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Armchair Designers - A 'real Life' Challenge


Guest Cynic

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Guest Cynic

Dear All,

I have a real life organ-scheming question for you to answer. I thought I had the answer, but now I'm not sure. Let me explain.

 

My grand scheme (Looney Tunes) runs to two consoles, one of five one of three manuals and 131 speaking stops. The whole point of the smaller console is that it plays a limited amount of the large organ, but enough to make musical sense and that it can all function on a single .75hp blower i.e. economical for practice as fuel costs continue to climb.

 

Inside my Swellbox I have the following stops, all of which will play from the five-manual console.

 

8 Geigen Diapason

8 Stopped Diapason

8 Salcional

8 Voix Celeste TC

4 Principal

4 Triangular Flute

2.2/3 Nazard (harmonic)

2 Fifteenth

2 Piccolo (harmonic)

1.1/7 Septieme

III Mixture 22-26-29

16 Double Horn

8 Trumpet

8 Oboe

8 Vox Humana

4 Clarion

 

that's sixteen stops, but I can only include 13 of them on the small console. I originally planned to lose the Vox Humana, the Septieme and the Piccolo.

Vox Humana because I would only use it in Franck and a few French baroque numbers. I have a Cor Anglais and a Cremona on the Choir so there's respectable soft reed variety already. The Septieme only amounts to icing on the cake - a special effect, useful in barely any repertoire and essential in hardly any. I thought (until today when I finished installing the stop) that I would not miss the Piccolo, but now I do! Modern specs always include the Fifteenth, but I suddenly wonder if this is right. A harmonic Piccolo is near to a French Octavin in tone, it would complete a flute chorus 8' 4' 2/23' and 2' and it turns out to blend superbly both with the Oboe and the Principal. A fifteenth does not crown the Principal chorus, because the Mixture does that. There are no accompaniment implications whatever, this organ is purely for my own amusement and that of fellow addicts.

 

You may be asking why I am limited to 13 speaking stops on the Swell. I cannot squeeze more in if I want them still to work on the (existing) piston system. I have already sacrificed Tremulant and Unison Off stops to the Greater Good. I can control the Tremulant with a little illuminated button somewhere eventually (as Roger Fisher did at Chester).

 

So, gents and ladies - which three stops would you leave out, bearing in mind that you want the most variety and usefulness you can get?

A second question: suppose I had room for another little chest inside the box (and I do) I thought I might add a Tierce (playable only on the big console). This would complete the harmonic series and give me yet another Cornet. What would you add? N.B. keep it fairly small, please!

 

 

If anyone would like to refer to the complete spec in order to formulate an answer, details are on this page

http://paulderrett.piczo.com/?g=47513557&cr=6

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Very difficult to say without having heard any of it.

 

I would definitely lose the Septième. You only need one 2ft and if the Piccolo sounds OK in chorus and you can lose the Fifteenth without the Diaps 8', 4' + Mixture having a gaping hole in the bass then it might as well go.

 

Then... what? I suppose the Vox Humana is the obvious one to lose. Alternatively do you absolutely need the Clarion? I have heard many perfectly satisfactory full swells that have reeds only at 16' and 8'.

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I'd kill off the Fifteenth, the Nazard and the Septieme - you've got a chorus to Piccolo so presumably these discarded registers would be either (as you say) icing on the cake or duplicated elsewhere.

 

Are you eschewing manual extension, or could the Tierce be derived from the Celeste?

 

D

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8 Geigen Diapason

8 Stopped Diapason

8 Salcional

8 Voix Celeste TC

4 Principal

4 Triangular Flute

2.2/3 Nazard (harmonic)

2 Fifteenth *

III Mixture 22-26-29

16 Double Horn

8 Trumpet

8 Oboe

4 Clarion

 

* If the Piccolo successfully bridges the gap between the Diapasons and Mixture, use that instead.

 

A Tierce would be a sensible addition on its own chest on the main console.

 

Lucky chap! :D

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Are you eschewing manual extension, or could the Tierce be derived from the Celeste?

 

Presumably the Celeste would then have to be put on its own chest and extended to form a stringy Seventeenth, but not a Tierce.

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Guest Cynic
Presumably the Celeste would then have to be put on its own chest and extended to form a stringy Seventeenth, but not a Tierce.

 

No manual extension.

It's a matter of principle, really.

 

A tierce could make a flute celeste, but I've got one of those elsewhere on the job anyway.

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Guest Cynic
Very difficult to say without having heard any of it.

 

I would definitely lose the Septième. You only need one 2ft and if the Piccolo sounds OK in chorus and you can lose the Fifteenth without the Diaps 8', 4' + Mixture having a gaping hole in the bass then it might as well go.

 

Then... what? I suppose the Vox Humana is the obvious one to lose. Alternatively do you absolutely need the Clarion? I have heard many perfectly satisfactory full swells that have reeds only at 16' and 8'.

 

 

Clarions don't seem to get much look in these days, do they? I love them - IMHO as important in a proper full swell as a 16' reed.

If your Trumpet has body - and I agree that some recent Swell 8' reeds don't - then you definitely need the Clarion to complete the picture.

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Besides the 17th, there is no 19th in the scheme.

So I'd put the fifteenth in the mixture -like Jean-Esprit Isnard already

did at St-Maximin-, and add this 1 1/3' in the Mixture -five ranks-.

(We might even add a sixth one, the seventeenth... :D )

 

And for the little Fernwerk, a Harmonia aetherea: 2 2/3'-2'- 1 3/5', Dolce

or Geigen pipes, voiced very softly.

 

Pierre

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Clarions don't seem to get much look in these days, do they? I love them - IMHO as important in a proper full swell as a 16' reed.

If your Trumpet has body - and I agree that some recent Swell 8' reeds don't - then you definitely need the Clarion to complete the picture.

 

I agree with you regarding the Clarion - I occasionally find a good Clarion more useful than a sub-unison reed. I also agree with David Coram; I would lose the Nazard, Fifteenth and Septième - I am not convinced of the usefulness of separate mutations in a Swell Organ.

 

If you are to install a small chest, then I would re-instate the Vox Humana.

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Guest Cynic
I agree with you regarding the Clarion - I occasionally find a good Clarion more useful than a sub-unison reed. I also agree with David Coram; I would lose the Nazard, Fifteenth and Septième - I am not convinced of the usefulness of separate mutations in a Swell Organ.

 

If you are to install a small chest, then I would re-instate the Vox Humana.

 

The Vox Humana is there - just that I don't think there's room for it on the small console - d'you see?

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Guest Cynic
Besides the 17th, there is no 19th in the scheme.

So I'd put the fifteenth in the mixture -like Jean-Esprit Isnard already

did at St-Maximin-, and add this 1 1/3' in the Mixture -five ranks-.

(We might even add a sixth one, the seventeenth... :D )

 

And for the little Fernwerk, a Harmonia aetherea: 2 2/3'-2'- 1 3/5', Dolce

or Geigen pipes, voiced very softly.

 

Pierre

 

 

There is a 19th in most of the Mixture. There is a separate Nineteenth on the enclosed Choir and a Larigot on the unenclosed Choir.

There is a Harmonic Aetheria III on the Echo organ (or at least there will be when it's set up again) as I had it before, this comprised 5.1/3 4 and 2 from the first break and very effective it was - more than a slight hint of a tiny 16' manual stop. The Cornet de Violes III on the Solo is due to be 10.12.15 at CC and the tierce remains throughout the compass.

 

I think I have the sort of sounds you have in mind already covered!

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The Vox Humana is there - just that I don't think there's room for it on the small console - d'you see?

 

Of course - I had read, and then forgotten this fact. In which case, you could add a 1ft. Octavin.

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Guest Cynic
Of course - I had read, and then forgotten this fact. In which case, you could add a 1ft. Octavin.

 

 

That'd be your choice for the extra stop?

More useful than a Tierce?

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That'd be your choice for the extra stop?

More useful than a Tierce?

 

Well, if you are not to have either a Nazard or a Septième (due to problems of being able to accomodate these ranks on the smaller console) - yes.

 

Alternatively, you could add a Viole de Gambe, as an alternative to the Salicional, ensuring that it will also beat with the Céleste.

 

I was thinking only the other day about how often one sees advertisements for new instruments in Organists' Review in which, on a G.O. of around ten stops, a Nazard (or a Twelfth) and a Tierce are specified. It further occurred to me that although my 'own' church instrument has no less than six separate mutation stops, I do not use them that much. Of course, if I am playing French Baroque or Classical music, or Messiaen, etc, I would use some of these ranks. However, for service work (and much recital work) I would much prefer a good variety of 8ft. and 4ft. flutes, and a good palette of strings and foundation stops - in addition, naturally, to some really good choruses.

 

Even if I am playing a Bach chorale prelude (Schmücke dich, BWV 654, for example), I often choose the Swell Hautbois (or one of the other reeds at unison pitch), perhaps also with the tremulant, in perference.

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I think we are missing the point here! Cynic has - at least - sixteen stops on the swell, all of which can be used at the big console. However, we were invited to suggest which 13 of the 16 should be chosen to appear on the small console, this being the limit of its piston system. I agree with earlier suggestions that the Fifteenth, Nazard and Septième could be omitted from the small console, knowing that they could be accessed from the large console if a particular piece requires them.

 

I would be interested to know the composition of the swell mixture.

JC

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No manual extension.

It's a matter of principle, really.

Good man! :)

I feel a new topic coming on. Why is manual extension any worse than using octave couplers? At least you can choose to include or exclude an individual extended stop rather than the "all or nothing" you get with the coupler. Intelligently designed - and used - I see some positive benefits in extension, even on the manuals.

JC

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I think that manual extension is the lesser of two "evils". Certainly, one can choose artistically, and there are less missing notes in this respect than just using an octave coupler. However, both can have their uses.

 

But, if it's possible (and in Cynic's case it seems it is) for the manuals to be "straight", then that's all the better.

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I think we are missing the point here! Cynic has - at least - sixteen stops on the swell, all of which can be used at the big console. However, we were invited to suggest which 13 of the 16 should be chosen to appear on the small console, this being the limit of its piston system.

JC

 

Well, yes - but Cynic also asked this:

 

'A second question: suppose I had room for another little chest inside the box (and I do) I thought I might add a Tierce (playable only on the big console). This would complete the harmonic series and give me yet another Cornet. What would you add? N.B. keep it fairly small, please!'

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Well, yes - but Cynic also asked this:

 

'A second question: suppose I had room for another little chest inside the box (and I do) I thought I might add a Tierce (playable only on the big console). This would complete the harmonic series and give me yet another Cornet. What would you add? N.B. keep it fairly small, please!'

Quite correct, it was late when I posted and, it seems, I missed the point.

 

It isn't clear whether there is still a plan to have a 1' flute on the unenclosed choir, but I would opt to put that on the extra chest in the swell at least for now.

JC

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Quite correct, it was late when I posted and, it seems, I missed the point.

 

It isn't clear whether there is still a plan to have a 1' flute on the unenclosed choir, but I would opt to put that on the extra chest in the swell at least for now.

JC

 

The 1' on the unenclosed choir is an Octavin (of Gemshorn pipes). I liked (in its previous set-up) drawing it to add to the Great chorus as well as topping off a large department of independent mutations! Very high flute pipes are very difficult to tune, and if you have to soften them, the speech can become unsteady. Just a consideration! Those experienced at voicing new 1' stops may comment here, but for me, a truly delicate principal sound seems to be easier to achieve, especially if one wants it to blend.

 

 

Someone asked 'why no manual extension?' When one drafts an enormous spec, everyone's expectation is that is must be all derived from a restricted number of ranks. I have built such organs - I am currently installing a tiny two manual and pedal 2-ranker in York that boasts over twenty speaking stops from its two ranks. There are no couplers which explains some of these!

Yes, extension can offer tempting possibilities, but if I'm building a seriously large organ and I actually have the pipes, it is obviously a good discipline to have proper ensembles on bar and slider soundboards. The pedal division, on the other hand, will be derived to a ludicrous extent, though there will be some ranks on the pedal that do not appear anywhere on the manuals, notably a splendid wooden Bishop & Son Trombone from around 1900 and a 16' HN&B Diaphone from the 1930's.

 

I don't understand why several of you can see no use for a Nazard on the Swell. I've only had it playing for a week or so, but the colour possibilities with a well-blending Nazard, along with 4' flute, 8' flute, Piccolo, Oboe, Tremulant etc. make this a very valuable stop. Long after I am too aged to make the weekly or monthly crawl inside to re-tune the Vox Humana I will be enjoying making melanges with a Nazard that rarely needs any attention at all.

 

I thought of a possible dodge: If I really can't decide between Vox Humana, Fifteenth and Piccolo, I thought that the one stop knob (currently labelled Fifteenth) could control my choice of rank via a switch-plate or a simple plug-in system somewhere ('plug in' as in radio speakers and not as in computer systems). As lethargy and a build-up of obstacles take over, it will be interesting to see which rank gets left 'set' on this stop action of the three of them.

 

I might do the same with my solo reed on the Choir. It currently controls a 1960's R&D Great Tromba which is fully a Tuba Mirabilis in the context of my barn/organ hall. I don't see myself using this much. I might make this a variable solo stop in the same way. Shades of E Power Biggs and the Busch-Reisinger Museum instrument where he prepared that a player could lift out one baroque reed and substitute another if the repertoire demanded it. My system would be much quicker and far easier!

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The pedal division, on the other hand, will be derived to a ludicrous extent, though there will be some ranks on the pedal that do not appear anywhere on the manuals, notably a splendid wooden Bishop & Son Trombone from around 1900 and a 16' HN&B Diaphone from the 1930's.

 

 

That's interesting, because I didn't know that H,N & B made diaphones.

 

Were they just for theatre-organs, or were they fitted elsewhere?

 

MM

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That's interesting, because I didn't know that H,N & B made diaphones.

 

Were they just for theatre-organs, or were they fitted elsewhere?

 

MM

 

This rank came from the two-manual six rank extension organ that formerly stood in St.Mary's Hay-on-Wye, an extension organ so poor that NPOR declined to list its stops. (Shades of The New Grove removing all references to Louis James Alfred Lefebure-Wely because someone in authority considered his offerings debased!) It was used to take a (seriously pompous) Open Diapason down to 16'. The few notes that worked when I took it out sounded like the crack of doom. Since all I want it for is to complete my Tuba downwards - which would only be used if a massive amount of organ was drawn on top - this is likely to suit its character better!

 

HN&B in those days were like Comptons in that they were prepared to do whatever was necessary to make an effective job, purists might have to look away!

 

You can be confident that if they did this once they will have done it more times.

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I don't understand why several of you can see no use for a Nazard on the Swell. I've only had it playing for a week or so, but the colour possibilities with a well-blending Nazard, along with 4' flute, 8' flute, Piccolo, Oboe, Tremulant etc. make this a very valuable stop. Long after I am too aged to make the weekly or monthly crawl inside to re-tune the Vox Humana I will be enjoying making melanges with a Nazard that rarely needs any attention at all.

I didn't mean to imply that there is no use for a Nazard on the Swell, just that personally I would prefer to retain the Vox Humana for everyday use. As for the Octavin rather than a Tierce, it's personal preference again. In my teenage years I used an instrument with no mixture, but an 8 4 2 1 chorus, and I still like the clarity of that sound.

JC

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