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16' Gt. Diapason At York Minster


John Robinson

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A question for Richard McVeigh.

 

I have been thinking, which I do occasionally(!), and have come up with a question with regard to an interest of mine - namely, how does one efficiently accommodate the contents of an organ.

 

At York Minster, the Great Organ includes a 16' Open Diapason. Bearing in mind that the display pipes in the main case are non-speaking, and the height of the case (less the towers) must be about 13' by my reckoning, where are the bottom pipes of this stop? Presumably, they are on, or adjacent to the Great chests, yet they do not protrude above the top of the case.

 

Is this a stopped bass, or mitred, or even Haskelled?

 

I address my question to Richard as, presumably, he is familiar with this organ. However, if anyone else has the answer I should be very grateful for your help.

 

John

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A question for Richard McVeigh.

 

I have been thinking, which I do occasionally(!), and have come up with a question with regard to an interest of mine - namely, how does one efficiently accommodate the contents of an organ.

 

At York Minster, the Great Organ includes a 16' Open Diapason. Bearing in mind that the display pipes in the main case are non-speaking, and the height of the case (less the towers) must be about 13' by my reckoning, where are the bottom pipes of this stop? Presumably, they are on, or adjacent to the Great chests, yet they do not protrude above the top of the case.

 

Is this a stopped bass, or mitred, or even Haskelled?

 

I address my question to Richard as, presumably, he is familiar with this organ. However, if anyone else has the answer I should be very grateful for your help.

 

John

 

It could be possible that the basses of the diapason are placed at the same level as the Pedal 16' basses.

Considering that there is already a 16-ft Gedackt on the Great I wouldn't think that the diapason basses would be stopped.

But then again I could be wrong, since being on the other side of the world I have never actually seen the organ, but this could be possible.

 

Josh

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It could be possible that the basses of the diapason are placed at the same level as the Pedal 16' basses.

Considering that there is already a 16-ft Gedackt on the Great I wouldn't think that the diapason basses would be stopped.

But then again I could be wrong, since being on the other side of the world I have never actually seen the organ, but this could be possible.

 

Josh

 

Thanks for your reply, Josh.

 

The Pedal 16' Diapason is in the south aisle, so it's unlikely that the Great 16' Diapason is there as well. However, there are other Pedal open 16' pipes within the screen and it is quite possible that it is in there with them - electric action would permit that, of course. I still have my doubts, however, as I would have thought that they would want to keep the pipes alongside the other Great stops.

 

Still a mystery then, at least for the time being!

 

John

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... At York Minster, the Great Organ includes a 16' Open Diapason. Bearing in mind that the display pipes in the main case are non-speaking, and the height of the case (less the towers) must be about 13' by my reckoning, where are the bottom pipes of this stop? Presumably, they are on, or adjacent to the Great chests, yet they do not protrude above the top of the case. ...

 

John

I am not certain of this, but I think that your estimate of the height of the body of the case (i.e., excluding the pinnacles) may be several feet short of the actual measurement.

 

York Minster is a vast building and it is easy to mis-judge scale by means of visual comparison. (Another example is Liverpool Anglical Cathedral, where the two west-facing fronts have 32p basses, but which look somewhat shorter.)

 

Remember too that the York organ is large - the G.O. alone having twenty-four stops, with thirty-eight ranks. The case is almost certainly larger that it appears - otherwise, taking the proportionate measurements of the width and depth into consideration, it would not be able to contain as much of the instrument as it does.

 

I have just scanned through an article concerning the organ of York Minster, in a back-issue of Organists' Review, for 1993. Whilst it does not give details of the layout, there is a fairly good colour close-up photograph of the east side of the case. I should judge it to be closer to around twenty-two feet in height.

 

However, it will be interesting to hear from Richard McVeigh, regarding details of the layout adn, in particular, the location of the G.O. Double Open Diapason.

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I am not certain of this, but I think that your estimate of the height of the body of the case (i.e., excluding the pinnacles) may be several feet short of the actual measurement.

 

York Minster is a vast building and it is easy to mis-judge scale by means of visual comparison. (Another example is Liverpool Anglical Cathedral, where the two west-facing fronts have 32p basses, but which look somewhat shorter.)

 

Remember too that the York organ is large - the G.O. alone having twenty-four stops, with thirty-eight ranks. The case is almost certainly larger that it appears - otherwise, taking the proportionate measurements of the width and depth into consideration, it would not be able to contain as much of the instrument as it does.

 

I have just scanned through an article concerning the organ of York Minster, in a back-issue of Organists' Review, for 1993. Whilst it does not give details of the layout, there is a fairly good colour close-up photograph of the east side of the case. I should judge it to be closer to around twenty-two feet in height.

 

However, it will be interesting to hear from Richard McVeigh, regarding details of the layout adn, in particular, the location of the G.O. Double Open Diapason.

 

You are quite right about the scale and how one can be misled. Certainly, when looking at pictures of the Liverpool organ, the 32' pipes look positively tiny in that vast space; when seeing them 'in the flesh', however, things are brought back into perspective!

 

I was basing my estimate of York not only on the assumption that the pipes in the towers (admittedly non-speaking) were of 16' speaking (or non-speaking!) length, but also after close scrutiny of several photographs and basing my estimates on known dimensions (such as the height of the screen being 24', etc.). On the same basis, I would estimate the case to be about 20' wide and 16' deep; this seems large enough to accommodate the Great and Swell (and, of course, the Choir is in the sticky-out bit to the east).

 

Incidentally, should it turn out that the bottom pipes are stopped/mitred/Haskelled, I would feel it a shame that these non-speaking display pipes are not utilised as sound producers. Surely this would be possible, even if they had to be replaced or re-made. I wonder whether they once were speaking pipes, perhaps when the case was first made c.1829.

 

I, too, shall be most interested to learn the truth when Richard returns.

 

John

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  • 1 month later...
I hope I may be excused for resurrecting this thread in the hope that Richard may notice it.

 

This is something of particular interest to me.

 

John

 

John,

 

Was just wondering if you heard anything about the 16-ft Diapason and its location within the organ?

 

Would be great to know, as this thread has become very interesting.

 

JA

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John,

 

Was just wondering if you heard anything about the 16-ft Diapason and its location within the organ?

 

Would be great to know, as this thread has become very interesting.

 

JA

 

No, I'm afraid I haven't.

 

I had assumed that this would have to remain one of the great unsolved mysteries of the universe as, having 'resurrected' the thread once, I was reluctant to do so again in case it might be seen as bad mannered. I am very grateful to you for doing that on my behalf (not that I am suggesting that you are bad mannered of course)!

 

This question is still niggling me, but I do not wish to mither Richard or anyone else who may be in the know as I am sure they are busy people with more important things to do.

 

You may be assured that, should I happen to find the answer elsewhere I shall apprise you of it here. In the meantime, my bet is that it is adjacent to the Great chests with the longest five or six pipes mitred.

 

Best wishes

 

John

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  • 3 weeks later...

Gosh I am sorry! Having only just seen this thread, I feel embarrased that there was a question for me and have not responded in 2 months. I find myself visiting this part of the message board very little, as I know nothing about organ building! However -

 

The Great Douple Open Diapason is on the east side of the organ case on a North-South axis. If you look carefully at the case while stood under the tower, and look past the 'dummy' pipes you can see the stop in question - a very dull grey. Now, I don't think all the painted pipes on the case are dummies, thats one to ask Geoff I think.

 

The Great Gedeckt (one of my favourites) is on the Great sound boards, which is on the North side of the organ case, on an East-West axis. The central space in York is huge, don't be fooled by the almsot optical illusion that it doesn't look as big as you might think.

 

On the South side of the Quire are 'bigger' pedal stops - the Diapason 16' & 32', Violone 16, Trombone 16' & 32'. At present I can't remember where the Ophicleide 16 is.

 

On the South side of the Choir Screen (just one the right of the organ case as you look at it from the nave) are the pedal 'smaller' stops, such as the Sub Bass 16', Fagotto 16', Gamba 16' the flutes and mixture.

 

The Solo box is on the North of the Choir Screen, and the Swell box is just to the North in the organ case.

 

And breaking news - we are getting a Cymbelstern installed within the next year!

 

Sorry it took me so long to reply to this John, but I hope this answers your questions?

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John, you inspired me. Literally two minutes ago I was up in the midst of the organ case, and am now filfthy!

 

There are three concievable levels in the organ case, the lower floor is where the console is, along with all the bellows, the solo box, the Bombarde and the Tuba Mirabilis, the second floor starts just at the base of the dummy pipes, and the third is about 8' above that. Ok, this might but the height of the organ case into perspective:

 

I am exactly 6', and when I stand on this second floor (at the same height as the dummies), I would estimate that there was space for another one and a half people at 6' to stand on my shoulders before the four corner towers start, if you follow?

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John, you inspired me. Literally two minutes ago I was up in the midst of the organ case, and am now filfthy!

 

There are three concievable levels in the organ case, the lower floor is where the console is, along with all the bellows, the solo box, the Bombarde and the Tuba Mirabilis, the second floor starts just at the base of the dummy pipes, and the third is about 8' above that. Ok, this might but the height of the organ case into perspective:

 

I am exactly 6', and when I stand on this second floor (at the same height as the dummies), I would estimate that there was space for another one and a half people at 6' to stand on my shoulders before the four corner towers start, if you follow?

 

Richard, I am very grateful for your reply and the trouble to which you have gone to establish these facts - especially your excursion into the organ case! Please don't apologise for not responding earlier; I'm sure that no-one expects you to be omnipresent!

 

I think I estimated the height from the bases of the 'dummy' pipes to the top of the middle section of the case to be about 13'. I don't seem to have been too far out, as you (6') plus one-and-a-half of your hypothetical twin (9') would total about 15'. If you remove your head (as your counterpart is standing on your shoulders), I should be even closer in my estimation!

 

In your previous post you say that the 16' Diapason is on the east side of the case (presumably adjacent to the choir) and that its tops are just visible above the dummy pipes whilst standing under the tower. Did you mean on the west side of the case? In any event, does that mean that it stands below the level of the bases of the dummy pipes, or that it is less than full length (presumably at least 17', including feet)?

 

Much information with regard to the disposition of the organ can, of course, be gleaned from the excellent publication 'The Organs of York Minster', but the additional information which you have kindly supplied is very much appreciated.

 

May I say that I am very pleased to hear that you are getting a cymbelstern. I wonder whether this was prompted by JSW's experiences whilst recording '21st Century Bach'!* Although it is essentially a 'baroque' stop, I should imagine it would work well enough with quieter combinations on the Minster organ. I look forward to hearing it, perhaps at Christmas 2008?

 

*Sorry to trouble you on another topic, but do you know whether the issue of Series 3 on DVD is imminent? They have shown some programmes (from Amorbach) recently on the telly.

 

Many thanks

 

John

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In your previous post you say that the 16' Diapason is on the east side of the case (presumably adjacent to the choir) and that its tops are just visible above the dummy pipes whilst standing under the tower. Did you mean on the west side of the case? In any event, does that mean that it stands below the level of the bases of the dummy pipes, or that it is less than full length (presumably at least 17', including feet)?

 

Yes I did, sorry.

 

The cymbelstern is actually being bought by a very kind gentlemen who often comes to the minster. We don't know what sort of sound it will be yet, but Geoff is looking into possibilities. I can't wait for it either.

 

As you rightly pointed out, series 3 is being broadcast on TV currently, but I don't know when its going to be released on DVD, I can easily find out.

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  • 1 month later...

Were you at Evensong last night Richard? I enjoyed Phillip Moore's Variations and Fugue on 'East Acklam'. A fine piece that leads you to an even greater appreciation of the qualities of Dr Jackson's tune.

 

And lovely as always to hear the Ivor Atkin's chant that concludes Ps 55.

 

Regards

 

Ed Bowie

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Were you at Evensong last night Richard? I enjoyed Phillip Moore's Variations and Fugue on 'East Acklam'. A fine piece that leads you to an even greater appreciation of the qualities of Dr Jackson's tune.

 

And lovely as always to hear the Ivor Atkin's chant that concludes Ps 55.

 

Regards

 

Ed Bowie

 

Yes I was, t'was I who played Howells' New College service.

 

Philip's new piece is good, it was written for the Fanfare for Francis volume. There was a hairy moment when all the stops came out for a pp chord at the end of the penultimate variation!

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