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Chiffin' Heck - What's That Noise.


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I play a little H & H octopod at Chilton in County Durham. On the Swell is a Lieblich Flute 4 which has a bit of 'chiff' to it. This feature is by no means evenly evident throughout the rank, and about a third of pipes do not have it at all. The Gedackt 8 (seperate rank) has a few notes in the tenor octave which also have a bit of chiff to them, and a few pipes up the top end give a ladylike little squeak when you blow 'em.

 

As far as I am concerned, this is all just about perfect. Solos on these stops have a bit of character and the little variations in attack make something interesting out of what are otherwise plain boring old flutes. I am guessing, but I suspect that the degree of chiff my flutes are sounding is actually speech defect (and very welcome), and was not intended when originally voiced. Would that make sense ?

 

The reason I ask is that I also have a digital organ, (Viscount Vivace), which in two of its voicing environments has a couple of flutes with quite astonishing degrees of chiff. Sounds as though someone is playing along with me on a harpsichord. Fortunately, user voicing controls allow me to knock out this silly sound. I noticed though that any amount of this 'feature' being present (evenly on every note of course), meant it was impossible to use it for anything other than 'one-finger' solo stuff. Chords sound like someone smashing crockery. Now, on the digital instrument this isn't really important, I'm never going to use it for anything that matters, and, there is plenty of other noise I can make with it.

 

On my H & H, with only eight plus SubBass over IIP, I need all 61 notes from every register, and I need them to be available on their own and in chorus, in solo and in big handfuls. And I've got that.

 

If an organ is being built nowadays with what seems to be the obligatory 'chiffy flutes', deliberately voiced as such, does the problem I have with the digital doofer also occur in pipe instruments ?. Do they work in chorus as well as in solo ? Have I just asked the daftest question ever?

 

Best to all,

 

Chris Baker

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Firstly I would dispute that chiff is at all obligatory these days. Back in the 60s it did sometimes seem that way, but organists and builders came to realise how restricting such a sound is. Essentially it can sound delightful in contrapuntal music where it is useful in aiding the ear to follow the individual contrapuntal lines. There is less point, to my mind, in homophonic music and it is largely inappropriate in Romantic and later music in which smooth expression is the order of the day.

 

For the record, all organ pipes begin to speak with a starting transient which can be controlled by the voicer; chiff is merely a matter of how obvious it is.

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Firstly I would dispute that chiff is at all obligatory these days. Back in the 60s it did sometimes seem that way, but organists and builders came to realise how restricting such a sound is. Essentially it can sound delightful in contrapuntal music where it is useful in aiding the ear to follow the individual contrapuntal lines. There is less point, to my mind, in homophonic music and it is largely inappropriate in Romantic and later music in which smooth expression is the order of the day.

 

For the record, all organ pipes begin to speak with a starting transient which can be controlled by the voicer; chiff is merely a matter of how obvious it is.

 

Agreed, but sometimes starting transients can be SO tiring after the first 5 minutes or so! The most endearing quality of 'chiff' is that of a complete variance between different notes of the rank, and not a uniform 'noise'. The organ in the concert hall of the University of Southampon is a classic case of the 'noise' category, in my opinion!

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I never heard chiff in real ancient organs, be them french, german

or belgian.

Fact is, the pipes attack with a conson, a crisp, precise articulation.

But those "TSCHACK-TSCHACK" and other "PLUCK" are pure neo-baroque

drift from the traditions, more so than Hope-Jones leathered Diapasons.

 

I shall come back with some examples of attacks.

 

First here: St-Nicolas des Champs, Paris.

Ancient pipes, from Clicquot and Dallery.

 

http://perso.orange.fr/organ-au-logis/Page...e/StNicolas.htm

 

See the sounds files at the bottom of the page.

All splendid, authentic french tradition, NOPE Tschack-tschack.

 

I let you enjoy those and come back later.

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The organ in the concert hall of the University of Southampon is a classic case of the 'noise' category, in my opinion!

 

But when it arrived in the the late '70s it was so much better than anything that most of us organist undergrads. had encountered that certainly from my POV it was a revalation. Chiff aside - suddenly all the Bach and Buxtehude etc. came so much more alive tonally with a reasonable action connected to it as well. It needs to be seen as a product of it's time. Professor Peter Evans who designed it aimed for the very best he could get then and it was certainly well received by the likes of Hurford, Weir, Kee etc. who played recitals.

 

AJJ

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I never heard chiff in real ancient organs, be them french, german

or belgian.

Fact is, the pipes attack with a conson, a crisp, precise articulation.

But those "TSCHACK-TSCHACK" and other "PLUCK" are pure neo-baroque

drift from the traditions, more so than Hope-Jones leathered Diapasons.

 

I shall come back with some examples of attacks.

 

First here: St-Nicolas des Champs, Paris.

Ancient pipes, from Clicquot and Dallery.

 

http://perso.orange.fr/organ-au-logis/Page...e/StNicolas.htm

 

See the sounds files at the bottom of the page.

All splendid, authentic french tradition, NOPE Tschack-tschack.

 

I let you enjoy those and come back later.

 

I agree, Pierre - but excess was one of the most obvious faults of the neo-baroque and neo-classical movements.

 

Originally, the transient attack presumably was regarded as a fault in voicing and, as such, it would have been erased - or at least minimised.

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But when it arrived in the the late '70s it was so much better than anything that most of us organist undergrads. had encountered that certainly from my POV it was a revalation. Chiff aside - suddenly all the Bach and Buxtehude etc. came so much more alive tonally with a reasonable action connected to it as well. It needs to be seen as a product of it's time. Professor Peter Evans who designed it aimed for the very best he could get then and it was certainly well received by the likes of Hurford, Weir, Kee etc. who played recitals.

 

AJJ

 

I do agree, in part with you, Alastair, and I was at the opening recital given (I think) by Piet Kee. It's just that these days we are (maybe just I am) less tolerant of the excesses of the style of voicing which this particular instrument is endowed. Having played it on a few occasions over the last thirty years, (goodness, IS it really that long!) I find little to commend it, really!

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I do agree, in part with you, Alastair, and I was at the opening recital given (I think) by Piet Kee. It's just that these days we are (maybe just I am) less tolerant of the excesses of the style of voicing which this particular instrument is endowed. Having played it on a few occasions over the last thirty years, (goodness, IS it really that long!) I find little to commend it, really!

 

I've not played or heard it since I left so it might sound different to me now also more than 30 years on.

 

AJJ

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Here is a quite interesting case.

 

It is an excellent modern Diapason, a Principale after the great, authentic

italian tradition, which has some accents in common with the british one.

It has a splendid, rich, mellow tone, and can be used as a Solo stop -like here-

for very long pieces.

This stop would make an excellent Open Diapason III !

It is difficult to tell from a computer's speakers, but it seems there is a kind

of Gedackt as an helper.....Which should have been avoided, since its coughs

("PLUCK"), completely at random, not musically intended by the player trough

changes in touch (a neo-baroque Joke!), are here clearly a speech fault.

One would say there are people coughing in the public:

 

 

http://www.mascioni-organs.com/download/mp3/to8.mp3

 

A Gedackt intended to be used in combination with others stops does not need to chiff, in order to respect the others stops attacks. Here is an example of a Schlimbach Lieblich Gedackt:

 

http://www.aeoline.de/Schultheis_Schlimbac...LiebGed8_UW.mp3

 

 

A somewhat more assertive Walcker Gedackt, with prompt articulation -but still no chiff-:

 

http://www.aeoline.de/Wemmetsw_MP3/Gedackt_HW.mp3

 

A vivid, lively Hohlflöte from Furtwängler, with a splendid articulation:

 

http://www.aeoline.de/Mp3/Orgelstimmen%20C...hlfloet8_HW.mp3

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It is difficult to tell from a computer's speakers, but it seems there is a kind

of Gedackt as an helper.....Which should have been avoided, since its coughs

("PLUCK"), completely at random, not musically intended by the player trough

changes in touch (a neo-baroque Joke!), are here clearly a speech fault.

One would say there are people coughing in the public:

 

Pierre - listening on good monitor speakers at home, I can hear just the Principal (+ tremulant until 3'10) in the RH, with a Gedackt in the LH. Some notes of the Principal do cough and chiff a little, as you say, at random. IMHO this Principal has a very beautiful singing tone, especially with such a musical and unintrusive tremulant, and I forgive it the odd chiff which (as bombarde32 said) gives it variation and interest. I'm not sure that it would work well in a more intimate acoustic though.

 

Opposite example is the Neue-Bach-Orgel in the Erlöserkirche in Bad Homburg (Gerald Woehl 1990) - one of the Principals (again, an Italian Principal-type) has a uniform chiff so intrusive it sounds like someone tapping each pipe with a stick as it speaks :( I have a recording, but not sure of the copyright ramifications of posting an excerpt. This instrument must be one of the last examples of neo-baroque overkill.

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I've not played or heard it since I left so it might sound different to me now also more than 30 years on.

 

AJJ

 

Unfortunately the organ hasn't been featured in the Turner Sims music programmes for several years now; I suspect it will not be heard again.

 

Professor Sims somehow managed to obtain several harpsichords and pianos as well as the organ! Would that his successors were equally energetic.

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Here is another interesting authentic sound, something that would actually

be quite heavy, muddy, would the attacks have not been absolutely accurate;

in fact, here is the polyphony possible just because of those attacks:

 

http://www.orgellandschaftbrandenburg.de/M...mannsperger.MP3

 

(To be listened to relatively loud).

I already posted that one somewhere else. Would I dare express, for once,

a personnal opinion? Those Joachim Wagner organs I rank in "my top three"

preffered ones. Could we build something in Namur....Aaaargh. In a church

we would have Bach played in round the clock (we have enough good organists

to organize that).

 

Pierre

 

Addenda: here is one with the reeds (Wusterhausen), quality of the file not top, but just to show you

what solid guys those Wagners are:

 

http://www.wagner-orgel-wusterhausen.de/hesse.mp3

 

So "terzy" organs it would not be possible to tune after aequal temperament. They are tuned

after Werckmeister III.

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Unfortunately the organ hasn't been featured in the Turner Sims music programmes for several years now; I suspect it will not be heard again.

 

Professor Sims somehow managed to obtain several harpsichords and pianos as well as the organ! Would that his successors were equally energetic.

I think that's a little unfair and negative. David Owen Norris is renowned for his interest in old keyboard instruments and has gathered quite a collection of old instruments at the university, including a square fortepiano, a Broadwood grand within 100 of the one sent to Beethoven, a Clavichord, etc. He is very keen for people to use them and experience playing them and his research on the piano music of Mendelssohn and CPE Bach with the split damper on period Broadwoods is very interesting. So I think the energy and enthusiam remains. In fact, the music department has probably never been better at Southampton than it is now.

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In fact, the music department has probably never been better at Southampton than it is now.

 

It was pretty good when I was there - just before - the Turner Sims Hall 'arrived' and during - the organ went in.

 

AJJ

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I think that's a little unfair and negative. David Owen Norris is renowned for his interest in old keyboard instruments and has gathered quite a collection of old instruments at the university, including a square fortepiano, a Broadwood grand within 100 of the one sent to Beethoven, a Clavichord, etc. He is very keen for people to use them and experience playing them and his research on the piano music of Mendelssohn and CPE Bach with the split damper on period Broadwoods is very interesting. So I think the energy and enthusiam remains. In fact, the music department has probably never been better at Southampton than it is now.

 

That's as maybe, Colin, but we see little effort payed to the organ - and little concert programming on it either!

 

Every time I have played it there has been a serious fault with it. The last time was the Haupt. Principal 8' which just didn't work. Fat lot of good when there is so little else (Rohrflote and Gamba) from which to choose!

The last big choral concert in there had a toaster shipped in!

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I think that's a little unfair and negative. David Owen Norris is renowned for his interest in old keyboard instruments and has gathered quite a collection of old instruments at the university, including a square fortepiano, a Broadwood grand within 100 of the one sent to Beethoven, a Clavichord, etc. He is very keen for people to use them and experience playing them and his research on the piano music of Mendelssohn and CPE Bach with the split damper on period Broadwoods is very interesting. So I think the energy and enthusiam remains. In fact, the music department has probably never been better at Southampton than it is now.

 

Unfortunately, the music department has very little to do with the running of the concert hall and the organ. The concert hall is run as a separate business, so the music department has to book and, I believe, pay for, time in the hall. The organ is pretty hard to get on - I worked 2 floors above the music dept for a number of years, and I was only able to get in to practice on that organ twice, despite playing for university carol services, chamber choir concerts, etc.

 

DON is very good news, but his keyboard collection and remit doesn't extend to the Turner Sims.

 

 

That's as maybe, Colin, but we see little effort payed to the organ - and little concert programming on it either!

 

Every time I have played it there has been a serious fault with it. The last time was the Haupt. Principal 8' which just didn't work. Fat lot of good when there is so little else (Rohrflote and Gamba) from which to choose!

The last big choral concert in there had a toaster shipped in!

 

That used to be, and may still be, that the TSH management believed the organ was theirs to control, until such time as it needed maintenance, at which point they handed the bill over to the music department. Also, because so few people actually get on it, because the place is often in use for other stuff and because, frankly the TSH were (are? I don't know) so obstructive about getting on the organ, there is noone to tell them that it needs work. In fact, I don't know who an organist *would* tell if they found something wrong.

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Unfortunately, the music department has very little to do with the running of the concert hall and the organ. The concert hall is run as a separate business, so the music department has to book and, I believe, pay for, time in the hall. The organ is pretty hard to get on - I worked 2 floors above the music dept for a number of years, and I was only able to get in to practice on that organ twice, despite playing for university carol services, chamber choir concerts, etc.

 

 

Surely the whole point of the concert hall was originally to support the music department by giving the students a realist platform for performance. The organ was clearly seen as an essential part of that purpose. Other public use would be to defray the cost by making a wider use of the facility. The purpose of the organ seems to have now been lost.

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He will have much fun, I'm sure!

 

I can see the crescendos in the Fauré now!

 

Oh, the flapping of those brustwerke doors! :(:lol:

 

Flapping brustwerk doors on romantic repertoire is quite 'normal' here (yuk ...)

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