Jump to content
Mander Organs
Guest Cynic

Set Free

Recommended Posts

Guest Cynic

I have been told how these new pistons are supposed to work. If everything works according to plan, they are a clever idea, enabling the player to choose whether some stops remain unaffected by pistons - the sort of stops that might receive special treatment in this way would be Great to Pedal Pistons or inter-manual couplers.

 

Anyway, I was tangling with a newish console with lavish piston provision including SET FREE and 99 memories on Wednesday.....once the organist had gone, to my horror I found that every department piston (on every settable memory) seemed to have coupler adding/cancelling attributes too, quite distressing when one is in 'three hours to prepare an evening recital' mode! Whatever I tried, involving setter piston, general cancel etc. I could not 'set free' SET FREE affected stops. As usual, I was locked in the church and had no phone. I realise that this situation was down to 'operator error' or rather my ignorance of a new and important development. Well, in the event I got by but.........

 

Please may I have a clear explanation from someone who knows, once this fancy gadget has been applied, how can the player remove/modify its effects assuming one wanted the console to behave normally?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I have been told how these new pistons are supposed to work. If everything works according to plan, they are a clever idea, enabling the player to choose whether some stops remain unaffected by pistons - the sort of stops that might receive special treatment in this way would be Great to Pedal Pistons or inter-manual couplers.

 

Anyway, I was tangling with a newish console with lavish piston provision including SET FREE and 99 memories on Wednesday.....once the organist had gone, to my horror I found that every department piston (on every settable memory) seemed to have coupler adding/cancelling attributes too, quite distressing when one is in 'three hours to prepare an evening recital' mode! Whatever I tried, involving setter piston, general cancel etc. I could not 'set free' SET FREE affected stops. As usual, I was locked in the church and had no phone. I realise that this situation was down to 'operator error' or rather my ignorance of a new and important development. Well, in the event I got by but.........

 

Please may I have a clear explanation from someone who knows, once this fancy gadget has been applied, how can the player remove/modify its effects assuming one wanted the console to behave normally?

 

 

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

 

 

There's always the sledge-hammer solution!

 

Does anyone remeber those days, when technology was basic....nay...primitive?

 

We had bits of bent wire on H, N & B consoles, and nice little toggle switches on Walkers; often behind the music desk. (They were great to keep one occupied during the sermon). Everything could be set on - off or neutral, and life was simple, and flexible and logical and obvious.

 

Then "they" came along with their Nintendo tricks....computerised this and computerised that, flashing lights, LED's, sequencers, touch-sensitive what nots, keys with hall-effect generators built into them, hard-disc memory etc etc.

 

I'm not a musical Luddite or anything, but the only sound better than organ-pipes or the repetitive slurping and guggling of a private oil-well, would be that happy sound of wood splintering, as a sledgehammer smashed it's way through modern MDF and circuit-boards.

 

Call me traditional!

 

:mellow:

 

MM

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have played a couple of Austin organs in the USA where the pistons operated the couplers as well as the stop keys. I discovered by trial and error that you had to set each piston by holding it in and flipping down the stop keys that you wanted to set. I could not find any neutral option. The problem was that if you were playing on, say, the Great 8' Open coupled to Full Swell and wanted to reduce the Swell to 8' + 4' Principals by pressing a Swell piston, the Great to Pedal coupler would disengage. The only way of preventing it doing this was to include it on the Swell piston. But then when you were playing on the Swell and pressed this piston the Gt to Ped would suddenly engage as well! I think I ended up setting Sw to Gt and Sw to Ped on all pistons and Gt to Ped on most. Inconvenient to say the least.

 

And as for auto-wipers, just don't get me started! :mellow:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Cynic, My heart goes out to you...

 

Set free pistons ? This sounds like a Solid State Logic Piston System with SCOPE facility.

 

The idea behind scope pistons is that any piston can, in effect, be thought of as a General Piston. One can decide at the console which pistons should work which stops. To do this, there should be provided a button or switch marked SCOPE. So the method would proceed something like this :

 

(For argument's sake, let's assume you wish to set Great Thumb Pistons)

Press SCOPE button to switch it ON

Draw ALL the GREAT speaking stops

Press & hold SET button...press each Great thumb piston in turn

Release SET button

Press SCOPE button to switch it OFF

 

Now the Great thumb pistons will only work the Great stops and combinations can be set in the usual way.

 

(Now let's assume you wish the Great thumb pistons to act as General pistons)

 

Press SCOPE to ON

Draw every stop on the organ, including couplers

Press & hold SET...press each Great piston in turn

Release SET

Press SCOPE to OFF

 

Now the Great thumb pistons will be generals affecting all stops/couplers

 

To find out the 'scope' of a piston

 

Press SCOPE to ON

press a thumb piston

whichever stops come on are the ones within that piston's 'scope'.

Press GEN CAN

check the next piston to see what moves

GEN CAN

etc.

Press SCOPE to OFF

 

If only one stop is assigned (scoped) to one piston, it is usually interpreted as being a reversible.

 

With SSL capture actions, it is possible to set the piston scope differently on each memory channel, so it is probably wisest to keep some channels with pistons that work in the conventional manner. Personally, where I have fitted SCOPE enabled systems, I have put the SCOPE button tucked away discreetly, so that the uninitiated cannot accidentally cause mayhem !

 

There is a way of copying the scope settings of one memory channel to another, but we'll save that for another day.

 

I hope that's cleared that up. Sounds more complicated in writing than it is to execute. If you can't find the SCOPE button, you're stuffed !

 

H

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the SCOPE system has been around for about 10 years or so. I'm pleased never to have come across it. Whilst I understand it allows any piston to be used as a General piston, I'm a firm believer in the KISS principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid!) and am glad never to have come across one.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I have played a couple of Austin organs in the USA where the pistons operated the couplers as well as the stop keys. I discovered by trial and error that you had to set each piston by holding it in and flipping down the stop keys that you wanted to set. I could not find any neutral option. The problem was that if you were playing on, say, the Great 8' Open coupled to Full Swell and wanted to reduce the Swell to 8' + 4' Principals by pressing a Swell piston, the Great to Pedal coupler would disengage. The only way of preventing it doing this was to include it on the Swell piston. But then when you were playing on the Swell and pressed this piston the Gt to Ped would suddenly engage as well! I think I ended up setting Sw to Gt and Sw to Ped on all pistons and Gt to Ped on most. Inconvenient to say the least.

 

That reminds me of an organ on which I gave a recital many years ago. It was a H&H of a similar vintage to Coventry, but not in the same league alas. It was one of these where all the piston settings were set by buttons on a big switch board (On, Off, or Neutral - and couldn't Neutral be useful at times (the one advantage this had over the standard systems of today)). Unfortunately, the pistons also operated the couplers and the organist had these set differently on different pistons and not left on Neutral. He was quite forceful in telling me he didn't want his pistons changing, so I had a very interesting time of different couplers popping out at different times during the rehearsal. However, I did change them for the recital as this was just impossible, picked up my fee at the end, and scarpered before he found out!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I think the SCOPE system has been around for about 10 years .......I'm a firm believer in the KISS principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid!) and am glad never to have come across one.

 

 

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

 

Absolutely!

 

The simple design of a sledge-hammer has never changed.

 

;)

 

MM

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
==============================

 

Absolutely!

 

The simple design of a sledge-hammer has never changed.

 

;)

 

MM

 

:lol:

 

I remember an occasion a few months ago. It was the evening before I gave a recital at York Minster. JSW spent about 10 minutes explaining to me how to set up the sequencer. After his explanation, he said that he was sure that it was a waste of his time trying to explain it because no visiting recitalist ever used it because it was complex to understand and he thought I would probably be just as baffled as everybody else. He was absolutely right! ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
That reminds me of an organ on which I gave a recital many years ago. It was a H&H of a similar vintage to Coventry, but not in the same league alas. It was one of these where all the piston settings were set by buttons on a big switch board (On, Off, or Neutral - and couldn't Neutral be useful at times (the one advantage this had over the standard systems of today)). Unfortunately, the pistons also operated the couplers and the organist had these set differently on different pistons and not left on Neutral. He was quite forceful in telling me he didn't want his pistons changing, so I had a very interesting time of different couplers popping out at different times during the rehearsal. However, I did change them for the recital as this was just impossible, picked up my fee at the end, and scarpered before he found out!

 

I had a situation like this a couple of weeks ago when I played the organ (with setter board) at a local church for a school concert.

The organists seem to insist on having the couplers set on the pistons which I find really annoying.

Ten minutes before the concert I had to write down all the settings, just so I could set them to what I wanted and then setting them back afterwards!

Even then when I've been back to the church I've found pistons that I didn't set exactly back to what the should be (like Gt 5 with the 8' flute added), but do I really care?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I had a situation like this a couple of weeks ago when I played the organ (with setter board) at a local church for a school concert.

The organists seem to insist on having the couplers set on the pistons which I find really annoying.

Ten minutes before the concert I had to write down all the settings, just so I could set them to what I wanted and then setting them back afterwards!

Even then when I've been back to the church I've found pistons that I didn't set exactly back to what the should be (like Gt 5 with the 8' flute added), but do I really care?

 

Something very similar happened to me last Sunday evening acting as the visiting organist at a Leeds church, where the build up of the great pistons was unusual to say the least. The mixture came on about piston 4, but went off on 5, various couplers came and went for no apparent reason - well, not apparent to me. The swell was even worse: full swell only went up to the oboe (there was a cornopean, in tune, not set on any piston) and one of the softer settings included the tremulant! It really did! To be honest it was a nightmare; I couldn't find out how to re-set the things (lack of time), so had to resort to hand registration as the only option. R.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Something very similar happened to me last Sunday evening acting as the visiting organist at a Leeds church, where the build up of the great pistons was unusual to say the least. The mixture came on about piston 4, but went off on 5, various couplers came and went for no apparent reason - well, not apparent to me. The swell was even worse: full swell only went up to the oboe (there was a cornopean, in tune, not set on any piston) and one of the softer settings included the tremulant! It really did! To be honest it was a nightmare; I couldn't find out how to re-set the things (lack of time), so had to resort to hand registration as the only option. R.

 

Well OK, I can understand the logic of being able to control the tremulant on a Swell piston. On my own organ I've sent one of the generals to include swell trem for peices like the bit in the middle of Guillmant 1 that requires vox humana and tremulant. But I agreed, and said on an earlier post, how irritating it was, faced with an unfamiliar organ, to have piston settings doing seemingly random things. Oh that in this day and age of digital technology and mjulti-level caupture systems, why can't we have even one piston level, by convention, standardised across the organ world, and the settings for each organ published on each organ's website so visiting organists know immediately what pistons do what?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Something very similar happened to me last Sunday evening acting as the visiting organist at a Leeds church, where the build up of the great pistons was unusual to say the least. The mixture came on about piston 4, but went off on 5, various couplers came and went for no apparent reason - well, not apparent to me. The swell was even worse: full swell only went up to the oboe (there was a cornopean, in tune, not set on any piston) and one of the softer settings included the tremulant! It really did! To be honest it was a nightmare; I couldn't find out how to re-set the things (lack of time), so had to resort to hand registration as the only option. R.

 

 

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

 

 

Perhaps the regular organist is a theatre-organ man.

 

I find theatre-organ piston-settings quite bizarre, and the last time I played one in public, I reset the pistons as I would a conventional church-organ ie: pp to ff, with the accompaniment-manual pistons set less powerful, so that no 3 (for instance), was supported by no.3 accompaniment etc.

 

On the Solo, it was possible to set all sorts of special sounds, such as Trumpets and Xylophone, for the percussive splashes of sound, and other equally individual registrations, but still pp to ff, as a matter of logic.

 

The interesting thing was, that having set these to a spare "memory," one of the regulars said to me, "Oh! That's a good idea. I don't think anyone's ever tried that sort of set-up before."

 

It's a different world altogether!

 

On the other hand, the regular organist may be completely clueless.

 

MM

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
==============================

Perhaps the regular organist is a theatre-organ man.

 

I find theatre-organ piston-settings quite bizarre, and the last time I played one in public, I reset the pistons as I would a conventional church-organ ie: pp to ff, with the accompaniment-manual pistons set less powerful, so that no 3 (for instance), was supported by no.3 accompaniment etc.

 

On the Solo, it was possible to set all sorts of special sounds, such as Trumpets and Xylophone, for the percussive splashes of sound, and other equally individual registrations, but still pp to ff, as a matter of logic.

 

The interesting thing was, that having set these to a spare "memory," one of the regulars said to me, "Oh! That's a good idea. I don't think anyone's ever tried that sort of set-up before."

 

It's a different world altogether!

 

On the other hand, the regular organist may be completely clueless.

 

MM

 

Two interesting and contrasting theories there MM; I'm certain one of them is correct, but discretion of course forbids me to say which...but no prizes for guessing!!!

 

R.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ten minutes before the concert I had to write down all the settings, just so I could set them to what I wanted and then setting them back afterwards!

this is why your mobile phone needs a camera on it...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
this is why your mobile phone needs a camera on it...

 

Good idea. My mobile phone does have a camera on it but being 3 yrs old now it doesn't take very good pictures.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Oh that in this day and age of digital technology and mjulti-level caupture systems, why can't we have even one piston level, by convention, standardised across the organ world, and the settings for each organ published on each organ's website so visiting organists know immediately what pistons do what?

 

Uhh... you mean the anglo-american world?

There are some hundreds of very fine instruments of the electric era without divisional pistons, not to mention earlier instruments. From abroad, it looks a little like a system-immanent problem, that a visiting organist expects a certain manner of combinations at an organ. To me, expecting such standard combinations expresses the use of saving preparation time for concerts or services, by the visiting organist as well as by the resident organist, who does not allow the guest to change his pistons.

There was much discussion here about sequencers and traditional pistons. Speaking with the words of Albert Schweitzer, who appealed to combine the best of french and german console design, I'd like to find both systems* in one organ, as it does not increase the cost of the combination that much. I'd like to refer to Magdeburg cathedral or Hamburg St. Petri, where this has been done recently.

 

*) To be true, one should speak about THREE systems: German Setzerkombination/Sequenzer, french Appels d'anches, english divisional combinators. It could be done an a modern console of a large organ. But I want to confirm what some have already written here:

There should always be an operational mode, i. e. console layout/design, which allows EVERYBODY who has succesfully played any other organ in the world, to start making music immediately, without checking any user's manuals...

And for the guests with anglo-american training one could provide that desired "traditional" channel, whatever it should look like, including wewbsite preview... (The electronic keyboard world was succesful in establishing the GM General MIDI standard of tone colours...)

 

Greetings!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Cynic

Valuable and interesting as all these various replies are, nobody has come back with an answer so far as I can see.

Surely someone on our site knows about this gadget and how to work it!

 

Maybe I should contact Musicom direct and ask them....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry that I cannot help you, Cynic, on the Set Free problem, but I just wanted to add my tuppeny worth on SCOPE.

 

I onlyonce played an organ with a SCOPE system, and hated every minute.

 

In theory, it is brilliant because you can programme any piston to do anything you want, so the piston for exactly the right combination is under your hand at exactly the right position when you want it.

 

In practice, you are left with a console with too many pistons, each one of which has a competely random setting.

 

I found that when setting up my combinations, I quickly forgot which pistons were already set, and which were free, whilst when playing the piece in performance, was never quite sure which piston to press next.

 

At least with general pistons you work through a clearly logical system whcih exactly matches your progress through the piece. If you can add a stepper to a multi - channel system you have, for my money, the perfect balance of simplicity, logic and sophistication.

 

Of course, the other point to make is that the one organ I played with SCOPE (which had better remain nameless) was a complete and utter heap, which did not help matters.

 

M

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Cynic

Just to keep you all posted, I wrote to Musicom Ltd. who made and installed the piston system which boasted this special gadget more than a week ago now. Maybe they've forgotten how it works too, because they have not replied to my enquiry. You'd think that they might want the publicity/potential business wouldn't you!

 

I will try a knowledgeable organ-builder next.

If I get an intelligible response I promise to pass it on via this column.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
==============================

There's always the sledge-hammer solution!

 

Does anyone remeber those days, when technology was basic....nay...primitive?

 

We had bits of bent wire on H, N & B consoles, and nice little toggle switches on Walkers; often behind the music desk. (They were great to keep one occupied during the sermon). Everything could be set on - off or neutral, and life was simple, and flexible and logical and obvious.

 

Then "they" came along with their Nintendo tricks....computerised this and computerised that, flashing lights, LED's, sequencers, touch-sensitive what nots, keys with hall-effect generators built into them, hard-disc memory etc etc.

 

I'm not a musical Luddite or anything, but the only sound better than organ-pipes or the repetitive slurping and guggling of a private oil-well, would be that happy sound of wood splintering, as a sledgehammer smashed it's way through modern MDF and circuit-boards.

 

Call me traditional!

 

:)

 

MM

When was a child, my father would sometimes play the Walker organ in the Barking Baptist Tabernacle and I would often go along too. As a small boy intrigued by all things electrical, I was absolutely fascinated by those little toggle switches. I was pleased to discover that the NPOR entry for this organ has some rather nice pictures of them.

 

Best wishes

 

PF

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Cynic
Just to keep you all posted, I wrote to Musicom Ltd. who made and installed the piston system which boasted this special gadget more than a week ago now.

 

snip

 

Here is the answer as kindly supplied by Musicom:

 

Dear Paul,

 

Perhaps the following usage instructions will explain further ....?

 

1. Having set a combination into a piston(s) that you wish to to set the stop(s) free under (e.g. General Piston 4), press that piston to bring on the set stops.

2. Change the state (i.e. if ON push OFF or vice-versa) of the stop or group of stops you wish to set free from the control of this piston.

3. Press and hold in the SET FREE piston.

4. Whilst holding in the SET FREE piston, press the desired piston that the free functionality is to be added to (e.g. General Piston 4).

5. Release the set free piston and the selected piston (e.g. General Piston 4).

 

To reverse this function on a particular piston, simply re-set that piston using the normal set piston. The SET FREE function is then cancelled.

 

 

 

Best wishes,

 

Doug Levey

 

 

 

I only have one problem with this, which is I am quite sure I tried in the way described here without anything changing, but (human error etc.) maybe I didn't.

Technology!!! I will certainly experiment next time I sit next to one of these gadgets, assuming I have time to spare!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks to this thread, when I gave a recital at the end of last month on an organ with such a system, I was able to understand it and program the pistons for my concert. I had not previously encountered such a system. Thank you all for your contributions and for the original question. (I can justify the time I spend following this forum to my wife, now!) The incumbent, only installed a couple of months ago, still hadn't worked out how the system was meant to work and was relying on what was already set, while complaining about some of the combinations.

 

Murphy's law. In the final run through, the night before the recital, the system stopped moving between the various levels and was stuck on the first level. Fortunately, the first 20 minutes was taken by four compositions of Rheinberger (= minimal registration change), but I was also performing a substantial, new Australian composition and this then required reworking of the registration so it could be done by hand. That meant an unexpected late night before the recital. Pech!

 

Another fault in an electronic system crippling an organ, I'm afraid.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...