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MusingMuso

Which Are The Best Consoles?

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QUOTE(MusingMuso @ Feb 15 2008, 05:54 AM)

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

 

I think Nigel has got it right, judging by what appear to be arpeggios on the sheet-music and the pedal B.

 

It could, of course, be an arrangement of Tchaikovskys "Walt of the Flowers" played in the wrong key.

 

MM

 

 

I don't know this, even in the right key. Should it read "Wilt"? Very B minor then, especially the day after St Valentine's.

 

N

 

Interesting ideas, guys.

 

The piece in queston has more in common wth BWV 565 toccata than Franck P,F&V, both historically and in terms of difficulty =>

 

18C.

Thin terture.

Lots of figuration, some sequential, but mainly circle of fifths.

Pedal points.

Grade V ish.

Well known composer (not JSB, though).

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As one of the many regular contributers to have commented in the past on the comfort of classic H&H consoles, with a particular fondness for the one recently consigned to the scrap heap and also Exeter, I would have to say that, for me, St Mary Redcliffe is the exception that proves the rule. I dislike the layout of the swell stops, but the main problem is with the swell pedals and the toe pistons. I also find the pedal board to be rather cramped.

I would have to agree with this. I would not call SMR uncomfortable by any means, but it is not exactly "Rolls-Royce".

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I don't know this, even in the right key. Should it read "Wilt"? Very B minor then, especially the day after St Valentine's. :(

 

N

 

 

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

 

 

 

There I was thinking that it might be B-major....how silly of me.

 

Anyway, we're both wrong apparently. It's obviously something by Buxtehude, unless the photo was taken during a dominant moment, which might suggest the Bruhns E-minor.

 

I'm guessing aren't I?

 

:wacko:

 

MM

 

 

PS: Sequential eh? That reminds me of the piece of graffiti I wrote in the Uni music-department, for the benefit of the medievalists. "A mass of sequences are a load of old trope."

 

Not quite as bad as the other one, for the benefit of Prof.Newbould, who completed the "unfinished".

 

He had put up a notice saying, "Always complete your work!"

 

I added to this, "...or some bum academic will do it for you."

 

B)

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

 

.....................Buxtehude......................Bruhns.................E-minor.

 

:(

 

:wacko:

 

One of the above is correct.

Also, when I said 'sequential', I actually meant 'circle of fifths'.

 

Close, but no cigar :lol:

 

BTW, the swell pedal is not shut for any particular musical reason, it had jammed in that position the previous day. The decrepit state of St Paul's, Bury (VERY cold and damp, with a somewat 'crumbly' ceiling) caused the poor organ considerable suffering and it was beset by intermttent and often inexplicable faults. However, the sound... B)

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

 

 

Judging by the Porsche cars I've admired over the years, and the 911RS lightweight I once drove, I would suggest that if Porsche had a hand in the engineering, the console will last forever and merely become a classic design.

 

I think the Porche design studio web-site has a fair bit of blurb about the design of the console, which utilised ergonomics as never before: hence the interesting sweep of the stop-layout, the carefully machined groooves just behind the stop-heads for security of purchase and those lovely dials to indicate swell-box positions etc.

 

I not only like that console, I think it is a magnificent piece of real design.

 

MM

Hmmm, I don't think it wise to unquestionningly accept and adore everything Porsche design... there have been some dogs.

 

Just picture a slightly spotty organ student playing this organ on a summer afternoon with old jeans and a slightly sweaty T-shirt in 5 years time and the image will be completely destroyed.

 

I don't see that there's anything special in the ergonomics here at all. It looks very stylish in the modern Germanic post-bauhaus which is the fashion right now. But there's nothing ground breaking here - it's just a contempory styled console. I don't see any indication of imagination or originality here at all - it's just modern Germanic styling meets organ console with a few 911 overtones (like the arrangement of those dials). I've got friends in Germany and Switzerland whose apartments are exactly the same style as this organ console.

 

The design and style of the console is so uncompromising it wouldn't be a practical or friendly console to live with. Those brushed metal stop jams will show every finger mark; I'm not sure of the purpose of those 911 inspired dials but they put the music desk on a 5 manual console even higher; any clutter like a pencil, rubber, sticky or tuning book will stick out like a sore thumb; the thumb pistons are also surrounded by metal so you can't avoid finger marks. This style looks so tired if there's as much as a speck of dust anywhere - as soon as it's receives a knock, the sharp, clean lines lose their magic and it just looks old, cheap, tired and knocked about very quickly, even if it's not. Trust me, I've seen people try to live with it.

 

I wonder whether the style of this organ console actually contrasts successfully against the german romantic style organ case and the rest of the church?

 

Don't get me wrong - I fully appreciate its modern beauty and uncompromising style but I don't think it's really that practical and I don't see anything ground breaking in terms of ergonomics or originality as suggested, as it's clearly influenced by modern germanic styles and fashions. I don't think it's timeless - it will look very 90s/noughties in 30 years times but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Whether it ages gracefully, I don't know - unless someone cleans it every week...

 

However, I think it is a good thing this console exists - it's a very assured application of modern styling to the organ console and far better thought out and executed than any Matthew Copley has yet done, for example - or any other builder, for that matter. People (especailly designers) need it for inspiration and ideas. There are some beautiful modern details on it and it is sumptious in its minimalism. It is a beautiful and stylish thing whatever pragmatic issues I might have.

 

I love the Bosendorfer concept piano Porsche have done as well, but I'd far rather have a standard Bosendorfer model than the concept piano in my house, although I would drool all over the concept piano in the showroom, given half a chance.

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Has anyone here actually played it? That is the only real test.

 

I wonder whether the music desk is really higher than it would be on a British five-decker. Manuals on German organs are usually closer together than in Britain because there is not the tradition of having loads of thumb pistons like we do. Here it looks like the only thumb pistons are below Man. I. They are unobtrusive in the extreme, but you can just make out the numbers on the large-scale photo I linked to above (piston 1 is illuminated).

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Has anyone here actually played it? That is the only real test.

 

I wonder whether the music desk is really higher than it would be on a British five-decker. Manuals on German organs are usually closer together than in Britain because there is not the tradition of having loads of thumb pistons like we do. Here it looks like the only thumb pistons are below Man. I. They are unobtrusive in the extreme, but you can just make out the numbers on the large-scale photo I linked to above (piston 1 is illuminated).

Not quite played it, but was shown it last November. As at Liverpool and St Paul's, the music desk slides down and remains down most of the time. The dials were therefore covered by the music desk when I was there. I'm surprised no one has commented on the lack of division labels on the stop jambs. The stop head lettering, albeit upper case, is small and tricky to read, although extremely chic! Minor quibbles, but relevant I feel in the context of this discussion.

 

However, a far deeper impression was left by the sound of this instrument: opulent without sounding effete, powerful without opacity; big reeds yet with a tutti dominated by deep, shag-pile mixtures of perfect clarity; and the biggest variety of flutes I have ever heard on a single instrument, from delicate gedacts to massive, cantabile harmonic flutes that would make Cavaillé-Coll weep. I know some commentators lament the 'loss' of the Ladegast-Sauer but the Eule is truly remarkable.

 

As for the console's potential incongruity in its wider setting: I found the startling 'Egyptian' (post-JSB) columns and ceiling far more at odds with this ancient building that the Porsche console.

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(There are no pedal lights on our House Organ - June says that if you need to look you should have organ lessons rather than fit a pedal light!)

 

 

Barry Wiliams

 

Hi

 

My organ teacher was the same - no pedal light on either the old or the new organ at the church where I learned. I still only find I need to look down to locate toe pistons on the odd occaisions that I play an organ that has them.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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....... a tutti dominated by deep, shag-pile mixtures of perfect clarity.......

 

 

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

 

 

I was left dazed by this eloquent line!

 

Then I thought about it some more.......

 

It could form a whole new family of Mixtures, starting with the Scherp-Shag.

 

The Anglican versions would have to be "Axminster Grave" or the "Wilton Whitherer"....the former sounding like a bottle of plonk, and latter sounding like a new name for a mature cheese or a bottled real-ale.

 

I hesitate to suggest what the French and Italians would call them, but the Italian version could probably be set to music.

 

MM

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Guest Patrick Coleman
===============================

 

the Italian version could probably be set to music.

 

MM

 

gelato misto? - which could (apart from its real meaning of mixed ice cream) be roughly translated 'cool mixture'. B)

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Guest Barry Williams

May I add another dimension to this thread?

 

As a Diocesan Organs Adviser it is my duty to advise (about anything, and sometimes everything,) on the basis that the church is the centre of worship and mission. (This is the law. It is not optional.) This includes organs. It is important to ensure, whenever possible, that consoles are accessible and easy to play, epecially in the smaller churches where expert players tend to be less often available.

 

What makes an organ easy to play, especially for the less than expert player?

 

Should we make organs accessible for such people?

 

What do you do when faced with an historic instrument that is difficult to play because it has a seriously non-standard console?

 

Hmmmm!!

 

Barry Williams

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gelato misto? - which could (apart from its real meaning of mixed ice cream) be roughly translated 'cool mixture'. :)

 

 

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

 

 

Don't be silly, that's a Cornetto!

 

Still.....Gelato misto! Amore! Amore!

 

I'm weeping already.

 

MM

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"What do you do when faced with an historic instrument that is difficult to play because it has a seriously non-standard console?"

 

Check out the letters page of the current "Organists' Review", where the antiquarians were fought off and a vintage F&A was allowed to keep its later RCO pedalboard and balanced swell pedal.

 

Hurrah!

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"What do you do when faced with an historic instrument that is difficult to play because it has a seriously non-standard console?"

 

Check out the letters page of the current "Organists' Review", where the antiquarians were fought off and a vintage F&A was allowed to keep its later RCO pedalboard and balanced swell pedal.

 

Hurrah!

 

hi

 

I've yet to find a "seriously non-standard console" that has caused me much difficulty - and I've played a good few older organs that don't conform to current so-called "standards" - which tend to be a myth anyway.

 

I prefer straight, concave pedal boards anyway - and you just have to allow for short-compass pedals, etc. in deciding what to play. Probably the most difficult console I've found had a 17 note pedal-board (no great problem in itself) - but the later balanced swell pedal had been installed on the floor to the right of the pedalboard! VERY uncomfortable.

 

Lever swell pedals, I find, are not too big a problem - though I can see that balanced swells have some advantages - and it depends too on the repertoire that you need to play.

 

That said, for an organ in an active church, I see no point whatsoever in retaining non-standard pitch - particularly if the organ needs to be used (or could be used) with other instruments.

 

In the restoration of the chamber organ here at Heaton, my brief to Willis' was an "historically informed" restoration - but retaining the A=440Hz pitch that the organ had been tuned to for about 30 years, rather than the original somewhat higher pitch. We have kept the distinctly non-standard pedals - in fact, a standard pedalboard would have meant mutilating the case - including raising the keyboard and removing elaborately carved brackets, remaking the pedal action, and providing a higher bench.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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I'm surprised that no-one has yet ticked off Compton consoles.

 

The illuminated ones such as that at Holy Trinity Hull, and the one which used to be in Hull City Hall, may have had their quirks (such a light-bulb failure), but I love those Compton draw-stop consoles, where the stops don't come out with a thud when a piston is pressed. Instead, they sort of go, "Clack" as they operate at the speed of sound, or thereabouts.

 

With very bright, white plastic stop-heads and very clear engraving in what looks like Arial font, they are so easy to read and understand.

 

Even the stop-key consoles were quite acceptable, but a bit monochrome.

 

Of course, like anything Compton and electric, they were wonderfully engineered pieces of kit, and many continue to give sterling service with very few faults.

 

I thought I'd just mention them, because there are a lot worse consoles.

 

MM

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I'm surprised that no-one has yet ticked off Compton consoles.

 

The illuminated ones such as that at Holy Trinity Hull, and the one which used to be in Hull City Hall, may have had their quirks (such a light-bulb failure), but I love those Compton draw-stop consoles, where the stops don't come out with a thud when a piston is pressed. Instead, they sort of go, "Clack" as they operate at the speed of sound, or thereabouts.

 

MM

 

Also, in Compton originals there are no slider mechanisms in the organ to make any noise either. Further, in the case of such instruments now fitted with electronic control there is no movement of anything when a stop is pressed, thus there's no noise anywhere even with a piston - very nice when playing quiet music.

 

John R

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Other than the fine Compton console at Derby Cathedral, with its illuminated (non-)drawstop knobs, I have yet to see a pipe organ with illuminated knobs. Why is this I wonder, given that with modern LEDs the risk of bulbs blowing is pretty much eliminated. Have any recent organs been built with such stopknobs?

 

On the "other side", the mid-range Johannus organs (Rembrandt series) have illuminated stopknobs which toggle on and off by both pulling and pushing. It's elegant, but when I played one they did seem very plastically and actually rather frail. Is that necessarily so, and why should the toasters have all the best tunes, to paraphrase somebody?

 

Contrabombarde

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Other than the fine Compton console at Derby Cathedral, with its illuminated (non-)drawstop knobs, I have yet to see a pipe organ with illuminated knobs. Why is this I wonder, given that with modern LEDs the risk of bulbs blowing is pretty much eliminated. Have any recent organs been built with such stopknobs?

 

On the "other side", the mid-range Johannus organs (Rembrandt series) have illuminated stopknobs which toggle on and off by both pulling and pushing. It's elegant, but when I played one they did seem very plastically and actually rather frail. Is that necessarily so, and why should the toasters have all the best tunes, to paraphrase somebody?

 

Contrabombarde

 

There have been quite a few consoles with illuminated stop buttons on the continent in the last 20 years. The main complaint is that you have to make the same action to turn the stop on as you do to turn it off, and really need to look to find the stop. Often they are placed far too close together. So as well as the fact that Organists are used to using drawstops or tabs, the illuminated buttons have several ergonomic problems. Quite apart from looking ugly (well the ones I've seen so far).

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There have been quite a few consoles with illuminated stop buttons on the continent in the last 20 years. The main complaint is that you have to make the same action to turn the stop on as you do to turn it off, and really need to look to find the stop. Often they are placed far too close together. So as well as the fact that Organists are used to using drawstops or tabs, the illuminated buttons have several ergonomic problems. Quite apart from looking ugly (well the ones I've seen so far).

 

I came across a toaster about 18 months ago with something very like this. You pushed the stop down to turn it on, it sprung back to the centre and lit up. OK except that about 6 of the lights weren't working which meant it was impossible to tell whether these stops were on or off. It was a funeral and all I could do was cancel everything, set up the pistons and stick to them. Good job I got there early...

 

R

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I came across a toaster about 18 months ago with something very like this. You pushed the stop down to turn it on, it sprung back to the centre and lit up. OK except that about 6 of the lights weren't working which meant it was impossible to tell whether these stops were on or off. It was a funeral and all I could do was cancel everything, set up the pistons and stick to them. Good job I got there early...

 

R

 

On my church's toaster, all of the pistons and stops light up. The only problem was one of the 16' reed bulbs blowing, but it would be interesting if all of the piston & stop lights blew!

 

JA

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On my church's toaster, all of the pistons and stops light up. The only problem was one of the 16' reed bulbs blowing, but it would be interesting if all of the piston & stop lights blew!

 

JA

 

Hi

 

It's also "interesting" playing organs with this sort of stop control when there's sunlight obliterating the indicator lights!

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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Hi

 

It's also "interesting" playing organs with this sort of stop control when there's sunlight obliterating the indicator lights!

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

 

Oh yes! I have a portable Rogers instrument which I use for funerals etc where there is no instrument at all, which is perfectly adequate for most stuff, coupled with a small 3 piece speaker system. However, the the stop indicators are small orange LEDs built into the rocker tabs, and even under bright light they are all but invisible.

 

........bit of a schoolboy error, really!

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Hi

 

It's also "interesting" playing organs with this sort of stop control when there's sunlight obliterating the indicator lights!

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

 

 

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

 

 

It's just as bad with spotlights.

 

It's a case of "Lights, camera..........long silence."

 

The last time I played a console with illuminated stop-tabs, the sun was shining brightly. One of the senior church people came to investigate just before I played a hymn. There was me, with my head almost at the level of the Swell manual; looking upwards at the tabs trying to decide which ones were lit.

 

He thought I'd "done a Vierne" and died at the console!!!!!

 

:lol:

 

MM

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