch

Dulciana 8, Melod 8, UndaMar 8, Flu 4, Flageo 2, Sesquialtera II, Nineteen 1 1/3, Clar 8

Solo

Contraviolon 16, Harm Fl 8, Viocello 8, Spire Flu 4, Nazard 2 2/3, Tromba 8, Cor Anglais 8

Pedal

Major Bas 16(resultant), Bourdon 16, Gedeckt 16, Prin 8, Violoncelle 8, Bass Fl 8, Octav 4, Harm Fl 4, Tromba 16, C.Oboe 16, Tromba 8

 

It all depends how far you have to go in preparing for `prepared' stop. In my experience I can only remember about 5% of `prepared for' items I came across ever being fitted. I have come across quite a few third keyboards that have been fitted to a `prepared for' console, which must have cost a bit but were never completed by being connected to anything.

 

FF

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It all depends how far you have to go in preparing for `prepared' stop. In my experience I can only remember about 5% of `prepared for' items I came across ever being fitted. I have come across quite a few third keyboards that have been fitted to a `prepared for' console, which must have cost a bit but were never completed by being connected to anything.

Even with mechanical action a third manual with no stops could be designed as a coupling manual. I've no direct experience of such an arrangement but I can imagine how it could make a neo-classical organ slightly more adaptable for romantic music.

 

As for prepared stops, I'm surprised how often these turn up on new European organs (according to websites!). I'm sure that once it seems the church can get by without the pedal trombone or the Positive sesquialtera it must be hard to generate the impetus to raise the additional funds.

 

Michael

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I have outlined a proposed spec. for an organ that is about to be built (re-built). The project is approaching the magic budget line and is now considering trimming a couple stops to bring the whole thing inline. Alternate suggestions include 'preparing' a couple of the stops and raising funds to have them installed at some future date.

 

Suggestions for trimming…

Comments about 'preparing stops'. Any personal experience with this?

 

WM

 

I thought this practice died out years ago. In reality, leaving stops "prepared for" doesn't save much in the way of money - you still need the space on the soundboard, sliders, stop action, etc "prepared for", which needs to be installed and paid for up front. The cost of pipes in the organ is small compared to the rest of the structure - especially if it's something like a larigot.

 

There are also other problems - adding the pipes later on will mean extra work on the organ later, which in the long-run will be more expensive than setting them up in one hit. Also, will you really want extra work inside your new organ once it is complete? I certainly wouldn't.

 

To be honest, it's a false economy and one that as FF and others will testify, rarely is completed. I would go back to the penny counters and ask for a few more 000s for those extra couple of stops. It seems silly to spoil the ship for a ha'ports worth of tar in this instance and I can't believe that they would be so tight-fisted to compromise the organ for a variance of a few % on the budget. Remember, the overriding factor for an organ project should be quality first, then followed by cost or timescale (depending upon the factors - usually cost is #2). It should never be about hitting the magic budget line. The money will come.

 

Getting on to your bean counters and hitting your budget target, I assume there is no contingency budget? Also, have you allowed for other costs - e.g. redecorating the organ chamber while the organ is out, electricians, etc? We had to have nearly all the church re-wired during our organ project (all the wiring went through the old organ). These things always come out more than you'd expect and if you're trying to squeeze it all into a target budget, may I suggest there's a higher probability you don't make it? Our budget for extra costs above the organ builder's work was about 30% (which included VAT payments) - in practice, it should have been 35% but we're pretty happy that the final cost came in 2.6% above the budget.

 

if you really do need to make savings, I would get rid of the solo division and have the tromba on the choir and/or great and pad out the other divisions a bit. I would rather have a 2 rank cornet and larigot on the choir rather than the proposed sesquialtera and 19th so they're all of the same "family" and blend better. The Sesquialtera could then go on the Great, where it could also have a optional role in the chorus.

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Another thing you could consider is getting 2nd hand pipework, so long as it is suitable provanance and scaling to go with the rest of the organ. It's rather looked down upon in this country but done well, it can work very well tonally and will help to save money but you need to know what you're doing. The Redundant Organ rehousing company, www.rorcl.org.uk , Derrick Carrington is your man nd a good palce to start but many local builders will have a stock...

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Great

Open D 8, Ged 8, Princ 4, Fifte 2, Mix III-V,

Sw

Open D 8, Viola 8, VCel 8, St.Dia 8, GeigPrin 4, Harm Fl 4, Picco 2, Mix IV, C.Oboe 16, Oboe 8

Ch

Dulciana 8, Melod 8, UndaMar 8, Flu 4, Flageo 2, Sesquialtera II, Nineteen 1 1/3, Clar 8

Solo

Contraviolon 16, Harm Fl 8, Viocello 8, Spire Flu 4, Nazard 2 2/3, Tromba 8, Cor Anglais 8

Pedal

Major Bas 16(resultant), Bourdon 16, Gedeckt 16, Prin 8, Violoncelle 8, Bass Fl 8, Octav 4, Harm Fl 4, Tromba 16, C.Oboe 16, Tromba 8

 

If this is a rebuild, you are, of course, limited by the capacity of the soundboards. Are they slider, Roosevelt, Pitman, Kegellade - or some other design? If they are slider soundboards, I would consider amalgamating the GO and Solo in order to have a decent sized GO. A five department instrument with only five stops on the GO is somewhat odd.

 

If you did this, you could have;

 

PEDAL ORGAN

 

Contra Bass (Haskelled) 16 (I have never met a 'resultant' 16p Pedal stop - surely all one can hear are the quint and the unison separately?)

Bourdon 16

Principal 8

Flute 8

Fifteenth 4

Harmonic Flute 4

Trombone (Ext. GO) 16

Bassoon (Swell) 16

Tromba (GO) 8

 

CHOIR ORGAN

 

Gedeckt 8 (Old GO)

Violoncello 8 (Old Solo)

Spire Flute 4 (Old Solo)

Flageolet 2

Sesquialtera (12-17) II

Larigot 1 1/3

Corno di Bassetto 8

Tromba (GO) 8

 

GREAT ORGAN

 

Contra Violone 16 (Old Solo)

Open Diapason 8

Harmonic Flute 8 (Old Solo)

Principal 4

Harmonic Flute 4 (Old Swell)

Twelfth 2 2/3 (Nazard re-scaled)

Fifteenth 2

Mixture (19-22-26-29) IV

Tromba 8 (Old Solo)

 

SWELL ORGAN

 

Open Diapason 8

Stopped Diapason 8

Viola 8

Vox Angelica 8

Geigen Principal 4

Piccolo 2

Mixture (15-19-22) III

Bassoon (Ext. ?) 16

Hautboy 8

Trumpet 8 (You really need an 8p chorus reed under expression - lose the 4p flute)

 

The following ranks are not used in the scheme:

 

PEDAL: Gedeckt 16

 

CHOIR: Dulciana, Melodia, Unda Maris and Flute

 

GREAT: (Mixture reduced to four ranks)

 

SWELL: (Harmonic Flute transferred to GO. Mixture reduced to three ranks)

 

SOLO: Cor Anglais (Everything else has been used elsewhere)

 

I decided to dispense with the Choir Dulciana and the Unda Maris - there is already an undulant in the Swell. Given that you may need to fit within budgetary constraints, I felt that there were more pressing needs than to include two Célestes.

 

Allowing for the fact that I have no idea of the quality of the pipe-work or the style of the voicing, on paper, this seems to be to be a more sensible distribution of resources. The only ranks which are new (or second-hand) are the Pedal Contra Bass and the Swell Trumpet.

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Even with mechanical action a third manual with no stops could be designed as a coupling manual. I've no direct experience of such an arrangement but I can imagine how it could make a neo-classical organ slightly more adaptable for romantic music.

 

Michael

 

Some of the smaller American organ builders, who made their own keys, put in a third manual on a two manual mechanical instrument as a permanant Swell to Great. It was cheaper for them than designing and making the necessary mechanical movement for the normally accepted Swell to Great mechanism.

 

FF

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If this is a rebuild, you are, of course, limited by the capacity of the soundboards. Are they slider, Roosevelt, Pitman, Kegellade - or some other design? If they are slider soundboards, I would consider amalgamating the GO and Solo in order to have a decent sized GO. A five department instrument with only five stops on the GO is somewhat odd.

<snip!>

 

 

SWELL ORGAN

 

Open Diapason 8

Stopped Diapason 8

Viola 8

Vox Angelica 8

Geigen Principal 4

Piccolo 2

Mixture (15-19-22) III

Bassoon (Ext. ?) 16

Hautboy 8

Trumpet 8 (You really need an 8p chorus reed under expression - lose the 4p flute)

 

The following ranks are not used in the scheme:

 

PEDAL: Gedeckt 16

 

CHOIR: Dulciana, Melodia, Unda Maris and Flute

 

GREAT: (Mixture reduced to four ranks)

 

SWELL: (Harmonic Flute transferred to GO. Mixture reduced to three ranks)

 

SOLO: Cor Anglais (Everything else has been used elsewhere)

 

I decided to dispense with the Choir Dulciana and the Unda Maris - there is already an undulant in the Swell. Given that you may need to fit within budgetary constraints, I felt that there were more pressing needs than to include two Célestes.

 

Allowing for the fact that I have no idea of the quality of the pipe-work or the style of the voicing, on paper, this seems to be to be a more sensible distribution of resources. The only ranks which are new (or second-hand) are the Pedal Contra Bass and the Swell Trumpet.

 

I agree with all you say and suggest and this looks very fine on paper (as, of course a paper exercise). I totally agree with you about the swell trumpet (budget 10k for it...) but feel on an organ of this size a sw 4' flute would be very useful. Perhaps the old choir flute could be retained?

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I agree with all you say and suggest and this looks very fine on paper (as, of course a paper exercise). I totally agree with you about the swell trumpet (budget 10k for it...) but feel on an organ of this size a sw 4' flute would be very useful. Perhaps the old choir flute could be retained?

 

Not at the expense of the Swell Trumpet, though - which would be infinitely more useful*. In any case, there is the 4p Harmonic Flute on the GO (formerly on the Swell) and the Spire Flute on the Choir (formerly on the Solo). Therefore, I am satisfied that, given the size of the scheme, two 4p flutes (of contrasting tonality) are sufficient.

 

I take your point about the cost of the Swell Trumpet, although I would be interested to learn the comparative cost for such a rank in the U.S., since it may be less (or more, admittedly).

 

*It is worth remembering that neither FHW organ at Truro Cathedral or St. Paul's Cathedral has a 4p flute of any description on the Swell Organ. For the record, Truro is only four stops larger on paper than the instrument under discussion. Of course, I realise that aurally, Truro is likely to be very different - the building under discussion is almost certainly rather smaller.

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Yes, absolutely. I totally agree: a sw trumpet comes far higher up the list than a 4' sw flute any day of the week and in my opinion is worth every penny of £10k in an organ of this size.

 

Re. cost of trumpet in the US... well Fisk tendered for a job in the UK. It was nearly twice as much as the next most expensive quote. But I'm sure Bore-in-arse organbuilders of the back of beyond, Alabama could be a bit cheaper...

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Yes, absolutely. I totally agree: a sw trumpet comes far higher up the list than a 4' sw flute any day of the week and in my opinion is worth every penny of £10k in an organ of this size.

 

Re. cost of trumpet in the US... well Fisk tendered for a job in the UK. It was nearly twice as much as the next most expensive quote. But I'm sure Bore-in-arse organbuilders of the back of beyond, Alabama could be a bit cheaper...

 

 

Ha!

 

Interesting, Colin. I have often wondered about the cost of organ rebuilds, etc, in the U.S.

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