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Reeds In The Higher Registers


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I hope members won't mind a simple question the answer to which I should know, and probably once did...

 

Taking the example of a 4' manual reed stop, I recall learning during my days of taking organ lessons that at some point towards the top end of the register it becomes impractical for very short reed pipes to be constructed. At that point, what happens? Does my memory serve me correctly if I say that flue pipes are used, these being voiced to produce similar harmonics to reeds?

 

I'd be grateful for a memory jogger.

 

P

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I hope members won't mind a simple question the answer to which I should know, and probably once did...

 

Taking the example of a 4' manual reed stop, I recall learning during my days of taking organ lessons that at some point towards the top end of the register it becomes impractical for very short reed pipes to be constructed. At that point, what happens? Does my memory serve me correctly if I say that flue pipes are used, these being voiced to produce similar harmonics to reeds?

 

I'd be grateful for a memory jogger.

 

P

 

Commonly, reeds will go as high as g 56 for an 8ft rank, with flue pipes thereafter, voiced brightly.

 

I do know of one Clarion 4ft by Marcussen, which breaks back to 8ft pitch in the treble, instead oof just continuing up in flues, which struck me as quite a good idea.

 

H

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I understand that, at the top end where flues are often used, there may be two or three flue pipes for each note. I should be interested to know whether these are tuned in unison or, perhaps, in thirds in order to sound more 'reedy'.

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I understand that, at the top end where flues are often used, there may be two or three flue pipes for each note. I should be interested to know whether these are tuned in unison or, perhaps, in thirds in order to sound more 'reedy'.

Generally flue pipes are used at the top end. I've never come across them tuned in thirds, though, and normally it's just one pipe per note.

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Commonly, reeds will go as high as g 56 for an 8ft rank, with flue pipes thereafter, voiced brightly.

 

snip

 

 

Yes, very occasionally one will find a reed rank taken all the way to C 61 of an 8'. In chorus reeds, the later builders often gave the rank double-length resonators (known as Harmonic Trebles) from around Treble C - this makes the tuning more stable and increases the chances of getting decent tone. I know one recent organ, however where until the reeds were revoiced by a specialist brought in by desperately dissatisfied customers, every rank got worse when it went harmonic, all on Treble G if I remember correctly, i.e. just at a vital point near the top of the melody range!

 

A common method of producing a convincing flue treble for a reed is to make the pipes of Diapason scale but slot them above the tuning slide like strings - this encourages overtones. To be honest, however, the human ear does not seem to mind what happens anywhere out of melodic range, a steady tone of sufficient volume is what seems to be required. This is the critical thing - reeds with weak, bleating trebles are no use to anyone. In passing, I have met at least one little extension organ where the same top octave (a Fifteenth) did duty for everything that went above the top of a 4'. You'd expect that this would be unsatisfactory (i.e. finishing a Piccolo or a Dulcetina with the same bright squeaks as the 15th), but it wasn't. The ear can be very tolerant.

 

I have never come across multiple ranks of flue pipes in the extreme treble in this country, let alone the use of two pipes sounding a third apart. These are both interesting ideas; of course The Cornet has a noble history and one of its most useful functions is covering up for weak reed trebles. Things can work both ways: When I built my own Mounted Cornet intending it to sit prominently in a restricted space, I didn't have room to take five ranks for every note above D 51 (the highest note that ever comes in a Cornet solo). I ended up putting slotted Diapason pipes at 8' pitch at the top. This way something plays if one couples the Cornet up, and the break is not nearly as bad as one might imagine.

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A common method of producing a convincing flue treble for a reed is to make the pipes of Diapason scale but slot them above the tuning slide like strings - this encourages overtones. To be honest, however, the human ear does not seem to mind what happens anywhere out of melodic range, a steady tone of sufficient volume is what seems to be required. This is the critical thing - reeds with weak, bleating trebles are no use to anyone. In passing, I have met at least one little extension organ where the same top octave (a Fifteenth) did duty for everything that went above the top of a 4'. You'd expect that this would be unsatisfactory (i.e. finishing a Piccolo or a Dulcetina with the same bright squeaks as the 15th), but it wasn't. The ear can be very tolerant.

I'm sure expert ears can tell, but my experience matches yours, and not just in organs. Electronic pianos are much more convincing at the high end, where, in fact, the best concert grand doesn't actually make a particularly musical sound. There's a section in Gurrelieder where the piccolo has a long quiet high note - professional piccolo players sometimes use an organ pipe for this moment.

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A common method of producing a convincing flue treble for a reed is to make the pipes of Diapason scale but slot them above the tuning slide like strings - this encourages overtones. To be honest, however, the human ear does not seem to mind what happens anywhere out of melodic range, a steady tone of sufficient volume is what seems to be required. This is the critical thing ... The ear can be very tolerant.

This is my experience too - and causes me to wonder, when the result is satisfactory to the ear, why so often there seems to be a reluctance to include manual Clarions in schemes.

 

Rgds

MJF

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I have never come across multiple ranks of flue pipes in the extreme treble in this country

 

The two Clarions at Bristol used to have two flue pipes per note in the extreme treble, but the second ranks mysteriously disappeared sometime between 1975 and 1989!

 

Paul Walton

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Does my memory serve me correctly if I say that flue pipes are used, these being voiced to produce similar harmonics to reeds?

The following picture shows the Clairon 4' of my organ, the resonators of double length. The highest Octave (gis'' to g''') is made with labial pipes. You did not hear a difference.

 

clairon2wc3.jpg

 

Cheers

tiratutti

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Here at St. Marien Rostock, mostly Sauer 1938, the Trompete 4' is made of two flue pipes per note in the top octave. I did not find out the pitch of them yet and maybe I will not in the near future, too, because my predecessor omitted tuning the whole stop for years, because for him it belonged to the "Not needed"-stops of this instrument (as High Mixture and Singend Cornet 2' in the Pedal, Regal 4' in the Positive...)

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On the 1906 Norman & Beard at the Wellington Town Hall, all 4ft reed stops on the Gt, Sw & solo change to two ranks from G#44 to C61. I am not sure if they remain as reed pipes or at which point they change to flue pipes, although I will try to find out.

 

JA

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Thank you all for the replies, which have clarified the situation perfectly. Special thanks to Tiratutti for taking the time to post the photograph of his reeds, it's very much appreciated. Are any full ranks of labial pipes still extant? I know that in the past there used to be one or two labial oboes and clarinets around, but I wonder if have these succumbed to modernisation.

 

When in my teens, I remember having a book from my local library (on permanent renewal for months) which covered all this sort information in great detail. Now that the library is virtually all photocopiers, coffee bar and computers I don't imagine it's still there but I shall go to see...

 

Peter

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At the Symphony Hall in Birmingham the Swell Clarion has three pipes for each of the top notes - two at 4ft pitch and one at 2ft. This certainly maintains the intensity and the shrill of the reeds. I know of another organ where the 4ft Clarion does have a single large scale flue pipe at the top but the treble end have their shallots lined with wax – another way to get power, not forgetting the harmonic trebles.

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At the Symphony Hall in Birmingham the Swell Clarion has three pipes for each of the top notes - two at 4ft pitch and one at 2ft. This certainly maintains the intensity and the shrill of the reeds. I know of another organ where the 4ft Clarion does have a single large scale flue pipe at the top but the treble end have their shallots lined with wax – another way to get power, not forgetting the harmonic trebles.

 

As a matter of interest, I assume the 2' pipes are flues, but what about the 4' pipes at the top end?

 

R

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..." Are any full ranks of labial pipes still extant? I know that in the past there used to be one or two labial oboes and clarinets around, but I wonder if have these succumbed to modernisation."

 

Perhaps the most famous labial 'reed' pipe in the Uk is the Echo Oboe in the Schulze Organ at Armley. They are quite rare though, so perhaps we ought to start an endangered species list. A copy of the Armley pipe was made by Abbott & Smith for inclusion in Leeds Parish Church. Both originally spoke on only 1.5" wind, but Binns increased this at Armley to 1 7/8" as his pneumatic action needed at least this pressure. At the Parish Church Harrison & Harrison moved the Echo division in 1913 to become the altar organ and increased the pressure to 3". It is likely that the echo oboe would not have coped with such an increase in pressure and there is no record of it in the NPOR-listed survey of 1948.

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For the record, does anyone have any knowledge of the 2ft. Clairon Doublette on the G.O. at S. Sernin, Toulouse, please? I would be interested to know what this rank does (and of what type of pipes it consists) above C37 (or even C25).

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For the record, does anyone have any knowledge of the 2ft. Clairon Doublette on the G.O. at S. Sernin, Toulouse, please? I would be interested to know what this rank does (and of what type of pipes it consists) above C37 (or even C25).

 

There is also a Clairon Doublette on the Grand-Choeur at St Sulpice and similar information would be interesting.

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There is also a Clairon Doublette on the Grand-Choeur at St Sulpice and similar information would be interesting.

As far as I know, the name gives it away entirely in both cases (Toulouse as well as Saint-Sulpice). The stop is a Clarion for half of its range, probably notes 1 to 24 or 30, and then changes into a Doublette, i. e. a Fifteenth, principal scale.

 

Best,

Friedrich

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As far as I know, the name gives it away entirely in both cases (Toulouse as well as Saint-Sulpice). The stop is a Clarion for half of its range, probably notes 1 to 24 or 30, and then changes into a Doublette, i. e. a Fifteenth, principal scale.

 

Best,

Friedrich

 

Ah - this makes sense. Thank you Friedrich.

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As far as I know, the name gives it away entirely in both cases (Toulouse as well as Saint-Sulpice). The stop is a Clarion for half of its range, probably notes 1 to 24 or 30, and then changes into a Doublette, i. e. a Fifteenth, principal scale.

 

Best,

Friedrich

I had previously understood that these stops were (what I would call) Octave Clarions at 2' pitch until C25 or so, thereafter changing to Doublettes. Thanks for this correction.

 

Rgds

MJF

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I had previously understood that these stops were (what I would call) Octave Clarions at 2' pitch until C25 or so, thereafter changing to Doublettes. Thanks for this correction.

No correction on your assumption needed -- by Clarion I meant a 2-foot rank. You just hit the mark.

 

Best,

Friedrich

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Does anyone know if there are any surviving examples of the 2' Gt reeds that William Hill sometimes placed in his larger schemes?

The specs below will, no doubt be familar to many:

 

http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=N10865

 

(lost)

 

http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=N10992

 

(radically rebuilt 1894 and 1964, on each occasion in conformity to the orthodoxy of the time. Sadly, now reported to be in poor condition and under threat).

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Does anyone know if there are any surviving examples of the 2' Gt reeds that William Hill sometimes placed in his larger schemes?

The specs below will, no doubt be familar to many:

 

http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=N10865

 

(lost)

 

http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=N10992

 

(radically rebuilt 1894 and 1964, on each occasion in conformity to the orthodoxy of the time. Sadly, now reported to be in poor condition and under threat).

 

 

Wow! Even in rebuilt/updated state, that second instrument would still interest me very much. If anyone knows more about the instrument at St.Michael's Ashton-under-Lyne, please post it here.

 

P.

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