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Re-engineering The Organ


MusingMuso

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I was "musing on the move" as one does, and the thought occurred to me that organs haven't changed substantially for quite some time. It's still wood, glue, leather, felt and half-a-million screws holding it all together.

 

When I look at engineering and materials science, I see something quite different: materials engineered rather than crafted, and specifically designed to act in a particular way and to a particular specification.

 

So here is my "thought"........

 

If the organ had never been invented, and someone came along and said, "Hey, if I blow this tube, it makes a musical note," how would you make a musical instrument which used ANYTHING at the disposal of designers/engineers to-day.

 

Remember, it has to last a bit longer than a £30 DVD-player from Asda, but does this mean only the use of natural and very expensive materials, or perhaps other materials and production methods?

 

After all, a Jumbo Jet is a high-tech product, which has to perform with faultless reliability over many years, and in the most extreme conditions.

 

It seems a simple enough question to me.

 

:D

 

MM

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I was "musing on the move" as one does, and the thought occurred to me that organs haven't changed substantially for quite some time. It's still wood, glue, leather, felt and half-a-million screws holding it all together.

 

When I look at engineering and materials science, I see something quite different: materials engineered rather than crafted, and specifically designed to act in a particular way and to a particular specification.

 

So here is my "thought"........

 

If the organ had never been invented, and someone came along and said, "Hey, if I blow this tube, it makes a musical note," how would you make a musical instrument which used ANYTHING at the disposal of designers/engineers to-day.

 

Remember, it has to last a bit longer than a £30 DVD-player from Asda, but does this mean only the use of natural and very expensive materials, or perhaps other materials and production methods?

 

After all, a Jumbo Jet is a high-tech product, which has to perform with faultless reliability over many years, and in the most extreme conditions.

Always good to question the traditional way and there are a few, mainly continental, organ builders who seem very willing to think "outside the box" in terms of case and console design. As regards the control of the stops and pipes, the late C19 and early C20 saw many revolutionary actions, most of which have gradually fallen out of favour compared to standard slider chests. There are continual improvements in the layout of pipes on the chest helped, often, by CAD. "New" materials have frequently been tried but it seems that the traditional materials seem to win over longer periods of time.

 

Now, about your Jumbo Jet - how many pipe organs get the sort of maintenance schedule that a commercial or military plane can expect?

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A really interesting question, MM ...

 

For a start, I suspect that we would see pipes made from heavy plastics, fibreglass (as is used in many beginner- to intermediate level sousaphones) and composites (eg. aluminium / carbon) in addition to wood and straight metal. Come to think of it, don't some manufacturers now make string instruments largely from carbon composites? Reed tongues (assuming that a newly invented organ included reeds similar to those to which we are accustomed ...) might also use composites.

 

I would expect consoles to be very plastic affairs, or - Heaven forfend! - perhaps brushed aluminium. I suspect that only very few would have the "Rolls-Royce treatment" of largely natural products.

 

And, as to the the range of stops that might be found, I wonder if we'd start by trying somehow to voice produce imitations of electric guitars and the like. Who knows what the musical use might be ...

 

Rgds,

MJF

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Always good to question the traditional way and there are a few, mainly continental, organ builders who seem very willing to think "outside the box" in terms of case and console design. As regards the control of the stops and pipes, the late C19 and early C20 saw many revolutionary actions, most of which have gradually fallen out of favour compared to standard slider chests. There are continual improvements in the layout of pipes on the chest helped, often, by CAD. "New" materials have frequently been tried but it seems that the traditional materials seem to win over longer periods of time.

 

Now, about your Jumbo Jet - how many pipe organs get the sort of maintenance schedule that a commercial or military plane can expect?

 

 

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

 

Quite so, but how many organs do quite so much work in between without major defect?

 

MM

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For a start, I suspect that we would see pipes made from ... fibreglass (as is used in many beginner- to intermediate level sousaphones) ...

Perhaps we'd see pedal reeds with fibreglass resonators wrapped around the console. The mind boggles ... B)

 

Rgds,

MJF

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MM asks :-"If the organ had never been invented, and someone came along and said, "Hey, if I blow this tube, it makes a musical note," how would you make a musical instrument which used ANYTHING at the disposal of designers/engineers to-day"

 

 

What a romantic fellow you are !

If someone today discovered that a musical note could be obtained by blowing into a tube, a sound engineer would sample it, stick it on a chip, nail the chip to keyboard, and say: " there you go, there's your sound at sixty one different pitches... enjoy. D'ya fancy something a bit rortier? got a decent trombone noise here on this chip, tell you what, I'll put it on another keyboard for you. Oops, can't have your feet sitting there doing nothing, got a real bit of tonal artillery here. Its called a Fundaton 128'. You'll need a speaker the size of a bungalow to get the full effect, but its worth it"

 

And poor Mr Mander would be a wandering lost soul. He knew there was something he was going to do with his time on this earthly sphere of sorrows, but for the life of him can't figure out what it was. He seems to think it had to do with lots of wood, leather and tin.............

 

Best etc., Chris Baker

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A really interesting question, MM ...

 

For a start, I suspect that we would see pipes made from heavy plastics, fibreglass (as is used in many beginner- to intermediate level sousaphones) and composites (eg. aluminium / carbon) in addition to wood and straight metal. Come to think of it, don't some manufacturers now make string instruments largely from carbon composites? Reed tongues (assuming that a newly invented organ included reeds similar to those to which we are accustomed ...) might also use composites.

 

I would expect consoles to be very plastic affairs, or - Heaven forfend! - perhaps brushed aluminium. I suspect that only very few would have the "Rolls-Royce treatment" of largely natural products.

 

And, as to the the range of stops that might be found, I wonder if we'd start by trying somehow to voice produce imitations of electric guitars and the like. Who knows what the musical use might be ...

 

Rgds,

MJF

 

 

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

 

 

I wasn't thinking about console or case design, but purely the machinery within.

 

However, as BMW own the Rolls-Royce company, but not the name, which is owned by Volkswagen if I DON'T quite undertsand it properly, the German firm of Porsche Design (the same company as the car division) have certainly produced a rather splendid console, complete with evocative dials which look like something out of a Porsche 911.

 

Can anyone recall where it is, and if there is a link to it?

 

I was actually more concerned about both materials and actual design of organ-mechanisms, but as a starter, the use of plastic has certainly played in part in the winding system of many re-installed theatre-organs, where standard plastic drain-piping has been used, rather than metal or wooden trunking. With modern glues, it is possible to get all the pipes, angles, flanges and joints, cut them exactly to length, and produce a very cheap and effective system.

 

That's one good use for plastic.

 

One could, presumably, use Kevlar (the stuff Police Jackest are made from), which is an extremely tough plastic using long-chain molecules. This could probably be used for reservoirs, rather than wood and leather alternatives, which are so expensive to make. They would be almost indestructible, and incredibly strong.

 

Carbon-fibre has been used; not least by Mander Organs at Peachtree Road, Atlanta, for the tracker runs.

It is a material of incredible tensile strength, extreme lightness, rigidity, stability and longevity, and I stand to be corrected, but I think the detached console at Peachtree Road is some 60ft from the divided pipework, with the carbon-fibre action running under-floor.

 

Carbon-fibre is used extensively in Formula 1 motor-racing, with all the suspension arms and chassis made from this material. The fact that they can crash at 200mph and stay in one piece, says all there is to say about the strength of this material. The problem is the fact that it is a laminate material, which requires very precise laminate cutting and positioning, after which it is autoclaved and bonded. It is very expensive to produce for this reason, but due to the fact that it contains carbon-fibres, it has considerable musical properties of resonance; not unlike wood or metal, and could be used to make organ-pipes.....at a price!!!!

 

But what of windchest design and valving?

 

Surely, there MUST be something more sophisticated than the old bar and slider chest?

 

MM

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

I wasn't thinking about console or case design, but purely the machinery within.

 

However, as BMW own the Rolls-Royce company, but not the name, which is owned by Volkswagen if I DON'T quite undertsand it properly, the German firm of Porsche Design (the same company as the car division) have certainly produced a rather splendid console, complete with evocative dials which look like something out of a Porsche 911.

 

Can anyone recall where it is, and if there is a link to it?

Nicolaikirche, Leipzig: http://www.volkerhege.de/resources/_wsb_50...che+Leipzig.jpg

 

I seem to recall that there's a short article about it somewhere on Porche's own website.

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Nicolaikirche, Leipzig: http://www.volkerhege.de/resources/_wsb_50...che+Leipzig.jpg

 

I seem to recall that there's a short article about it somewhere on Porche's own website.

 

Isn't the point of retaining traditional methods something to do with several hundred years of music developing alongside the instrument? Pipes are expected to speak and sound in a certain way, and some things are possible (musically, technically, physically) whereas others aren't. Accelerate the pace of change beyond that which can be sustained by music or player, or in any other way divorce instrument from music, and you end up having two useless things, rather like publishing books in an entirely new alphabet for no good reason.

 

I have just had a happy two days ripping bits of aluminium and plastic out of a previously-done historic restoration and can reassure all readers that there was absolutely nothing about it which was even remotely as good, let alone in any way better, as a traditional action - except, obviously, that it took fifteen minutes to install (and even less to snip the wires at both ends and tenderly convey the whole action, intact, to the skip).

 

If it ain't bust, don't fix it! If there's a need or reason for development and change, someone will come up with it. I think many would be surprised at the amount of technical innovation inside one or two supposedly 'cave-man' instruments I could mention. Look at some 'great inventions' - concussion bellows, composition pedals, etc etc - there was a reason for them and they came at a time when they were demonstrably beneficial to the music - therefore, they succeeded where other things didn't.

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For a start, I suspect that we would see pipes made from heavy plastics, fibreglass (as is used in many beginner- to intermediate level sousaphones) and composites (eg. aluminium / carbon) in addition to wood and straight metal.

 

I'm not sure that even with the best of technology it would be found possible to make the necessary adjustments of structure to a plastic or fibreglass pipe to voice it and tune it effectively. Remember that you have to have 54/56/58/61 pieces of material producing a near-identical sound (except at different pitches). Not only is a column of air an occasionally unpredictable thing, meaning that you can't guarantee the results obtained from pressing out flue widths/upper lip positions/number of nicks/footholes/languid positions, but also buildings are unpredictable things. Therefore even in an ideal world where you could predict (which you can't) the precise dimensions (to the thousandth of a millimetre or so) that would be required from each pipe to produce the required consistency of sound throughout the scale, by the time you have to factor in sound's behaviour in a room you rapidly discover that the elaborate calculation and setting up required to 'press' one rank of pipes combines with the number of remakes you will inevitably need to greatly outweigh both the financial and time cost of using traditional materials. You are, basically, replacing a bespoke material posessing ideal properties with another bespoke material which has insurmountable deficiencies in the way it can be worked.

 

With things like reed resonators there may be less of a negative case; there aren't really that many benefits, either, in having the specialist equipment to press and safely cut fibreglass (which might degrade in 50 years) as opposed to sticking four bits of wood together.

 

Metal and wood, left alone in typical atmospheric conditions, will not change substantially over time. I cannot think of a man-made or natural substance which combines this important property with the ability to be quickly and easily worked throughout their life span for voicing or tuning. They are the perfect materials for the job.

 

I think 'MM' has answered his own question - the electronic organ - somewhere where technology has benefits and every year brings some kind of improvement.

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Isn't the point of retaining traditional methods something to do with several hundred years of music developing alongside the instrument? Pipes are expected to speak and sound in a certain way, and some things are possible (musically, technically, physically) whereas others aren't. Accelerate the pace of change beyond that which can be sustained by music or player, or in any other way divorce instrument from music, and you end up having two useless things, rather like publishing books in an entirely new alphabet for no good reason.

 

I have just had a happy two days ripping bits of aluminium and plastic out of a previously-done historic restoration and can reassure all readers that there was absolutely nothing about it which was even remotely as good, let alone in any way better, as a traditional action - except, obviously, that it took fifteen minutes to install (and even less to snip the wires at both ends and tenderly convey the whole action, intact, to the skip).

 

If it ain't bust, don't fix it! If there's a need or reason for development and change, someone will come up with it. I think many would be surprised at the amount of technical innovation inside one or two supposedly 'cave-man' instruments I could mention. Look at some 'great inventions' - concussion bellows, composition pedals, etc etc - there was a reason for them and they came at a time when they were demonstrably beneficial to the music - therefore, they succeeded where other things didn't.

 

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

 

 

Just answer the question!

 

:)

 

MM

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Just answer the question!

 

:)

 

MM

 

OK.

 

It's a given that you need to have air of a constant pressure contained close to some pipes, which speak upon opening a valve by pressing a key.

 

I would seek materials which -

 

1) had a more or less indefinite shelf life

2) were relatively stable (or could be engineered that way) in normal atmospheric changes of temperature and humidity

3) could be easily machined or worked by hand to the tiniest level of accuracy

4) could be readily made airtight without having to make permanent joints such as welds

5) can be made to move smoothly and freely without the need for frequent lubrication

6) could readily be made to blend in visually with their surroundings

7) do not dramatically (and noisily) change shape under conditions of differing internal air pressure

 

I think I am at a loss to name any matierials in the world which adhere to more of these properties than wood, felt and leather in varying combinations.

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Should that not read "working life"? If so, not sure that leather qualifies.

 

Yes, it should, and hmmmmmmmmm. What better material is there for applications like bellows and pallets? Pallets will do 100 years plus easily as long as surfaces are true, bellows probably 50-80 but there are plenty that have done more. Rubberised cloths and other materials tried in the past have been found wanting.

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Yes, it should, and hmmmmmmmmm. What better material is there for applications like bellows and pallets? Pallets will do 100 years plus easily as long as surfaces are true, bellows probably 50-80 but there are plenty that have done more. Rubberised cloths and other materials tried in the past have been found wanting.

 

 

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

 

 

Now we're getting a little closer to what I had in mind.

 

A flexible-seal is only required when the engineering is bad, so leather is a "work-around" which compensates for the imprecision of wood-working, and the natural creep of wood; not the mention the leeching of wind.

 

Why pallets when there are push-up poppet-valves, precision sleeve-valves, rotary valves and desmodromic valves; the latter remaining faithful to the input/output energy of the connecting linkage?

 

Then there are precision hydraulics which could actuate swell-box shutters.

 

After all, a windchest is a double valve arrangement, with a set of baffles between the first valve (the pallet) and the secondary valves (the sliders).

 

Whilst recognising that the humble pallet is not only a valve, but also the thing which generates the right kind of key-pluck and weight, the bar and slider is crudity itself; yet very effective.

 

I've long held the view that no self-respecting modern engineer would even contemplate the cost of making such a crude arrangement, considering the problems which occur with changes of humidity etc.

 

Let me put it this way. A whole series of precision-made sleeve-valves, running along a modular chest construction using standardised parts, would achieve exactly the same thing and yet prove totally reliable. Any unreliability could be rectified very simply, without having to rip the organ apart.

 

Like John Compton, I love the idea of standarised parts, and a modular wind-chest could be as few or as many standardised modules as one likes, bolted together to form the whole, and possibly using quite different materials to wood, because the engineering precision could then be restricted to certain critical points in the wind-valving.

 

I'm thinking in terms of design, rather than traditional craft methods. The latter may be extremely worthy, but does it make engineering sense in the 21st century?

 

:)

 

MM

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I'm thinking in terms of design, rather than traditional craft methods. The latter may be extremely worthy, but does it make engineering sense in the 21st century?

You remind me of that oft-circulated "Engineer's report on attending a Symphony orchestra concert": For long sections of the concert the two oboes had nothing to do. All sixteen first violinists were playing identical notes.

 

In my opinion, the worst things that happened to the pipe organ in Britain were Hope-Jones and John Compton as they put science/engineering before art. Even though an organ contains many mechanical parts its raison d'être is musicmaking, as for other musical instruments.

 

If the great Cremonese violin-makers were still working today would you deny their traditional craft methods on the grounds that they don't make engineering sense in the C21? Violinists today have a choice of fantastic, very expensive old instruments, more affordable modern ones made in a very similar fashion to the old ones and modern "engineered" things like this. Violinists with artistic integrity wouldn't like to be seen playing Brahms, Beethoven, Sibelius or Britten on the engineered version.

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You remind me of that oft-circulated "Engineer's report on attending a Symphony orchestra concert": For long sections of the concert the two oboes had nothing to do. All sixteen first violinists were playing identical notes.

 

In my opinion, the worst things that happened to the pipe organ in Britain were Hope-Jones and John Compton as they put science/engineering before art. Even though an organ contains many mechanical parts its raison d'être is musicmaking, as for other musical instruments.

 

If the great Cremonese violin-makers were still working today would you deny their traditional craft methods on the grounds that they don't make engineering sense in the C21? Violinists today have a choice of fantastic, very expensive old instruments, more affordable modern ones made in a very similar fashion to the old ones and modern "engineered" things like this. Violinists with artistic integrity wouldn't like to be seen playing Brahms, Beethoven, Sibelius or Britten on the engineered version.

I think your apparent view, that modern science and engineering has nothing to offer "art", is very short sighted and if Downside Abbey is an example of the worst thing ever to happen to the pipe organ in Great Britain, we must be a very fortunate nation indeed.

JC

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You remind me of that oft-circulated "Engineer's report on attending a Symphony orchestra concert": For long sections of the concert the two oboes had nothing to do. All sixteen first violinists were playing identical notes.

 

In my opinion, the worst things that happened to the pipe organ in Britain were Hope-Jones and John Compton as they put science/engineering before art. Even though an organ contains many mechanical parts its raison d'être is musicmaking, as for other musical instruments.

 

If the great Cremonese violin-makers were still working today would you deny their traditional craft methods on the grounds that they don't make engineering sense in the C21? Violinists today have a choice of fantastic, very expensive old instruments, more affordable modern ones made in a very similar fashion to the old ones and modern "engineered" things like this. Violinists with artistic integrity wouldn't like to be seen playing Brahms, Beethoven, Sibelius or Britten on the engineered version.

 

 

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

 

Three things:-

 

Hope Jones was a telephone man, and very, very clever. He also built organs with superb pipe-voicing, BUT aas a musical concept, it was a product of the age which many thought of as the bees knees.

 

A theatre organ in the right hands can produce many very beautiful sounds, but of course, they only work marginally well for certain types of classical repertoire......you know....Thalben-Ball's "Elegy" and Howells....that sort of thing.

 

Compton similarly, was a brilliant organ-builder, who made many very fine instruments. His tonal approach was certainly unique, in that the sound pallette was seen as a pool of tonal resources, from which he would pluck the sort of tonal synthesis he wanted. However, synthesis is the important word, and THAT approach is utterly unique in organ-building, and quite unlike anything which Hope-Jones did.

 

Scientific he certainly was, but if you take a look at the organs in Hull (City Hall and Holy Trinity), both re-built around the same time, you have two organs which work wonderfully, have lots of sparkle and, unlike so many others by a certain famous builder from the same period, actually sound good.

 

As for violins, I'd like to bet that a moulded carbon-fibre violin would sound absolutely superb. It's no use citing an electric violin which uses a solid block of maple wood. That's like comparing Segovia to Eric Clapton!

 

MM

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Hope Jones was a telephone man, and very, very clever. He also built organs with superb pipe-voicing, BUT as a musical concept, it was a product of the age which many thought of as the bees knees.

Bear-baiting used to be considered a fine day out. I played the H-J in St Paul, Buton-in-Trent a few times 30 years ago. It was absolutely horrible, in my opinion.

A theatre organ in the right hands can produce many very beautiful sounds, but of course, they only work marginally well for certain types of classical repertoire......you know....Thalben-Ball's "Elegy" and Howells....that sort of thing.

And not at all for anything classical outside 1900-1940. I'd consider H-J and JC about as useful for classical organ repertoire.

Compton similarly, was a brilliant organ-builder, who made many very fine instruments. His tonal approach was certainly unique, in that the sound pallette was seen as a pool of tonal resources, from which he would pluck the sort of tonal synthesis he wanted. However, synthesis is the important word, and THAT approach is utterly unique in organ-building, and quite unlike anything which Hope-Jones did.

I've played the Comptons in Derby Cathedral, Bradfield College, St Luke's Chelsea, All Saints Poplar and, I think it is, St Olave's Hart Street in the City of London. Yes one admired the skill of the engineering and the magnificent glare of the stopheads, particularly at Derby. The Bombarde section was very loud indeed. But after a few earth-moving climaxes I felt completely restricted as to the repertoire I could play with any integrity. Whereas, as has been mentioned by others, even you I think, there are some instruments which are based on a narrow geographic area and historical period that positively encourage me to experiment with all sorts of good music.

Scientific he certainly was, but if you take a look at the organs in Hull (City Hall and Holy Trinity), both re-built around the same time, you have two organs which work wonderfully, have lots of sparkle and, unlike so many others by a certain famous builder from the same period, actually sound good.

What all the JC organs I played had in common was a fine acoustic. B)

As for violins, I'd like to bet that a moulded carbon-fibre violin would sound absolutely superb. It's no use citing an electric violin which uses a solid block of maple wood. That's like comparing Segovia to Eric Clapton!

I would have said comparing an H-J Diaphone with a Trost Pedal bass was like comparing Segovia to Johnny Rotten (or the other war around).

 

And how come moulded carbon-fibre violins aren't flying off the shelves? Interestingly carbon-fibre bows are gaining a certain amount of kudos amongst professionals these days, particularly in "hard-hat" areas such as arena concerts and theatres. Many years ago I knew the violin and bow maker Laurence Cocker who made bows out of six pieces of split bamboo cane; these Cocker bows became quite popular in some orchestras.

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What all the JC organs I played had in common was a fine acoustic. B)

Interesting observation. It's certainly true of these as well:

 

http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=N10458

http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=N10585

 

(though I am told that the acoustic of the second church has been reduced somewhat by recent extensive redecorations.)

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I think your apparent view, that modern science and engineering has nothing to offer "art", is very short sighted and if Downside Abbey is an example of the worst thing ever to happen to the pipe organ in Great Britain, we must be a very fortunate nation indeed.

JC

 

Although it is to be hoped that money will be found in order to restore this instrument. I heard it on a recording recently and it sounded as if it were in a very bad state of repair.

 

Like many builders, Compton produced many good instruments - and some which were not so good. I, too, have played St. Luke's, Chelsea (for service-work) and found it to be superb. There was a large palette of tone-colours available, the action and console worked well (with the exception of the illuminated stop-head for the Pedal Contra Posaune 32p - which got stuck on at the end of the Gloria to the Magnificat) and, even though I played a variety of music, including Bach's Pièce d'Orgue, I found it difficult to tell that the instrument was constructed largely on the extension principle.

 

I also played the two-clavier Compton organ which formerly stood in the parish church at Great Torrington - and thought that it was quite horrible. No doubt many contributors can tell of similar experiences.

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Bear-baiting used to be considered a fine day out. I played the H-J in St Paul, Buton-in-Trent a few times 30 years ago. It was absolutely horrible, in my opinion.

 

And not at all for anything classical outside 1900-1940. I'd consider H-J and JC about as useful for classical organ repertoire.

 

I've played the Comptons in Derby Cathedral, Bradfield College, St Luke's Chelsea, All Saints Poplar and, I think it is, St Olave's Hart Street in the City of London. Yes one admired the skill of the engineering and the magnificent glare of the stopheads, particularly at Derby. The Bombarde section was very loud indeed. But after a few earth-moving climaxes I felt completely restricted as to the repertoire I could play with any integrity. Whereas, as has been mentioned by others, even you I think, there are some instruments which are based on a narrow geographic area and historical period that positively encourage me to experiment with all sorts of good music.

 

What all the JC organs I played had in common was a fine acoustic. B)

 

I would have said comparing an H-J Diaphone with a Trost Pedal bass was like comparing Segovia to Johnny Rotten (or the other war around).

 

And how come moulded carbon-fibre violins aren't flying off the shelves? Interestingly carbon-fibre bows are gaining a certain amount of kudos amongst professionals these days, particularly in "hard-hat" areas such as arena concerts and theatres. Many years ago I knew the violin and bow maker Laurence Cocker who made bows out of six pieces of split bamboo cane; these Cocker bows became quite popular in some orchestras.

 

 

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

 

 

Well, I've often chuckled at the reality that about the only organs on which could just about play French Baroque repertoire before 1955, was either on a Wurlitzer theatre-organ or a Compton.

 

The idea of carbon-fibre violins is not as crazy as it sounds, because carbon-fibre uses a "natural" material (carbon) embedded in resin, just like wood. It has certain acoustic properties when in hollow form, and has quite a nice ring to it when tapped. Actually, the main reason for them not flying off the shelves, may well be the sheer cost of designing, developing and then making them, when there are relatively cheap imports to be had. Almost certainly, one could successfully make organ-pipes out of carbon-fibre.

 

To answer a reply David Coram gave about plastic pipes and voicing-adjustment thereof, I think he will find that "a leading voicer" did exactly that, but bonded metal into the plastic body for the critical bits. The plastic pipes were in a house organ which came up for sale on e-bay not so long ago, and the tone was described as "very sweet." I can't see the idea of plastic pipes catching on personally.

 

The acoustic question is actually very interesting, because there is a 60+ stop John Compton organ not far away from me, in Ilkley PC, and this has the deadest acoustic imagninable and two of the most beautiful organ-cases anywhere; both made by Robert Thompson, the famous "mouse man." That organ is thoroughly musical, even though it does have that familiar. slightly "thin" sound of many later Comptons. Musically flexible it certainly is, and I have heard all sorts of music played upon it, from Bach through to Reger and beyond.

 

Now concerning diaphones, what does "Innate" know about them?

 

There are all sorts of Diaphonic voices, including Diaphonic Diapasons. Not all diaphones are great thundering basses; though it has to be said, nothing quite moves the air like a big Diaphone Bass, and which can sound quite superb underpinning a theatre-organ.

 

However, quite how we got into this strata of conversation I am not quite sure, because technology (ie: electronic engineering) is now used extensively on pipe-organs: especially that concerned with digital control, key activation and combination actions. What I am interest in is a mechanical-action mechanism which can by-pass the usual route of bar and slider chests, yet remain a playable entity, with an inherent reliability which may even surpass that of organs using traditional materials and methods of construction.

 

In the "modular" organ stakes, John Compton was light-years ahead of his competitors, and the quality second to none.

 

 

MM

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