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Another Challenge For Those With Too Much Time On Their Hands Or Those Who Like To Do This Despite Being Too Busy


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Despite doing 100 hours a week, I still find time to speculate on what I would do if I were to build an organ at home. So following on the threads about house organs, and generally what we would desire, here is a bit more of a challenge (well for most people I expect - we haven't all got the same space as Cynic!).

 

The rules!

 

1. Design an organ that you would find of benefit to your own practicing.

2. It should not take up more space than you consider to be reasonably available to you (so if you own Blenheim Palace, there's no problem having 4-manuals and 32' stops, but if you live in a two bedroom flat, I think the 32's unrealistic!)

3. There should be no use of electronic stops.

4. You can use any sort of action.

5. You are not limited by money, so everything can be new.

6. Consequently, you can choose any builder.

 

 

Guidance

 

1. I would suspect you need at least two manuals and pedals (but if your sole repertoire is English 18th Century and before you may want a divided one manual with long compass).

2. Unless you have lots of space, I would imagine you would want it on low pressure, so as to be acceptable to the ear.

3. I would counsel against having it fully enclosed or on extension (although this is personal preference).

 

 

Well these are my thought, lets see how far people can go and how imaginative they can be, judging by past posts, I suspect we are in for a wealth of imagination.

 

Jonathan B)

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Well, having not all enclosed ? I would prefer have all enclosed

save two 8' and the stopped 16', with one series of shutters behind

the other, also Manual II two times expressive....With one Manual completely

unexpressive, I'd make something like this:

 

MANUAL I

 

Bourdon 16'

Open Diapason 8' (nearly a Dulciana)

Lieblich Gedackt 8'

Octave 4'

 

MANUAL II (behind the I, in the next room, with a hole in the wall in which the shutters take place)

 

Aeoline 8'

Voix céleste 8' TC

Traversflöte 8' (wood, 1st ve stopped)

Zauberflöte 4'

Harmonia aetherea 3r 2 2/3'-2'- 1 3/5'( VERY soft and placed at the back!) small scales

Physharmonica 8' (with its own expression so two times expressive)

 

PEDAL

 

Subbass 16' (borrowed from I)

Serpent 16' (extended from the Physharmonica)

 

In order to have the most silent action: tubular pneumatic action with Taschenladen.

 

Pierre

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Sorry, not a wealth of imagination from here at the moment.....

 

Well, as long as I can keep my three-decker toaster and headphones for fun, I'd be happy with a two manual and pedal organ with a responsive mechanical action and one beautiful 8' Stopped Diapason (that on the Great at Queen's College, Oxford springs to mind along with several others). This would be very useful indeed for practise, especially as I don't get as much opportunity as I'd like to practise on good tracker action organs nowadays.

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Sorry, not a wealth of imagination from here at the moment.....

 

Well, as long as I can keep my three-decker toaster and headphones for fun, I'd be happy with a two manual and pedal organ with a responsive mechanical action and one beautiful 8' Stopped Diapason (that on the Great at Queen's College, Oxford springs to mind along with several others). This would be very useful indeed for practise, especially as I don't get as much opportunity as I'd like to practise on good tracker action organs nowadays.

 

This is where my thoughts lie, I have a good mechanical organ to practice on, but no time to drive over there to use it, so something at home would be useful. The reasoning behind not all enclosed is simple, I would be quite happy to have none of it enclosed, if voiced correctly for the room.

 

Jonathan

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It may amuse people to know that about 35 years ago I saw an advert in the Organ or Musical Opinion that advertised the services of an organ builder - who would be pleased to provide quotations for installations - but added "No practise organs"! :lol:

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It may amuse people to know that about 35 years ago I saw an advert in the Organ or Musical Opinion that advertised the services of an organ builder - who would be pleased to provide quotations for installations - but added "No practise organs"! :lol:

 

Most organ builders today are pleased to offer practise organs, as they know the church work is much slower! I'd be interested to know who it was though!

 

Jonathan

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Despite doing 100 hours a week, I still find time to speculate on what I would do if I were to build an organ at home.

 

Jonathan :lol:

Well some years ago we did this.

 

After a lot of thought the result - which you're welcome to come and play - was:

 

I Chimney Flute 8; Gemshorn 4; 15th 2

II Stopt Diapason 8; Flute 4; Nasard 2 2/3; Recorder 2; Tierce 1 3/5

Ped Bourdon 16; Gedacht 8; Gemshorn 4; 15th 2

Tuned in Niedhart

 

All with suspended action and a two way shove coupler (three positions: ii/i; uncoupled; i/ii)

 

We toyed wth a Regal on I and Ped but decided against it due to the winding complications. Maybe a Cromorne would have worked better. After installation we beefed up the scaling of the recorder from ten C by three notes - it could take even more but that was as much space as there was.

 

Ten years on I would do mostly the same - though I would replace the shove coupler with a coupler manual just to get a third keyboard for practice purposes. We could probably live without the 2' on I, but I would be reluctant to lose the mutations - a set of timbres unique to the organ and not much in evidence locally. Our younger pupils love the sounds.

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Guest Cynic

I won't repeat an account of what I'm doing here, but I accept that not all house organs need to be large. Two (what I consider to be fully successful) schemes I have carried out were as follows:

 

1. Upstairs Bedroom, South London

Two manuals, all mechanical - all enclosed in a simple panelled box, with doors above the music desk to let out more sound

total floor space not much more than a pianola

 

Manual 1

Stopped Diapason 8

 

Manual 2

Gedeckt 8

Salicional 8

Open Flute 4

Fifteenth 2

 

Pedal

no stops, two couplers (by hitch-down pedal)

 

It's given a lot of pleasure. Features of the scheme:

the Stopped Diapason has quite a large-scaled treble (it's a very old stop) and it sings out over 8, 88 or 84 of the other manual.

The most used stop for note-bashing etc. according to the owner is the Ginns Salicional (spotted metal) with borrowed bass. This purrs like the best Bluthner grand played mp.

 

2. Music/Hobby room of a retired translator (and organ-obsessive) near Shrewsbury

Was in use for twenty years, I removed it when the house had to be sold following the owner's sad demise.

Two manuals and pedal, all mechanical. All manual pipework was enclosed with sliding glass panels. It was arranged in the centre of a small, narrow room and as you sat in playing position at the console, you could see right through the fields of pipes and out into the garden beyond,.

 

Manual 1

Stopped Diapason 8

Gemshorn 4

Mixture II (19.22)

Hautboy 8 (Conacher, spotted metal - now in Geoffrey Morgan's House Organ)

 

Manual 2

Chimney Flute 8 (Conacher, spotted metal)

Open Flute 4

Principal 2

Quint 1.1/3

 

Pedal

Bourdon 16

 

Three unison couplers

 

It was designed (mostly) for playing Bach

Everything balanced. The Hautboy was most successful in a variety of roles, the manual I chorus 'worked' despite the missing 2' for much of the compass, I put down this success to the brightness of the Gemshorn rank.

 

The only design flaw, IMHO, was the owner's insistence on a tracker pedal. If he'd gone with electric action, he could have had four pitches of Bourdon and Trio-playing would have been much nicer. There was no room for four (or even two) straight pedal ranks, there would have been room for a Bourdon with a 24 note extension.

 

Jonathan advises us against total enclosure; in this case, the glass panels appeared to do nothing to spoil the tone and they meant that the organ could be played very quietly which removed feelings of guilt if one started up early in the morning or kept playing late into the night.

 

I totally agree that the first stop on any small organ should be a decent, traditional Stopped Diapason. The best ones are like a recorder consort, intimate, singing, full of character.

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Despite doing 100 hours a week, I still find time to speculate on what I would do if I were to build an organ at home. So following on the threads about house organs, and generally what we would desire, here is a bit more of a challenge (well for most people I expect - we haven't all got the same space as Cynic!).

 

The rules!

 

1. Design an organ that you would find of benefit to your own practicing.

2. It should not take up more space than you consider to be reasonably available to you (so if you own Blenheim Palace, there's no problem having 4-manuals and 32' stops, but if you live in a two bedroom flat, I think the 32's unrealistic!)

3. There should be no use of electronic stops.

4. You can use any sort of action.

5. You are not limited by money, so everything can be new.

6. Consequently, you can choose any builder.

Guidance

 

1. I would suspect you need at least two manuals and pedals (but if your sole repertoire is English 18th Century and before you may want a divided one manual with long compass).

2. Unless you have lots of space, I would imagine you would want it on low pressure, so as to be acceptable to the ear.

3. I would counsel against having it fully enclosed or on extension (although this is personal preference).

Well these are my thought, lets see how far people can go and how imaginative they can be, judging by past posts, I suspect we are in for a wealth of imagination.

 

Jonathan :lol:

 

Hi

 

I think I'd go for an early-English style organ. Many of these were rather larger than a single manual - the smaller chamber organs are, in the main, the ones that have survived best, but 2 and even 3 manuals were more common in churches - and at least 2 3-manual jobs survive. One of the Stanley voluntaries demands 3 manuals.

 

Stop list would rather depend on negotiation with the builder, but for a small 2 man I'd probably go for something like:-

 

Great Open Diaps, Stopped Diap, Dulciana, Principal, Flute 4, 12th, 15th, Sesquialtera bass, Cornet mid-C

Choir: more or less the same without the mixture & cornet, but possibnly with a couple of flute mutations for later repertoire

Swell: - undecided - but would have to include an echo cornet & a trumpet - and probably a small-scale 19th Century "full swell" effect

Pedal: Bopurdon 16, Bass Flute 8, Principal 8, flute 4, reed 4 (possibly derived from exiesting manual stops)

 

Manual compass would have to descend to GG, at least on the Great, which could usefully be divided at mid-C. Pedlas probably C-f1, simply because it would have to serve as a practice organ for all repertoire. Tracker action of course, but with a MIDI interface so that it can control Hauptwerk, MidiTzer, etc.

 

Now, that would take up at least half my study - which then raises the question of what to do with the various books and stuff that currently occupy the space. At least the ceiling is 10ft, so not too much mitreing of pipes - but when we retire and move, it could be another story!

 

Still - it's nice to dream!

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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How about this:

 

Great Organ

Stopped Diapason 8

Gemshorn 4

Great Octave

Swell to Great

Swell Octave to Great

 

Swell Organ

Open Flute* 8

Salicional* 8

Octave Flute 4

Cornopean 8

Tremulant

Swell Octave

 

Pedal Organ

Bourdon 16 - Probably not necessary, but 8' flute would have larger scale.

Flute Bass 8 (Ext.)

Octave Flute 4 (Ext.)

Great to Pedal

Swell to Pedal

Swell Octave to Pedal

 

* Bass Octave from Stopped Diapason.

 

Electric Action, with attached drawstop console.

 

All pipework contained on one soundboard (except for bottom of Ped BDN 16-8-4 unit.)

 

I am not sure how tuning of Cornopean would be achieved, since I would want to keep the depth quite small so there would probably not be room for a passage board.

 

The facade would use the GT 4' Gemshorn bass pipes, which would either be tubed off the main chest or have their own action.

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Guest Hector5

We have had four house organs - a single stop 4' Walker, Mander Hoxne Organ (2m), Walker/P&S Box organ, and now a 5 stop German job. None of the organs have really 'done it' for me - simply because of a lack of sonority, and a rather too plentiful supply of much unused upperwork. I've recent experienced a lot of small French organs, some no deeper than the console - but all TOTALLY enclosed in a box (including the pedal 16'). After much thought, this is what I'd like to have:

 

Great - Man I

8 Open Diapason (bottom 12 stopped with helpers)

8 Stopped Diapason

4 Dulcet (similar to the H & H conical job on the old RSCM organ)

2 Flageolet (silvery Father Willis type)

Tremulant

Swell to Great*

Choir to Great*

 

'Swell' - Man II

8 Open Flute (gentle)

8 Viola (broad tone - with bottom few using helpers depending on space)

8 Voix Celeste t.c.

4 Harmonic Flute

2 2/3 Nazard

Tremulant

Suboctave*

 

Choir/Resonance - Man III

16 Bourdon

8 Gedackt

4 Open Flute

8 Hautboy*

Tremulant

Suboctave*

 

Pedal (all from Choir/Resonance)

16 Bourdon

8 Gedackt

4 Open Flute

8 Hautboy

Swell to Pedal*

Great to Pedal*

Choir/Resonance to Pedal*

 

All stops enclosed (yes I know it could be bulky, with as many shutters as possible)

Some flutes using common bases

Mechanical action

Reversible pedals to stops marked*

Re. helpers - Cavaille Coll used them to great effect, even on strings (see Notes Personnelle - Chapuis vol.2), so they're not just a Baroque 'thing'

Independent control for the pedal over the Choir/Resonance stops for flexibility

Maybe just one tremulant for the whole organ............................

 

Goll have produced something similar (see their website)

 

There you have it!

 

Hector

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Guest Cynic
We have had four house organs - a single stop 4' Walker, Mander Hoxne Organ (2m), Walker/P&S Box organ, and now a 5 stop German job. None of the organs have really 'done it' for me - simply because of a lack of sonority, and a rather too plentiful supply of much unused upperwork. I've recent experienced a lot of small French organs, some no deeper than the console - but all TOTALLY enclosed in a box (including the pedal 16'). After much thought, this is what I'd like to have:

 

Great - Man I

8 Open Diapason (bottom 12 stopped with helpers)

8 Stopped Diapason

4 Dulcet (similar to the H & H conical job on the old RSCM organ)

2 Flageolet (silvery Father Willis type)

Tremulant

Swell to Great*

Choir to Great*

 

'Swell' - Man II

8 Open Flute (gentle)

8 Viola (broad tone - with bottom few using helpers depending on space)

8 Voix Celeste t.c.

4 Harmonic Flute

2 2/3 Nazard

Tremulant

Suboctave*

 

Choir/Resonance - Man III

16 Bourdon

8 Gedackt

4 Open Flute

8 Hautboy*

Tremulant

Suboctave*

 

Pedal (all from Choir/Resonance)

16 Bourdon

8 Gedackt

4 Open Flute

8 Hautboy

Swell to Pedal*

Great to Pedal*

Choir/Resonance to Pedal*

 

All stops enclosed (yes I know it could be bulky, with as many shutters as possible)

Some flutes using common bases

Mechanical action

Reversible pedals to stops marked*

Re. helpers - Cavaille Coll used them to great effect, even on strings (see Notes Personnelle - Chapuis vol.2), so they're not just a Baroque 'thing'

Independent control for the pedal over the Choir/Resonance stops for flexibility

Maybe just one tremulant for the whole organ............................

 

Goll have produced something similar (see their website)

 

There you have it!

 

Hector

 

 

I believe I could live with that one.

In particular, Hoorah for your Celestes and Great Open Diapason!

I know exactly what you mean about 'lack of sonority'.

For me, any sort of 'baroque' voicing can be really wearisome at close quarters. Did you get this impression from some of your earlier house organs?

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Most organ builders today are pleased to offer practise organs, as they know the church work is much slower!

Jonathan

 

I have a Peter Collins EOS organ -

 

Man I: Chimney Flute 8, Gemshorn 4

Manual II: Stopped Diapason 8, Fifteenth 2

Pedal: 8-4-2 by transmission

Shove couplers II-I and I-II

Tremulant

 

The cost in 1999 was about the same as a top-level VW Golf and I am very satisfied with it.

 

I think the problem for many builders is that practice organs are not an economic proposition, especially if one-offs, as the cost of the basic infrastructure (keys, action, winding etc) is much the same as for a small church instrument, yet the customer expects to pay less. One way round the problem is to have a standard easily-repeated design, with limited optional extras and with a fair proportion of bought-in components. This formula seems to have worked for Peter Collins who has now built nearly 30 such instruments.

 

JS

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We have had four house organs - a single stop 4' Walker, Mander Hoxne Organ (2m), Walker/P&S Box organ, and now a 5 stop German job. None of the organs have really 'done it' for me - simply because of a lack of sonority, and a rather too plentiful supply of much unused upperwork. I've recent experienced a lot of small French organs, some no deeper than the console - but all TOTALLY enclosed in a box (including the pedal 16'). After much thought, this is what I'd like to have:

 

Great - Man I

8 Open Diapason (bottom 12 stopped with helpers)

8 Stopped Diapason

4 Dulcet (similar to the H & H conical job on the old RSCM organ)

2 Flageolet (silvery Father Willis type)

Tremulant

Swell to Great*

Choir to Great*

 

'Swell' - Man II

8 Open Flute (gentle)

8 Viola (broad tone - with bottom few using helpers depending on space)

8 Voix Celeste t.c.

4 Harmonic Flute

2 2/3 Nazard

Tremulant

Suboctave*

 

Choir/Resonance - Man III

16 Bourdon

8 Gedackt

4 Open Flute

8 Hautboy*

Tremulant

Suboctave*

 

Pedal (all from Choir/Resonance)

16 Bourdon

8 Gedackt

4 Open Flute

8 Hautboy

Swell to Pedal*

Great to Pedal*

Choir/Resonance to Pedal*

 

All stops enclosed (yes I know it could be bulky, with as many shutters as possible)

Some flutes using common bases

Mechanical action

Reversible pedals to stops marked*

Re. helpers - Cavaille Coll used them to great effect, even on strings (see Notes Personnelle - Chapuis vol.2), so they're not just a Baroque 'thing'

Independent control for the pedal over the Choir/Resonance stops for flexibility

Maybe just one tremulant for the whole organ............................

 

Goll have produced something similar (see their website)

 

There you have it!

 

Hector

 

I like this too, but wouldn't be able to fit it in. I do like the work being done by the French builders though.

 

Jonathan

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Guest Patrick Coleman

Swell Organ

Open Flute* 8

Salicional* 8

Octave Flute 4

Cornopean 8

Tremulant

Swell Octave

 

 

How would a Cornopean fit into the tonal scheme?

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I have experience of an actual house organ, when Sir Tatton Sykes (Bart) asked me to look at the proposals for the replacement or possible rebuild of the 3-manual Binns, Fitton and Haley instrument at Sledmere House, nr. Bridlington.(Some house; some house organ!)

 

I'm glad to say that when Principal Organs re-built the instrument, Geoffrey Coffin more or less thought the same way as I did, with the result that the old organ was re-built and improved, rather than being replaced.

 

Obviously, a stately home in the country is a quite different circumstance to more modest dwellings, and in this design, I have used the extension principle as a means of saving space; further assuming that height would be compromised.

 

The whole instrument would need to be very warm in tone, and would not need excessive amounts of upperwork.

 

What I have arrived it, is an instrument on which it would be possible to play a great deal of repertoire, and even repertoire not specifically written for organ, but which has a place in the classical tradition; namely music for harmonium. The idea of having a reed organ "Orchestral" division is not new, and has been done by the German organ-builder Schlag & Soehn in Poland. The great thing about free-reeds, is the way that they can produce great sonority, even in a living-room, and this is what attracted me to the idea.

 

By having free reeds under double expression, it would permit all sorts of interesting pipe/free reed combinations, in much the same way as the familiar German Physharmonica register. The provision of a free-reed 16ft Violone would also add gravity to a pedal organ otherwise restricted to a stopped 16ft bass.

 

The Westmorland Harp is a novelty idea, which would produce a quite dull-sounding percussion voice of some beauty. There is a precedent to this in the natural history museum located, I believe, in Keswick.

 

Here is my paper idea:-

 

ORGAN TOTALLY ENCLOSED

 

 

PEDAL

 

Gedact Bass 16 Unit A

Flute 8 Unit B

Geigen 4 Unit C

Dulzian 16 Ext unit D

Dulzian 8 Ext unit D

Dulzian 4 Ext unit D

 

 

 

MAN 1 (Upper)

 

Rohrflute 8 Unit E

Celeste (AA) 8 Unit F

Salicional 8 Unit G (haskelled bass)

Gemshorn 4 Unit H

Recorder 2 Unit A

Tierce 1.3/5 Unit F

Mixture (19.22) II Unit G (19th)

Unit H (22nd)

 

Dulzian 16 Unit D

Dulzian 8 Unit D

 

MAN 2 (Lower)

 

 

Gedact 8 Unit A

Dulciana 8 Unit I

Geigen Principal 4 Unit C

Rohrflute 4 Unit E

Nazard 2.2/3 Unit G

Picollo 2 Unit A

 

ORCHESTRAL DIVISION (free reeds under double expression)

 

PEDAL

 

Violone 16

Melodic Diapason 8

 

MANUAL 2

 

 

Cor Anglais 8

Melodic Diapason 8

Vox Humana 8

Salicet 4

 

Westmorland Harp - (tuned polished slate blocks)

 

COUPLERS

 

 

Man 1 - Man 2

 

Man 1 to Pedal

Man 2 to Pedal

 

 

 

:lol:

 

MM

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How would a Cornopean fit into the tonal scheme?

 

A very good question...

I was thinking I would probably have this voiced more towards a Hautboy, but whether this would actually be of any use I don't know. Either way I would still like to have a reed in the scheme.

 

JA

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A very good question...

I was thinking I would probably have this voiced more towards a Hautboy, but whether this would actually be of any use I don't know. Either way I would still like to have a reed in the scheme.

 

JA

 

 

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

 

What you need is a Bugle register on 100" pressure, like they have at the San Filippo residence.

 

Uses would include:-

 

1. Shutting up the other-half

2. Acting as dinner-call

3. Emergency alarm (4 mile radius)

4. Alarm clock

5. Testing the hearing of the elderly

6. Waking the dead

 

 

Go for it!

 

:lol:

 

MM

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Guest Hector5
I believe I could live with that one.

In particular, Hoorah for your Celestes and Great Open Diapason!

I know exactly what you mean about 'lack of sonority'.

For me, any sort of 'baroque' voicing can be really wearisome at close quarters. Did you get this impression from some of your earlier house organs?

 

Yes - the I don't think the Mander was really meant for home use. It was an excellent instrument which really 'sang' and beautifully tonally finished. It's just that what I really craved was this je-ne-sais-quoi created by massed foundations, a sort of wrap-around warmth. The upperwork on the Mander and our German job is pretty restrained, but despite this there is a lack of REAL colour that you can only get from independent 8' foundations. The only organ that flies against this theory is the wonderful Shaftoe organ at Ravensden where everything is beautifully restrained - even the tiny Tierce. Our German box organ (5 stops) is a wonderful organ with immaculate voicing/finishing and is really something quite special - and regularly earns it's keep going out on regular hires. I still don't play it that much, and generally the upperwork (2', 1 1/3', 1/2-1') doesn't get much of an outing.

 

I think the secret is in the foundations (see Bicknell's article on this). The Mutin-Cavaille Coll organ at Meursault has only a Montre, Flute Harmonique, and Salicional at 8' pitches, but they are so cleverly scaled and integrated that I have never felt short-changed. Regular practice there has proved just how effective they (and the organ) actually are - even to coping with the D Major Percy Buck Sonata!!!!!

 

I'm curious to learn if people suffer from audio fatigue having to listen to either just one or two flute stops on house organs, regardless of the beauty of the voicing. I think there needs to be a real and distinct contrast in the 8' ranks. I think Christopher Kent has a Wells-kennedy 2m with a Stopped Diapason 8 on one manual and a Dulciana 8 on the other - an organ pared down to the minimum but still reasonably versatile.

 

Hector

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I seem to remember posting this before somewhere but if I were able (which I am not - hence my faithful digital 2 decker) I would like something like this. But with a Dulciana on the Great - even if its bass regions were provided by devious means like 5-1/3's or 4' helpers and a Celeste on the Swell (TC probably) to 'wobble' with the Gemshorn. The two 8s on the Great could form a passable basis for a more robust chorus lacking a true Open Diapason. By the way has anyone here ever played this one?

 

AJJ

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Guest Patrick Coleman

You asked for imagination, and this is what I would still come up with (the same as I suggested last July)

 

Pedal

Open Wood 16 (all up the stairs and and on the landing)

C Bourdon 16 (extended from Swell)

 

Great (in the hallway)

A Open Diapason 8

A Principal 4

A Fifteenth 2

B Clarabella 8

B Wald Flute 4

B Twelfth 2 2/3

 

Swell (in the cellar with shutters under the stairs)

C Stopped Diapason 8

C Lieblich Flute 4

Mixture III

Unda Maris 8

Oboe 8

Trumpet en chamade 8 (over the front door)

 

I am advised by Cynic and others that it isn't practicable, and the Parsonage Board might have something to say about it too, but it would be more turning the house into an organ than putting an organ in the house.

 

However, Bertha is only on the other side of the lawn, so why would I want an organ in the house anyway?

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I covet this one: http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=D02003

 

I particularly like the "short octave" stop. Rather clever on a tracker instrument, I'd have thought.

 

Hi

 

Yes - it does look interesting. I've come across genuine short octaves, but never a device like this. No doubt it has its uses in repertoire that's written for short octave keyboards.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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