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Reeds In The Grove


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I have just found an essay by Stephen Bicknell on Carlton Michell (Bios Journal no. 23). In this he quotes Bonavia-Hunt as saying that the high pressure reeds in Michell and Thynne's 1885 Exhibition Organ were made and voiced by W. J. Northcott, a trade supplier who had trained with Walker. He later mentions that the firm of Kitsell were probably responsible for the zinc pipes, with much of the other pipes from Palmer (successor to John Courcelle), but of course this still leaves the actual voicing of the flues to Wm Thynne.

 

Apparenty, Lewis was furious with Thynne, and accused him of not only stealing trade secrets from him, but half of his staff too!

 

Bicknell speculates that Northcott's high pressure reed voicing most likely will have been influenced by Lewis.

 

So, Yes, the organ was a daring and successful experiment, but we can't really consider Thynne as being a major player in the development of high pressure reed voicing. Assuming that Bonavia-Hunt didn't make the whole thing up of course.

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It seems the achievment of William Thynne wasn't to invent anything

about high-pressure reed voicing -this was Hill's, then Willis fate- but to unite

them to a german inspired frame, that is, an huge flue chorus.

The latter, and this can be heard today in Riga (a contemporary instrument

to the Grove organ), relies on this flue chorus for its power, the reeds being

there to add color only.

 

Aristide Cavaillé-Coll himself did not invent as much as it is still sometimes

believed. The Swellbox, the "sommier à double laye" (windchest with two air cases,

one of which opened by the "pédale d'appel des jeux de combinaison"), the slotting

of the pipes, overblown Flutes, all this was used by Jordi Bosch nearly one century

earlier, as the organ-builder Gehrard Grenzing of El Papiol (Barcelona) discovered

while restoring the Santanyi and the royal palace's, Madrid, Bosch organs.

And ACC was trained in Spain, issued from a catalan family with roots both sides

of the border...

 

And himself too was a keen businessman, eager to eat any competitor alive

if possible !

And to use a british invention, and to employ much german trained people in

his workshop, and, and, and...

 

So fact is, a "genius" isn't someone who falls from the heaven with a complete,

DIY-ready design, but rather a guy who merges ideas from many others into

a new ensemble, and then implement it by using businessmen normal behavior.

 

It was exactly the same with Eberhard Friedrich Walcker, who united the southern

german baroque organ, such as Holzhey's and Gabler's, with Vogler's (tonal design)

and Kratzenstein's (free reeds) ideas to create the Frankfurt Paulskirche organ.

 

So any story about Thynne is of course very interesting, be them "nice" or not, but

they won't shadow his place in the history.

 

Pierre

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I have just found an essay by Stephen Bicknell on Carlton Michell (Bios Journal no. 23). In this he quotes Bonavia-Hunt as saying that the high pressure reeds in Michell and Thynne's 1885 Exhibition Organ were made and voiced by W. J. Northcott, a trade supplier who had trained with Walker. He later mentions that the firm of Kitsell were probably responsible for the zinc pipes, with much of the other pipes from Palmer (successor to John Courcelle), but of course this still leaves the actual voicing of the flues to Wm Thynne.

 

Apparenty, Lewis was furious with Thynne, and accused him of not only stealing trade secrets from him, but half of his staff too!

 

Bicknell speculates that Northcott's high pressure reed voicing most likely will have been influenced by Lewis.

 

So, Yes, the organ was a daring and successful experiment, but we can't really consider Thynne as being a major player in the development of high pressure reed voicing. Assuming that Bonavia-Hunt didn't make the whole thing up of course.

 

 

======================

 

 

I'll see if I can find the lively correspondence by which Michell & Thynne defended themselves against the T C Lewis accusations.

 

I've got it somewhere in my files.

 

MM

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======================

I'll see if I can find the lively correspondence by which Michell & Thynne defended themselves against the T C Lewis accusations.

 

I've got it somewhere in my files.

 

MM

 

This would be quite interesting...

 

By advance, thanks !

 

Pierre

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This would be quite interesting...

 

By advance, thanks !

 

Pierre

 

 

==========================

 

 

Most of what appears below was gleaned from Piporg-l, and contributed by the late Stephen Bicknell.

 

It seems that Carlton C Michell was related to the company who kept T C Lewis afloat: Courage Breweries (my old employer at one time).

 

Thynn was, of course, a Lewis man, and in their very brief moment of glory, Michell & Thynn created the exhibition organ which we now know as the Grove Organ at Tewksbury Abbey.

 

It has been suggested that Thynn carried out the voicing of the Grove Organ, but the further suggestion is that Carlton C Michell was the real tonal director for the project, and his own source of inspiration (like that of T C Lewis) was Edmund Schulze.

 

The following makes interesting reading, which Michell wrote after leaving the UK for America:-

 

============

We are indebted to the skill of Edmund Schulze (whose work has been so

widely copied but so little understood from an artistic point of view) for

the revelation that the utmost brilliancy is not incompatible with

refinement of tone in detail, but, on the contrary, that it is enhanced by

its presence; that a positive colouring may be exquisitely musical, and

that the finest effects are the outcome of a blending of opposites. We

have not yet learned the full value and variety of the 'flute' family,

which he was the first to introduce into this country, and certainly we are

but just begining to appreciate the development of that beautiful family

the 'gambas' - or, as I shall term them, 'strings' - of which he was in a

great degree the originator. In fact, Schulze pointed out the path to

artistic tonal colouring in organ stops. If to this variety we add the

distinctive and splendid family of 'reeds' presented by Henry Willis, we

have all the colours wherewith to paint a fine picture.

 

C C M

 

 

=====================

 

I would observe the following:-

 

It's interesting that Michell should so admire Willis reeds, but was there ever a synthesis of Willis and Schulze characteristics?

 

The G Donald Harrison re-build of the Walcker at Methuen is possibly as close as I can think of, but of course, there were extensive tonal changes in the process. Still, it's a concept which seems to work well, as indeed it did at Doncaster PC when Norman & Beard added their own, rather good heavy-pressure chorus reeds and Tuba. In fact, the Norman & Beard (later Walker) rebuild at Doncaster, is possibly the concept that Michell had in mind.

 

================

 

 

However, turning to the correspondence which appeared in the Musical Opinion, this makes amusing and, at the same time, rather sad reading, because T C Lewis was clearly failing in business, he had been upstaged by Michell, and even enjoyed similar patronage from the same family of brewers.

 

The following is believed to have been written by T C Lewis himself, even though the letter to the Musical Opinion was unsigned:-

 

In Musical Opinion Vol 9 p48 (Oct 1885) an anonymous correspondent 'XYZ'

(which was probably T C Lewis himself) wrote an damning letter, not

mentioning M&T by name, but suggesting that 'an exhibitor' had modified

their organ to incorporate advances made by others, had also poached

craftsmen from another builder, and had undisclosed skeletons in

their cupboard.

 

In the next issue (November 1885), Michell & Thynee replied. It seems likely that Carlton C Michell wrote the words:-

 

SIR,-

 

We are indebted to 'XYZ' for bringing our claims to your readers. This is

our reply to his representations.

 

I. Our original design, a model one, remains as at first laid out, with

this difference (which bears importantly on 'XYZ's statement): the solo

organ is in a different position, a change made, not by our own choice, but

in compliance with an order from the authorities of the exhibition, which

required us to raise our platform several feet higher than at first agreed

upon when the allotment was made for our exhibit. Practically this entailed

the cutting down of frame-work, the lowering all the sound-boards, the

finding a new position for the solo organ beside the rearranging the whole

action. - alterations which (the organs having been planned to stand in

tiers one above the other) not only injured the symmetry of our design, but

seriously impeded the progress of our work, and caused us to incur a heavy

additional expense.

 

II. The master hand directs. We employ men, as others do. Our aim is to

provide fine work, and therefore we choose the best amongst the skilled

wokmen who apply to us. We present our exhibit as a whole, to be judged as

such, as any work of art must be; and we therefore demur to the implication

of 'XYZ' that we are indebted to any other firm for the results which we

show at South Kensington. To enter into the details of the claims

concerning the various pneumatic applications used by organ builders of the

present day - involved as they are in so many complications - would be

impossible here. One point, however, seems to be agreed upon by experts,

that the desideratum has not yet been arrived at. If, therefore, we can

show a form of pneumatic which better fulfills the required conditions of

service than any other, we claim the credit to ourselves. As regards our

personal claim to the speciality of of modified pneumatic action applied by

us, we are content to rest upon our legal rights, and we shall not hesitate

to uphold them.

 

III. We have done nothing that we are not fairly entitled to do: _we_ have

done nothing to conceal, not even the traditionary 'skeleton' of 'XYZ',

appropriate enough in bogey tales indeed, our crimes are, we believe, at

present below the trade average.

 

The animus against our 'new firm' displayed in 'XYZ's letter will be

obvious to all fair-minded readers, and, that being the case, we can let it

pass without other comments.

 

We are, Sir, yours, &c.,

 

MICHELL & THYNNE

 

St. George's Road, Regent's Park

Oct. 13, 1885

 

Of course, all this bitter rivalry was to no avaail, for within a short time, both T C Lewis and Michell & Thynn had effectively vanished from the organ-building scene in the UK: Lewis booted out by Willis, and Michell going to America.

 

Both men, by that time, represented a different age and older tastes.

 

MM

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Very good.

 

It seems Thynne was above all a voicer, maybe a pipe-maker.

What did Michell in the U.S. Afterwards, save the St-Louis organ,

which bits are now in the Wanamaker's store organ ?

It is interesting to note Audsley always speaks about Thynne,

never Michell.

Thynne seems to have at least a part in the famous Audsley's

home organ. Do we know what happened to that one ?

 

Pierre

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Very good.

 

It seems Thynne was above all a voicer, maybe a pipe-maker.

What did Michell in the U.S. Afterwards, save the St-Louis organ,

which bits are now in the Wanamaker's store organ ?

It is interesting to note Audsley always speaks about Thynne,

never Michell.

Thynne seems to have at least a part in the famous Audsley's

home organ. Do we know what happened to that one ?

 

Pierre

 

 

==========================

 

 

Carlton C Michell's influence was considerable, and he was very highly regarded by a number of important builders, both at home and abroad in America.

 

Audelsey was a rambling fool by way of comparison; you should know that.

 

MM

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Carlton C Michell's work included a lot of voicing to the Casavant organ at St.Paul's, Toronto, where the consultant was a certain Lt Col George Dixon!

 

Wasn't this the Healey Willan organ, designed as a hybrid English/Canadian organ, complete with Harrison-style Harmonics mixtures and a Tuba Mirabilus?

 

I think Billy Jones (W C Jones) did the reeds specially.

 

I seem to recall that Carlton C Michell worked as a voicer at Harrison & Harrison for a while, but when or for how long, I have no idea.

 

MM

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Of course Audsley was an "armchair-designer", like Emil Rupp....Fact is,

if some of us on the continent knew about Thynne, it is because of

his books.

So he did something, though.

We begin to approach something like a network: Thynne, Michell,

A. Harrison, W.C. Jones, Dixon.....Not to forget a certain Robert, who

seems to have benefited from M&T work, and Whiteley....The british

post-romantic sphere also. A schééne Versammlung....

 

Pierre

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==========================

 

 

Audelsey was a rambling fool by way of comparison; you should know that.

 

MM

 

:rolleyes:

 

Audsley was far from being either rambling or a fool. As Architects, the Audsley bothers did spectacular work in multiple genres, now accepted as being of the finest order.

 

Regarding organs and organbuilding, it's unusual for an architect to have any interest in the organ at all, but in Audsley's case the interest extended to finding out about the most intricate working details. Having read very large parts of both his major tomes I must say that they are incredibly accurate as to details of working and construction, as far as they go.

 

If we are then to talk about his opinions, then this subjective area can give a false impression surely: if one wishes to meet or hear "rambling fool(s) by way of comparison" one doesn't need to look far, especially these days. If we are comparing the opinions of Hopkins, Rimbault, Bonavia Hunt, Dixon, Clutton etc., and Audsley, Then the rambling bit is more easily discernible in the others, not Audsley. You already know my opinion of Downes!

 

As far as I'm aware (but I'm sure that someone will correct me if I'm wrong!), George Ashdown Audsley was not responsible for the ruination or destruction of any instruments - would that the same might be said of the others listed above.

 

David Wyld

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Of course Audsley was an "armchair-designer", like Emil Rupp....Fact is,

if some of us on the continent knew about Thynne, it is because of

his books.

So he did something, though.

We begin to approach something like a network: Thynne, Michell,

A. Harrison, W.C. Jones, Dixon.....Not to forget a certain Robert, who

seems to have benefited from M&T work, and Whiteley....The british

post-romantic sphere also. A schééne Versammlung....

 

Pierre

 

 

===========================

 

Why do people always miss out some of the equally influential names, such as Norman & Beard, Thos. Hill especially, and the more experimental northern UK organ-builders such as Brindley, Wadsworth and Jardine?

 

The last named were experimenting with French-style organs, long before anyone else, and their American connection is important even to American organ-building.

 

The end-result may not always have been heroic or even outstanding, but their work was pioneering and solid enough to get a mention.

 

All of them were prolific organ-builders, and in the case of Norman & Beard, they had enormous influence and encouraged Hope-Jones to achieve whatever it was that he set out to achieve. (Thank God for Wurlitzer, who kept Hope-Jones out of harm's way!)

 

MM

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:(

 

Audsley was far from being either rambling or a fool. As Architects, the Audsley bothers did spectacular work in multiple genres, now accepted as being of the finest order.

 

Regarding organs and organbuilding, it's unusual for an architect to have any interest in the organ at all, but in Audsley's case the interest extended to finding out about the most intricate working details. Having read very large parts of both his major tomes I must say that they are incredibly accurate as to details of working and construction, as far as they go.

 

If we are then to talk about his opinions, then this subjective area can give a false impression surely: if one wishes to meet or hear "rambling fool(s) by way of comparison" one doesn't need to look far, especially these days. If we are comparing the opinions of Hopkins, Rimbault, Bonavia Hunt, Dixon, Clutton etc., and Audsley, Then the rambling bit is more easily discernible in the others, not Audsley. You already know my opinion of Downes!

 

As far as I'm aware (but I'm sure that someone will correct me if I'm wrong!), George Ashdown Audsley was not responsible for the ruination or destruction of any instruments - would that the same might be said of the others listed above.

 

David Wyld

 

===================

 

 

Rambling fools or dopey berks, the interesting thing is just how these names rose to prominence. The area of "shameless self-promotion" seems to have played a part, as well as the invention of the power printing-press.

 

It's interesting how Willis remained aloof; as did Thos.Hill, Norman & Beard, Compton, Walker, Brindley and just about any other self-respecting organ-builder. Perhaps they knew something!

 

Beneath the level of these glittering stars, were men who knew what they wanted, but one never hears much about the Dr.Sparks, Joules and Whitworths of this world, or about organists who went to Europe to hear what was going on abroad.

I really do tire of the idea that armchair organ-builders (myself included), ever have or had much influence; which is how it should be.

 

Good to know that Audsley was a fine architect, but at least the Giles Gilbert-Scott had the good grace to stick to organ-cases!!!!

 

Next thing we know, we'll have American and European politicians telling organ-builders what to do for the best.

 

:rolleyes:

 

MM

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"Why do people always miss out some of the equally influential names, such as Norman & Beard, Thos. Hill especially, and the more experimental northern UK organ-builders such as Brindley, Wadsworth and Jardine?"

(Quote)

 

Just because nobody took the care to make us discover them!!!

 

Back to Audsley, Mr Wyld tell us very interesting things.

When you read him first, you are stuck with all these subjective

opinions presented as if they were facts.

But he who is accustomed to late 19th century-beginning 20th can

do with it, since it was customary in nearly all period writings.

Wedgwood is an exception in that matter.

But when you get the chance to compare Audsley's descriptions and

drawings with 19th century archive material, you realize his strenght

was there: the detail.

As for windchests, for example, Audsey's description and drawings of

the Roosevelt chest might be helpful to restore a Kerkhoff organ -when

such will be needed, since none of his organs ever had any windchest problem

since 100 years-, while his pipe descriptions one could use if ever there was

interest in building something else nowadays.

 

There can be questions, however, as far as a broader view is concerned.

Let us take the example of the Mixtures; Mr Wyld, what do you think

of Audsley's ideas in that matter ?

 

Pierre'

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Let us take the example of the Mixtures; Mr Wyld, what do you think

of Audsley's ideas in that matter ?

 

Pierre'

 

I had a look earlier this morning: he seems mainly to quote examples from organs by all manner of builders viz. Harris, Byfield, Snetzler, Cavaille-Coll and several American firms (understandably I suppose) and really just gives a fairly brief opinion on the nature of the sound of each - nothing too controversial there? He's very much in favour of old Dutch ideals I think.

 

On a slightly different tack: no matter how ill-informed, meddling or rambling others might think him to be, I remember an occasion some years ago of my visiting a reasonably well-known and moderately regarded organbuilder's 'shop'(no names, no pack drill) to see three of the staff pawing a copy of the facsimile edition of GAA's 'The Art of Organbuilding' turned open at the pages which deal with the method of re-leathering a bellows. So apparently not at all useless to some!

 

DW

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I had a look earlier this morning: he seems mainly to quote examples from organs by all manner of builders viz. Harris, Byfield, Snetzler, Cavaille-Coll and several American firms (understandably I suppose) and really just gives a fairly brief opinion on the nature of the sound of each - nothing too controversial there? He's very much in favour of old Dutch ideals I think.

 

On a slightly different tack: no matter how ill-informed, meddling or rambling others might think him to be, I remember an occasion some years ago of my visiting a reasonably well-known and moderately regarded organbuilder's 'shop'(no names, no pack drill) to see three of the staff pawing a copy of the facsimile edition of GAA's 'The Art of Organbuilding' turned open at the pages which deal with the method of re-leathering a bellows. So apparently not at all useless to some!

 

DW

 

 

That book was used for the same purpose at R.H.Walker and Sons of Chesham, Bucks.

I think our foreman used to argue over one little bit of pneumatic action, he claimed that Audlsey had got it inside out, but in every other respect this treatise was revered and regularly referred to. We were mostly building new mechanical action organs, but Audsley was still thought relevant.

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About Audsley's view on Mixtures, it is true he seems to follow

different models, but he insits on:

 

-Weakening of the strenght from Foundation to upper ranks;

 

-Small scales

 

-Weakening of the strenght, and ranks number, towards the treble

 

Particularly the last point is strange, while the first is "normal".

 

Interesting to note too is his idea of the Cornet, very close to

the Harmonia aetherea or Dulciana Mixture; they are small-scaled

delicate stops with Dolce kind of pipes.

 

I wonder if we still have such stops somewhere, save some very rare

survivors on the continent (mainly in Alsace and Lorraine) after the

german model.

 

Pierre

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About Audsley's view on Mixtures, it is true he seems to follow

different models, but he insits on:

 

-Weakening of the strenght from Foundation to upper ranks;

 

-Small scales

 

-Weakening of the strenght, and ranks number, towards the treble

 

Particularly the last point is strange, while the first is "normal".

 

Interesting to note too is his idea of the Cornet, very close to

the Harmonia aetherea or Dulciana Mixture; they are small-scaled

delicate stops with Dolce kind of pipes.

 

I wonder if we still have such stops somewhere, save some very rare

survivors on the continent (mainly in Alsace and Lorraine) after the

german model.

 

Pierre

 

 

===================

 

 

Exactly what I said.....a rambling fool!

 

He may have been a good architect and draughtsman, but he didn't know too much about tonal things did he?

 

MM

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===================

Exactly what I said.....a rambling fool!

 

He may have been a good architect and draughtsman, but he didn't know too much about tonal things did he?

 

MM

 

As far as the Cornet be concerned, he may have been right....

Again, what happened to his home organ with its Ripieno di cinque ?

 

Pierre

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About Audsley's view on Mixtures, it is true he seems to follow

different models, but he insits on:

 

-Weakening of the strenght from Foundation to upper ranks;

 

-Small scales

 

-Weakening of the strenght, and ranks number, towards the treble

 

Particularly the last point is strange, while the first is "normal".

 

Interesting to note too is his idea of the Cornet, very close to

the Harmonia aetherea or Dulciana Mixture; they are small-scaled

delicate stops with Dolce kind of pipes.

 

I wonder if we still have such stops somewhere, save some very rare

survivors on the continent (mainly in Alsace and Lorraine) after the

german model.

 

Pierre

 

Of the three points you say Audsley insists upon, the first is true, he advocates that the same note played successively on the 8', 4' and 2' ranks within the same division should decrease slightly in volume.

 

Your last point is partly what he says: the idea that as the harmonics heard from one pipe decrease as they become higher, then the volume of the pipes that corroborate each harmonic should also decrease. But here he is speaking of flue chorus compound corroborating stops. A mixture voiced to speak with a reed chorus would not appear to obey this 'rule' if used with the flue chorus, so it seems that each of his ideal divisions would be dominated by the reed(s).

I can't find any reference in his work insisting on fewer ranks as the mixture ascends. But as it often happens in practice in the top octave it isn't unusual.

 

On the subject of scale. He suggests (vol. 1 p.442) that the Great mixture(s) should be of medium scale pipes giving a full round tone. The Swell mixture should be of smaller scale pipes with a bright ringing tone, whereas he reserves the small scales for the choir mixture, of Dulciana pipes. Each mixture should match the chorus in its division.

 

He describes, but does not criticise, the large scaled five rank Cornet made by the German Organ Builders.

 

Where he describes the Dulciana Cornet it is because he wished to have a Cornet effect in his chamber organ and so the scales had to be small or his neighbours would have complained! Or rather, to blend with the other softly voiced pipe work.

 

His books appeared at a time when Organs in the UK and US were being strangled by conservative late Victorian ideals that saw no place for such things as Mixtures and he defends and explains their use rather well.

 

His writing style is verbose and many of his ideas are simply him dreaming out loud (*Pedal divisions under expression), but for the diagrams alone, the two volumes are historically very important.

I agree there are a few errors, such as the relief pallet motor needing to be at groove pressure rather than to air (Vol. 2 p. 239, Fig. CLXXVI).

 

It is a great pity that church architects rarely read chapter II on the position of the organ. So many organs, particularly in British Churches, continue to be hidden away in almost sound proof boxes, jokingly called organ chambers.

 

*Didn't Walcker introduce this idea?

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"Where he describes the Dulciana Cornet it is because he wished to have a Cornet effect in his chamber organ and so the scales had to be small or his neighbours would have complained! Or rather, to blend with the other softly voiced pipe work."

(Quote)

 

Well, why then do we find such Dolce coumpond stops in all post-romantic organs,

cathedral organs included ? To the point it is the signature of this style -The Grove

organ included- ?

 

Let us take as an example the most interesting specification Audsley gives, a not

huge one he made for the Church of Our Lady of Grace in Hoboken (a belgian town

which has its sister in the U.S.), New Jersey:

 

First organ- First clavier (according to the german romantic system also):

 

first division unexpressive

 

Double Principal 16' metal

Grand Principal 8' "

Major Principal 8' "

Grand Viol 8' "

Major Octave 4' "

 

Second division, in Swellbox N° 1

 

Major Flute 8' wood

Minor Flute 4' wood

Octave Quint 2 2/3' metal

Super-Octave 2' metal

Grand Cornet 5 ranks 4'- 2 2/3'- 2'- 1 3/5'- 1 1/3' (1)

Double Trumpet 16'

Trumpet 8'

Clarion 4'

 

Second organ- second clavier

 

First subdivision, in Swellbox N°2

 

Lieblichgedeckt 16' wood

Geigenprincipal 8' metal

Lieblichgedeckt 8' wood

Lieblichflöte 4' metal

Dolce Cornet 5 ranks (2)

 

Second subdivision, in Swellbox N°3

 

Dulciana 8' metal

Viola di gamba 8' tin

Viola d'amore 8' tin

Orchestral Clarinet 8' metal

Vox humana 8' metal

Tremolant

 

Third organ- third clavier

 

First subdivision, in Swellbox N°2

 

Dolce 8' metal

Flauto d'amore 8' wood

Orchestral flute 4' wood

Orchestral Piccolo 2' metal

Orchestral Oboe 8' metal

Tremolant

 

Second subdivision, in Swellbox N°3

 

Minor Principal 8' metal

Violoncello 8' tin

Concert Violin 8' tin

Contrafagotto 16'

Corno di Bassetto 8'

Tremolant

 

PEDAL ORGAN

 

Double Principal 32' wood

Grand Principal 16' wood

Contra-basso 16' wood

Dulciana 16' metal

Bourdon 16' wood

Grand Octave 8' (extended from Grand Principal)

Dolce 8' (extended from Dulciana)

Violoncello 8' (extended from Contra-basso)

Compensating Mixture 3 ranks 4'- 2 2/3'- 2'

Trombone 16' metal

 

Auxiliairy Pedal organ

 

Lieblichgedeckt 16' (borrowed from second organ)

Double Trumpet 16' (from first organ)

Contrafagotto (from third organ)

 

One could fill pages about this design; let us summarize here, for the moment,

that it is crammed with interesting ideas, borrowings from the german style

included, and with questions too. But of course we should see the church

and hear the organ -if it was ever built, and, illusory still, preserved...-

 

Let us see the Mixtures now:

 

(1): The GRAND CORNET is specified as follows:

 

-Rohrflöte 4', Twelfth 2 2/3' after Principal scale, Fifteenth 2' two pipes smaller than the Twelfth,

Seventeenth 1 3/5' after Dulciana scales, Nineteenth 1 1/3' after Dulciana scale.

 

This manner of mixing ranks belonging to different families of stop was invented by Eberhard Friedrich

Walcker, and widely followed in Germany afterwards.

But there was a "rule" Audsley did not follow, that is, with Walcker all Octave ranks were made

after Principal scales, the mutation ranks after Flute, Dolce or soft String scale (and voicing!), while

the 1 3/5' always was made with Spitzflöte pipes.

 

This stop was completely foreing to anything like what we call today a Diapason chorus crowning,

Audsley even writes it should have a reedy character in the middle octaves. He does not speak about any break.

 

(2) Now about the Dolce Cornet, we have:

 

CC to BB 1 1/3'- 1'- 4/5'- 2/3'- 1/2'

 

C to B 2 2/3'- 2'- 1 3/5'- 1 1/3'- 1'

 

c1 to b1 4'- 2 2/3'- 1 3/5'- 1 1/3'- 1'

 

c2 to c4 8'- 4'- 3 1/5'- 2 2/3'- 2'

 

He writes the first rank to be "full Dulciana tone", the other ranks to be made smaller

and softer towards the last one.

 

Here we have something rather experimental indeed -remember, we deal with a church organ,

not a home organ with sensible neighbours-.

And whenever such a funny guy like a belgian happens to get the opportunity to play

with some Dolce pipes or whatever softie of that kind on a workshop windchest, it gives

strange things that would deserve to be researched further. But after decades of mandatory

open-toe voicing, do we still have our full hearing abilities ?

 

Pierre

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===================

Pierre said:

 

About Audsley's view on Mixtures, it is true he seems to follow

different models, but he insits on:

-Weakening of the strenght from Foundation to upper ranks;

 

-Small scales

 

-Weakening of the strenght, and ranks number, towards the treble

 

 

Then MM said:

 

Exactly what I said.....a rambling fool!

 

He may have been a good architect and draughtsman, but he didn't know too much about tonal things did he?

 

MM

 

I can't see how the describing of EXACTLY what Father Willis did in most of his Diapason choruses and Mixtures can be said to be rambling.

 

There were few, if any, 'straight line' choruses or Mixtures in English/British (-style) organs of the period in which he was writing. It has always been standard practise here at HW&S to make the 4ft Principal 2 notes smaller than the 8ft and the 2ft 2 notes smaller again. There are occasions when this is modified slightly, mainly by HW2 and now by us. The only problem with this approach is that the harmonic development of the 4ft and the 2ft do need to be fully exploited in order to 'blend'.

 

Our treatment of Mixtures also involves making the Quints subservient to Unisons, Tierces subservient to Quints and dropping out the higher ranks (anything above a 22nd) at the top end of the compass (unless it's a 24.26.29 second/third mixture in the larger specs - these break every octave by a full octave) and I don't see anything wrong with that: Mixtures which retain the much higher ranks at the top end of the compass are usually hideous, too small and grossly-overblown in order to get anything resembling a note out of them!

 

I think that both Pierre and David Elliot have hit it on the head : Audsley was writing at a time when little else (if anything at all) written about the organ since the time of Dom Bedos, was made publicly available (with the exception of Hopkins and Rimbault which is useful as a social comment but of little practical value otherwise) and therefore I suspect that he was trying to get it all said in one go, as it were. I appreciate MM's view that some of this might be interpreted as 'rambling' but it doesn't make it any less accurate or valid, even only as his own opinion on the matter. That some of us may now disagree, to whatever extent, with him is not a reason for his views to be discounted. I've re-read some of the first volume again and it really is more-or-less stuff which he's determined either by personal observation of actual organs or by obviously talking to some respected (by him) Organ Builders and it might be an unfortunate problem of OURS, living in this age, which sees the style as being at once pompous, opinionated, assured etc.. Aside from that, I can see little with which it is actually possible to disagree except on a purely personal level.

 

I would prefer to read 'The Art of Organbuilding' to 'Baroque tricks' any day, both in terms of style, opinion AND content!

 

DW

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I can't see how the describing of EXACTLY what Father Willis did in most of his Diapason choruses and Mixtures can be said to be rambling.

 

There were few, if any, 'straight line' choruses or Mixtures in English/British (-style) organs of the period in which he was writing. (etc)

 

DW

 

 

===========================

 

 

Now what did Fr.Willis know about diapason choruses?

 

Underscaled, essentially Geigens, hard-blown and not a patch on what Lewis achieved!

 

Having lived with a quite large Fr Willis for a year or so, I would never accuse them of being bad organs, because we all know that they're not, but frankly, the chorus-work is a bit thin to say the least, and underneath which the wood basses boom away in a world of their own.

 

Apart from Ainscough of Preston, did anyone actually follow the Fr Willis techniques, or re-create them in a meaningful way?

 

Apart from Lewis, Thomas Hill was the one true master of chorus-work, and you needn't travel to Sydney or Belfast to hear it. Beverley will do very nicely, thank-you.

 

Isn't this the deficiency which Michell & Thynn recognised at the outset, and proposed to improve.....the combination of Lewis/Schulze style choruses, and Fr Willis reeds being the answer?

 

Has anyone ever actually done it, I wonder, or did we leave it to the Americans and the work of G Donald Harrison?

 

Liverpool excepted, I know which I'd prefer to play or hear.

 

Maybe I should take back what I said of Audseley, but it doesn't alter the fact that he belongs to a now irrelevant age, and his views strayed perilously close to those of Hope-Jones and American extensionana.

 

MM

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Not very fair, MM, about two points.

 

1)- What is a Diapason chorus supposed to do ?

 

This varied widely during the history, and from one area to the other.

I'm pretty sure you would find a flemish Diapason chorus of the 18th

century rather *special*, to say the least, and though, it is the nearest

thing we still have to the genuine Renaissance, Niehoff sound.

 

I understand a Willis DP to be designed, made and voiced, to go with

the Reed chorus in the first place.

This was not the case with T.C. Lewis, whose style was completely

different !

We cannot compare an organ with reeds such as Willis with one with only

a handfull, low-pressure reeds.

 

2)- What is a "irrelevant age" ?

 

I enjoyed -and still enjoy- to study many books, from Praetorius to Jean Guillou.

Why still want to continue the desastrous, typically neo-baroque preconception that

only what today's "Big Chiefs" (in slightly irreverent flemish: "Dikke neks") says and

write is correct, the rest being "out of date fashions"?

 

Where the americans "wrong" ? After all, they gave us Ernest Martin Skinner....

No, sorry: unfair....

 

Pierre

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Not very fair, MM, about two points.

 

1)- What is a Diapason chorus supposed to do ?

 

This varied widely during the history, and from one area to the other.

I'm pretty sure you would find a flemish Diapason chorus of the 18th

century rather *special*, to say the least, and though, it is the nearest

thing we still have to the genuine Renaissance, Niehoff sound.

 

I understand a Willis DP to be designed, made and voiced, to go with

the Reed chorus in the first place.

This was not the case with T.C. Lewis, whose style was completely

different !

We cannot compare an organ with reeds such as Willis with one with only

a handfull, low-pressure reeds.

 

2)- What is a "irrelevant age" ?

 

I enjoyed -and still enjoy- to study many books, from Praetorius to Jean Guillou.

Why still want to continue the desastrous, typically neo-baroque preconception that

only what today's "Big Chiefs" (in slightly irreverent flemish: "Dikke neks") says and

write is correct, the rest being "out of date fashions"?

 

Where the americans "wrong" ? After all, they gave us Ernest Martin Skinner....

No, sorry: unfair....

 

Pierre

 

 

=========================

 

 

I have not the slightest evidence for this, but what I hear when I listen to Lewis reeds, is much the same as I hear when I listen to Schulze chorus reeds......a job-lot of bought-in pipes from one of the major supply houses of the day. (PLEASE tell me I am wrong......I do hope so). Please do not quote the "French" pedal reeds at Southwark. I know all about those!

 

I have no idea what a diapson chorus is supposed to do, other than sing majestically, as they tend to do when they are well voiced. A really good chorus will certainly accept reeds of the Willis type, or the Hill type and, even Schulze travesties. G Donald Harrison reeds worked wonders at Methuen (I know the chorus was changed a fair bit, but not THAT much), Norman & Beard reeds attached themselves splendidly to the Schulze choruses at Doncaster, and of course, we all know about those very "English" reeds at the Bavokerk, which might easily have been stolen from a Hill organ. What of course will NOT work, are those hideous Harrison Trombas and Tubas, as well as the marginally better Willis 3 reeds.

 

So yes we can compare, and the results speak for themselves.

 

I agree the the term "irrelevant" is possibly not a good choice of word, but the fact is, the English romantic organ was very regional and very specific, and if you happen to be a world authority on Alcock, Bairstow, Stamford or Percy Whitlock, then there may be some degree of relevance. However, music-making no longer follows this fashion or era, and it is MUSIC which concerns me; not whether an organ is this or that.

 

Why should we continue to perpetuate the "English" romantic organ, which is unsuited to possibly 98% of the organ repertoire from around the world?

 

Please tell me I am wrong.......but make the arguments musical rather than pleasantly historical and nostalgic.

 

As for Ernest Skinner, the man was pure genius, within the confines of the orchestral/symphonic organ tradition, and of course, Willis learned a lot from him. I loved the two Skinner organs (Ernest Skinner) I played in America, and admired the total quality of the finished result, but that doesn't mean that I would like to live with one. As for the music, Leo Sowerby sounds good on them.

 

MM

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