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You should also try Content.. another dutch factory. Their organs are (in my taste) of better design, and of way superior sound quality. Just google Content Orgel or Content Organs and I'm sure you'll find something of use. The Johannus organs are a bit mellow in my taste, and generally do very bad in full organ..

 

Cheers,

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In case anyone's interested, we're currently selling the 2-manual Bradford Computing Organ from the Choir School at Worcester Cathedral. It would make a perfectly useful budget practice organ as it stands, or perhaps be suitable for upgrading using Hauptwerk or other current technology. The console is remarkably solid, and considerably better than that supplied these days with the cheaper electronic organs. See Ebay item number 150354329350 for full information.

 

Regards to you all,

 

Christopher Allsop

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Here's a different angle. I have in my house an organ built by Brother Charles at Prinknash Abbey, on loan from a friend. It consists of one rank of nice Victorian stopped diapason pipes, all played on direct electric action by two manuals and a full sized pedalboard. I have found this to be so useful for practice that I now visit the church only to rehearse registration and put the finishing touches. In my experience it's all you need really. Not what I would have expected, but what a joy not to have to learn notes in the winter with ends of fingertips slowly going numb at the ends of the mittens. Why put up with a nasty electronic thing?

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O.K. Perhaps there's something wrong with my hearing then.

Whilst I'd never suggest that they could replace a decent pipe organ, they have their uses for home use. Perhaps you've just never heard a decent one through a decent pair of headphones? :rolleyes:

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We have a beautiful 5 stop box organ which doesn't really get played much, but tends to earn it's keep with hires. In idle moments it gets played, but is rather limiting in terms of repertoire.

 

We also have a 2m and p analogue Wyvern which sits in the study next to my desk. Despite the fact that the old girl is well over 25 years old, it works very well as a practise instrument - and bizarrely sounds better on headphones. As it is about to curl up it's toes, I have begun investigations as to what to do next. I fancy giving myself a 50th birthday present (1st July for those who want to send cards!), and have finally decided to bite the bullet and go for Hauptwerk. Why? Well - I have a console, a half decent computer and speakers. It appears that Hauptwerk are issuing a free version of their basic setup, which will be enough for me for the moment as there are costs in gutting the Wyvern in order to re-wire it so that it can take MIDI - but much less of a new organ. Polyphony is going to be less, but for the moment this will suit my needs. The reality about practising on a home organ is having something that is believable, and with headphones on, using the Hauptwerk system, you really are in the building, playing in the natural acoustic.

 

I really like the fact that there are some small organ samples available - English too, as well as others. It's not all about buying the biggest instrument we can stuff into our living room. There is a real sense of satisfaction in practising on a really good small organ. I for one am grateful to those people who have spent, seemingly hundreds of hours sampling the organs so that we can experience them. I hope that some of the money earned by those who sample the organs is ploughed back into the instruments to ensure their continued well-being.

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I have found this topic illuminating - thank you. I have one observation which I share and one which really has come about by my hearing many students and others practice.

I believe that there is a distinction between i) playing the organ and ii) practicing at the organ. The former suggests to me that we have the stops drawn and there is much sound. With the latter, we surely aim to get the correct notes by the best arrangement of fingering and pedaling, articulation and phrasing. Therefore for the home we need only to address and purchase what is necessary for ii) - which surely answers the topic heading. If we need performance, then we require i)

I perform at home - but normally in the kitchen or on my piano. Having now got two manuals and pedals and two extraordinary 8fts, under my roof (and in a most handsome piece of furniture to boot), I can honestly say my cup has overflowed. The excitement of putting the sound to all the domestic labour is tremendous when you reach the church or concert hall. In retrospect, I would only have a digital instrument to mess around with the sounds (and no doubt at the expense of doing work). and all the time imagining of being somewhere where I wasn't. I would then slip into the same rut that numerous students find themselves in. Readers might be interested to know that once I did an experiment with a student who made oodles of noise all the day and drove everyone in three Quadrangles mad. We made a pact that if he only practiced on a single 8ft or 4ft we would use all necessary sounds in the lesson. Do you know, he learned things far better and almost twice the amount; was immeasurably more secure; and the frison that ensued from adding stops for the first time in the lesson was hugely rewarding.

You can draw your own conclusions.

All best wishes,

N

 

P.S (added after re-reading and realizing that there must be a Romantic compromise). Of course what I suggest above, is for music before the Romantic and Contemporary times. My instrument is only for all that music that I prefer mostly to play these days. For Romantic music I still use the pianoforte, as much music is so clearly based upon that keyboard's influence. Granted - a visit to the church is required to put much of this together. But the difference that occurs (in my estimation) from diligent study of organ music on the pianoforte, pays dividends. Phrasing and rhetorical interpretation is strongly helped. The organist can then also explore the works of the same composer written for the instrument and enjoy the similarities. An organist must surely not be blinkered to other compositional genres. A strong pianistic fingering reaps benefits in organ repertoire I think. So, although you can use a digital instrument in the home for this music, I fear that it would be used instead of the pianoforte as a 'took of the trade'. Therefore the attraction and temptation of sound simulated from a three or four-decker in the Music Room should in my opinion be overcome for almost all the time. Sorry! N

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As one might expect from Nigel, first rate advice borne from years of experience. About three months ago I took delivery of a custom made, superb four manual console which operates on the Haupwerk system. Currently it uses the Mount Carmel (three manual) download and eventually I hope to change that for the Salisbury download, once it becomes available.

 

Just occasionally, and ever bearing in mind neighbours in a terrace, I really let rip and enjoy myself. For probably 95% of the time, when really learning pieces - whether by Bach, Lanqeutuit or Rheinberger - I use just clear 8 and 4 foot stops, even on the pedals. I agree totally with Nigel that this does help to make it more exciting when you add the "proper" performance registration and even more exciting if you end up performing the peice on a really superb pipe organ. More importantly it enables you to hear and analyse precisely what you are doing.

 

Malcolm

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Guest Cynic
I have found this topic illuminating - thank you. I have one observation which I share and one which really has come about by my hearing many students and others practice.

I believe that there is a distinction between i) playing the organ and ii) practicing at the organ. The former suggests to me that we have the stops drawn and there is much sound. With the latter, we surely aim to get the correct notes by the best arrangement of fingering and pedaling, articulation and phrasing. Therefore for the home we need only to address and purchase what is necessary for ii) - which surely answers the topic heading. If we need performance, then we require i)

I perform at home - but normally in the kitchen or on my piano. Having now got two manuals and pedals and two extraordinary 8fts, under my roof (and in a most handsome piece of furniture to boot), I can honestly say my cup has overflowed. The excitement of putting the sound to all the domestic labour is tremendous when you reach the church or concert hall. In retrospect, I would only have an digital instrument to mess around with the sounds (and no doubt at the expense of doing work). and all the time imagining of being somewhere where I wasn't. I would then slip into the same rut that numerous students find themselves in. Readers might be interested to know that once I did an experiment with a student who made oodles of noise all the day and drove everyone in three Quadrangles mad. We made a pact that if he only practiced on a single 8ft or 4ft we would use all necessary sounds in the lesson. Do you know, he learned things far better and almost twice the amount; was immeasurably more secure; and the frison that ensued from adding stops for the first time in the lesson was hugely rewarding.

You can draw your own conclusions.

All best wishes,

N

 

 

This sums it all up very succinctly for me.

I know folks with huge electronic instruments who have abandoned these virtually entirely when they have real pipes as an alternative, however few ranks they come from. I can imagine that note-bashing on an electronic is great deal better than nothing, but there are better alternatives....

 

Rescued pipe organs can come cheaper than electronics too. I recently heard from someone who only wanted to add a 32' to his church instrument. He is now measuring up to see if my spare Compton polyphone will fit somewhere, having tried various electronics firms and received quotes of £4k upwards just for this single octave of sounds.

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I have found this topic illuminating - thank you. I have one observation which I share and one which really has come about by my hearing many students and others practice.

I believe that there is a distinction between i) playing the organ and ii) practicing at the organ. The former suggests to me that we have the stops drawn and there is much sound. With the latter, we surely aim to get the correct notes by the best arrangement of fingering and pedaling, articulation and phrasing. Therefore for the home we need only to address and purchase what is necessary for ii) - which surely answers the topic heading. If we need performance, then we require i)

I perform at home - but normally in the kitchen or on my piano. Having now got two manuals and pedals and two extraordinary 8fts, under my roof (and in a most handsome piece of furniture to boot), I can honestly say my cup has overflowed. The excitement of putting the sound to all the domestic labour is tremendous when you reach the church or concert hall. In retrospect, I would only have an digital instrument to mess around with the sounds (and no doubt at the expense of doing work). and all the time imagining of being somewhere where I wasn't. I would then slip into the same rut that numerous students find themselves in. Readers might be interested to know that once I did an experiment with a student who made oodles of noise all the day and drove everyone in three Quadrangles mad. We made a pact that if he only practiced on a single 8ft or 4ft we would use all necessary sounds in the lesson. Do you know, he learned things far better and almost twice the amount; was immeasurably more secure; and the frison that ensued from adding stops for the first time in the lesson was hugely rewarding.

You can draw your own conclusions.

All best wishes,

N

 

I found these remarks illuminating. In essence, a digital vs one or two ranks of pipes provides the facility - and hence temptation - to start performing a piece long before one has really learnt it. It seems obvious, I suppose, but I hadn't really thought of it that way before. Thank you. Practice on single flutes it is, then.

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I found these remarks illuminating. In essence, a digital vs one or two ranks of pipes provides the facility - and hence temptation - to start performing a piece long before one has really learnt it. It seems obvious, I suppose, but I hadn't really thought of it that way before. Thank you. Practice on single flutes it is, then.

 

How lovely to read. In a nutshell then, I suggest a player must be strong and differentiate very often between practicing the sound and practicing the music. Youngsters (and some not so young) are of course drawn by the sound of the instrument. With the organ there is a great temptation to practice the former when the teacher is hoping for the latter! I suppose it is the teacher's job then, to show how a student should practice on any instrument. The two disciplines in my mind come together in one ecstatic fusion after all the work has been done. That's one mighty great reward!

 

Best wishes,

N

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I hope that some of the money earned by those who sample the organs is ploughed back into the instruments to ensure their continued well-being.

This is true of a large number of the available sets.

 

Paul

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I have found this topic illuminating - thank you. I have one observation which I share and one which really has come about by my hearing many students and others practice.

I believe that there is a distinction between i) playing the organ and ii) practicing at the organ. The former suggests to me that we have the stops drawn and there is much sound. With the latter, we surely aim to get the correct notes by the best arrangement of fingering and pedaling, articulation and phrasing. Therefore for the home we need only to address and purchase what is necessary for ii) - which surely answers the topic heading. If we need performance, then we require i)

I perform at home - but normally in the kitchen or on my piano. Having now got two manuals and pedals and two extraordinary 8fts, under my roof (and in a most handsome piece of furniture to boot), I can honestly say my cup has overflowed. The excitement of putting the sound to all the domestic labour is tremendous when you reach the church or concert hall. In retrospect, I would only have a digital instrument to mess around with the sounds (and no doubt at the expense of doing work). and all the time imagining of being somewhere where I wasn't. I would then slip into the same rut that numerous students find themselves in. Readers might be interested to know that once I did an experiment with a student who made oodles of noise all the day and drove everyone in three Quadrangles mad. We made a pact that if he only practiced on a single 8ft or 4ft we would use all necessary sounds in the lesson. Do you know, he learned things far better and almost twice the amount; was immeasurably more secure; and the frison that ensued from adding stops for the first time in the lesson was hugely rewarding.

You can draw your own conclusions.

All best wishes,

N

 

P.S (added after re-reading and realizing that there must be a Romantic compromise). Of course what I suggest above, is for music before the Romantic and Contemporary times. My instrument is only for all that music that I prefer mostly to play these days. For Romantic music I still use the pianoforte, as much music is so clearly based upon that keyboard's influence. Granted - a visit to the church is required to put much of this together. But the difference that occurs (in my estimation) from diligent study of organ music on the pianoforte, pays dividends. Phrasing and rhetorical interpretation is strongly helped. The organist can then also explore the works of the same composer written for the instrument and enjoy the similarities. An organist must surely not be blinkered to other compositional genres. A strong pianistic fingering reaps benefits in organ repertoire I think. So, although you can use a digital instrument in the home for this music, I fear that it would be used instead of the pianoforte as a 'tool of the trade'. Therefore the attraction and temptation of sound simulated from a three or four-decker in the Music Room should in my opinion be overcome for almost all the time. Sorry! N

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Much as it annoys me, I have to confess that an argument has popped into my head that says large electronic organs have a very particular usefulness. Above, I indicated that I both respect and agree with Nigel's opinion and advice, but this is not the whole story.

 

Unlike other instrumentalists, a good half of our repertoire (if we are not restricting ourselves) involves un-musical physical operations, viz organ management, changes in registration etc. For a short while, about ten years ago, I had regular access to two tracker organs, one a 19th century instrument at school (rescued from a closed non-conformist church by my predecessors) and one a gorgeous-sounding high quality copy of an 18th century Dutch organ by a Dutch maker.

 

By rights everything Nigel says ought to have applied and mostly it did. I would rehearse using pretty basic combinations on one or other of the tracker jobs, but proper preparation for my recording projects and rehearsing for my usual 20 or so concerts per year still gave me trouble. Neither organ would get me more than half-way. I ended up having to work quite hard at All Saints' Cheltenham as well, where a four manual with all the wrong sounds and temptations was not the primary feature, but the multi-decks and the piston layout were!

 

Now I have access to my own rehearsal instrument at home (pipes of course) there is as much to be said for its console arrangements as there is against it for being on electric action. Having learned the notes, if one is about to perform a work that uses pistons or three manuals, one really needs pistons and three manuals or more. Bazuin will remind us that three manuals aren't strictly speaking a necessity, well, in the music I play IMHO they frequently are. I suppose the point is, note learning needs to be done with as few distractions as possible but there is more to preparing a performance than note learning.

 

Devil's Advocate continues: I should add, if one is preparing a romantic work, surely use of swell pedals is relevant? Subtle use of these (with either foot) constitutes an integral element, doesn't it? I don't find that interpretation is just an 'add-on' that comes on the great day itself!

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This thread really deserves its own space really as it goes beyond the complexities of which digital instrument to purchase.

In answer and to elucidate perhaps Paul's uncynical observations, I never for one moment suggest that work does not need to be done on a fully stocked console. In fact, it was one reason why I added the postscript to my original post as I had stopped at Mendelssohn. Tut tut! But in general terms as organists in some corners of the world, we seem so caught up with the accessories of the instrument.

There is no argument concerning not going off to Church to use all the manuals, pistons and swell boxes. My thoughts are exercised by what has been done or not done, before the bike or the car has been taken from the garage. How many people leave their Franck scores (to name but one of many composers) on the church organ and never let them have a musical holiday at home on the piano? Of course I can appreciate too the opportunities necessary for using Swell pedals - but so long as they add to the expressiveness of one's playing and not just used as a synthetic substitute. (The right foot syndrome accounts frequently for the lamentable standard of Improvisation, as the left foot creeps mostly legato with unending passing notes as like a musical (sic) 16ft tape worm.) To make proper espressivo playing and with true cantabile and legato control, the piano is just the ticket. For me, the correct and judicious use of Swell boxes after the player knows how to control the music, heightens the performance to memorable effect. For instance, Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen becomes ever more poignant after looking at Liszt's piano version as well as our's for the organ on the piano. The often wooden openings to Franck's 1st and 2nd Chorals benefit from proper expressive playing which only comes from a good grand piano! Franck's (and other Frenchmen) dynamics frequently refer to where the Swell lever is notched. The lever is only required when marked crescendi and diminuendi are there. The expression through musical rubato and 'line' is for me, then reinforced and coloured to heighten the interpretation by The Box. I just deplore the waggling of the swell pedal in the hope that the player thinks it makes the music expressive. It diminishes the point when we do need to use it. (The next time anyone uses The Box - ask yourself the question "Is this actually necessary at this point and what musical use does it bring to my playing?)

However much one prepares on a wizard home/practice console, it never seems to be much use to me when confronted with an organ when on tour. All are so different. In fact not to be greatly used to one sort allows a fresher collaboration on first acquaintance I find.

So, in conclusion, we all have different learning methods and most have different ideas as to how to achieve the best possible personal musical results. I only feel that the latter could sometimes be better honed in the early stages of learning by us than by being less concerned with the practicing of sound but more so with the actual music.

Best wishes,

Nigel

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I think that I have found an intelligent solution to this vexing problem. Part of the problem appears to be the 'going through the motions' of playing a larger organ. This organ http://www.cbfisk.com/do/DisplayInstrument/instId/118 seems to take into account key touch feel as well as the availability of expression pedals.

 

I think that home organs in pipe form may have evolved from the 8+8 Flutes, and now have much different timbres. The thought of try to practice Dupre's B major P + F on two flutes would put me off. However, the principle of differing timbres has worked for me on my analogue toaster where less definitely sounds better.

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I know that our very kind hosts don't normally approve of prolonged discussions about the merits of electronic organs, but I wonder if the Hauptwerk system has the potential to change we way we think about practising and designing organs.

 

That's to say, once you've bought several different organ sets and a fast enough computer to run them, you can change at the flick of a switch, from playing (complete with a mock up of the real console on your LCD panels either side of the keyboard), between a real Silberman, a Cavaille-Coll, a Father Willis...and experience, without leaving your practice room, multiple styles of organ building.

 

It poses interesting questions for practice, teaching and organ design about what additional benefit there is for being able to practice or teach on a digital replica of a real and historic organ for which the music being learnt was originally composed for.

 

Plus it raises the question about creating a very detailed record of the sound of these historic instruments. Perish the thought that one should be lost in a fire or other catastrophe; but should the unthinkable happen, every pipe will have been faithfully recorded for posterity (though one hopes the pipe scales and materials would also be recorded, that I don't know about). Could there be potential for aiding organ design - when planning a new instrument, first design the instrument in digital form using real samples, maybe from the builder's own instruments, then play the samples in the church in which the organ is to be constructed, and hone the voicing, the scaling etc based on how it sounds, what works, what doesn't work so well etc. Is that so radically different from using CAD to model how the organ will look and fit into the building it's being designed for?

 

I have no conflict of interest here; I don't own a Hauptwerk system nor do I have anything to do with it. And I'm not trying to promote electronic organs per se. But from what I've read I can see a flexibility that hitheto digital instruments haven't possessed, and wonder if any others feel this is such a radical departure from the conventional digital toaster that we finally have a digital option that will enhance how we learn the repertoire that was written for the organs that have been sampled and so help us better perform them when we are eventually given the rare luxury of playing them on the "real thing"? And could it be helpful in avoiding expensive errors or regrets when designing pipe organs, since the client will have a better impression of how the pipe instrument will sound if a "mock-up" digital version has already been field-tested in the building in which it is to be built for?

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"That's to say, once you've bought several different organ sets and a fast enough computer to run them, you can change at the flick of a switch, from playing (complete with a mock up of the real console on your LCD panels either side of the keyboard), between a real Silberman, a Cavaille-Coll, a Father Willis...and experience, without leaving your practice room, multiple styles of organ building."

 

No you won't. Because the true nature of any of these organs can only be understood at any meaningful level by experiencing the whole package - the touch (and the way it affects the sound), the console dimensions (have you played a Silbermann console with the widely-spaced pedals and enormously high sharps?), the room etc.

 

I'm curious which repertoire Paul was referring to when he said he required 3 manuals. He plays far more late-romantic repertoire than I do, and I guess he's referring to this. Does the jump from two to 3 manuals really make such a difference? I've never found it so much of a problem that I would invest in a 3rd manual for my own practise instrument.

 

One of the reasons the organ is so un-popular (especially in the UK) in my opinion, is that it, above all other instruments, is so often so inexpressively played. The organ is NOT an in-expressive instrument (contrary to what our critics would have us believe) but it needs to be played espressively. And that has to do with developing touch above all (this is as true for Franck as for Sweelinck). So why do organists so often bore us with their playing (I write this having been bored senseless by a lunch-concert today)?

 

"But in general terms as organists in some corners of the world, we seem so caught up with the accessories of the instrument. "

 

Precisely. It's what Stephen Bicknell (I think) called 'console-itis'. I prefer to cut out the distractions. Give me a pedal piano over a toaster any day.

 

Bazuin

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I think that home organs in pipe form may have evolved from the 8+8 Flutes, and now have much different timbres. The thought of try to practice Dupre's B major P + F on two flutes would put me off.

 

There was an article in Choir and Organ a few years ago in which John Kitchen mentioned having learned one of the big Dupre works (can't remember with certainty which one, but I *think* it may have been the Symphonie Passion) on just such an instrument.

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There was an article in Choir and Organ a few years ago in which John Kitchen mentioned having learned one of the big Dupre works (can't remember with certainty which one, but I *think* it may have been the Symphonie Passion) on just such an instrument.

 

His is a rather good Lammermuir house organ, spec and photo here. Neil has quite a good reputation at the small organ end of the market.

 

Has anyone played his instrument in St Peter's, Oxford?

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His is a rather good Lammermuir house organ, spec and photo here. Neil has quite a good reputation at the small organ end of the market.

 

Has anyone played his instrument in St Peter's, Oxford?

 

 

Ah well....

my main information comes from a former organ scholar, and I did get to try it myself once.

 

Apparently, the action had the unusual capacity to vary alarmingly from one time of day to another. Sometimes the depth of touch was so shallow that pipes didn't seem to get sufficient air. After only a few years of use, the decision was taken to refurbish the (one unfashionable) small Father Willis that stood in a corner behind the Lammermuir, Nicholsons carried out this work. Since then I gather a faculty has been issued by the diocese for the Prof John Harper-designed, Richerby-built organ to be removed. According to a separate account from someone who should know, I believe that permission was granted for this organ to be sold on, but on the condition that it did not end up anywhere else in the Oxford Diocese!!

 

Professor Peter Williams also had a specially built Lammermuir house organ. It looked glorious. He took it with him to the USA when he received a promotion there, but opted not to bring it back when he returned to the UK and retired to The Forest of Dean.

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