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West Parish Barnstable Organ


Pierre Lauwers
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I looked at the Pdf-file attached to the Portfolio page -very informative, and continentals-friendly with its metric values-.

 

Noteworthy is the fact that some stops are slotted, while others are not. Of course this is the case in many organs -save the neo-baroque ones, at least here in Belgium-. Since about 1860 up to the middle of the sixties, all Diapasons (more correctly: equivalents to) were slotted in Belgium, while for instance the Flûtes harmoniques were not. And then the slotting method was given an anathema, and many slots were soldered -when the pipes were not cut to get something else-.

 

When visiting british organs I soon noted the Diapasons are never slotted. According to the litterature I found in England twenty years ago (Sumner, Bonavia-Hunt etc), this would be one of the chief factors that explains for the Diapason's peculiar tone, compared with the Montre and the Prinzipal of the continent. But this may be somewhat simplified, because even un-slotted neo-baroque Montres aren't Diapasons either.

 

Maybe it might be interesting to discuss about which stops at Barnstable are slotted, and which are not; why; is it more troublesome to have slotted and non-slotted stops blend together?

 

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

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Guest Geoff McMahon

I think this is a question of not being dogmatic. We find that strings simply work better as strings if they are slotted, so we slot them (it is only the two strings at West Barnstable which are slotted). Clearly, that does make blend with other stops a little more difficult, but the Salicional is of a slightly larger scale than the Celeste so the problem is mitigated. It works just about OK when the Salicional is added to the (decently scaled) Stopped Diapason and when the Principal 4 is added, it is fine. The Celeste is made even more stringy so that when it is used with the Salicional, the string tone is further enhanced.

 

In due course the scales of other instruments of ours will be published on the web site. Chestnut Hill, Toyonaka, Peachtree Road UMC, St. Peter St. Louis, Sydney Grammar School, Urakami, Sapporo and St. Ignatius Loyola amongst them. I hope this is found to be of interest.

 

However, I would like to put in a word of warning. I think that far too much importance is put onto the scaling of pipework. It is the treatment of the pipework and how it is voiced which is by far the most important factor. The problem is that academics can look at numbers on a chart and do a pseudo-scientific analysis of them. It does not really count for so very much in the end.

 

I will probably be burned at the stake for being a heretic for saying that.

 

John Pike Mander

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Maybe the time when the "heretics" were burned is coming to an end -at least in organ matters-. I heard scholars talking for hours about the "mixed scalings" of the north german baroque organs. This should have accounted for their varying tone in different areas of the compass, which itself "explained" their sheer beautifulness etc. It was thus introduced in neo-baroque flemish organs.....Just to discover, some years later, that the ancient flemish organ did not feature anything like that.

 

In the meantime Töpfer's formulae was of course condemned as an horrible standardization, a door widely open to the industrialization, the "Fabrikorgel". As far as I know, Töpfer's best pupil was someone(s) named Schulze;They built extremely bad organs, as anyone knows... The danger when dealing with cyphers is to believe one can grasp "the truth" simply comparing some of them, and then generalize. We human beings are lazy thinkers.

 

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

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Guest Geoff McMahon

Poor old Töpfer! He never meant his Norm-scale to be a standard or an ideal, merely a tool by which comparisons could be made, as well as trying to find a (convoluted) mathematical progression which was "the same" all the way up the scale. It remains a useful tool of course, but like so many useful tools, it only works when used in the right hands.

 

When talking of all the "special nuances" of mixed scaling, remember the Silbermann organs with essentially straight line scaling and no complicated variations from one stop to another or within the compass of a single stop. Like Schulze, another builder of extremely bad organs......

 

I honestly believe that "scaling" counts for much less than 50% of the tonal result (good or bad) in an organ.

 

John Pike Mander

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