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Mutation Ranks As A Structure


Pierre Lauwers
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Ladies and gentlemen,

 

There have been some comments by these times which could lend to believe

the roles and functions of mutation ranks, be them independent stops or part

of compound stops, might be sometimes one-sidedly understood.

 

In the baroque organ these stops have two roles: 1) to reinforce the tone,

2) to provide color (both may be aimed at by the same stops, or one family

of pipes for each, according to the regional styles)

 

With the neo-baroque organ we are still in the Post-romantic conception that sees

those stops as exotic, non-structural color-providers only; they are there to "produce

treble", brightness and color layed down on the rest. Whatever you draw with them,

you still hear them as a kind of Glockenspiel -with five breaks, no wonder the whole

organ seems reduced to one octave-.

 

An then there is the romantic concept, which is widely different, and based upon two important

theoretical sources:

 

1)- Dom Bédos descriptions of the french classic tonal design;

 

2)- The Abt Vogler theory about the resultant tones (rather a gathering of Tartini & Sorge ideas)

 

The french classic organ knows the deep mutation ranks in 5 1/3' and 3 1/5'; their aim wasn't structural,

they were there first for the color; but they went into the "Grand jeu" as well, providing, together with

the (always manual) Bombarde, dignity and grandeur.

 

Eberhard Friedrich Walcker followed Abt Vogler's advise to use mutation stops in order to produce

deep resultant tones, but he did it after a frenchified way, as a kind of huge "Grand-jeu".

An excellent example is the Mulhouse St-Stefan organ, built 1862 (this is the organ Albert Schweitzer played while young):

 

I MANUAL

 

Principal 16’

Flauto major 16’

Montre 8’

Bourdon 8’

Viola di Gamba 8’

Hohlfloete 8’

Gemshorn 8’

Quintatoen 8’

Nasard 5 1/3’

Praestant 4’

Rohrfloete 4’

Flûte d’amour 4’

Terz 3 1/5’

Nasard 2 2/3’

Doublette 2’

Fourniture 6f, C : 4’(Bourdon), 2 2/3’ (Nasard), 2’ , 1 3/5’ (Spitzflöte), 1 1/3’, 1’

Scharff 3f, C : 1’- 4/5’- ½’

Cornett 5r ab c’ : 2’- 1’- 2/3’- ½’-2/5’

Fagott 16’

Trompete 8’

Clairon 4’

 

II MANUAL

 

Bourdon 16’

Montre 8’

Bourdon 8’

Salicional 8’

Bifara 2r 8’ (gedeckt) und 4’ (offen)

Nasard 5 1/3’

Praestant 4’

Rohrfloete 4’

Spitzfloete 4’

Siffloete 2’

Fourniture 5f, C : 2 2/3’- 2’- 1 3/5’- 1’- 1’

Trompete 8’ (« zarter Intoniert als diejeniger der Manual I»)

Fagott & Oboe 8’ (Durchschlagend)

Bassethorn 8’ (Statt vorgesehene Corno 4’)

 

III MANUAL (schwellbar)

 

Principalfloete 8’

Bourdon 8’

Concertfloete 8’ (runde Labien)

Aeoline 8’

Fugara 4’

Traversfloete 4’

Dolce 4’

Nasard 2 2/3’

Flageolett 2’

Trompette harmonique 8’ (Statt Klarinette oder Bassethorn)

Physharmonica 8’ (mit eigene Crescendo)

 

 

PEDAL

 

Grand Bourdon 32’ (tiefste Oktav aus 10 2/3’ und 6 2/5’,danach normalerweise)

Principalbass 16’

Subbass 16’

Violonbass 16’

Quintbass 10 2/3’

Octavbass 8’

Hohlfloetenbass 8’

Violoncell 8’

Bourdon 8’

Terzbass 6 2/5’

Octavbass 4’

Floete 2’

Bombardon 16’ (Beckern aus Zink)

Trompete 8’

Clairon 4’

 

(As I have learnt yesterday my "etwas deutsch" was understandable, I left my own notes as they are)

 

Besides the Mixtures -all with tierce ranks-, let us summarize the mutation stops we have:

 

MANUAL I

 

5 1/3' - 3 1/5' - 2 2/3'

 

MANUAL II

 

5 1/3'

 

MANUAL III

 

2 2/3' (flutey, all the others= Principal scales)

 

PEDAL

 

10 2/3'- 6 2/5' (the "Grand Bourdon 32' draws both with a 16')

 

If we add the Mixtures, we get actually huge Cornets, which act as a backbone to the

full organ.

We have exactly as many tierce ranks as the famous Isnard's organ of St-Maximin du Var, 6 also.

But while the french organ only has them in 16' (3 1/5') and 8' (1 3/5'), they go here from...32' (6 2/5')

to....2' (2/5').

This organ must have been an huge Grand-jeu in full organ, but above all, it was a tonal structure

of the first magnitude, solid as a concrete building; all those resultant tones convey the impression

the organ is bigger and deeper than it actually is.

And besides this, the Mixtures ranks, with their octave, quint and tierce ranks, moreover each rank

of differing scale and tone, add a great complexity of tone, which also gives the impression we have

an huge organ, with a vast number of different colors.

 

We are far from the 20th century "ta-ti-tu-tâ" whistles. But when one hear the intact, or nearly intact,

german organs of the 18th century we still have (Trost, Gabler, Holzhey, Riepp, Wagner...), we realize

they were already nearer to Walcker's concept than to the "néo"; they were already well underway

towards that concept.

 

Pierre

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Ladies and gentlemen,

 

There have been some comments by these times which could lend to believe

the roles and functions of mutation ranks, be them independent stops or part

of compound stops, might be sometimes one-sidedly understood.

 

In the baroque organ these stops have two roles: 1) to reinforce the tone,

2) to provide color (both may be aimed at by the same stops, or one family

of pipes for each, according to the regional styles)

 

With the neo-baroque organ we are still in the Post-romantic conception that sees

those stops as exotic, non-structural color-providers only; they are there to "produce

treble", brightness and color layed down on the rest. Whatever you draw with them,

you still hear them as a kind of Glockenspiel -with five breaks, no wonder the whole

organ seems reduced to one octave-.

 

etc

 

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

 

 

There's nothing like a sweeping statement if you wish to be provocative:-

 

"With the neo-baroque organ we are still in the Post-romantic conception that sees

those stops as exotic, non-structural color-providers only; they are there to "produce

treble", brightness and color layed down on the rest. Whatever you draw with them,

you still hear them as a kind of Glockenspiel -with five breaks, no wonder the whole

organ seems reduced to one octave"

 

I could, of course, mention a number of neo-baroque instruments which do not fall into this category, and I COULD mention the one I play, but for the sake of clarity (so to speak), I would mention but two: Queens College, Oxford (is that Queen's?) and the lovely Flentrop at Harvard; both of which should be familiar to most.

 

In point of fact, it isn't necessary for English organists to travel across Europe to hear the Grand Jeux organ, because that is exactly the basis on which John Compton based his ideas, and perhaps for a rather different reason (which may or may not be connected with Helmholz, Tartini, Vogler, or anyone else who recognised the phenomenon of "resultant tones.")

 

John Compton was, I believe, very much a theoretical organ-builder when he started to experiment with the extension principle, and it very interesting to compare his efforts with those of Hope-Jones. Whereas Hope-Jones chose the route of very specific, very strong and very individual tone colours, (the silly idea of a unit orchestra as a classical instrument), John Compton went in exactly the opposite direction; making ALL ranks blend with the next, and from which he could select the various mutations and compound mixtures in what is a rather scientific way. The comparison tonally is fascinating, because long before the so-called neo-baroque, Compton organs had real brightness and real tonal complexity. The best of them remain as thoroughly musical instruments; and I am not thinking of the big, largely "straight" re-builds such as the Forster & Andrews at Hull City Hall, but rather, organs like St Bride's, Fleet Street or Wakefield Cathedral; both of which sound magnificent in their respective buildings.

 

Although I cannot write with absolute authority, my impression of John Compton was of a man who was eternally fascinated by the theoretical science of sound synthesis, which probably places him into the same category as the early physicists. After all, the early experiments in electronic sound production, used sine wave synthesis, and from this bland set of noises, could be produced a complex synthesis of "harmonically corroborating" tones....to quote a certain tonal twit in America.

In practical terms, John Compton produced the big organ effect from very little, using leathered diapasons (rather good ones actually), full-toned flutes, lieblichs, mild strings and an awful lot of very complex electrical switching to blend them in different ways at various pitches. What he ended up with, was a pleno which, to all intents and purposes, was a giant mixture organ. Add to this the reeds, and the effect is remarkably close to a "proper" organ using independent ranks.

 

Incidentally, before moving on, I would just point out that the seamless crescendo is almost possible on a big Compton extension organ, due to the blending nature of the ranks at various pitches.

 

I have a problem in that I've never actually carefully experimented with all the various ranks of a Compton organ, or really properly analyised the derivations used in the Mixtures and mutations, but I have played on a few in recital, including St.Bride's. However, it is in the relative mildness of the strings, the very subtle Lieblichs and the relative "flatness" (for lack of a better term) of the Diapasons and Geigens, that this sort of synthesis is possible, and by extending the quieter ranks skywards, it is then possible to create Mixtures and Cornets of great harmonic complexity; sometimes with added aliquot pitches or many more "ranks" than the stop-label might suggest. Going the other way (downwards), the broader tones of the Hohl Flute (whatever it may be called) make for perfect mutations such as Quints, when blended with heavy wood or metal basses (sometimes even diaphonic basses of considerable power).

 

Going from one extreme to the other, there is a similar blend and complexity of organ tone in the instruments of Arp Schnitger (and of those which genuinely copy the style). I've mentioned the Aa-Kerk organ at Groningen before, but what a riot of sound the pleno is (using just the original Schnitger ranks), with a complexity and harmonic richness which almost sets the teeth on edge, but in perfect musical taste. The same thing is very apparent at the Martini-kerk just a few hundred metres away, where the instrument is a re-creation of the original, and hugely successful as a restoration. The big difference is in the increased power and sheer clarity of individual ranks, as opposed to a blend of extended ranks. The other big difference is in the very individualistic reeds, which really have no place in the full pleno sound; save for the pedal reeds. Of course, with individual ranks, you also get a stunning clarity, which enables even the individual contrapuntal line to be followed, whatever the late Stephen Bicknell claimed to the contrary!

 

So the idea of ranks blending and interacting is nothing new, but goes back several hundreds of years, and one could include in that list not only Holzhey, Riepp, Gabler and Trost, but organ-builders such as William and Thomas Hill, who were quite familiar with double Tierce ranks and Cornets, in addition to the purer quint mixtures.

 

Pierre having made a sweeping statement about the neo-baroque organs, I could make another, by making the apparently outrageous suggestion that the use of strongly individual ranks in many such instruments, is probably closer to the concepts of Hope-Jones than it is to either Silbermann or Schnitger.

 

Perhaps it may seem depressingly simple, but IMHO good organs have blend, and bad organs do not.

 

MM

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All modern organs aren't automatically to be filed with the neo-baroque ones.

(I could mention the last Dominique Thomas Bach-organ in Strasbourg...)

 

Of course John Compton based his forward-looking designs on the romantic tradition;

the post-romantic builders went towards several directions, from the theatre organ

to the neo-baroque (and each influenced the others, so H-J influenced the neo tribe as well!)

 

The resultant tones were used since ever, it is their theorization which came later, and

systematic use. During Bach's time, 5 1/3' ranks were already used as a 16' substitute

when the height did not allow for the real thing.

The Neo-baroques rejected resultant tones completely, seeking only high-pitched tones.

 

Pierre

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Guest Barry Williams

I recall one pseudo=baroque rebuild of a Lewis organ. The 'Positive' (ex Choir organ) had a 'neo-baroque' mixture of two ranks, big diapason scale, that broke back, both ranks, every C. Any melody that traversed the B/C notes jumped down an octave. The mixture in the top octave was, I think either sub unison and quint, or unison and quint.

 

This was yet another example of imitating what people imagined was a baroque organ - even if one wanted to have such a thing to accompany English Liturgy.

 

Barry Williams

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All modern organs aren't automatically to be filed with the neo-baroque ones.

(I could mention the last Dominique Thomas Bach-organ in Strasbourg...)

 

Of course John Compton based his forward-looking designs on the romantic tradition;

the post-romantic builders went towards several directions, from the theatre organ

to the neo-baroque (and each influenced the others, so H-J influenced the neo tribe as well!)

 

The resultant tones were used since ever, it is their theorization which came later, and

systematic use. During Bach's time, 5 1/3' ranks were already used as a 16' substitute

when the height did not allow for the real thing.

The Neo-baroques rejected resultant tones completely, seeking only high-pitched tones.

 

Pierre

 

 

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

 

 

I'm not sure that John Compton based his forward-thinking ideas (actually quite corrupt ones, but effective nontheless) on the late romantic organ. Apart from his earliest influences in and around Nottingham, I suspect that his schooling in Birmingham (where he was head-boy) was a major influence and gave him a very scientifically biased education. He then went to Brindley & Foster, and learned the ways of factory-organs and standardised components, but equally importantly, all about cone-valve chests, pneumatic-actions, German-style voicing (including the then fashionable Lieblichs) and maybe even Topfer scaling derived from Schulze. He was, of course, the first really successful organ-builder in th UK to take full advantage of the telephone-switching systems of Hope Jones, and in this respect, he was not only light-years ahead of the rest, but utterly brilliant in the way he engineered it all. It's this blend of craft and science which fascinates me about John Compton, and which separates him from the common herd.

 

Add to this his wartime activities and experiments in Italy, when he messed around with old organs in Italy as if he owned them. These unfortunate historic artefacts became his experimental tonal test-beds!

 

When the so-called baroque revolution came about, John Compton (and those who immediately followed him in the company), were able to produce remarkably bright instruments such as that at Downside and St.Bride's, Fleet Street, and yet, they still had the necessary extension organ blend; thus they worked and still work quite well to this day. Neo-baroque they were not, but they were probably a lot more musical than many other efforts in that direction.

 

The theatre organ is a quite different phenomenon of course, and a specialised subject in its own rights. In point of fact, the way a theatre organ is made, wass not quite the innovation that many believe it to be, for it went back perhaps 50 years to the era of Gavioli, Marenghi and Mortier (among others), thanks to the in-house experience of the Wurlitzer family as makers of automatic-player band-organs. Hence the division between accompaniment, great, pedal and solo, which correspond to the bass, solo, accompaniment and counter-melody sections of the fair-organ. The big difference is almost entirely to do with the electrical control systems, and the fact that it could be played by a real organist (perhaps debatable in many instances), rather than activated by player-rolls and the punch-card mechanism derived from the Jacquard Loom of......1798? (Patent 1802?)....I can't remember exactly.

 

As for the assertion that "the neo baroques rejected resultant tones completely," it is just plain wrong!

 

Take a look at the organ of the Royal Festival Hall of 1954 (admittedly not a strictly neo-baroque organ with tracker action), and you will find on the pedals the 10.2/3, 5.1/3 and a 2 rank Septerz of 1.3/5 and 1.1/7., and on the Great a 5.1/3 rank among other things. The hall may have lacked the acoustic to make this effective, but these ranks were there nontheless.

 

MM

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I recall one pseudo=baroque rebuild of a Lewis organ. The 'Positive' (ex Choir organ) had a 'neo-baroque' mixture of two ranks, big diapason scale, that broke back, both ranks, every C. Any melody that traversed the B/C notes jumped down an octave. The mixture in the top octave was, I think either sub unison and quint, or unison and quint.

 

This was yet another example of imitating what people imagined was a baroque organ - even if one wanted to have such a thing to accompany English Liturgy.

 

Barry Williams

 

 

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

 

 

That's just plain daft! No wonder it didn't work!

 

I used to play a very fine old Binns, to which had been added a 19:22 Mixture on the Great, and which broke back only towards the top notes. The Binns sound was not a zillion miles away from Lewis in many ways, and that little Mixture sounded excellent throughout the compass.

 

 

 

:rolleyes:

 

MM

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I do find all this fascinating and the Mulhouse St-Stefan spec looks quite delicious. This debate does present those of us educated in the UK during the last 40 years with a dilemma. We all understood that 'Organo Pleno' meant manual choruses to quint mixture; pedal to mixture (it being a Werkprinzip organ, obviously!) plus light 16 reed (making 'authentic' Bach impossible on many English organs). However, the recent expansion of our understanding of the Sachsen/Thüringen organ comes as quite a surprise to many, likewise the close family resemblance between the sound of 18th century organ and its beefier 19th century descendant.

 

For my part I am relieved, since I have always felt it a shame to omit manual reeds and tierce mixtures in the 'great' works of JSB, and having recently immersed myself in things Middle German, I adore the organs' distinctive and tangy choruses.

 

By the way, may I canvass learned colleagues' opinion of the Woehl 'Bach' organ at the Thomaskirche, Leipzig? I understand some people have strong views about it. It sounded utterly beautiful when I visited and it is supposed to be an out-and-out Middle German design. It was interesting to hear what brightness there is at the top of the sound being quickly absorbed by bodies in a full church. The tutti is beautifully cohesive, complex and exciting, underpinned by a nice fat 32' reed; the individual registers are delightful too. (Mind you, Mendelssohn and Reger on the Sauer blew my mind! Like being a kid on Christmas Eve..., and I never thought I'd ever say that about Mendelssohn!! :rolleyes: )

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"ake a look at the organ of the Royal Festival Hall of 1954 (admittedly not a strictly neo-baroque organ with tracker action), and you will find on the pedals the 10.2/3, 5.1/3 and a 2 rank Septerz of 1.3/5 and 1.1/7., and on the Great a 5.1/3 rank among other things. The hall may have lacked the acoustic to make this effective, but these ranks were there nontheless."

(Quote)

 

To me this RFH organ is a "néo-classique" one, to be compared with Klais or Gonzalez

of the same period, not a neo-baroque also.

 

I agree with Mr Ball; the discovery of the central german 18th century organs provoked

a complete change in our minds, at least among organ historians...

Whether Bach ever played with 8-4-2-Mixtur-Scharff (or Zymbel), all principal and no tierce ranks,

and a Pedal reed, is quite unsure !

Even a rather conservative Silbermann already had broken the Engchor-Weitchor rule, while I am

today convinced Tierce Mixtures belong to Bach's music like the Hautbois to César Franck's.

When you hear Bach played at Angermünde (J. Wagner), when the Scharff with 4/5' is added, you

are reminded in a nanosecond of the typical tones of the Cantates orchestra. And you immediately

say: "Gee, that's it"!

The dissepearance of the Iron curtain allowed us to discover some little things like that. We could

go on with the leathered shallots (why german baroque reeds never rattle...), the borrowings, the

many 8' etc. We know today a Walcker organ like that one in Mulhouse (halas....Neo-baroquized!)

was actually closer to Bach's music requirements than many "Bach-organs" of the 20th century.

 

The "all Principal Plenum+ Pedal reeds" was introduced by Jaak-Nikolaas Lemmens, who pretended

to know it from a Bach tradition he actually did not belong to.

In fact, this is a frenchified version of the Plenum; the french Plein-jeu is obtained with Principals

only (Montre 16, 8; Prestant 4; Doublette 2; Fourniture; Cymbale. Only exception: the Bourdon 8'

may go with), while the Pedal plays a melody (Cantus firmus) on the 8' Trompette.

Lemmens passed this would-be-german registration to Widor....And, and, and.

 

Pierre

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"ake a look at the organ of the Royal Festival Hall of 1954 (admittedly not a strictly neo-baroque organ with tracker action), and you will find on the pedals the 10.2/3, 5.1/3 and a 2 rank Septerz of 1.3/5 and 1.1/7., and on the Great a 5.1/3 rank among other things. The hall may have lacked the acoustic to make this effective, but these ranks were there nontheless."

(Quote)

 

To me this RFH organ is a "néo-classique" one, to be compared with Klais or Gonzalez

of the same period, not a neo-baroque also.

 

I agree with Mr Bell; the discovery of the central german 18th century organs provoked

a complete change in our minds, at least among organ historians...

Whether Bach ever played with 8-4-2-Mixtur-Scharff (or Zymbel), all principal and no tierce ranks,

and a Pedal reed, is quite unsure !

Even a rather conservative Silbermann already had broken the Engchor-Weitchor rule, while I am

today convinced Tierce Mixtures belong to Bach's music like the Hautbois to César Franck's.

When you hear Bach played at Angermünde (J. Wagner), when the Scharff with 4/5' is added, you

are reminded in a nanosecond of the typical tones of the Cantates orchestra. And you immediately

say: "Gee, that's it"!

The dissepearance of the Iron curtain allowed us to discover some little things like that. We could

go on with the leathered shallots (why german baroque reeds never rattle...), the borrowings, the

many 8' etc. We know today a Walcker organ like that one in Mulhouse (halas....Neo-baroquized!)

was actually closer to Bach's music requirements than many "Bach-organs" of the 20th century.

 

Pierre

Love the Franck analogy! And it's 'Ball' (singular) not 'Bell', although I am used to people confusing me with ex-Mander's Ian Bell...especially since he advised on the Gloucester rebuild!

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Mistake corrected with my apologies, Mr Ball!

 

Pierre

No worries Pierre! Thank you.

 

You mention the "Engchor-Weitchor rule", I presume this goes hand-in-hand with the 'aequalverbot'? I have always added at least 8' flutes to a principal chorus (except perhaps on a high-romantic Harrison, where it rarely makes any difference!). It's interesting that one can of course play, for example, the Thomaskirche Bach-orgel as a child of the 60s - straight line vertical chorus, no tierces etc - and it sounds pretty nasty, or you can do as Ullrich Böhme does and play it 'generously' :rolleyes: I know which sound I prefer... At Altenburg or Naumburg it makes an even bigger difference.

 

It's good to see a comparison between the sound of orchestra and organ too - such a distinctive sound the Bach orchestra, with flutes, oboes, bassoons, trumpets and horns all vying for supremacy with the strings, and all so densely harmonised (an 18th century Glenn Miller). A flippant point I know, but Bach doesn't drop the flutes when the tutti is playing... And before anyone remarks that hand-blown baroque organs wouldn't have enough wind, that's simply nonsense. We're talking mid-18th century, not mid-15th!

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I do find all this fascinating and the Mulhouse St-Stefan spec looks quite delicious. This debate does present those of us educated in the UK during the last 40 years with a dilemma. We all understood that 'Organo Pleno' meant manual choruses to quint mixture; pedal to mixture (it being a Werkprinzip organ, obviously!) plus light 16 reed (making 'authentic' Bach impossible on many English organs). However, the recent expansion of our understanding of the Sachsen/Thüringen organ comes as quite a surprise to many, likewise the close family resemblance between the sound of 18th century organ and its beefier 19th century descendant.

 

For my part I am relieved, since I have always felt it a shame to omit manual reeds and tierce mixtures in the 'great' works of JSB, and having recently immersed myself in things Middle German, I adore the organs' distinctive and tangy choruses.

 

By the way, may I canvass learned colleagues' opinion of the Woehl 'Bach' organ at the Thomaskirche, Leipzig? I understand some people have strong views about it. It sounded utterly beautiful when I visited and it is supposed to be an out-and-out Middle German design. It was interesting to hear what brightness there is at the top of the sound being quickly absorbed by bodies in a full church. The tutti is beautifully cohesive, complex and exciting, underpinned by a nice fat 32' reed; the individual registers are delightful too. (Mind you, Mendelssohn and Reger on the Sauer blew my mind! Like being a kid on Christmas Eve..., and I never thought I'd ever say that about Mendelssohn!! :o )

 

 

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

 

 

I am always so relieved that I never had an edukation!

 

I've been playing Bach with tierces for 30 years as a consequence........sounds all right to me mate!

 

I know how Nigel Kennedy feels, when he says (from Krakow where he now lives with his Polish second-wife), "Why do I want to be with so many 'orrid people running classic music like?"

 

I am, of course, extremely envious of the fact that you have heard the Sauer at Leipzing, and I shall consequently hate you forever until I manage to get there. :rolleyes:

 

More seriously, the whole "neo-baroque" myth, if such it is, really comes back to the American connection, and the line-up of academics/scholars/organ-builders and organists ((I suppose some of them played a bit), who got behind Silbermann, even though this never represented the "typical Bach organ".

 

However, on the plus side, Bach would certainly have known the work of Schnitger, and after all, he trapsed along to Hamburg if I recall correctly.....maybe I don't! So the idea of a reedless quint chorus, with the reeds used for other things, is not entirely "wrong" so much as "not entirely right" in retrospect. Bach sounds ever so wonderful at Groningen, Alkmaar and Zwolle, even if they are not strictly "Bach organs" as such.

 

Of course, Bach also sounds wonderful at Haarlem, which actually, is probably the nearest thing to the sound Bach would have recognised; complete with Tierce mixtures and reeds which work perfectly with them.

 

The fact is, when you hear Bach played on a Schnitger (even a restored one), it also sounds so "right" for the job; possibly because the organ has been voiced, unlike most of the rubbish we understand as "neo-baroque".

 

I suspect that the bottom-line (you can tell I've worked in the commerical world of buzzwordmanship), is whether the organ is voiced well, whether it is designed with integrity, and executed by a tonal genius. That's a fairly tall order in anyone's parlance, and it happens but infrequently.

 

MM

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Bach doesn't drop the flutes when the tutti is playing...

 

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

 

 

How many flutes could he hold or play at once?

 

I can manage three flutes of champagne in one hand and a tutti-frutti in the other.

 

Is this a record?

 

:rolleyes:

 

MM

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Bach doesn't drop the flutes when the tutti is playing...

 

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

How many flutes could he hold or play at once?

 

I can manage three flutes of champagne in one hand and a tutti-frutti in the other.

 

Is this a record?

 

:rolleyes:

 

MM

I expect the flutes, tankards, turkish coffee cups and steins were lined up by admiring punters all across the top of his harpsichord....

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The "all Principal Plenum+ Pedal reeds" was introduced by Jaak-Nikolaas Lemmens, who pretended

to know it from a Bach tradition he actually did not belong to.

In fact, this is a frenchified version of the Plenum; the french Plein-jeu is obtained with Principals

only (Montre 16, 8; Prestant 4; Doublette 2; Fourniture; Cymbale. Only exception: the Bourdon 8'

may go with), while the Pedal plays a melody (Cantus firmus) on the 8' Trompette.

Lemmens passed this would-be-german registration to Widor....And, and, and.

 

Pierre

 

 

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

 

Surely, there was an earlier Bach tradition in France?

 

What about Boely?

 

Didn't he teach Guilmant (or was it Saint-Saens?).....my French history is rubbish isn't it?

 

Anyway, Guilmant was a very remarkable scholar, and he was digging up old stuff long before the rest got around to it.

 

And talking of Bach traditions, wasn't that maintained in the former Czechoslovakia, and wasn't Mendelssohn taught by someone with a name which sounds like he came from that neck of the woods, or close by?

 

Spare me the burden of digging around trying to find the details, but I suspect that the Bach tradition never really died.....it just went into hiding, and skulked in the remote countryside of Bohemia before going back across to Germany. Meanwhile, the history books tell us that Bach was never played after his death, which is complete tosh, because Seger was playing it in Prague.

 

I'm glad I'm not a musikolijist.

 

MM

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I expect the flutes, tankards, turkish coffee cups and steins were lined up by admiring punters all across the top of his harpsichord....

 

 

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

 

 

That must have been the folding one he took with him when he went to Bohemia with Prince Leopold.

 

I knew it was really a giant serving tray disguised as a musical instrument! Who'd be an organ-playing servant?

 

MM

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

That must have been the folding one he took with him when he went to Bohemia with Prince Leopold.

 

I knew it was really a giant serving tray disguised as a musical instrument! Who'd be an organ-playing servant?

 

MM

Saw something similar in the Leipzig University Museum of Musical Instruments (you MUST go) - the keyboard was split into three separate sections; each folded, not unlike a folding portable computer keyboard!

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The "Aequalverbot" refers to something else than the "Engchor-Weitchor" distinction.

The last forbids to mix Principals with Flutes (and Gambas!); you have Principal

choruses, and "Flutes" choruses. This separation remained in the french organ

up to the 19th century.

The Aequalverbot forbids to use two stops of the same height togheter; it is of course

somewhat linked to the previous (what else could I do if I have only one Principal

and one Flute at 8'), but when one sees a Trost, with 5 8' flue stops on the Hauptwerk...

The idea was the grooves did not allow for it, and so such registrations weren't

aimed at.

But this may be true in northern Europe from the Renaissance to Arp Schnitger,

certainly not for central Germany during Bach's times.

 

(MM; there was no Bach tradition in France. Before Boëly, you had Bauvarlet-Charpentier,

Balbastre.....Grigny and Couperin nearly a century earlier. Bach copied Grigny's music,

but nobody knew about Bach in France)

 

Pierre

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(MM; there was no Bach tradition in France. Before Boëly, you had Bauvarlet-Charpentier,

Balbastre.....Grigny and Couperin nearly a century earlier. Bach copied Grigny's music,

but nobody knew about Bach in France)

 

Pierre

 

 

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

 

 

I know, but I think you'll find that Charpentier and Boely were born in the same year, which safely predate Lemmens in Belgium, I would have thought. That was the point I was making.

 

MM

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I have a problem in that I've never actually carefully experimented with all the various ranks of a Compton organ, or really properly analyised the derivations used in the Mixtures and mutations, but I have played on a few in recital, including St.Bride's. However, it is in the relative mildness of the strings, the very subtle Lieblichs and the relative "flatness" (for lack of a better term) of the Diapasons and Geigens, that this sort of synthesis is possible, and by extending the quieter ranks skywards, it is then possible to create Mixtures and Cornets of great harmonic complexity; sometimes with added aliquot pitches or many more "ranks" than the stop-label might suggest. Going the other way (downwards), the broader tones of the Hohl Flute (whatever it may be called) make for perfect mutations such as Quints, when blended with heavy wood or metal basses (sometimes even diaphonic basses of considerable power).

Having grown up with a Compton organ, I fully concur with MM. What John Compton achieved with a few ranks was remarkable. Hence my despair at Derby Cathedral where the mixtures were "simplified" by other builders. They simply did not appear to understand the reasons behind the original scheme.

JC

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Having grown up with a Compton organ, I fully concur with MM. What John Compton achieved with a few ranks was remarkable. Hence my despair at Derby Cathedral where the mixtures were "simplified" by other builders. They simply did not appear to understand the reasons behind the original scheme.

JC

 

....As always when one tries to "better" an organ !

 

Pierre

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Guest Nigel ALLCOAT
Ladies and gentlemen,

 

 

PEDAL

 

10 2/3'- 6 2/5' (the "Grand Bourdon 32' draws both with a 16')

 

 

Pierre

 

One of the most extraordinary sounds for me is the Pedal department's Quinte & Tierce to which Pierre draws our attention. The definition and fundamental strength that these together bring to a department is truly awesome - like a section of Double Basses in an orchestra. I know of two organs that have such a Mixture - for they are one stop upon them. Not only does it give enviable definition to a principal chorus it considerably reinforces the harmonics of the 32ft reed. How smart that all is.

 

Therefore (a pedal with no pedal couplers on either organ and voiced of course, to be independent):

 

Sarralbe - St Martin - 1987 2 Mans and Pedal

 

Principal 16

Quinte & Tierce 12 6 2/5

Octave Basse 8

Prestant 4

Nazard 3

Cor de Nuit 2

Mixture 1 + III

Basson 32

Buzène 16

Trompette 8

Cornet 2

 

Vichy - St Louis - 1990 3 Mans and Pedal

 

Principal 16

Quinte & Tierce 12 6 2/5

Octave 8

Bourdon 8

Prestant 4

Flute 2

Mixture V-VI

Napoléon 32

Buzène 16

Trompette 8

Cornet 4

Cornet 2

 

 

I also think that it is worth writing the Great organ for Sarralbe because if just one stop is left out of the principal chorus (such as either of the two Quintes) one feels that a vertebrae is missing in the harmonic structure. Such an odd sensation and one that occurs because the builder has conceived an harmonic structure that is created by the voicing and scaling.

 

Portunal (Bourdon-Montre) 16

Montre 8

Gambe 8

Bourdon 8

Quinte 6

Octave 4

Flute conique 4

Quint 3

Doublette 2

Sexquialtera (16ft) III

Mixture IV-VII

Cornet V

Basson 16

Trompette 8

 

 

All best wishes and dreaming of harmonics!

Nigel Aliquot

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One of the most extraordinary sounds for me is the Pedal department's Quinte & Tierce to which Pierre draws our attention. The definition and fundamental strength that these together bring to a department is truly awesome - like a section of Double Basses in an orchestra. I know of two organs that have such a Mixture - for they are one stop upon them. Not only does it give enviable definition to a principal chorus it considerably reinforces the harmonics of the 32ft reed. How smart that all is.

 

 

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

 

 

Of course Nigel!

 

This has much in common with the Compton 32ft Harmonics, and whilst they can be effective even in a poor room, they can sound marvellous in a good one.

 

You get a similar rich gravitas at Hull City Hall using the Harmonics stops at 32ft and 16ft respectively.

 

 

MM

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At this point a glance to this specification by Stertzing (18th century,

a builder Bach Knew) might be interesting:

 

http://www.stertzingorgel.de/en/disposit.htm

 

I mean of course the 5 1/3' on the Hauptwerk, but also

the three 16' flues on the Pedal; and here the examples

given by Mr Allcoat rise questions!

(This said, let us be clear: their builder I do not file with

the neo-baroque ones. We are no longer with neo-baroque designs

there, this is rather what I call "sound historical design", like our belgian

builder Dominique Thomas does. Such organs I always welcome,

post-romantic taste or not!)

 

When one sees the pedal specifications of organs known to Bach, one

cannot but be surprised by their close resemblance to those of (german

and belgian at least) romantic organs. You may have something like this:

 

(32)-16-16-16-8-8- (4)-16- (8).

 

As for the 32' Cornet décomposé, yes, it "throws the organ to the basement",

it is intended just for that. But at best it should be accompanied with a sufficient

16' tone foundation(the basis of the Pedal division), of differing strenghts:

 

Subbass 32'

Kontrabass 16'

Violone 16'

Subbass 16'

Zartbass 16' (borrowed from I Double stopped)

Grossquintbass 10 2/3'

Octave 8'

Flute 8'

Grossterzbass 6 2/5'

Quintbass 5 1/3'

Flute 4'

 

....And we could follow like this:

 

Sesquialterabass 3 1/5'-2 2/3'- 2' (Without breaks)

Posaune 16'

Basson 16' (Borrowed from II)

Posaune 8'

 

Such a Pedal would be as good for a Bach organ as for a romantic one (sole case in which

the ecclectic idea works...).

 

Another important point in favor of those deep mutation stops is the fact you do not need them

in the Mixtures any more; I cited Andernach elsewhere here, where the 6 2/5' is hidden in

the treble of a manual Cornet, which is extremely impressive, but limits, of course, the

usefullness of the stop at the same time. You can use them mainly in big combinations.

By having those ranks seperatly you can keep the Mixtures lighter, with less ranks, brighter

in the whole compass; if in the meantime you avoid too high-pitched ranks, you also have less breaks, and

in the end you end up with something better suited to the polyphony.

 

Pierre

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At this point a glance to this specification by Stertzing (18th century,

a builder Bach Knew) might be interesting:

 

http://www.stertzingorgel.de/en/disposit.htm

 

I mean of course the 5 1/3' on the Hauptwerk, but also

the three 16' flues on the Pedal; and here the examples

given by Mr Allcoat rise questions!

(This said, let us be clear: their builder I do not file with

the neo-baroque ones. We are no longer with neo-baroque designs

there, this is rather what I call "sound historical design", like our belgian

builder Dominique Thomas does. Such organs I always welcome,

post-romantic taste or not!)

 

When one sees the pedal specifications of organs known to Bach, one

cannot but be surprised by their close resemblance to those of (german

and belgian at least) romantic organs. You may have something like this:

 

(32)-16-16-16-8-8- (4)-16- (8).

 

As for the 32' Cornet décomposé, yes, it "throws the organ to the basement",

it is intended just for that. But at best it should be accompanied with a sufficient

16' tone foundation(the basis of the Pedal division), of differing strenghts:

 

Subbass 32'

Kontrabass 16'

Violone 16'

Subbass 16'

Zartbass 16' (borrowed from I Double stopped)

Grossquintbass 10 2/3'

Octave 8'

Flute 8'

Grossterzbass 6 2/5'

Quintbass 5 1/3'

Flute 4'

 

....And we could follow like this:

 

Sesquialterabass 3 1/5'-2 2/3'- 2' (Without breaks)

Posaune 16'

Basson 16' (Borrowed from II)

Posaune 8'

 

Such a Pedal would be as good for a Bach organ as for a romantic one (sole case in which

the ecclectic idea works...).

 

Another important point in favor of those deep mutation stops is the fact you do not need them

in the Mixtures any more; I cited Andernach elsewhere here, where the 6 2/5' is hidden in

the treble of a manual Cornet, which is extremely impressive, but limits, of course, the

usefullness of the stop at the same time. You can use them mainly in big combinations.

By having those ranks seperatly you can keep the Mixtures lighter, with less ranks, brighter

in the whole compass; if in the meantime you avoid too high-pitched ranks, you also have less breaks, and

in the end you end up with something better suited to the polyphony.

 

Pierre

 

 

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

 

 

I know that Pierre likes the organ of the Aa-kerk, Groningen, as I do.

 

It's about the most thrilling sound you will ever hear, but due to tonal modifications over the years ( (by excellent organ builders around Groningen), one has to choose the stops carefully if the Schnitger sound is to be heard in all its glory.

 

The best available Pleno uses the original Rugposotiv Scherp (IV-V ranks) coupled to the original 16, 8 , 4 and 2ft Principal chorus of the Hoofdwerk.

 

I do not have the composition of the Scherp readily to hand, but it proably isn't a lot different to others.

 

Save for the lack of 16ft register, it's a sound which I can enjoy to a large extent on the organ I play, but I also have the added delight of a 2 rks Sesquialtera.

 

Now you can muddy the waters with sub-unison mutations if you will, but nothing would be improved by it, and I fail to see what the musical significance of this is, even if Bach would have been aware of the possibilities.

 

Now when it comes to chorale accompaniment, that might be a different matter.

 

 

MM

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