Jump to content
Mander Organ Builders Forum

Ideas For Christchurch


Colin Harvey
 Share

Recommended Posts

(My excuse is I'm bored and back at home after skiing for 2 weeks...)

 

I remember making some rather strong comments about the organ at Christchurch Cathedral - some, which on re-reading, are perhaps rather too acerbic. But what is one to make of a modern germanic organ with a neo-french-classical specification inhabiting an historic English organ case specially altered to accomodate this organ? What was the thinking behind that?

 

I wonder what type of organ we would build there today? The Rieger is a child of its time - the voicing and disposition are orientated somewhat vertically, the overall layout is clear Werkprinzip.

 

Since the time Rieger built the Christchurch organ, thinking about organs has moved on. Today, the better builders aim to create an organ that is less about making a statement and more about building an organ which is in harmony with its surroundings and heritage. With a stronger focus on looking into the past to find the future, and acceptance once again of the English style and romantic organs, I wonder what we could end up building in Christchuch today? Would we not want to build an organ that is at home in the organ case and surroundings and provide the practising musicians of the Cathedral with an organ eminently suitable for its functions accompanying the professional choir, congregational singing as well as be a superlative organ for performance of all schools of classical organ music?

 

Delving into the history of the organ, here are the key points in the organ's history:

 

c. 1680: Father Smith builds an organ Gt 8.8.4.3.2.II.III.8.4.IV, Ch 8.4.4.2.8(?)

1848: Gray & Davison enlarge and improve the organ: http://npor.rcm.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi?...ec_index=N11007

1870: Gray & Davison rebuild the organ: http://npor.rcm.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi?...ec_index=N11008

 

After that, the organ is thoroughly rebuilt by Willis in 1884. The organ is further rebuilt by Willis & Son in 1910 and by H&H in 1924, eventually leaving little of the original organ in a recognisable state.

 

I started wondering what if the Smith Organ were to be recreated with a G&D style rebuild to make the romantic repertoire more accessible? Wouldn't this give an organ that is more at home in the case and also be more easily and pleasurably used for services? I used the scheme of 1870 as my starting point: in many ways the 1870 scheme was a conservative rebuild (some would have found it very backward in 1870 - I'm not surprised it was rebuilt 14 years later by a more progressive builder) and augmentation of the Smith organ. So I decided to augment it a little further with a Solo organ in a consonant style and make a few little tweaks, as might have happened if G&D had been invited back in 1870 to add a Solo organ and to iron out a few of the less desirable anachronisms (as seen today). Hopefully the Smith concept still remains intact as the core of the organ, while the G&D work moves the organ solidly into the Victorian Romantic territory.

 

Great Organ

 

1. Double Diapason 16

2. Open Diapason 8

3. Stopped Diapason 8

4. Principal 4

5. Flute Harmonique 4

6. Twelfth 3

7. Fifteenth 2

8. Sesquialtera III

9. Mixture II

10. Trumpet 8

11. Clarion 4

12. Cornet IV

 

Swell Organ

 

13. Double Diapason 16

14. Open Diapason 8

15. Stopped Diapason 8

16. Salicional 8

17. Voix Celestes 8

18. Principal 4

19. Flute 4

20. Fifteenth 2

21. Mixture II

22. Cornopean 8

23. Oboe 8

24. Clarion 4

 

Choir Organ

 

25. Keraulophon 8

26. Dulciana 8

27. Stopped Diapason 8

28. Principal 4

29. Flute 4

30. Fifteenth 2

31. Cremona 8

 

Solo Organ

 

32. Clarabella 8

33. Gambe 8

34. Flute d'amour 4

35. Corno di Bassetto 8

36. Grand Ophliechide 8

 

Pedal Organ

 

37. Grand Open Diapason 16

38. Grand Bourdon 16

39. Grand Principal 8

40. Grand Trombone 16

 

Couplers

Solo to Great

Solo to Swell

Solo to Choir

Solo to Pedal

Swell to Great

Swell to Choir

Swell to Pedal

Great to Pedal

Choir to Great

Choir to Pedal

 

8 Pistons to Great

8 Pistons to Swell

6 Pistons to Choir

4 Pistons to Solo

8 Pistons to Pedal

8 General Pistons

 

Multiple levels of memory (do we still need to count them these days? I would expect over 50 levels for the generals at least, several hundred shouldn't be that much more expensive today)

 

Reversible pistons to couplers, Grand Ophliechide, Grand Trombone.

Toe pistons to replicate Great and Swell, Swell to Great, Great to Pedal, Solo to Great, Grand Trombone

Toe pistons for Swell and Great/pedal divisions.

The usual Gt & Ped combinations combined and generals on swell toe pistons.

 

Pipework & Specification

As one can see, the Great organ is pretty much as Father Smith left it, with the addition of a 16' Open Diapason (stopped bass, probably - although aren't the front pipes down to GG?) and a 4' flute. Likewise, the Choir organ is intended as Smith left it, with the addition of a later Keraulophon and Dulciana. The Swell organ would be G&D style, possible a rebuild of an earlier swell division, along with the Solo organ and Pedal organ.

 

The pipework would be near copies of Smith and G&D pipework, getting as close as possible to pipe construction and design, scaling, materials, treatment, finish, etc, as possible. I would expect study trips to investigate period organs, including overseas if necessary (e.g. Edam to look at the 1664 Barent Smit organ) to inform all aspects of this organ. It would be ideal if there were actual period Smith and G&D pipes on loan in the metalshop while the pipes are made for the pipemakers to use them as reference templates to make the new pipework.

 

I'm not decided on mixture compositions and my research here is a bit sketchy - the Great Sesquialtera would probably have been 17.19.22 in the bass, most probably breaking to 12.15.17; the Great Mixture may have been 26.29, breaking back maybe several times to something like 12.15; the Cornet was apparently always 4 ranks, would have probably been mounted and at 8.12.15.17, working with the Stoppped Diapason; the Swell mixture would probably have been 19.22, breaking back to 12.15.

 

Layout

The Great organ to be in the front of the main case, with the Swell organ behind and mounted slightly higher. Passage board between Great and Swell.

The Solo organ to be mounted horizontally in a swell box on top of the Swell organ, with the soundboard vertical (aka Leeds Town Hall) and all pipes horizontal. Venetian shutters to the front and top of the Solo box.

The Solo organ to be on a higher wind pressure than the rest of the organ.

The Choir organ to be in the Chaire Case.

The Pedal organ to be behind the swell boxes, basses in the centre. The paneling either side of the Pedal organ to be pierced to assist egress of sound. A passage board behind the swell box with access up to the solo division and tops of the bass pedal pipes in front of the pedal chest. Bellows & Reservoirs underneath swell and pedal windchests.

 

Key Action

I would expect the action to closely follow period Smith and G&D practices as far as possible, giving the impression of playing a genuine G&D/Smith hybrid, with period visual appearance, materials, feel, pluck, etc. However, I would not expect the builders to forego modern design advances, such as the calculation of weight, allowing variations in pallet size, gearing, etc, to maintain manageable weights at the keys. Similarly, I would allow refinements to allow for variation for seasonal movement, etc. Therefore the organ would be predominately mechanical action, although I would allow period assistance methods (e.g. Barker lever) if they are the most appropriate solution to ensure an effective musical experience for the organist.

 

Wind System

Straight up and down traditional. I assume G&D would have provided generously sized double rise reservoirs in place of Smith's wedge bellows. Concussions could be used as well. The wind could be raised by electrically operated feeder bellows rather than a fan, if feasible, like Bill Drake's examples.

 

Console & player aids, stop action

The console would, as far as practical, be designed and finished to give the impression of sitting at a small 4 manual Victorian G&D organ. Details such as stop head design, key dimensions, materials, finish, etc, would be informed by period examples as far as possible. The jambs could well be angled, if there is evidence G&D and their contemporaries would have done this in 1870. However, I would allow variation from period practice for good reason. For example, the relationship and dimensions between manuals, pedalboard and bench could also be informed by RCO, BDO and ISOB standards. Similarly, with the pedalboard: while I would expect it to appear and feel like a period Victorian pedalboard, it would be acceptable for its critical dimensions (such as width and pedal spacing) to be informed by modern standards so a visiting organist doesn't come to grief on it.

 

To allow for modern expectations and use, I've allowed a generous modern provision for pistons - much more so than G&D would have allowed!! I think I would be prepared to forego a mechanical stop action (naturally based on G&D principals) for an electronically controlled system, although I would be delighted if it controlled pneumatic motors rather than solenoids at the console and windchest. At the console, the pistons should sit comfortably in the style and ambiance of the console - I would certainly not expect the modern fashion for ever-smaller piston heads, which would jar here - but it would be delightful if there were turned brass piston heads aka early Willis. Naturally, all the controls for the levels of memories and the blower controls, etc could be hidden from view in a small drawer underneath a stop jamb, rather than jar unnecessarily on the stop jambs themselves.

Comments and Issues

I'd imagine this organ would be quite capable of most styles of music: Early music would be well served here, French Classical is quite possible as well with a cornet, cremona, plein and grand jeux (although a petit grand jeu is missing - one will have to use the choir cremona or swell reeds without a tierce - but good compromises should be possible). While there are choruses for Bach and enough trio cominations, some organists today might look in askance without a Schnitgerian Pedal Reed, a choir mixture and terz - but to them I say go and play Bach at Romsey Abbey! We have a classic 4 manual romantic English organ, which should happily serve the romantic schools quite well enough and there should be enough to cope with the 20th century repertoire as well. Of course, it would be very at home accompanying Choral Evensong, where it should lend a distinguished, varied and accomplished voice - in fact, some may hold up the specification as almost tailor-made for choral accompaniment.

 

I suspect the issue with the organ here is space, in that there isn't very much of it in the gallery. The current organ is very compact and the G&Ds of old tended to be quite crowded. The proposed Swell organ here would take up a lot of space - especially depth. Hence the idea of putting the Solo on top of it, en chamade, although the bottom octave of pipes could well require mitering or a shared stopped bass for the Gambe and Clarabella. This position will also give the Solo division an advantageous position to project over the top of the organ. I find it rather satisfying considering recreating one of G&D's most celebrated and unique experiments of the en chamade Solo division at Leeds Town Hall. A further advantage I can see is to make the solo box very compact, which should give it good qualities for projection and enclosure, contrasting to the effect of the rather different, larger Swell organ's box. An issue I see with the position is that the Solo box shouldn't be visible above the Great organ case from the floor - I'm hoping the pediments of the two central towers of the main case frontage and the position of the solo box sited some way from the front of the organ case, along with the darkness above a fairly high case, will obscure it sufficiently. Naturally, I would intend to restore the Great organ case to its original height without a Swell organ directly underneath the Great as it is at present.

 

However, the issue of the depth of the organ will still persist with a pedal division (however minimal) behind the Swell organ - the sound will have to come out round the corner, down each side and over the swell box. I have kept this division minimal for good reason - not only space but also the bass pipes get their sound round corners (like the swell box in front of it) better than upperwork. I suspect a 4' and pedal mixture would be next to useless in this location so why bother? People will have to accept this is a dependent pedal division and apart from adding pedal towers, I don't see a way round it. Hopefully this small pedal division can be fitted in without too much crowding so the sound has a fair chance of getting out but it'll still need to be fairly assertively voiced. However, hopefully this division should provide a bass line underneath the manuals and would be fairly easy to control in every day use.

 

The action to the solo organ could prove interesting. It would have to go beneath and up behind the swell organ, then through a square to operate a soundboard mounted at 90 degrees on high wind pressure (maybe 7 or 8 inches). The run behind the swell box would be very long and could be affected by seasonal movement while momentum might be an issue here. Maybe this would be an opportunity to recreate a Barker lever action or some other suitable period action? If the swell organ were to be pneumatic, I would happily countenance the idea of sub and super octave couplers but not with mechanical action. Perhaps one way around this would be a barker lever to the Great organ but I'm not sure how Father Smith inspired pipework would sit atop it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Another issue is compass. Would we now consider taking the opportunity to provide a manual G-compass for the stops that date back to Father Smith? Possibly with a flap to cover the keys when not in use (like the big Bösendorfer pianos). Expensive, I know - but perhaps we should bite the bullet in a few organs at least.

 

An interesting thing to discuss - particularly as I like the Rieger, but was also very fond of the old organ!

 

Paul

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Was at Christ Church last night - beautifully sung Palestrina mass and motet. Six people in the congregation! (blasted snow) Organ sounded fine at it is for this music!

 

The history of the early instrument is slightly different to that which has been stated above, however.

 

Most people know that the choir and choir school is one of the oldest in the country, having been established in 1525 by Cardinal Wolsey. The provision was for a choir of 12 men and 16 boys and AN ORGANIST.

 

Thus, it follows that the original Father Bernard Smith was the first MAJOR organ installed in the Cathedral (obviously, then, there was at least one other before it!!) and was contained in a case of four towers and three flats situated not where the present instrument is but on a screen between the nave and the choir.

The instrument had two manuals and thirteen (not fifteen) stops, and remained little changed until 1825 when J.C. Bishop fitted a fiddle G swell and some pedal 'pull downs'. In 1873 the organ was significantly enlarged and the keyboards extended at the 'suggestion' of Fredrick Arthur Gore-Ouseley.

 

In 1870 during the restoration of the cathedral by Gilbert Scott, the organ was moved to its present position on a gallery by the west door by Gray and Davison. A new choir organ was added in a case designed (presumably by Scott) in the manner of Father Smith's magnificent case at Trinity College, Cambridge. At the same time, the Pedal Organ was extended into the side wings attached to the main Great case.

 

A major rebuild by Willis (the first) occured in 1883-4 and this moved the Scott Choir case to the back of the organ, rehoused some of the pipes in a swell box and added a Solo organ with pipe extending aboce the Great towers. In 1911, Heny Willis (II) moved the Choir Organ back to the east side, housed the Solo pipes in another swell box, and installed 32' pipes against the west wall. Finally in 1022, Harrison and Harrison put in a new console, tubular pneumatic action and added a large Open Diapason and later, a 16' Dulciana.

 

The present instrument, whilst being completely new 1878-9, still uses the Father Smith case, with what little remained of the old woodwork incorporated into the new case. The Scott Choir Case was restored to its former glory.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

An interesting thread. I note that Colin is determined to avoid the charge of flippancy, having provided a wealth of detail in his post.

 

I like the idea of a Gray and Davison style instrument; I have often idly sketched out plans for similar organs. Whilst I do very much like the Rieger instrument (and have played for a good number of services on it), I would acknowledge that it lacks subtlety - and perhaps some of the more familiar English Romantic voices - it being very much a child of its time.

 

I suggest the following, which through necessity is different to the scheme which was laid out by Colin (due to the fairly narrow design perameters adopted by Gray and Davison) is, I hope, still representative of good English organ building:

 

PEDAL ORGAN

 

Sub Bourdon (Ext.) 32

Open Diapason Wood 16

Open Diapason Metal 16

Bourdon 16

Principal (M) 8

Flute (Open W) 8

Fifteenth 4

Mixture (12-19-22) III

Grand Bombarde (W) 16

Trumpet 8

Choir to Pedal

Great to Pedal

Swell to Pedal

Solo to Pedal

Solo Octave to Pedal

 

CHOIR ORGAN

(Enclosed)

 

Stopped Diapason 8

Clarionet Flute 8

Dulciana 8

Principal 4

Stopped Flute 4

Flautina 2

Doublette (15-22) II

Clarionet (C1) 8

Swell to Choir

 

GREAT ORGAN

 

Double Open Diapason (M) 16

Double Diapason (Std. W) 16

Open Diapason 8

Cone Gamba 8

Stopped Diapason 8

Wald Flute 8

Principal 4

Harmonic Flute 4

Twelfth 3

Fifteenth 2

Mixture (15-19-22) III

Sharp Mixture (26-29) II

Double Trumpet 16

Posaune 8

Clarion 4

Choir to Great

Swell to Great

Solo to Great

 

SWELL ORGAN

 

Bourdon 16

Open Diapason 8

Stopped Diapason 8

Keraulophon 8

Vox Angelica (C13) 8

Principal 4

Suabe Flute 4

Fifteenth 2

Mixture (15-19-22) III

Hautboy 8

Cornopean 8

Clarion 4

Tremulant

 

SOLO ORGAN

(Unenclosed)

 

Harmonic Flute 8

Flauto Traverso 4

Cremona (C1) 8

Vox Humana 8

Tremulant

Tuba Mirabilis 8

Grand Ophicleide 8

Sub Octave

 

ACCESSORIES

 

Six toe pedals to the Pedal and Great organs

Six toe pedals to the Swell Organ

Reversible toe pedal to Great to Pedal

Reversible toe pedal to Solo to Great

Reversible toe pedal to 32ft. flue

Reversible toe pedal to Full Organ

Balanced crescendo pedals to the Swell and Solo organs

 

The instrument would have tonal similarities with the JWW Walker organs of Bristol Cathedral and Romsey Abbey. In addition, there would be some affinity with the restored instrument of Chichester Cathedral. It would, of course, necessitate a larger case - possibly a re-working of part of the existing (and somewhat butchered) case. It is somewhat larger that the instrument which Colin has proposed. However, prividing that room for a suitable (and visually acceptable) case can be found in the gallery, it should not overwhelm this intimate building. It is intended that there is no 'forced' voicing - every stop will be voiced musically, with no single voice (save those of the two Solo reeds) predominating. Even in the case of the latter stops, to be voiced on 300mm (Tuba) and 200 mm (Ophicleide), it is not intended that either should be capable of obliterating the Full G.O.

 

And, yes - I am aware that I have specified both a Dulciana and a Tuba.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Was at Christ Church last night - beautifully sung Palestrina mass and Most people know that the choir and choir school is one of the oldest in the country, having been established in 1525 by Cardinal Wolsey. The provision was for a choir of 12 men and 16 boys and AN ORGANIST.

Erm, sorry, but that's not strictly correct. The provision was for 12 clerks, 16 boys and an informator choristarum, i.e. a master of the choristers. In common with most churches at this time there was no titular organist at Cardinal College (as it was then) and the informator may not necessarily have been the only player (though equally he may have been). There was certainly an organ there from the earliest days as there is an account of the informator playing it. Anthony Dalaber tells us: "Evensong was begun and the dean and the other canons were there in their grey amices; they were almost at the Magnificat before I came thither. I stood at the choir door and heard Mr Taverner play and others of the chapel there sing..."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

An interesting thread. I note that Colin is determined to avoid the charge of flippancy, having provided a wealth of detail in his post.

 

I like the idea of a Gray and Davison style instrument; I have often idly sketched out plans for similar organs. Whilst I do very much like the Rieger instrument (and have played for a good number of services on it), I would acknowledge that it lacks subtlety - and perhaps some of the more familiar English Romantic voices - it being very much a child of its time.

 

I think that the main problem with the instrument (having to endure it at least on a weekly basis) is that there are no chorally useable reeds on the Swell. To have the only swell reeds available as a buzzy 16' Cor Anglais and a Vox Humana 8' seems to be most restricting. The only other 'trumpety' reeds are the Great Trompette and Clarion, which are too big and, of course not under expression, and the Bombardes.

 

Things would be so much better if we had the usual 4 reeds in the Swell box like 16' Fagotto, 8' Trompette and Hautbois and Clarion 4!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

pwhodges: "Another issue is compass. Would we now consider taking the opportunity to provide a manual G-compass for the stops that date back to Father Smith? Possibly with a flap to cover the keys when not in use (like the big Bösendorfer pianos). Expensive, I know - but perhaps we should bite the bullet in a few organs at least."

 

Yes, compass is an interesting subject for this organ and I liked the suggestion. There are a number of relevant points:

One of the arguments for German compass organs replacing GG compass at the time was that it would provide a better bass with a 16' pedal and the lost bottom notes of the manual compass (which never moved quickly in early English organ music) could be taken by the pedals instead.

The second point is space. Bass pipes take up a lot of space and accommodating a pipe larger than 4' on a soundboard for an 8' division is difficult. Introducing a full set of bass pipes GG-BB in addition to the C compass would add extra difficulties and would be more likely to lead to an overcrowded windchest - something best avoided if possible.

One way around this is to use an old practice: Many old organs with GG compass would have a short bottom octave - GG# and AA# are very rarely called for in music of this period, due to the keys used and the temperament to which the organ was tuned during these periods. So we could have something like GG,AA,C or such like, with a split key for C#/AA and GG in place of B. This would also give a financial saving as well as a space saving - large pipes are more expensive than little ones! However, those of you who know will have already picked up that cost isn't really an overriding consideration here... (should it ever be an overriding consideration with lavish and long lived musical instruments like organs, though?)

Finally, it is worth bearing in mind G&D would have been very unlike to keep the bass pipes below C in a rebuild, especially by 1870.

And also Bill Drake (e.g. Jesus, Oxon) and a few others have built a number of organs with GG compasses. The Mander at Pembroke, Cams has a GG, if I remember.

 

At the back of my mind is this article: http://www.stephenbicknell.org/3.6.15.php which I think is very relevant here for use of the long compass and pedals.

 

Of course, out of this answer comes the even more thorny question of the temperament of the organ...

 

Bombarde32: "The history of the early instrument is slightly different to that which has been stated above..."

 

Thanks for this. Very interesting. I think it might be worthwhile writing a note to NPOR, with your references, so they can improve their history of the organ.

 

pcnd5584: "I suggest the following, which through necessity is different to the scheme which was laid out by Colin (due to the fairly narrow design perameters adopted by Gray and Davison) is, I hope, still representative of good English organ building..."

 

I think the key consideration with the organ here is space. You're right, you would need a far larger case for this organ - the Great is a real 16' division here and would need a soundboard to match. Whether it can be built using the parts of the Smith case *and still maintain the correct architectural proportions needed for a successful case* is open to question. Whether the extra stops add that much over the original spec is also open to question. I'm not sure how you would intend to lay this organ out, I would rather have an enclosed Solo organ than an enclosed Choir organ.

 

"still representative of good English organ building"

 

Yes, but by which builder? The spec above could just as easily be by JWW or Bishops as G&D. If you just try to copy generic trends, you end up with something that *at best* would be a new individual voice but is more likely to end up very anodyne - just like a lot of organs built today that use pipes from trade suppliers to standard scales, etc. If I were to be brutally honest, I would say the spec is just as representative of Copeman & Hart!

 

"The instrument would have tonal similarities with the JWW Walker organs of Bristol Cathedral and Romsey Abbey. In addition, there would be some affinity with the restored instrument of Chichester Cathedral."

 

I think this is much closer to the point. I'm very fond of all three organs you mention here. And in order to build an organ with an affinity to them, it's necessary to investigate what makes those organs tick and sound and work the way they do. Look closely at the pipes, look closely at the design and layout, look closely at the action and winding, look closely at the playing experience and how it's achieved and the answers will come out. But to build an organ like those today takes real application, a lot of investigation and an open mind.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

And also Bill Drake (e.g. Jesus, Oxon) and a few others have built a number of organs with GG compasses.

 

Now there you've picked on virtually the only instrument Drake has ever made with a CC compass. Grosvenor and Deptford have GG, as well as some of the more direct reconstructions (rather than new instruments in old styles) such as Buckingham Palace Ballroom. Grosvenor has the useful extra feature of three brass pedals to work the coupler on the notes below the pedalboard range.

 

At Buck House the Gt-Ped is a sub-octave coupler, so low G on the pedal operates the manual GG. For the notes beyond that point, the 'key' ranks (reeds, principal, Mixture I think) have pipes effectively to CCC so the lowest 5th of the pedalboard can be used without there being missing notes.

 

I always think it's interesting that the convention of calling a stop 8 foot or 4 foot always applies to the length at bottom C even though the lowest note is frequently below that and pedalboard compasses varied similarly - often FF was provided by people like Lincoln on a GG instrument. Did this convention ever vary from one country or builder to another (I have seen some reference somewhere by someone like Dallam to an open diapason 10 feet, I think), or was it just decided upon? Did we begin at C, and the lower notes came later? It seems extraordinary that the number convention would just emerge and be adopted so readily all round the world at once with seemingly little deviation. Here is a rare occasion of me admitting to knowing nothing.

 

Anyone in the Meridian tv region - my choir's on the telly at 4.40 :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

David Coram: "I always think it's interesting that the convention of calling a stop 8 foot or 4 foot always applies to the length at bottom C even though the lowest note is frequently below that .... Did this convention ever vary from one country or builder to another (I have seen some reference somewhere by someone like Dallam to an open diapason 10 feet, I think), or was it just decided upon? Did we begin at C, and the lower notes came later? It seems extraordinary that the number convention would just emerge and be adopted so readily all round the world at once with seemingly little deviation."

 

That is a very interesting question, to which I don't really have the answer. I've just had a look at some photos of Thaxted's stops (H.C.Lincoln, 1821) and notice that no pitch length is given on the stop heads. This seems to be common for the time. I'm not sure when it came common practice to include the pitch length on stop faces. Even the photos of the (C compass) console at St Peter-upon-Cornhill (Hill, 1840) don't give pitch lengths.

 

However, I remember the Schnitger organ at Alkmaar (1725) (one of the first C compass organs in the Netherlands) *does* have pitch lengths on the stop lables but the (F?) compass choir organ (1511) doesn't...

 

Just found this:

. very strange, very interesting to see this and possibly one of the finest plenos in the world.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes - I am in the Meridian area for ITV and yes I did see David's choir and wife on Meridian news just now. It is good to hear a church music success story as a contrast to the sadder ones we often read on this Board. I hope boys' and girls' choirs prosper. Malcolm Riley's book suggests that Whitlock had a pretty miserable time at the neighbouring church.

 

Malcolm

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes - I am in the Meridian area for ITV and yes I did see David's choir and wife on Meridian news just now. It is good to hear a church music success story as a contrast to the sadder ones we often read on this Board. I hope boys' and girls' choirs prosper. Malcolm Riley's book suggests that Whitlock had a pretty miserable time at the neighbouring church.

 

Malcolm

 

Not the best bit of video editing in the world - did 7 takes from various angles, and they used the only duff one for the opening! Oh well. Of the 6 in the lineup, 3 have been there a month...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"still representative of good English organ building"

 

Yes, but by which builder? The spec above could just as easily be by JWW or Bishops as G&D. If you just try to copy generic trends, you end up with something that *at best* would be a new individual voice but is more likely to end up very anodyne - just like a lot of organs built today that use pipes from trade suppliers to standard scales, etc. If I were to be brutally honest, I would say the spec is just as representative of Copeman & Hart!

 

To pick up on just one point: I have yet to see a specification by Copeman Hart which remotely resembles my own. Surely the same could be said of your own scheme? Certainly my proposed G.O. is fairly large (and 16ft. based); however, the rest is unified in style. I would find your proposed Pedal Organ far too limiting. Even the previous instrument had a somewhat larger division. In fact the old Willis/H&H organ was not that small by comparison. There were fifty speaking stops (although three, including the 32ft. reed, were prepared for, only*). Each clavier division had a 16ft. flue - in two cases of open metal, the Pedal Organ had a full-length 32ft. Contra Violone (although this stood on either side of the west door). The G.O. had two 16ft. stops (the reed being one of the prepared-for ranks), together with three Open Diapason stops. The Choir Organ was larger than that at Exeter Cathedral - and the Solo Organ had a Tuba.

 

 

 

* However, if H&H were happy to prepare for these ranks, they would have been confident that they could have fitted the pipework in somewhere - it may not have looked very pretty (c.f. Trinity College Chapel, Cambridge and Gloucester Cathedral) but room would have been found. I am not advocating the building of organs too large for the available space, merely suggesting that an instrument of the size which I specified could have been made to work visually and physically in this building.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would find your proposed Pedal Organ far too limiting. Even the previous instrument had a somewhat larger division.

 

I'm not sure about Grand Principal, and Grand Trombone surely ought to read Grand Bombarde. No idea at all about size. For that size of instrument I'd be surprised if there wasn't a little more but I would probably stop shy of a 4'. A big fat Octave Wood, I expect. Romsey was exceptional (with its Ouseley-designed spec) in having a Pedal Mixture.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

David Coram: "I always think it's interesting that the convention of calling a stop 8 foot or 4 foot always applies to the length at bottom C even though the lowest note is frequently below that .... Did this convention ever vary from one country or builder to another (I have seen some reference somewhere by someone like Dallam to an open diapason 10 feet, I think), or was it just decided upon? Did we begin at C, and the lower notes came later? It seems extraordinary that the number convention would just emerge and be adopted so readily all round the world at once with seemingly little deviation."

 

That is a very interesting question, to which I don't really have the answer. I've just had a look at some photos of Thaxted's stops (H.C.Lincoln, 1821) and notice that no pitch length is given on the stop heads. This seems to be common for the time. I'm not sure when it came common practice to include the pitch length on stop faces. Even the photos of the (C compass) console at St Peter-upon-Cornhill (Hill, 1840) don't give pitch lengths.

 

However, I remember the Schnitger organ at Alkmaar (1725) (one of the first C compass organs in the Netherlands) *does* have pitch lengths on the stop lables but the (F?) compass choir organ (1511) doesn't...

 

Just found this:

. very strange, very interesting to see this and possibly one of the finest plenos in the world.

 

Hi

 

I don't know if stop lengths were quoted on the stop knobs of early organs - I somehow doubt it - and there's nothing left in the UK that old and unaltered! In later eras, I think it's more down to the preference or style of the builder/client. I would guess it became common in the late 1800's, as organs got larger. Maybe also the use of engraved stop knobs was part of the reason for the change.

 

Isn't there an organ in the west Country with stop lengths in Latin Numerals?

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Choir Organ was larger than that at Exeter Cathedral

[...]

merely suggesting that an instrument of the size which I specified could have been made to work visually and physically in this building

The old choir case was grossly extended forwards, and considered structurally dangerous at the time it was removed. The main case had unhappy sideways extensions, and the solo stuck out of the top like a shoebox on the top of a wardrobe. The new case has been criticised for the size of its swell - but it is a far happier sight than the old one was (however much I liked the contents).

 

Paul

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Isn't there an organ in the west Country with stop lengths in Latin Numerals?

I'm sure I must have come across several in my time. The Father Willis I first sat at (not in the south west) had Latin numerals, so I guess there must be others by him that are similar.

 

There was an old Hill in Torquay (St Marychurch RC) that had Latin stop names as well, but they were sadly modernised long ago.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm sure I must have come across several in my time. The Father Willis I first sat at (not in the south west) had Latin numerals, so I guess there must be others by him that are similar.

 

There was an old Hill in Torquay (St Marychurch RC) that had Latin stop names as well, but they were sadly modernised long ago.

Yes. The Father Willis organ at St. Mary's, Totnes, has the pitches given in Roman numerals.

 

There were several organs in Torquay which had Latin stop names. They were all designed by W.S. Rockstro (http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Lib/Rockstro-William.htm) who was organist at All Saints' Church, Babbacombe, Torquay. They all followed the same pattern of being rather sketchy four-deckers, although all except the organ at St. Marychurch RC church have since been reduced to 3 manuals.

 

I understand that the old Latin console of the organ at St. John's Church, Torquay (the last of these organs to retain the Latin stopknobs, which it did until 1957) is still stored in the basement of Torquay Museum.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I always think it's interesting that the convention of calling a stop 8 foot or 4 foot always applies to the length at bottom C even though the lowest note is frequently below that and pedalboard compasses varied similarly - often FF was provided by people like Lincoln on a GG instrument. Did this convention ever vary from one country or builder to another (I have seen some reference somewhere by someone like Dallam to an open diapason 10 feet, I think), or was it just decided upon? Did we begin at C, and the lower notes came later?

Yes.

 

There are a number of references to organs at 5' or 10' pitch throughout the Tudor period: Duddyngton's at all Hallows Barking, Thomas Dallam's at Worcester Cathedral, Eton, St George's, Windsor; I think there may be one or two others. John Bunker Clark measured other early English cases and concluded they were all intended to house pipes of this pitch standard too; this has been confirmed for the three surviving pipes at Stanford and Stephen Bicknell agreed that the display pipes at Old Radnor would originally have been a 5' Principal. But the 5' and 10' were round figures; all the evidence suggests that the pipes were actually slightly longer than the nominal length, giving a lower pitch than has been imagined in the past. At choir pitch, a' was around 475hz, which is about one and a third semitones above a' = 440hz, not the minor third much touted in the past (which also in turn implies that falsetto countertenors in this repertoire are a figment of the imagination).

 

Pre-reformation British organ music requires no note lower than bottom C and it looks very much as if the 5' pitch standard was attached to this note. However organ and choir pitch were quite different; the bottom C on the keyboard sounded the F below the bass stave in choir pitch. There is as far as I know no evidence for full compass 10' ranks before the Reformation, but they existed by the early seventeenth century. Jacobean organ accompaniments are sometimes notated a fifth higher than the choral parts, rarely a fourth lower (and sometimes at pitch). Where it was higher you played it on the 10' Open Diapason; where it was lower you used 5' pitch; in other cases you transposed. After the restoration, choir and organ pitch were brought into alignment and the bottom C was redesignated 8' pitch. At the same time the keyboard compass was extended lower in order to accommodate the longer pipes; pitch was apparently in some flux, but eventually GG was settled as the lowest note on the keyboard.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Interesting to hear about organs in the Torquay area. I went to the Sunday morning Mass at St John's about 40 years ago when visiting relations in Torquay on my way home from an IAO Congress in Cardiff. I was allowed to sit next to the console and I recall quite a decent instrument and an all-male choir. I think that many yeas before then they had an organist called Francis Crute who went there from St Andrew's Worthing and later committed suicide. Shortly after my visit to St John's I had, for a year or so, a very nice, and musically able, young bass in my church choir in Brighton whose home church was All Saints' Babacombe and he spoke highly of the music there. I think it is a Butterfield church, rather in the style of Margaret Street.

 

Malcolm

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So, to get back to the OP, what about an early Tudor organ somewhere near the East End for solo use in the Eucharist? Put the Rieger in the North Transept for recitals and big congregational stuff and have a new G&D- or Father Willis-style 4-manual at the West End to accompany Evensong.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Let's just hope that metrication stays away from the organ world. Imagine "Open Diapason 2.4384 metres"! :)

I'm reassured by all the on-line specs of French & German organs; 8 Fuss, 4 pieds etc. I don't think we need worry.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So, to get back to the OP, what about an early Tudor organ somewhere near the East End for solo use in the Eucharist? Put the Rieger in the North Transept for recitals and big congregational stuff and have a new G&D- or Father Willis-style 4-manual at the West End to accompany Evensong.

Seems logical. I'm sure they could afford it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...