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Are You Adaptable?


Westgate Morris
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You have no doubt seen my name attached to various items on the Nuts and Bolts Forum. It is true that our parish is building an organ. It is true that it is unconventional in design. It is true that we are having a terraced console built for the organ and we are not located in France.

The unconventional design- Great and enclosed Solo plus some Pedal stops at the back of the room with enclosed Choir and Swell and some Pedal stops at the front of the room in the chancel. This configuration was arrived at after examining the architecture of the church and much research. It is guided by a respected concert organist and scholar. The room is fortunate to have splendid acoustics. The organ builder is extremely competent and is a very respected voicer.

The terraced console was chosen because it offers better sightlines than convention consoles and given this is a small parish the organist must conduct and play the organ most of the time.

 

An argument awaits us as we confront the ‘teachers’ in the area who will be crying that because of the terraced console (not to mention the unconventional design) students and other organists will not be able to play or learn on ‘such’ an instrument.

 

Is it not true that some of us spent our formative years on trackers with no pistons, stops located a foot from either side of the keyboard and no swell pedal? I think we turned out just fine. I am glad that I had that training as it taught me to be flexible and adaptable. On choir tours we jumped on the four manual Skinner and made it work. Sure, it wasn’t like the trackers back at college but we made music nonetheless.

 

I fear for these students more that I fear for our profession. Inflexible organists breed inflexible choirs, breed inflexible congregations, breed disaster.

 

Please give your opinion regarding the terraced console issue. It seems to be vogue right now, at least in the US/Canada, everything from straight terraced to amphitheatre terraced.

adaptable,

WM

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Guest Barry Williams
You have no doubt seen my name attached to various items on the Nuts and Bolts Forum. It is true that our parish is building an organ. It is true that it is unconventional in design. It is true that we are having a terraced console built for the organ and we are not located in France.

The unconventional design- Great and enclosed Solo plus some Pedal stops at the back of the room with enclosed Choir and Swell and some Pedal stops at the front of the room in the chancel. This configuration was arrived at after examining the architecture of the church and much research. It is guided by a respected concert organist and scholar. The room is fortunate to have splendid acoustics. The organ builder is extremely competent and is a very respected voicer.

The terraced console was chosen because it offers better sightlines than convention consoles and given this is a small parish the organist must conduct and play the organ most of the time.

 

An argument awaits us as we confront the ‘teachers’ in the area who will be crying that because of the terraced console (not to mention the unconventional design) students and other organists will not be able to play or learn on ‘such’ an instrument.

 

Is it not true that some of us spent our formative years on trackers with no pistons, stops located a foot from either side of the keyboard and no swell pedal? I think we turned out just fine. I am glad that I had that training as it taught me to be flexible and adaptable. On choir tours we jumped on the four manual Skinner and made it work. Sure, it wasn’t like the trackers back at college but we made music nonetheless.

 

I fear for these students more that I fear for our profession. Inflexible organists breed inflexible choirs, breed inflexible congregations, breed disaster.

 

Please give your opinion regarding the terraced console issue. It seems to be vogue right now, at least in the US/Canada, everything from straight terraced to amphitheatre terraced.

adaptable,

WM

 

 

 

A few terraced consoles are inconvenient because it is not possible to see the stop names. Provided the layout follows the normal French pattern this can hardly be an issue. For a very bad terraced console see the pipeless instrument in Pershore Abbey.

 

Barry Williams

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I don't fully understand the idea that the stops of a terraced consoles cannot be "read" easily.

 

What is to stop the organ-builder from fitting those harmonium-style stop-heads with the face at 45 degrees, which can be read perfectly easily? OK, they may resemble the storage racks of an Early Music shop; like so many treble-recorders, but that doesn't matter.

 

I do think that some of the most elegant consoles in Europe are some of the new ones in Hungary, where terraced stops have been popular ever since the days of the organ-builder Josef Angster, who had worked with Cavaille-Coll in Paris.

 

With slanted stop-heads, would a terraced console be very different from a horseshoe stop-key layout in ergonomic (organomic?) terms? Surely not?

 

I don't think I could personally live with one, because I think I would want to introduce hanging-plants and a water-feature.

 

:lol:

 

MM

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I never really feel qualified to give a view on the technical / organ building side of these discussions, but in answer to the direct question of the suitability of this type of console for teaching purposes, I cannot see that there is any problem at all, and if any teacher raises objections to it, I would have serious doubts about their musical priorities.

 

For me, the only important things for a student when learning are an organ with a precise, even, responsive touch, and a basic chorus that is musical to listen to and allows for sensitive articulation.

 

Most of my early lessons were on small tracker instruments that fitted these parameters, and the organ on which I now do all of my 'serious' practice fits into this category as well.

 

These are the resources necessary to develop discrimination of touch, precise ensemble and a discerning ear. These, surely, must be the essential skills for students to develop.

 

For more advanced playing, certainly it is necessary to have experience of a larger organ with more sophisticated playing aids, and if the student really develops then he or she will inevitably play a wider variety of instrumetns and learn to adapt to all type of consoles. For such a student, the present instrument will be a valuable introduction to more continental styles of console disposition and management. Then again, such students may be, to a degree, self selecting ; it will be the adaptable ones who flourish and find the opportunities to play more varied instruments, leading them to be more adaptable and so on.

 

M

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You have no doubt seen my name attached to various items on the Nuts and Bolts Forum. It is true that our parish is building an organ. It is true that it is unconventional in design. It is true that we are having a terraced console built for the organ and we are not located in France.

The unconventional design- Great and enclosed Solo plus some Pedal stops at the back of the room with enclosed Choir and Swell and some Pedal stops at the front of the room in the chancel. This configuration was arrived at after examining the architecture of the church and much research. It is guided by a respected concert organist and scholar. The room is fortunate to have splendid acoustics. The organ builder is extremely competent and is a very respected voicer.

The terraced console was chosen because it offers better sightlines than convention consoles and given this is a small parish the organist must conduct and play the organ most of the time.

 

An argument awaits us as we confront the 'teachers' in the area who will be crying that because of the terraced console (not to mention the unconventional design) students and other organists will not be able to play or learn on 'such' an instrument.

 

Is it not true that some of us spent our formative years on trackers with no pistons, stops located a foot from either side of the keyboard and no swell pedal? I think we turned out just fine. I am glad that I had that training as it taught me to be flexible and adaptable. On choir tours we jumped on the four manual Skinner and made it work. Sure, it wasn't like the trackers back at college but we made music nonetheless.

 

I fear for these students more that I fear for our profession. Inflexible organists breed inflexible choirs, breed inflexible congregations, breed disaster.

 

Please give your opinion regarding the terraced console issue. It seems to be vogue right now, at least in the US/Canada, everything from straight terraced to amphitheatre terraced.

adaptable,

WM

The real question you need to answer is why you've gone for a terraced console. If there's a good reason for it, then people will just have to accept it. You'll never please everyone and it's not really worth worrying what people think of it (but it's very nice to find out if they do like it). Most organists will cope and those that complain... well, a bad workman and all that...
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A number of folks raise the 'slanted stop heads' question. We don't demand this of trackers... large stops sticking straight out of the case. ?

With an amphitheatre terraced console the stop jambs are horizontal but curve so the stops at the end of the are slightly facing the player. google - "St. Sulpice organ console" or " St. Olaf Lively Fulcher"

WM

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Is a terraced stop-knob console so very different from a Walker or Compton stop-key console? Whatever type of console you are brought up on, sooner or later you are going to have to cope with others. It is one of the skills any self-respecting organist has to develop. I just don't see it as an issue. From my earliest organ playing days I encountered organs with conventional stop jambs, with stop keys, with stop knobs in a row above the Swell and goodness knows what else. I don't recall ever worrying about about it; I just took it as part of the endless variety we encounter with our instrument.

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Is a terraced stop-knob console so very different from a Walker or Compton stop-key console? Whatever type of console you are brought up on, sooner or later you are going to have to cope with others. It is one of the skills any self-respecting organist has to develop. I just don't see it as an issue. From my earliest organ playing days I encountered organs with conventional stop jambs, with stop keys, with stop knobs in a row above the Swell and goodness knows what else. I don't recall ever worrying about about it; I just took it as part of the endless variety we encounter with our instrument.

 

I agree with this - it is up to the customer to request (within reason) what is wanted in the specific situation - and then negotiate with the builder in question. I was involved in a scheme once where we ended up with a new 2 man tracker job complete with console modelled on a T.C.Lewis near Newcastle upon Tyne. It all looked and played very well. Not terraced but I suppose we could have asked....

 

Someone presumably liked the idea of this:

 

http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/PSearch...E00594&no=2

 

.........so this is what they got!

 

AJJ

 

PS From another thread but...'probably good to play Star Wars or Thunderbirds on for those more unusual weddings.

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I agree with the (so far) general view that it shouldn't matter what type of console you learn on, providing its reliable and fit for purpose. If you achieve even modest success as an organist you will find yourself playing a variety of instruments of many differing layouts and designs - and you have to be able to adjust quickly and get on with the job.

 

I learnt on a 3m instrument with no thumb pistons and just 3 old-style composition pedals to each of swell and great. Hand registration was vital. I would suggest that its no disadvantage to learn on such an instrument. Its probably easier to adapt to using thumb pistons, toes pistons, steppers etc. later on that it is to manage without them if you become to dependant upon them. I remember the late John Sanders coming to play for the opening service and recital when this organ was restored c1976 - he was completely flumuxed by the lack of pistons and couldn't cope at all well. By contrast Roy Massey came and gave a recital not too long afterwards and seemed completely at home with it from start to finish.

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A few terraced consoles are inconvenient because it is not possible to see the stop names. Provided the layout follows the normal French pattern this can hardly be an issue. For a very bad terraced console see the pipeless instrument in Pershore Abbey*.

 

Barry Williams

 

*And this Bradford Computing Organ was designed by........

the new Chairman of BIOS,

wasn't it?

 

'Interesting' is not the only word that comes to mind,

is it?

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*And this Bradford Computing Organ was designed by........

the new Chairman of BIOS,

wasn't it?

 

'Interesting' is not the only word that comes to mind,

is it?

 

I was recently speaking to the new Chairman of BIOS and suggested he might be interested in looking at this forum and some of the postings. He replied that he was very busy and really did not have the time.

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I was recently speaking to the new Chairman of BIOS and suggested he might be interested in looking at this forum and some of the postings. He replied that he was very busy and really did not have the time.

 

====================

 

Maybe he is busily learning from past mistakes? Who knows?

 

:o

 

MM

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Guest Barry Williams
====================

 

Maybe he is busily learning from past mistakes? Who knows?

 

:)

 

MM

 

 

The console was not designed by John Norman. It is a replica of a Hill console.

 

Barry Williams

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The console was not designed by John Norman. It is a replica of a Hill console.

 

Barry Williams

How many terraced consoles did Hill make? Although one can, of course sometimes encounter Hill organs with the stops arranged in horizontal rows, I'd always thought that the wonderful (and now apparently very much endangered) instrument in Rawtenstall PC was the firm's one-off attempt at replicating an authentic French-style console.

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