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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


Jonathan Lane

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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

:blink:

 

MM

 

Hi

 

Why not also install harmonium tredles for the free reed section, with an "Expression" stop, and really make the most of their versatility?

 

I suspect that a manul 16ft in this division would be useful. 16fts appear very early in reed organ stop lists - they gaive some weight, and tend to counteract the otherwise very bright, treble sound of reeds.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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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?

 

Hi

 

I have the same issues with building ownership - plus the fact that we're on 1st & 2nd floors - the ground floor now being the church, so weight would also be a potential problem, as well as space. The church organ is only downstairs - but it's a single manual, GG compass chamber organ, with C-compass pedal pull downs, and rather limited for practicing serious repertoire beyond the "note bashing" stage - and it takes a few minutes to get to it during the week, as the building is multi-purpose, and the organ is "barricaded off" during the weeks to keep the toddle group's sticky fingers away - not to mention things that they might throw - we've already had a front pipe dented within a month of it going back in after restoration.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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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.

John told me that he came across a similar device on an organ in (eastern?) Europe and told Bill Drake, "I want one of those!" and Bill said he thought he could come up with something better - which he did.

 

It's obviously useful when practising for recitals on historic organs. It also means that, if you can stretch the tenth from, say, F sharp to A, you play the twelfth from D to A. There's a delightful manuals only canzona by Buxtehude that requires this. There's some Spanish music too with similar stretches - and no doubt much else. Without the short octave you have no option but to couple down the pedals to help out at these points. That's no big deal, of course, but there's something satisfying about playing short octave pieces as they were intended.

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Hi

 

Why not also install harmonium tredles for the free reed section, with an "Expression" stop, and really make the most of their versatility?

 

I suspect that a manul 16ft in this division would be useful. 16fts appear very early in reed organ stop lists - they gaive some weight, and tend to counteract the otherwise very bright, treble sound of reeds.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

 

 

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

 

 

I think the Rev T knows a lot more than I do about harmonium reeds and things.

 

How would he draw up a list of appropriate free-reed stops for my spec?

 

The point about weight (gravity) is interesting, because I often used to play a large R & D reed organ in the home of a local organ-enthusiast, and whilst it had nothing like the quality of Mustel (etc), there was real depth to the sound, even in a normal living-room. This is what attracted me to the idea of free-reeds in a home organ, where 16ft opens are not usually an option.

 

If the free-reeds were good enough, it would be possible I think, to drop the Dulzian unit. I just happen to like Dulzians if they're well voiced.

 

MM

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

I think the Rev T knows a lot more than I do about harmonium reeds and things.

 

How would he draw up a list of appropriate free-reed stops for my spec?

 

The point about weight (gravity) is interesting, because I often used to play a large R & D reed organ in the home of a local organ-enthusiast, and whilst it had nothing like the quality of Mustel (etc), there was real depth to the sound, even in a normal living-room. This is what attracted me to the idea of free-reeds in a home organ, where 16ft opens are not usually an option.

 

If the free-reeds were good enough, it would be possible I think, to drop the Dulzian unit. I just happen to like Dulzians if they're well voiced.

 

MM

 

Hi

 

No time to go into detail now - I'm off to church in a few minutes. Personally, I'd consider the "normal" French Harmonium stop list (complete with divided stops) - but then I play the repertoire for that instrument.

 

Another option - well worth considering, is to use free reeds in resonators - a few up-market organs were built like this - the Vocalian system. It tends to take the harshness out of the tone, perhaps giving a better blend with pipes.

 

I see no reason why you couldn't use a suitable free-reed stop in place of the Dulzian. The issue (the same as mixing pipes and electronics) is the pitch change of pipes with temperature, but in a house organ that's probably not too much of an issue.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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I see no reason why you couldn't use a suitable free-reed stop in place of the Dulzian.

Can you get them to speak quickly? I don't know much about free reeds, but von Beckerath's Clarinet at Marlborough College is quite sluggish. Depends whether you want prompt speech, of course. Personally I would.

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Can you get them to speak quickly? I don't know much about free reeds, but von Beckerath's Clarinet at Marlborough College is quite sluggish. Depends whether you want prompt speech, of course. Personally I would.

 

Free-reed stops start with the fundamental tone first, and then the partials.

With beating reeds this is the reverse.

But as far as speech is concerned, there is absolutely no difference.

The attacks are not the same, indeed, but this is another matter, and explains

why it is interesting to have both kind of solo reed stops.

 

To have bound the mellow attacks of free-reeds with slugginess was a manipulation

of mind from the neobarokkies, who wanted to have this "disturbing" family of

stops simply "deleted" from the history, as it was "wrong".

 

Pierre

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I thought the challenge specifically banned us from using digital stops, in which case free reeds would be sailing pretty close to the wind as I thought harmoniums were the pre-electronic answer to electronic organs in people's houses...but having played some of the incredible instruments in the Saltaire harmonium museum including a free-reed replica of how the organ in York Minster used to be I can see why you'd maybe want free reeds in a home organ. But does anyone still make harmoniums?

 

Anyway, for those of you yearning for three manuals but worried about the space, it IS possible to build a three manual tracker organ, complete with 16 foot pedal, in a case not a lot bigger than a piano. I actually played this one in its original home in the late Mr Armstrong's bungalow and can vouch that it does exist (though apparently now elsewhere).

 

http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=N01165

 

Case:

http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/PSearch...N01165&no=1

 

Spec: Choir 8 2 1/1/3 Gt 8 8 Sw 8 4 Ped 16.

 

Tracker to two manuals, pedals and third electric. Quite how he packed everything in is a mystery to me, but he did it!

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"I thought harmoniums were the pre-electronic answer to electronic organs in people's houses..."

(Quote)

 

Well...

The harmonium is a work of art, despite having mainly be used in houses !

And as free-reeds are built again, new harmoniums could just wait next door.

Suffice an awakening market for that...

 

Pierre

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Can you get them to speak quickly? I don't know much about free reeds, but von Beckerath's Clarinet at Marlborough College is quite sluggish. Depends whether you want prompt speech, of course. Personally I would.

 

'Didn't realise this was a free reed.

 

AJJ

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'Didn't realise this was a free reed.

Nor did I originally, but it most certainly is.

 

Not the slighest trace of slugginess there (free-reed Klarinette)

But with music at that speed you wouldn't hear it if it was sluggish! :) Can it cope with rapid repeated notes?

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Nor did I originally, but it most certainly is.

But with music at that speed you wouldn't hear it if it was sluggish! :) Can it cope with rapid repeated notes?

 

Of course it can. But who would want to play "tatatituta-tatata" on such a beautiful stop ? It is made

for dramatic, tender, deep music, not virtuosity in fast passages. There are other stops for that.

 

Pierre

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I thought the challenge specifically banned us from using digital stops, in which case free reeds would be sailing pretty close to the wind as I thought harmoniums were the pre-electronic answer to electronic organs in people's houses...

 

 

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

 

 

I almost choked to death on a piece of apple when I read this! (Sorry to disappoint! :) )

 

The interesting thing about the harmonium, is the fact that we all brought up to regard it as an "Aunt Alice" sort of instrument; with immediate imagery of felt hats, shawls and ostrich-feathers.

 

The reality is somewhat different, as I have only discovered in the past four years or so.

 

There is some stupendous repertoire for the harmonium, with contributions from a number of MAJOR composers; one of whom is Rossini. I'm not sure who wrote it, but there is an absolutely virtuosic "Fandango" for the instrument, which is terrifyingly exciting. Guilmant and Cesar Franck wrote for the instrument, and a recent discovery has been the absolutely fantastic manuals-only organ/harmonium writing of the 19th century Hungarian composer, Ferenc Kutor. (The best of which are actually worthy of recital inclusion as organ works).

 

I did once discover some wonderful mp3 links to harmonium music, but I've since lost them.

 

Does anyone have any such links?

 

Of course, in theoretically choosing free-reeds to grace a home pipe-organ, I was not only aware of German precedent in Poland, I also had in mind the beautiful timbres of Mustel harmoniums; those with a rich, dark sound, which seem to grow and develop harmonically with sustained notes.

 

Of course, the other advantage is that you can invite Indian friends around for curry, and let THEM entertain YOU! :P

 

MM

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

I almost choked to death on a piece of apple when I read this! (Sorry to disappoint! :) )

 

The interesting thing about the harmonium, is the fact that we all brought up to regard it as an "Aunt Alice" sort of instrument; with immediate imagery of felt hats, shawls and ostrich-feathers.

 

The reality is somewhat different, as I have only discovered in the past four years or so.

 

There is some stupendous repertoire for the harmonium, with contributions from a number of MAJOR composers; one of whom is Rossini. I'm not sure who wrote it, but there is an absolutely virtuosic "Fandango" for the instrument, which is terrifyingly exciting. Guilmant and Cesar Franck wrote for the instrument, and a recent discovery has been the absolutely fantastic manuals-only organ/harmonium writing of the 19th century Hungarian composer, Ferenc Kutor. (The best of which are actually worthy of recital inclusion as organ works).

 

I did once discover some wonderful mp3 links to harmonium music, but I've since lost them.

 

Does anyone have any such links?

 

Of course, in theoretically choosing free-reeds to grace a home pipe-organ, I was not only aware of German precedent in Poland, I also had in mind the beautiful timbres of Mustel harmoniums; those with a rich, dark sound, which seem to grow and develop harmonically with sustained notes.

 

Of course, the other advantage is that you can invite Indian friends around for curry, and let THEM entertain YOU! :P

 

MM

 

I don't thin I would exclude harmoniums, but I suspect they were not really what I was thinking of when I set the task. I have heard some fantastic one and two manual harmoniums.

 

Jonathan

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I don't thin I would exclude harmoniums, but I suspect they were not really what I was thinking of when I set the task. I have heard some fantastic one and two manual harmoniums.

 

Jonathan

 

The 19th/early 20th Century French organ or harmonium repertoire contains some very interesting music including of course Vierne (both L. and R.) and on to Langlais. There is even a volume 'in the style' with pieces by Langlais and Hakim ('Expressions'). I play quite a few pieces of this sort on the organ - many work well on the sort of village machine that I have to deal with. I have never tried any of it on a harmonium though - I am afraid I am not a great fan - they remind me of country parishes I used to visit as a teenager - usually played by a very old person who smelled of moth balls! (And before anyone leaps in - yes I have heard decent ones - Ann Page's recordings and numerous perfomances of the Rossini PMS.)

 

AJJ

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Free-reed stops start with the fundamental tone first, and then the partials.

With beating reeds this is the reverse.

But as far as speech is concerned, there is absolutely no difference.

The attacks are not the same, indeed, but this is another matter, and explains

why it is interesting to have both kind of solo reed stops.

 

To have bound the mellow attacks of free-reeds with slugginess was a manipulation

of mind from the neobarokkies, who wanted to have this "disturbing" family of

stops simply "deleted" from the history, as it was "wrong".

 

Pierre

 

Hi

 

And if you need real promptness of speech, then a set of hammers to start the reed vibrating will do the trick - it's the standard "percussion" arrangement on quality harmoniums.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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I thought the challenge specifically banned us from using digital stops, in which case free reeds would be sailing pretty close to the wind as I thought harmoniums were the pre-electronic answer to electronic organs in people's houses...but having played some of the incredible instruments in the Saltaire harmonium museum including a free-reed replica of how the organ in York Minster used to be I can see why you'd maybe want free reeds in a home organ. But does anyone still make harmoniums?

 

Hi

 

From the late 1800's through till about 1950 some firms did build reed organs that were intended either as "practice organs" or pipe-organ substitutes - just like the electronics of these times. But that said, the true reed organ is a rather different instrument - especially the Harmonium (pressure reed organ), which has its own repertoire.

 

Many of these - and many more of the related "American organ" (suction reed organ) did end up in churches - and in many French churches a Harmonium was used as an "Orgue de Choeur" - but there's more to the reed organ than an inferior substitute for pipes.

 

I will be playing at the museum at Saltaire during the Saltaire festival - demonstrating some of the variety of reed organs - and I will (hopefully) include some Karg-Elart this year. I'll post details when I know times, etc.

 

Indian Harmoniums (a seperate development from the European folding instruments taken to Asia by missionaries) are still made in large numbers. These are hand-blown, with 1-3 ranks of reeds, plus sometimes a selection of drones (to substitute for a seperate "shuti box") - prices range from about £30-£300+ - there's a specialist shop in Southall (West of London) - and I think that Bombay stores here in Bradford stock them - as did the late, lamented Woods music shop. The hand blowing means that you only play with one hand - unless, as I have seen done - you rig up a chord operated by a bass drum pedal to work the bellows (I've seen that done).

 

Pearl River in China is making a few reed organs - manily 4-octave, 2 rank folders. The Early Music Shop here in Bradford imports them - cost is around the £500 mark. Tonally, they are no match for the quality of European or American-made reed organs. There are occaisional rumours of an Italian firm making a few reed organs, but I've not come across any firm evidence.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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"I thought harmoniums were the pre-electronic answer to electronic organs in people's houses..."

(Quote)

 

Well...

The harmonium is a work of art, despite having mainly be used in houses !

And as free-reeds are built again, new harmoniums could just wait next door.

Suffice an awakening market for that...

 

Pierre

 

Hi

 

I've heard of a "new" harmonium currently under construction by a Dutch builder - a one-off and I hate to think what it will cost.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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In the Orgelpark in Amsterdam, the instrument collection includes a Mustel harmonium. Concerts are played regularly on it, (Anne Page has performed for instance). The most astonishing thing I heard was a programme of Karg-Elert original compositions and transcriptions for harmonium played by the chairman of the Karg-Elert Foundation, Johannes Matthias Michel. Some of the larger pieces are incredible (he played a tone poem about hunting that lasted around a 1/4 of an hour, the second harmonium sonata is even more than 1/2 an hour!). He is presently recording all the Karg-Elert harmonium pieces for cpo.

 

If I have time I will try to design a house organ later...

 

:)

 

Bazuin

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During a fairly protracted period of agonising whether to buy an electronic organ I saw a couple of times on Ebay a two manual and pedal practice harmonium made by Rushworth and Dreapers and was sorely tempted to bid, except that I knew it wouldn't get through my front door. Whether the new owner sold it quickly afterwards or whether there are several of these things still in existence that appear on Ebay now and then, I don't know.

 

But it does raise some interesting issues. Does the expertise, and materials, exist to build a fully reed-driven home practice organ rather than a pipe organ, if I so wanted to? I might be wrong, but I can't imagine many pipe organ builders would be wildly enthused if I approached them to build me a complete stand-alone console just so i could plug in some electronics and have a digital practice organ. Who these days has the know-how to build a home practice organ-replacement harmonium (ie at least two manuals, pedals, pipe organ compass), and how would the cost compare to a small home pipe organ or a toaster?

 

Probably hopelessly off topic , but I love the way discussions on this forum develop!

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Interesting question indeed, Contra-Bombarde.

What I can say is the members of my french forum are very

fond of harmoniums as practice organs. They discuss how to

find the hidden treasures in the most remote corners, how to

restore and maintain them.

One of them brought one from abroad in his Peugeot 205....

http://i45.servimg.com/u/f45/11/35/02/03/001_ar10.jpg

 

We could imagine hybrid instruments Harmonium+ Open and stopped

Diapason with extensions :Bourdon 16-8-4, O.D.8-4. This could work

more than well...

 

Pierre

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