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1881 Book “organs And Organ Building


Mark Taylor
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In John Elwood’s “What Would You Play On This Organ” thread, VH cited a link to the Sibley Music Library. If you do the search Vox suggested, one of the items near the top of the list is a book from 1881 by CA Edwards titled “Organs and Organ Building”. It’s quite fascinating. Here are some extracts from the chapter on “The Combination of Stops”.

 

“The organ, more than any other instrument, has an individuality … not altogether depending upon the stops it contains, but more nearly relying upon their combining capacity…. For instance, we have known a first-rate three-manual organ where the combination, Gamba, and Hohl-flute was almost always used in preference to the usual Open and Stopped Diapasons…

 

 

The complete organ tone should be distinct, full, and bright, and the Foundation tones give the first, the Mutation the second, and the Compound the third of these qualifications…

 

 

The Open Diapason is perhaps the bread and cheese of the organ. It is full, grand, solemn, and sonorous, admirably suitable for sustained harmony and slow movement. By adding the Stopped Diapason a certain amount of body is imparted to the tone, without altering the character in any marked degree. The Dulciana also gives a filling effect, if added, but it is never advisable to add a flue stop of reedy character, such, for instance, as the Keraulophon, as the quality of the stops has a tendency to clash rather than combine.

 

The Stopped Diapason is very generally looked upon as merely a filler in for other work, and is used only in conjunction with the Open Diapason to give body, or with some other stop to impart character. It is, nevertheless, a great mistake to imagine that the Stopped Diapason should be only so used. In four-part harmony it is very beautiful for short soft passages, and serves as a contrast to a reedy stop that may have been used before. …

 

The Dulciana is, perhaps, one of the most useful of soft stops has a curious half plaintive singing tone, and in soft harmony, or even occasionally in solo, is of great use to the organist.

 

The Gamba is a stop with a stringy tone, and is very useful for taking harmonies that are suitable for string work. It blends well with the Hohl-flute or Stopped Diapason…

 

 

A word must be said with regard to the addition of 16ft flue stops to the manuals. These are now becoming general in modern organs. For many years they have been in use in Germany. The reason that the organs of Smith, Harris, &c appear (according to the specifications) so noisy and so over-weighted with Mutation and Mixture, is simply because these builders were reckoning on the introduction of doubles that were excluded either on account of funds, prejudice, or room. The Germans owe their style of music to the presence of these weight solemn stops, and there appears every reason to believe that Bach always drew the doubles when he executed his fugues. There is now no manner of doubt that every organ should have doubles on the manuals…”

 

The frontispiece to Mr Edward’s book shows “Mr Holmes great organ, London”, this is also referred to as the Regent’s Park Organ. Can anyone shed any light on which organ this was?

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the manuals…"

 

The frontispiece to Mr Edward's book shows "Mr Holmes great organ, London", this is also referred to as the Regent's Park Organ. Can anyone shed any light on which organ this was?

 

 

BIOS Journal 31, (pub. Positif Press ISSN 0141-4992) has a lengthy article about this organ by David Hemsley.

 

 

The organ was by Bryceson (1872-75), and had 65 speaking stops across six divisions. It included two 32ft flue stops and a 32ft reed, 4,029 pipes in all. An Echo division was playable via electric action.

 

It was later rebuilt c.1936 at Fort Augustus Abbey, Scotland by E H Lawton, and again by Rushworth & Dreaper in 1979 as a III/P 37 ranks. When the Abbey closed in 2000, R & D moved the organ to the Roman Catholic Church of St Peter's, Buckie.

 

H

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the manuals…"

 

The frontispiece to Mr Edward's book shows "Mr Holmes great organ, London", this is also referred to as the Regent's Park Organ. Can anyone shed any light on which organ this was?

 

 

 

BIOS Journal 31, (pub. Positif Press ISSN 0141-4992) has a lengthy article about this organ by David Hemsley.

 

 

The organ was by Bryceson (1872-75), and had 65 speaking stops across six divisions. It included two 32ft flue stops and a 32ft reed, 4,029 pipes in all. An Echo division was playable via electric action.

 

It was later rebuilt c.1936 at Fort Augustus Abbey, Scotland by E H Lawton, and again by Rushworth & Dreaper in 1979 as a III/P 37 ranks. When the Abbey closed in 2000, R & D moved the organ to the Roman Catholic Church of St Peter's, Buckie.

 

H

 

Hi

 

That was the second of nathaniel Holmes' organs - the earlier one (http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi?Fn=Rsearch&rec_index=N17066) also still exists in Australia.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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Guest Roffensis
....Just before the last ones to be replaced with Scharffs 6 ranks 1/4'

and melted down to be sure nothing remains. :lol:

 

Pierre

 

 

Dulicianas are very useful. Also Hohl Flutes. I suppose its fashion! :P

 

R

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Dulicianas are very useful. Also Hohl Flutes.

 

R

 

It depends on the stop and the acoustics of the building.

 

On my own church instrument no one ever found a use for the Dulciana which was formerly on the G.O. It was virtually inaudible from the nave, it lacked any type of colour and in any case, there was (and is) a quiet Viola on the Swell which was more interesting to listen to. The Dulciana was neither useful for accompaniment nor for solo work.

 

As a number of contributors have written, a Hohl Flute can be somewhat variable but, with the exception of examples by Hill (which are usually good), they are often wooly and unpleasant.

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  • 3 months later...

On one of our cathedral instruments here which I used to regularly play, there was a Dulciana on the Choir which was utterly useless - it was barely audible even with the Choir box open. Although a major rebuilding of this instrument is soon to take place, I don't think there will be any changes to the specification.

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We got rid of the one in our rebuild that extended on to the pedals. Huge pipes, hardly any noise at all. Losing the one stop (out of 45) meant we could redesign the inside of the organ to make a more satisfactory layout for the divisions. Various previous 'improvements' had resulted in trying to squeeze a reasonably sized 4 manual instrument in a hole designed for a more modest three manual instrument.

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Looking at para 6, does anything really blend with a 19th C hohl flute or is this a convenient notion ? This is as distinct from a pre 19th C holzflote or accurate copies thereof.

 

AJS

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the manuals…"

 

The frontispiece to Mr Edward's book shows "Mr Holmes great organ, London", this is also referred to as the Regent's Park Organ. Can anyone shed any light on which organ this was?

 

 

 

BIOS Journal 31, (pub. Positif Press ISSN 0141-4992) has a lengthy article about this organ by David Hemsley.

 

 

The organ was by Bryceson (1872-75), and had 65 speaking stops across six divisions. It included two 32ft flue stops and a 32ft reed, 4,029 pipes in all. An Echo division was playable via electric action.

 

It was later rebuilt c.1936 at Fort Augustus Abbey, Scotland by E H Lawton, and again by Rushworth & Dreaper in 1979 as a III/P 37 ranks. When the Abbey closed in 2000, R & D moved the organ to the Roman Catholic Church of St Peter's, Buckie.

 

H

 

 

What a wonderful resource NPOR is, and what an incredible instrument!

 

Mr Holmes must have been quite someone to be able to afford a large four manual organ in his house in central London. But then the plot thickens - after its removal and second transplant to a Scottish monastery it ended up being a five manual 74 stop beast, down to two 32s.

 

What an inglorious ending to have been transplanted a third time and now be a "mere" 38 stop three manual relic, in which the beautiful Choir has been replaced by a neobaroque squeaky Positif!

 

Contrabombarde

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