Pierre Lauwers Posted February 2, 2008 Share Posted February 2, 2008 Of course, apart from the assumption that 'mud' is the opposite of perfect clarity. Organs by Sauer, Skinner, JW Walker and Harrison are still sometimes decried as sounding 'muddy' by a certain generation of organists. To my ears, the best of these instruments have perfect clarity, but also overwhelm and move the listener. They may sound dark, but you can still hear what's going on. However, I certainly believe that some composers deliberately use counterpoint to create layers of colour and effect. It is simply impossible to achieve perfect clarity of all the parts in a work like Spem in Alium, Hymnus Paradisi or Turangalîla-Symphonie, nor is it necessarily desirable. In the busiest baroque music, the combined effect of the counterpoint is greater than the sum of the parts - a trite, obvious point I know, but often overlooked. Thankfully, the pendulum has swung well and truly back to a sensible middle, and we are hearing 'muddy' Bach, with melanges of middle-German 8 foot foundations; reeds in fugues (for the sake of clarity ); and Reger played on instruments with more than one 8' prinzipal supporting the chorus! I tried a "Bach organs" topic, which had to be dropped..... "Clarity" meant, in the 20th century, screaming machines as upperwork. This was already the case by Bonavia-Hunt's time, when he wrote the basis of "baroque" organs was 4', not 8'. (I linked to the complete book...) But when you see organs from Bach's time, they are based on sometimes five flue 8' ! They are actually quite heavy and ponderous, but the clarity, the precision, the attack, is in the flues themselves. And when you add the Mixtures, you soon realize they weren't intended to be used all the time.... But I fear it's still too early to continue... Pierre Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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