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Octave / Sub Octave Couplers


Guest Psalm 78 v.67

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Did it say that on the drawstop? :)

 

 

Ha Ha, but seriously, it was an enormous full-toned large Walker stop - almost an organ on its own. Apparently the story (from one of the parishioners) is that this particular organ was originally going to be a three manual instrument but only the these stops were ever inserted. Even the console is 3m sized. Sadly, I think that the organ has gone. What a shame. It made a huge impression upon me as a teenager.

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This makes interesting reading following this thread to it's ultimate limits perhaps.

Thank you for reminding me of this. I'd read it some years ago; it is so beautifully written it brought tears to my eyes. I was particularly proud, as a son of Derbyshire, to see how many of that county's organs are mentioned.

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I know a lot of people can be a bit sniffy about octave couplers, but they can be extremely useful for creating"effects" of one sort or another, in organs large and small. If they exist in an organ, then i think it is downto the organist to use good taste and discretion to get the most out of his instrument through their occasional use.

 

In my own instrument I have specified Swell Octave/Sub and un/Off on Swell, Choir and Solo, and their is Sw Oct and Solo Oct to great (no room on the jambs for any more).

 

Just a thought, I note various serious organist/composers who advocate the use of octave couplers in their regestration suggestions - so can't be all that bad a thing......can they?

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A Mickey Mouse question: if Robert Hope-Jones was so keen on the predominance of sub-octave and unison tone in his organs, what purpose did he see in providing octave and suboctave couplers? Was there any extra colour to be gained, or was it just for more power?

 

This is an interesting question, Vox. It may have been simply because he could - and neither the weight of touch nor the quickness of response was affected - due to his early use of electric transmission.

 

However, it could also have been to provide a greater variety of tonal effects - particularly with unison-pitched ranks.

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Just a thought, I note various serious organist/composers who advocate the use of octave couplers in their regestration suggestions - so can't be all that bad a thing......can they?

 

Percy Whitlock - a prime example. The octave couplers are used and specified lavishly in his music.

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Percy Whitlock - a prime example. The octave couplers are used and specified lavishly in his music.


This is not correct. I have just looked carefully through every page of the following:

Plymouth Suite
Seven Sketches
Five Short Pieces
Four Extemporisations
Reflections - Three Quiet Pieces for Organ


The only reference to the use of any type of octave coupler which I can find is in Reflections (I. After an old French Air): page four, system four, bar six. Here, Whitlock asks for a soft 16ft. stop - or a Sub Octave coupler. Whilst I realise that this is not an exhaustive list, it is representative of a good portion of his works.

All these collections are published by OUP; if you have a different edition (with different registrations) then they are almost certainly not by Whitlock.
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Guest Lee Blick
I remember playing an organ in East Sussex which had the following rather strange specification, which, admittedly, on paper looks absolutely ghastly. In the reverberant church it sounded fantastic. The Viol on the Swell would do duty as a small reed in volume and tonality. Without the octave and suboctave couplers, this organ would have been a lot less effective. I remember it sounding far bigger than it ever had any right to do!

 

GREAT ORGAN

 

Open Diapason 8 (BIG)

Clarabella 8

Dulciana 8

Octave Coupler

S-Gt

 

SWELL ORGAN

 

Leiblich Gedackt 8

Viol d'Orchestre 8

Concert Flute 4

Sub Octave

Octave

 

PEDAL ORGAN

 

Leiblich Bourdon 16

G-P

S-P

 

This looks similar to a Morgan & Smith I played in another East Sussex church:

 

GREAT

16 Lieblich Bourdon

8 Open Diapason

8 Viola

8 Clarabella

8 Dulcianna

4 Principal

Great Octave coupler

 

SWELL

8 Lieblich Gedact

8 Viol d'orchestre

8 Voix Celestes (ten C)

4 Concert Flute

8 Trumpet

Octave

Suboctave

Unison off

Tremulant

 

PEDAL

16 Sub bass

16 Liebick Bourdon (from Great)

8 Flute

4 Octave Flute

 

usual couplers.

 

The Swell couplers were useful for a growly full swell effect.

The Great coupler was useful for adding brightness.

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This is not correct. I have just looked carefully through every page of the following:

 

The only reference to the use of any type of octave coupler which I can find is in Reflections (I. After an old French Air): page four, system four, bar six. Here, Whitlock asks for a soft 16p stop - or a Sub Octave coupler. Whilst I realise that this is not an exhaustive list, it is representative of a good portion of his works.

 

 

My goodness, you are indeed right! Perhaps what I should have said was in order to realise Whitlock's music on smaller organs, my scores (previously owned by another organist) are littered with octave coupler requests, presumably in order to achieve the tonalities which Whitlock was after. I think that these pieces have to make the most regular use of octave couplers of any that I can think of.

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My goodness, you are indeed right! Perhaps what I should have said was in order to realise Whitlock's music on smaller organs, my scores (previously owned by another organist) are littered with octave coupler requests, presumably in order to achieve the tonalities which Whitlock was after.


This seems fair enough.

There was an article in Organists' Review years ago, which dealt with a related problem - how to capture the sound of a French classical organ on a standard English two-clavier romantic instrument.

I can remember little about it, other than a suggestion that a G.O. Bourdon (16ft.) should be used - in order to achieve the depth normally supplied by a Tierce.

Hmmm.
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This seems fair enough.

 

There was an article in Organists' Review years ago, which dealt with a related problem - how to capture the sound of a French classical organ on a standard English two-clavier romantic instrument.

 

I can remember little about it, other than a suggestion that a G.O. Bourdon (16p) should be used - in order to achieve the depth normally supplied by a Tierce.

 

Hmmm.

 

Maybe not a normal tierce at 1-3/5', but do you think that they might have meant a substitute for a gross tierce 3-1/5'?

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Guest Cynic
Could there perhaps be some confusion with the fact that, according to some contemporary authorities (not all, I think, but I am no expert on this period), the Bourdon was included in the accompaniment to a Tierce en taille?

 

 

A manual Bourdon is an essential ingredient of the Grands Jeux.

[Maybe this is the bit that you've remembered!]

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A manual Bourdon is an essential ingredient of the Grands Jeux.

[Maybe this is the bit that you've remembered!]

 

That's a bourdon 8', right? the bourdon16 is used in the basse the tierce or the fonds d'orgue.

btw. basse de tierce is on 16' (not the silly 8+4+1.3/5 things they try here ...)

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Maybe not a normal tierce at 1-3/5', but do you think that they might have meant a substitute for a gross tierce 3-1/5'?

 

No - it simply stated Tierce. I cannot recall if the pitch (1 3/5ft.) was given - but the writer was not referring to the less usual Grosse Tierce.

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A manual Bourdon is an essential ingredient of the Grands Jeux.

[Maybe this is the bit that you've remembered!]

 

Are you sure?

 

Dom Bédos gives the following for a Grand Jeu:

 

"The cornet, prestant, and all the trompettes and clairons of the grand orgue. Similar registration for the positif, which should be coupled to the grand (récit and echo should have the cornet also) [pédale: all the trompettes and clairons or the flue stops]."

 

No mention of a Bourdon at either pitch.

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Guest Nigel ALLCOAT
This seems fair enough.

 

There was an article in Organists' Review years ago, which dealt with a related problem - how to capture the sound of a French classical organ on a standard English two-clavier romantic instrument.

 

I can remember little about it, other than a suggestion that a G.O. Bourdon (16p) should be used - in order to achieve the depth normally supplied by a Tierce.

 

Hmmm.

 

Hmmm :rolleyes: indeed! The only way to capture the sound of a French classical organ is surely to buy a return Cross Channel ticket with a good recording device tucked into your portmanteau. :lol:

 

N

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Hmmm :rolleyes: indeed! The only way to capture the sound of a French classical organ is surely to buy a return Cross Channel ticket with a good recording device tucked into your portmanteau. :lol:

 

N

 

Absolutely.

 

There are some excellent old instruments in Manche, as well as Brittany which are well worth hearing. It is not necessary to travel far down into France to hear some superb sounds.

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Guest Nigel ALLCOAT
Absolutely.

 

There are some excellent old instruments in Manche, as well as Brittany which are well worth hearing. It is not necessary to travel far down into France to hear some superb sounds.

 

 

Readers might enjoy the link to FRENCH ORGANS BY REGION. As the UK weather has turned to torrents of rain and gardens and lawns must hope for the best, this is an ideal way to while away those spare hours that suddenly have come upon us. As the Americans say "Enjoy".

 

Best wishes,

Nigel

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Readers might enjoy the link to FRENCH ORGANS BY REGION. As the UK weather has turned to torrents of rain and gardens and lawns must hope for the best, this is an ideal way to while away those spare hours that suddenly have come upon us. As the Americans say "Enjoy".

 

Best wishes,

Nigel

 

Not Octave and Suboctave couplers but.............

 

Here' s another one. This is quite interesting also.

 

AJJ

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Guest Cynic
Are you sure?

 

Dom Bédos gives the following for a Grand Jeu:

 

"The cornet, prestant, and all the trompettes and clairons of the grand orgue. Similar registration for the positif, which should be coupled to the grand (récit and echo should have the cornet also) [pédale: all the trompettes and clairons or the flue stops]."

 

No mention of a Bourdon at either pitch.

 

 

meant to reply on Friday.. tried to reply on Friday...floods and lightening, server down! Ah well.....

 

My excuse (for percieved ignorance etc.) will be that I don't necessarily take everything Dom Bedos says. He comes at the end of a long period and writes extremely dogmatically and ex cathedra. If you read Lebegue, for example you will find other instructions.....

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... I don't necessarily take everything Dom Bedos says. He comes at the end of a long period and writes extremely dogmatically and ex cathedra. ...

 

Dom Bédos served as a French pope??!!

 

:(

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My goodness, you are indeed right! Perhaps what I should have said was in order to realise Whitlock's music on smaller organs, my scores (previously owned by another organist) are littered with octave coupler requests, presumably in order to achieve the tonalities which Whitlock was after. I think that these pieces have to make the most regular use of octave couplers of any that I can think of.

 

GTB Poema calls for one

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Guest Cynic
GTB Poema calls for one

 

 

From memory, so does Ireland's Elegiac Romance. [Of course, I have been wrong before.]

 

There are several composers of that period (post-WW1) that ask for strings at 16' 8' and 4' - on anything other than an H&H four-decker, this implies use of the Swell Strings with Sub and Super. I would instance York Bowen's Fantasia as a case in point. The forced substitution of Swell Bourdon, Strings and a 4' flute, or Principal* is nothing remotely similar!

 

 

*as would be obligatory if one played upon a 'post-Moyes' Nicholson organ

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