Jump to content
Mander Organ Builders Forum

Harrison Harmonics


Recommended Posts

I read somewhere recently that Harrison & Harrison continued the 17th, 19th, flat 21st and 22nd composition of the Harmonics for about 2 1/2 or 3 octaves. What happened then?

 

It's been a long while since I've had access to an older Harrison, and it's not the sort of question I ever considered at the time. Now that I'm wondering, I'm not remotely near one: the nearest Harrison is some thousands of kms away from my current little oasis hideaway at the edge of a vast desert. (Geographically, I kid you not.)

 

Is anyone able to oblige with an answer?

 

Kind regards,

MJF

Link to post
Share on other sites

This was the basic specification; the stop can have more ranks, and thus, more breaks.

The 4 ranks stops I have encountered have only one break, on the 37 or 38th note

(It was sooome times ago!), so that it can also be used in light, synthetic combinations.

 

But for this use, the Harmonics could be better placed in an expressive division

(In H&H organs I always met it on the Great), for example, a floating division

with an extended Tromba (16-8-4 or 8-4) and the Harmonics, rendered available

on whichever manual is desired. This would be interesting for small organs.

(I won't post the complete project here in order not to disturb with weird ideas).

One break also (for details I would have to sort out some cardboxes...).

 

Pierre

Link to post
Share on other sites
This was the basic specification; the stop can have more ranks, and thus, more breaks.

The 4 ranks stops I have encountered have only one break, on the 37 or 38th note

(It was sooome times ago!), so that it can also be used in light, synthetic combinations.

 

But for this use, the Harmonics could be better placed in an expressive division

(In H&H organs I always met it on the Great), for example, a floating division

with an extended Tromba (16-8-4 or 8-4) and the Harmonics, rendered available

on whichever manual is desired. This would be interesting for small organs.

(I won't post the complete project here in order not to disturb with weird ideas).

One break also (for details I would have to sort out some cardboxes...).

 

Pierre

 

 

Pierre is quite correct regarding the composition of this stop. Because it did not break back until the 37th or 38th note, the standard H&H Harmonics supplied considerable brilliance - of a rather anti-social variety. However, I have not yet met a Harmonics stop by H&H which was remotely useful in 'light, synthetic combinations'. This was never Arthur Harrison's intention, as has been discussed before on this forum.

 

There are a few instances of a Harrison Harmonics having more than four ranks; for example, prior to 1975, the G.O. at Ely Cathedral had a five rank Harmonics, the extra rank being a 10th. It is interesting to note that this is one stop which was not replaced at the time of the 2001 rebuild. In addition, after the reconstruction of the organ in the Royal Albert Hall by H&H (1923-33), the G.O. had a six-rank Harmonics, with the following composition: 10-15-17-19-flat 21-22.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Pierre is quite correct regarding the composition of this stop. Because it did not break back until the 37th or 38th note, the standard H&H Harmonics supplied considerable brilliance - of a rather anti-social variety. However, I have not yet met a Harmonics stop by H&H which was remotely useful in 'light, synthetic combinations'. This was never Arthur Harrison's intention, as has been discussed before on this forum.

 

There are a few instances of a Harrison Harmonics having more than four ranks; for example, prior to 1975, the G.O. at Ely Cathedral had a five rank Harmonics, the extra rank being a 10th. It is interesting to note that this is one stop which was not replaced at the time of the 2001 rebuild. In addition, after the reconstruction of the organ in the Royal Albert Hall by H&H (1923-33), the G.O. had a six-rank Harmonics, with the following composition: 10.15.17.19.21.22.

 

This is well and good, but I also would like to know the answer to the initial question.

Assuming from C1 to C37 is 15 17 19 21 22, what happens above C37?

Did it break back once, one octave, to 8 10 12 14 15?

Did it break back several times, by lesser amounts - e.g., 12 14 15 17 19, etc?

Does anyone know any actual examples?

 

John

Link to post
Share on other sites
This is well and good, but I also would like to know the answer to the initial question.

Assuming from C1 to C37 is 15 17 19 21 22, what happens above C37?

Did it break back once, one octave, to 8 10 12 14 15?

Did it break back several times, by lesser amounts - e.g., 12 14 15 17 19, etc?

Does anyone know any actual examples?

 

John

According to Organ Building 2003, the restored Harmonics IV at All Saints Margaret St is as follows:

 

C1 17 19 21 22

#f43 14 15 17 19

#d52 8 10 12 15

 

according to Mark Venning (p 16), this composition is that of the 1923 H&H in tha Caird Hall Dundee (and by implication not that of All Saints' Tooting Graveny)

Link to post
Share on other sites
This is well and good, but I also would like to know the answer to the initial question.

Assuming from C1 to C37 is 15 17 19 21 22, what happens above C37?

Did it break back once, one octave, to 8 10 12 14 15?

Did it break back several times, by lesser amounts - e.g., 12 14 15 17 19, etc?

Does anyone know any actual examples?

 

John

Royal Albert Hall:

 

G.O. Harmonics VI:

 

C1: 10-15-17-19-flat 21-22

F#43: 5-8-10-12- flat 14-15

D51: 1-5-8-10-12-15

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you both very much for this information.

 

It is interesting that, in both cases the flat 21st is lost at the top end, and only a third remains (apart from octaves and quints).

 

John

Link to post
Share on other sites
Thank you both very much for this information.

 

It is interesting that, in both cases the flat 21st is lost at the top end, and only a third remains (apart from octaves and quints).

 

John

 

I've met one or two unaltered Arthur Harrison Harmonics stops. Without exception they have been successful in spicing up the (for me) tediously smooth Great Reeds, but to all intents and purposes useless for anything else. We owe Col. Dixon a debt of thanks for suggesting to AH that a copy of Schulze's quint mixtures ought to be included on any large Great organ. I understand that Dixon paid for the example at Ely and this was considered so successful that every H&H of any size after this had one along with the Harmonics.

 

I have to say, in all my travels, a Harmonics stop is one of the few effects I have never wanted to incorporate in any organ of mine. Now, a Septieme drawing on its own....maybe. Why on earth could H&H not have gone for a straight-forward Cornet as Lewis did at Southwark and as German builders were providing almost everywhere? These brighten up reeds splendidly without being anti-social.

Link to post
Share on other sites
I've met one or two unaltered Arthur Harrison Harmonics stops. Without exception they have been successful in spicing up the (for me) tediously smooth Great Reeds, but to all intents and purposes useless for anything else. We owe Col. Dixon a debt of thanks for suggesting to AH that a copy of Schulze's quint mixtures ought to be included on any large Great organ. I understand that Dixon paid for the example at Ely and this was considered so successful that every H&H of any size after this had one along with the Harmonics.

 

I have to say, in all my travels, a Harmonics stop is one of the few effects I have never wanted to incorporate in any organ of mine. Now, a Septieme drawing on its own....maybe. Why on earth could H&H not have gone for a straight-forward Cornet as Lewis did at Southwark and as German builders were providing almost everywhere? These brighten up reeds splendidly without being anti-social.

 

I may have posted this before but it is interesting to note that in the USA at least some are still building these stops. Check this out.

 

AJJ

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, Paul,

 

But it was George Dixon himself who suggested the Harmonics

could be used as a synthetic compound stop...I had it tried, and

found it was just as anti-social as the next, neo-baroque, Mixture

or Cornet.

The french Grand Cornet deals with a light-pressure, open shallots

reed chorus;

The german Kornett, of Principal scales since as early as Joachim Wagner,

is rather an optionnal part of the Diapason chorus. If it has to go with

reeds at all, then it is a 16' Fagott or a discrete Trompete. The true

french Cornet you will find in G. Silbermann's organs; his followers

changed it from day one after their apprenticeship !

 

Now with those heavy, closed-toned Trombas, the job for a "binding-corroborating- equalizing"

Mixture is quite different.

First there is, comparatively, less harmonic development in the reed tone; second, as Pcnd

said, there is no, with such reed voicing, weakness in the treble related to the basses.

So in order to bind such things with the rest -mainly, a Diapason chorus which was intended

to follow Schulze's lines, with Quint Mixture or not, and a rather bright Full-Swell- you need

an "harmonics-providing machine".

An this was quite the reverse of Cavaillé-Coll's and Walcker's use of mutations on seperate ranks,

which were intended to "result", that is, to reinforce the foundation tone.

 

In this we see Arthur Harrison, along with Dixon and Casson, were no more "romantic", nor

even "late-romantic", but true post-romantic people.

 

In a modern organ you could have the ranks on seperate sliders, yes. But with the strenght

you need from them withy the Trombas, they would be of little use, unless enclosed.

Now if you suppress the Trombas, and leave the mutations alone then, you can voice

them at will, but we shall end up with nothing more forward-thinking than a 1950 Klais,

Steinmeyer or Gonzalez organ.

 

Pierre

Link to post
Share on other sites
Now with those heavy, closed-toned Trombas, the job for a "binding-corroborating- equalizing"

Mixture is quite different.

First there is, comparatively, less harmonic development in the reed tone; second, as Pcnd

said, there is no, with such reed voicing, weakness in the treble related to the basses.

So in order to bind such things with the rest -mainly, a Diapason chorus which was intended

to follow Schulze's lines, with Quint Mixture or not, and a rather bright Full-Swell- you need

an "harmonics-providing machine".

An this was quite the reverse of Cavaillé-Coll's and Walcker's use of mutations on seperate ranks,

which were intended to "result", that is, to reinforce the foundation tone.

 

In this we see Arthur Harrison, along with Dixon and Casson, were no more "romantic", nor

even "late-romantic", but true post-romantic people.

 

In a modern organ you could have the ranks on seperate sliders, yes. But with the strenght

you need from them withy the Trombas, they would be of little use, unless enclosed.

Now if you suppress the Trombas, and leave the mutations alone then, you can voice

them at will, but we shall end up with nothing more forward-thinking than a 1950 Klais,

Steinmeyer or Gonzalez organ.

 

Pierre

This is why I get so depressed to play a Harrison which still has fat Trombas, but the Harmonics mixture has been tinkered with, or the flat 21st suppressed.

Link to post
Share on other sites
This is why I get so depressed to play a Harrison which still has fat Trombas, but the Harmonics mixture has been tinkered with, or the flat 21st suppressed.

 

Absolutely; such organs need their "Harmonics" as it was designed.

To make a "would-be baroque" stop of them is a mistake, exactly

like replacing a Tierce with a Voix céleste in a baroque organ.

 

Pierre

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 years later...
Absolutely; such organs need their "Harmonics" as it was designed.

To make a "would-be baroque" stop of them is a mistake, exactly

like replacing a Tierce with a Voix céleste in a baroque organ.

 

Pierre

Leicester Cathedral comes to mind. The Harmonics was converted to a quint mixture some years ago, I believe. More recently, the Great Trombas have been replaced with Trumpets in the interests of "blend". However, when I went to a recital I saw these great trumpets added on the big screen as the recitalist headed towards full organ and they made no noticable impact on my ears. This leaves the organ with no big reeds to bridge the gap between the Swell reeds and the enormous Solo Tuba.

Perhaps it would have been better to reinstate the Harmonics, leave the high pressure Trombas alone and add a quint mixture to the whole? I cannot help but think that once one tampers with the original scheme everything starts to come "out of joint".

Link to post
Share on other sites
Leicester Cathedral comes to mind. The Harmonics was converted to a quint mixture some years ago, I believe. More recently, the Great Trombas have been replaced with Trumpets in the interests of "blend". However, when I went to a recital I saw these great trumpets added on the big screen as the recitalist headed towards full organ and they made no noticable impact on my ears. This leaves the organ with no big reeds to bridge the gap between the Swell reeds and the enormous Solo Tuba.

Perhaps it would have been better to reinstate the Harmonics, leave the high pressure Trombas alone and add a quint mixture to the whole? I cannot help but think that once one tampers with the original scheme everything starts to come "out of joint".

 

I believe the Leicester Cathedral Harmonics IV (17-19-21-22) was replaced with a quint mixture (19-22-26-29) in 1972. I partly agree that the new English style Trumpets of 1998 do not have much impact but they certainly blend. I played the organ reasonably frequently when I was a pupil at Leicester Grammar School in the 1980s which was then next door to the cathedral. I rather liked the Trombas and their ultra-smooth tone - they had character. The Quint mixture is more versatile but it would have been beneficial to have had both mixtures.

 

At St Mary Redcliffe where the organ is now nearing the completion of its restoration by H&H, there are two mixtures on the great. This organ is from 1912, so Arthur Harrison after his Ely/Dixon experience was perhaps not immediately converted to having both mixtures? Our quint mixture (12-15-19-22-26) was only added in 1974 at the request of the organist Garth Benson (along with pedal upperwork too). This mixture has now been included on the main slider chest with improved chorus effect - it stood out a little previously on its separate chest which was at a higher level than the other fluework.

 

The Harmonics IV (17-19-21-22) with only one break at F#43 to 8-10-12-15 can be used in a number of ways. It can be occasionally used as a piquant reedy cornet colour with 8 and 4 flutes; it can be used as an alternative or additional mixture with the flues, and it adds sparkle to the Trombas (16, 8, 4 - separate ranks - all with a slightly different tonal spectrum). Since cleaning, and the integration of the quint mixture, the mixtures have perhaps changed roles. Formerly, the harmonics was added in hymn playing as the first mixture and then the quint second as a brighter/sharper sound. Now it appears that the harmonics might be better coming on after the quint mixture, perhaps even with the reeds as it may have originally been designated! I like the Harmonics and find it anything but useless if voiced well and in a sympathetic acoustic.

Link to post
Share on other sites
b14, surely?

I wonder how "dangerous" members feel the flat 21st rank is? The 1927 Åkermann & Lund in the St Maria Magdelena Church in Stockholm has a stop labelled "Kornett" on Manual 1. Its composition is: 8 - 12 - 15 - 17 - flat21.

This organ is wonderful to play and possibly the largest late romantic organ in Sweden to remain. There is not a quint mixture in sight on any of the three manuals but it makes some wonderful sounds! If you like the music of Otto Olsson ( I heard profssor Ralph Gustaffson play the Credo Symphoniacum on it ) - it is wonderful.

Link to post
Share on other sites
I wonder how "dangerous" members feel the flat 21st rank is?

 

Hi

 

Like any other rank, it depends how it's voiced. If it blends with the rest of the stops, then there's no problem, except possibly the "out of tune" effect caused by equal temperament tuning when used in chords.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

Link to post
Share on other sites

Shows that one should check the facts before posting. I've looked up the records now - one in Mark Venning's handwriting, so I think this will be correct!

 

The Harmonics IV (17-19-21-22) at F#43 breaks to 5-8-10-15

 

Hope this makes more sense. It is a rather obvious break - the one reinstated at All Saints Margaret Street in 2002/3 had a more subtle break at that point including a b14 I believe.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Compton used the flat 21st in mixtures to great effect, to achieve a convincing 32' reed but also on organs like Southampton Guildhall where there is a three rank "Harmonics" consisting of Twelfth, Tierce and Flat 21st pipes of (for most of the compass anyway) quietly voiced Harmonic Stopped pipes. To maintain the "Clarinet(y)" colour, the composition was vitually straight without breaks. It was a bit of a pig to tune well, I remember, but VERY effective when it was!

Link to post
Share on other sites

As time goes on, I find I have more and more respect for the Compton firm's work. There was real innovation and a way of breaking the mould, which I'm not sure has really been seen since in this country. We should remember that it was common on Compton adverts for them to say words to the effect that, if you want something cheap then look elsewhere, and I think that the philosophy of manufacture underpinning this was lost by the production of cheap extension organs, mainly facilitated by the massive reduction in costs of the development of electrical components and the labour required to put them together.

 

The cheap alternative tarnished the original brand. Now however, with modern developments we could marry the quality with the price control and achieve the best of both worlds.

 

AJS

Link to post
Share on other sites
Compton used the flat 21st in mixtures to great effect, to achieve a convincing 32' reed but also on organs like Southampton Guildhall where there is a three rank "Harmonics" consisting of Twelfth, Tierce and Flat 21st pipes of (for most of the compass anyway) quietly voiced Harmonic Stopped pipes. To maintain the "Clarinet(y)" colour, the composition was vitually straight without breaks. It was a bit of a pig to tune well, I remember, but VERY effective when it was!

My original question, as to whether or not the 21st rank was "dangerous" was based upn the fact that so many examples have been muted or changed. Is this because there seem to be so few cases where they are correctly maintained and tuned? On the other hand, maybe the dissappearance of the Harrison Harmonics on organs like Leicester Cathedral is due to changing trends. Perhaps some organists feel the need to have quint mixture at all costs. My own (personnal) view would be: leave the Harmonics alone unless there is space and funds to add a quint mixture to the existing spec.

Link to post
Share on other sites
My original question, as to whether or not the 21st rank was "dangerous" was based upn the fact that so many examples have been muted or changed. Is this because there seem to be so few cases where they are correctly maintained and tuned? On the other hand, maybe the dissappearance of the Harrison Harmonics on organs like Leicester Cathedral is due to changing trends. Perhaps some organists feel the need to have quint mixture at all costs. My own (personnal) view would be: leave the Harmonics alone unless there is space and funds to add a quint mixture to the existing spec.

Oops! I meant to say disappearance. I should have checked my spelling!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...