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Pierre Lauwers

Tierce Mixtures

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Hello,

 

It becomes fashionable to restore romantic organs now, with no more aim at modifying them. But of course, many of them, even well-known Cavaillé-Coll have been "hacked" upon, especially their Mixture designs.

 

As far as litterature and my own observations can tell, it seems many romantic mixtures included Tierce ranks, and were actually a synthesis between the plain "chorus mixture" and the Cornet. And this probably to facilitate the Tutti -with reeds-.

 

They seem also to have had the function of raising the treble level, especially the "Progression harmonique" (probably after Vogler's "Progressiv Harmonica"), which was actually a progressive Cornet.

 

The french did reject the Tierce in Mixtures since somewhere between the 17th and the begin of the 18th century. Even today, on a french forum, there is nobody to admit there were Tierce in at least some Cavaillé-Coll's mixtures. In England, things seem to have been the reverse, with Tierce in nearly all Mixtures up to Schulze (or maybe Snetzler?)

Does anyone have ideas about how to design, scale and voice a correct Mixture for a romantic organ? Must these Tierce ranks be softened like Audsley advised to do?

Thanks and best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

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Tierce Mixtures remained in the English organ builders pallet right up through the romantic period. Hill used them (sometimes only in the lower registers) and Willis used them including (for example) on his Swell Organ at St. Paul's Cathedral where they remain to the present day. Opinions differ a little as to whether the Tierce ranks should be softer than the unison and Quint ranks, but usually they are a little softer. They impart a particular clarity to the chorus and are particularly useful in binding the chorus reeds to the flue chorus. I think their attributes are often misunderstood. But they do have their problems in polyphonic music such as Bach, particularly in equally tempered organs.

 

We have used them a number of times in the manuals larger organs, but usually as an addition to a straight Quint mixture, definitely as a principal rather than as a flute stop. The Cornet is a different beast altogether. A couple of our smaller instruments (ones with about 12 stops) have been built with a principle style Sesquialtera as the sole mixture on the second manual and that has proved successful, although this has always been with an unequal temperament.

 

One slightly unusual way in which we have employed them to very good effect is in the pedal mixtures of large organs. Here the 3 1/5 Tierce rank appears as the lowest rank in a 5 rank pedal mixture. This works really well as it gives the Pedal a clear line reinforcing the 16ft line very effectively. In this instance the Tierce is of the same power as the other ranks. St. Ignatius Loyola was the first to use this style of pedal mixture and we have subsequently used them at Urakami Cathedral and Peachtree Road United methodist Church.

 

In older organs the English mixtures were very different of course. Often they were split bass and treble and called Sesquialtera in the bass and Cornet in the treble with just one break at either middle C or C#.

 

John Pike Mander

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Yes.....

 

But please give us, as Cavaillé-Coll did, the full series of "normal" harmonics in the first place. Septièmes and Neuvièmes were a kind of craze on the continent, but now it's already old fashioned, a bit "néo-classical".

 

The Tierce is quite different indeed. Not only has it its place within the flutes (Cornet or "jeu de Tierce"), but in the principal choruses as well, maybe better on a separate slide, in order to give the player the choice according to the music he plays.

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

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When I attended the Meisterkurs in Ludwigsburg, I remember Richard Rensch, who gave lectures on scaling (and is known as the inventor of the Pipe Scaling Slide Rule) commenting on the more obscure Aliquotes which had become so popular amongst some builders. He said "If they did not have to be voiced so softly that they made no difference to the chorus, they might have had some point." Clearly something of a sweeping statement, but nonetheless as in most sweeping statements, more than a grain of truth. The further one gets from the fundamental, the more difficult it is to make the mutations blend. Fifths are not much of a problem but thirds are already more difficult and from there on it becomes an interesting balance between what is possible and what is effective or worthwhile.

 

John Pike Mander

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While researching about Johannes Snetzler's Mixtures on the BIOS Website, I noted something that could be of interest.

 

For example, Chesterfield (1756), had a three ranks "Mixture" on the great, 17,19,22.

 

This is the same design as found later in Willis organs (For instance Gloucester)

 

One founds also things like "Sesquialtera bafs" and "Cornet Treble", 17,19,22 too.

 

When an independant Tierce is provided, the Sesquialtera may be 15,19,22, and the Cornet ditto.

 

Snetzler was trained on the continent, and this kind of schemes are to be found in southern Germany.

 

I found the same kind of mixtures in small belgian romantic instruments, and in a little Walcker in the Ardennes too.

 

This could suggest, along with the accent on foundation tone, that the romantic organ, generally speaking, could have had its roots in the late baroque south german organ.

 

If this is true, this could maybe open a door towards interesting devellopments.

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

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I am at the moment acting organist at a church where a large 1895 Hunter organ was rebuilt in 1957 and again in 1972 when the tonal scheme of the instrument was more severly changed-for the worse! On the great is a mixture labelled 22,26,29 it does infact begin 19, 22,26. The old mixture was 17, 19, 22 and the 17 is now and independent stop, the 19 has the middle octave of pipes missing, the 22 is as before and there is the 26 on top. it makes a dreadful noise. Any suggestions as to what we should do with it?

 

On the same topic-where should a break firat appear? Father willis' mixtures are very bright and sparkly-I'd love one like that!!

 

CDBL.

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Well,

 

I won't answer in the place of more qualified people than me by far; I personally would choose to go back to the 17-19-22 scheme, which seems to have occured regularly in english romantic organs. But of course you must know what you want. This is by no means a "Bach mixture", but rather a binder between flue and reed stops. So nothing for a 8-4-2-mixture registration in a polyphonic piece.

 

As for the breaks, I found -in Belgium at least- so many different possibilities (from no break to three breaks, at different places) that I think only an organ-builder knowing Hunter organs from the very same period could answer.

 

Back to a more general discussion about the matter of late-romantic mixtures, I just found something that may be interesting in Emile Rupp's book, "Die Entwicklungsgeschichte der Orgelbaukunst". This book dates 1929. Rupp was, with his friend the well-known Albert Schweizer, the founder of the "Alsacian organ reform", which was to give rise to the neo-classic organ. Among numerous dispositions, he gives the Willis III's organ of the Birmingham Cathedral, as built between 1913 and 1917. Here follows the mixture's disposition (no mention, but I believe it should be at C):

 

Choir organ

 

(With: Contra-Dulciana 16, Dulciana 8, Dulcet 4 and Dulciana 2)

 

Dulciana mixture: 3 1/5'-2 2/3'-1 3/5'-1 1/3'-1'

 

Great organ

 

Mixture 5r: 3 1/5'-2 2/3'-1 3/5'-1 1/3'-1'

 

Sesquialtera: 1 1/3'-1 1/7'-1'-2/3'-1/2'

 

Swell organ

 

Full mixture 5r: 2 2/3'-1 3/5'-1 1/3'-1 1/7'-1'

 

(With: Lieblich Bordun 16,Lieblichgedackt 8,Lieblich Flöte 4, Lieblich Piccolo 2):

 

Lieblich Mixture 3r: 1 3/5'-1 1/3'-1'

 

Solo

 

(With: Contra Viole 16,Viole d'orchestre 8,Octave viole 4, Violette 2):

 

Cornet de violes 3r: 3 1/5'-2 2/3'-2'

 

Echo organ

 

(This is a guess: maybe with Quintaton 16, muted Viole 8, Celestina 4):

 

Harmonica aetherea 3r: 3 1/5'-2 2/3'-2'

 

(This stop, named "Harmonia aetherea", was often found in german organs where it was near to ever a string Cornet with three ranks)

 

Pedal

 

Mixture 3r: 3 1/5'-2 2/3'-2 2/7'

 

Fourniture 5r: 2 2/3'-2 2/7'-2'-1 1/3'-1'

 

This is something quite different from today's schemes. Of course, it is probable the pipes had more harmonic devellopment than it is used to today, so the result may have been brighter (the Willis way) than we could imagine it. I guess a rich, warm tone was the aim, to blend with the reed choruses and not only with the Diapason choruses.

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

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Quote Mark Wimpress (sorry, can't seem to include quotes without sending my reply into the ether....)

 

I was interested to read your comments.

 

I know of two high-pitched tierce mixtures in England, the H&H at St. Alban's and the HN&B/Nicholson at Gloucester - I have, however, only played Gloucester (many times) and I must admit that I would sooner complete the Swell reed chorus with a Clarion 4'.

 

Regarding the Pedal 32' harmonics at N-D, Paris, having heard them on several occasions from downstairs and upstairs (leaning against the case!) they are indeed wonderful, still and to my ears, are more effective than the 32' Principal.

 

I think that although the restoration at N-D has been done well, it is perhaps a pity that both chorus mixtures were removed from the Recit - the blank drawstop looks odd, too.

 

Just a thought.

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How prominently do tierce ranks feature in Harrison's and others 'Harmonics' stops?

 

Living in Australia, there isn't much of Harrison's work to be found.

 

Thanks

 

James Goldrick

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I've been doing a bit of looking into Harrison mixtures of the early 20th century. There are a couple of fairly untouched ones in Bristol, at St Mary Redcliffe and Clifton College. Both feature "Harmonics" consisting of 17.19.b21.22, and Redcliffe has a Tierce mixture on the Swell, though how original it is I'm unsure; the college is still original spec, and has a sensible "gap" mixture on the swell of 12.19.22 compensating for the bits that are missing from the chorus. The rebellion against tierce mixtures was said to have begun with J.C. Bishop who objected to their sound in equal temperament. I'm interested in this particularly because I'm trying to redesign an early 1900's Harrison mixture composition, in a compromise between authentic and useful, that got Rushworthed in the 70's. At the moment my thinking is send the Great mixture down a bit and include a small tierce to help with the fat reeds, lower the Swell mixture to 12.17.19.22.26 and put an authentic Harmonics of something like 15.17.19.b21.22 on the "solo", breaking back to 10.12.15.b21.22. Interested in the host's input here - might also be phoning for a quote.

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The entry on the NPOR gives the Redcliffe Swell a quint mixture (12.19.22.26.29.) - it was at one point re arranged at a higher pitch but I had understood that it is now back where it started from - so to speak.

AJJ

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...I confess that I like a bright and zingy treble, the classic French Plein Jeu for me being one of the most stirring sounds  imaginable, particularly in a beautiful French church or Cathedral.

 

Talking of Pedal mixtures and mutations etc (differences I know depending on whether they are 'flue' or 'flute' ranks) my memory always goes back to the Cavaille Coll at Notre Dame Paris prior to its restoration in 89-92. There the various mutations contributed to a superb effect on the Grande Pedale...

 

Indeed - but remembering that the Plein Jeu consists solely of quint and unison ranks.

 

As far as I know, the Pédale mutations at N-D were not altered in any way at the last restoration. Certainly, when I heard them a year or so ago, they sounded as good as ever. However, it must be stated that Philippe Lefebvre tends not to use them much, instead preferring the Principal 32p.

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  I'm interested in this particularly because I'm trying to redesign an early 1900's Harrison mixture composition, in a compromise between authentic and useful, that got Rushworthed in the 70's.  At the moment my thinking is send the Great mixture down a bit and include a small tierce to help with the fat reeds, lower the Swell mixture to 12.17.19.22.26 and put an authentic Harmonics of something like 15.17.19.b21.22 on the "solo", breaking back to 10.12.15.b21.22.

 

It would be interesting to know which H&H from the early 1900s. If you are in the Bournemouth area, do you mean St. Peter's? If so, I can see no point in altering the Swell mixture - that has not changed in composition since Arthur finished it in the church. The GO mixture was altered to 19, 22, 26, 29 by R&D, but since they also revoiced the Trombi ranks as Posaunes, it actually works quite well.

 

If anything, inserting an Harmonics on the Choir Organ is a retrograde step. It would be more beneficial to do something about the nasty GO Open No. 1, which is still fat (I assume that R&D did remove the leather from the lips?). As it stands, the GO chorus (based on Open No. 2) is quite good. The Harmonics stop has little musical use - particularly since the reeds are not that fat, now. In addition, there is already a separate Tierce rank on the GO, which, when added to the chorus, gives it a quite acceptable reedy 'tang'.

 

Incidentally, strictly speaking, Arthur Harrison's Harmonics were always 17, 19, flat-21, 22; (never with a 15th rank). The only exception of which I know is the 1908 scheme for Ely Cathedral, which also included the 10th rank.

 

Whilst the unenclosed section of the Choir Organ (I know it looks more like a Solo Organ on paper) has a fairly useless 4p Spitzflöte and an Acuta (19, 22), the Principal 8p is useful - particularly in French music, when used with the Harmonic Flute 8p and the Viola da Gamba 8p. I cannot see either a practical or a musical reason for inserting an Harmonics. That, along with an 8p extension of a Pedal Open Wood are stops we are probably better off without.

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The entry on the NPOR gives the Redcliffe Swell a quint mixture (12.19.22.26.29.) - it was at one point re arranged at a higher pitch but I had understood that it is now back where it started from - so to speak.

AJJ

 

 

Yes - I think the same is also true of the GO mixture. At one point (possibly in the mid-'70s) I believe that the Swell mixture at CC began thus: 22, 26, 29, 33, 36. However, I cannot now recall where I read this. :)

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I asked Philippe Lefebvre this question. His reply, in effect was, that it was felt by the four Titulaires that the Récit Fourniture and Cymbale were an unessential part of the scheme and were in any case, not original; therefore they should be omitted.

 

I still think that this was a mistake. Yes, the blank draw-stop looks distinctly odd, as does the blank space on the Récit jamb. Their retention is even less easy to comprehend, since the console was largely new in 1992. Only the keys (Herrburger Brooks, Long Eaton, Notts.), draw-stops, thumb and foot pistons being retained. The new console became a necessary addition to the restoration when it was discovered that the Cochereau console was constructed from chipboard, with an oak (or possibly mahogany) veneer!

 

The Tutti is still exciting and immensely powerful, but it has lost that 'crash' of brilliance, the ensemble now being very much reed-dominated. Formerly, with the Hermann/Boisseau ensemble, the bright mixtures still cut through the chamades. Listen closely to a Cochereau improvisation from the mid-1970s and you will also hear that, since the Chamades were played primarily from the Récit, PC tended to use the chorus 'underneath' the chamades. This was most effective. I use a similar (though modified) scheme of registration for the JSB De Profundis on my own instrument.

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Indeed!

 

Furthermore, the winding to the Boisseau chamades has been altered. In PC's day their speech was as steady as Gibraltar. Now there is a clearly-discernable wobble (and slight inflection) under certain circumstances. The poor thing sounds like King's, now... (Sorry, Mr. Cleobury.)

 

Incidentally, do you have the more obscure CDs of PC? (I assume you know that there is a new release out?)

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I am at the moment acting organist at  a church where a large 1895 Hunter organ was rebuilt in 1957 and again in 1972 when the tonal scheme of the instrument was more severly changed-for the worse! On the great is a mixture labelled 22,26,29 it does infact begin 19, 22,26. The old mixture was 17, 19, 22 and the 17 is now and independent stop, the 19 has the middle octave of pipes missing, the 22 is as before and there is the 26 on top. it makes a dreadful noise. Any suggestions as to what we should do with it?

 

On the same topic-where should a break firat appear? Father willis' mixtures are very bright and sparkly-I'd love one like that!!

 

CDBL.

 

It would be helpful to know the full specification, the position and use of the instrument and the acoustic properties of the building. (The original specification would also be useful.)

 

But, as a general point, it seems as though the present situation is unmusical. Perhaps, as M. Lauwers states, a return to the previous 17, 19, 22 composition would be more desirable. At Truro, the GO and Swell mixtures both have this composition and, in addition, they both break at F#1 (to what, I cannot recall).

 

However, as M. Lauwers also states, this is not a 'Bach' mixture!

 

Yes, Willis did keep his trebles bright - even the fifteenth ranks; but, associated with this type of mixture, there is a distinctly reedy 'tang', which tends to counteract the usefulness of the brilliance.

 

You do not state whether or not there is a mixture on the Swell. Furthermore, it may be possible to soften the present GO mixture - and perhaps supply the missing octave of pipes. This may be a cheaper temporary solution to what you hint is only the tip of the iceberg, as it were.

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Of course, we need to know what this organ is:

 

-If it's anywhere close to the original state, why not simply go back to Arthur Harrison's design? After all, such an organ is an "ancient" one!

 

-If not, one may consider the solution that consists in having the Tierce mixture divided in two, one with only octaves and quints, the other with the tierce(s) rank(s) and eventually the flat 21st.

 

-We may effectively suppose the original "Harmonics" stops to go with H&H caracteristic "Tromba" chorus reeds. But why revoice them as Posaunes? Should we transform our belgian fat Cornets into german Sesquialters? (We do have flemish Sesquialters, but that's something else than the german ones).

 

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

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Incidentally, strictly speaking, Arthur Harrison's Harmonics were always 17, 19, flat-21, 22; (never with a 15th rank). The only exception of which I know is the 1908 scheme for Ely Cathedral, which also included the 10th rank.

 

Whilst the unenclosed section of the Choir Organ (I know it looks more like a Solo Organ on paper) has a fairly useless 4p Spitzflöte and an Acuta (19, 22), the Principal 8p is useful - particularly in French music, when used with the Harmonic Flute 8p and the Viola da Gamba 8p.  I cannot see either a practical or a musical reason for inserting an Harmonics. That, along with an 8p extension of a Pedal Open Wood are stops we are probably better off without.

 

1) Yes - but the unenclosed section of the Choir is the one I was thinking of doing the Harmonics to - and, as you know, it only has 8 and 4 and therefore a 15th rank would appear to be essential to complete the chorus. This would be in place of the Acuta which needs flattening and selling off as key rings. The Principal is lovely, and original to Willis. The 4' could probably do with revoicing.

 

2) Ref the unenclosed Choir the idea would be to make it a la the old Hill at Bath, and available on Great or Choir as a separate division.

 

3) All the Mixtures have been changed numerous times, demonstrated by the numerous bits of ply glued to the tipboards.

 

But, at the moment, it's all ideas but if you know the instrument you'll see that the only suggested alterations are to the non-Harrison work, which is of distinctly iffy quality...

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1) Yes, I know! Personally, I would find a separate 2' more useful than a mixture which contained the tierce and septième ranks.

 

2) Well that is a reasonable idea.

 

3) It is a few years since I looked at the upperboards, but I am fairly certain that the GO and Swell mixtures have only been altered once - by R&D in the major rebuild. Given the workmanship of the console, the haphazard arrangement of the veneer on the upperboard is probably the result of the one alteration, carried out within a fairly limited budget. However, I suppose we could always resort to carbon-14 testing....

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1) Have you seen the Stephen Cooke rebuild of the Bevington at Westbury? That has an arrangement whereby the whole stop is drawn, and individual ranks can be isolated by push buttons. That would be the plan - to enable isolation of useful and consistent portions of the mixture (i.e. 15th, 12th). To maintain this arrangement on an individual slider would make the breaks a bit ugly to look at on the chest, but hey.

 

3) It appears that the upperboards were replaced in their entirety by Rushworths, at the time the Great Mixture was changed from Harmonics into something sensible. The alterations have definitely taken place since, possibly whoever did the capture system and addition of the Choir Celeste in 1987.

 

Incidentally, the Swell Mixture definitely starts at 15 and not 12 - to my mind, blocking the whole thing down just that one stage would make it infinitely more useable on top of a really rather small, Gemshorney chorus.

 

I would be interested to learn more about the construction of an 1870's Willis Posaune, and its typical winding - the (horrible) rank on this one is Willis pipework, but on 10 inches and weighted. Shurely this would have been 6 or 7 inches and not necessarily weighted?

 

The 1970's rebuild and new console cost, unbelievably, £30,000. I can't find that value of workmanship anywhere in there and agree the console is a complete biatch, badly proportioned and badly made with mock-woodgrain plastic stop jambs. Even a DIY redesign of this would be highly beneficial.

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1)  Have you seen the Stephen Cooke rebuild of the Bevington at Westbury?  That has an arrangement whereby the whole stop is drawn, and individual ranks can be isolated by push buttons.  That would be the plan - to enable isolation of useful and consistent portions of the mixture (i.e. 15th, 12th).  To maintain this arrangement on an individual slider would make the breaks a bit ugly to look at on the chest, but hey.

 

As an organ builder, I don't like such ideas at all. I really think the organ builder should have a clear idea as to what his tonal concept is. If you have ranks which can be suppressed, why not simply have it as a separate stop in the first place. An individual Tierce (for example) would be voiced differently from the Tierce rank of a Sesquialtera as it would have to work on its own. It is a bit like the half stop idea where the first "half" draw of the stop brings on a Fifteenth and the second ads the rest of the ranks of a Mixture. Why bother? It does not save money and it restricts you in the registration as you can't have the Mixture without the Fifteenth which on occasion you may well wish to do if the Mixture blends well.

 

However, I have to admit that we did something similar at St. Ignatius Loyola in that when I specified that the Pedal Mixture would start with a 3 1/5 Tierce rank, my colleagues here were aghast as they feared it would simply not work, so suggested (nay insisted) that the Tierce rank should be on its own slide so that it could be switched off behind the console if the idea was a failure. The person doing the pipework preparation also did his bit by voicing the Tierce rank on the soft side. On site we brought it up to the same strength as the other four ranks and the switch isolating the Tierce rank has never ben used to this day and at least two other organs have that same Mixture now.

 

John Pike Mander

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