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andersboy_5

Loudest Tubas

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There's a pretty devastating solo reed on the Compton organ of the Guildhall, Southampton. I'm not sure that it's a tuba - could be an Orchestral Trumpet or something; It's devasatingly loud (and I like loud!) and quite spectacular.

 

I think that this organ deserves to be much better known - it's a terrific instrument!

 

Q

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Guest Roffensis
Not quite a dulciana maybe (haven't seen the pipes), but back in the early 70s when I encountered the Choir 8' Dolce on the Binns at Queens' Cambridge, I was quite entranced. Especially with the octave coupler. Maybe I had a sheltered childhood.

 

I suspect you are simply musical! :lol:

 

R

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... I heard the Notre Dame, Paris organ demonstrated (superbly) in a quiet cathedral this spring and was completely happy with the sound which sounded like the grandest possible full organ but then the later stuff came on after which it was just a bl**dy row (IMHO) but some of us moan that it used to be better when it was louder in Cochereau's day!! I shudder to think what good all that noise was for. ...

 

I am not sure it was louder in Cochereau's time - particularly since there are now two extra (and very powerful) chamade registers. In addition, the instrument is now properly (or perhaps 'fully') winded, since the 1990-92 restoration. In any case, in that vast building (and given the fact that the balcony was considerably increased in depth during the restoration of the building in the nineteenth century, thus acting as a reflector to the sound), the volume down at pavement level is somewhat attenuated. This is why Cochereau added the chamades. *

 

Since one now has to rely on good quality recordings to assess the sound of the instrument prior to 1990, I find it to have been a thrilling, very percussive and surprisingly clear sound. Only during Cochereau's trademark fast-repeated chords played on the tutti does it become difficult to sort out the actual notes - not necessarily something peculiar to this instrument, or even French instruments in general.

 

A few months ago, I was staying with a friend who played me a disc of some organ music from Norwich Cathedral. After two or three minutes, I could bear it no longer and had to ask him to change the disc. I found the sound to be oppressive, incredibly opaque and, at times, rather unclear.

 

Give me Nôtre-Dame any day.

 

 

 

* Cavaillé-Coll added the two chamade registers at S. Sernin for a similar reason - and also to help obscure the fact that the divisions did not couple simultaneously via the Barker machine. The 'new' chamades spoke both promptly and very powerfully, largely obscuring this defect.

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Guest Roffensis

 

some of us moan that it used to be better when it was louder in Cochereau's day!! I shudder to think what good all that noise was for.

 

 

 

 

 

reply

 

 

Perhaps to get all the congregation out quickly after Mass! :lol:

 

I think NDdP is actually more balanced now. I also think it lost something, a certain fizz?

 

A bit like Blackburn.

 

R

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some of us moan that it used to be better when it was louder in Cochereau's day!! I shudder to think what good all that noise was for.

 

reply

 

Perhaps to get all the congregation out quickly after Mass! :lol:

 

I think NDdP is actually more balanced now. I also think it lost something, a certain fizz?

 

A bit like Blackburn.

 

R

 

Well, the tutti is now certainly dominated by the big reeds. And, although I do not think that it is any quieter, there is something missing from the sound now - call it 'fizz', if you will.

 

I am interested to read that you feel the same way about Blackburn. I only remember this instrument after it was rebuilt by Walker; I have yet to hear it in its present incarnation.

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A few months ago, I was staying with a friend who played me a disc of some organ music from Norwich Cathedral. After two or three minutes, I could bear it no longer and had to ask him to change the disc. I found the sound to be oppressive, incredibly opaque and, at times, rather unclear.

 

A good case, and some nice individual registers. Otherwise not a thing of beauty.

 

AJS

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I am not sure it was louder in Cochereau's time - particularly since there are now two extra (and very powerful) chamade registers. In addition, the instrument is now properly (or perhaps 'fully') winded, since the 1990-92 restoration. In any case, in that vast building (and given the fact that the balcony was considerably increased in depth during the restoration of the building in the nineteenth century, thus acting as a reflector to the sound), the volume down at pavement level is somewhat attenuated. This is why Cochereau added the chamades. *

 

Since one now has to rely on good quality recordings to assess the sound of the instrument prior to 1990, I find it to have been a thrilling, very percussive and surprisingly clear sound. Only during Cochereau's trademark fast-repeated chords played on the tutti does it become difficult to sort out the actual notes - not necessarily something peculiar to this instrument, or even French instruments in general.

 

Give me Nôtre-Dame any day.

 

* Cavaillé-Coll added the two chamade registers at S. Sernin for a similar reason - and also to help obscure the fact that the divisions did not couple simultaneously via the Barker machine. The 'new' chamades spoke both promptly and very powerfully, largely obscuring this defect.[/font]

 

'Funny thing - I also heard the ND organ - building empty - in February and thought it sounded fare better than on any of the recordings. I also felt that 'volume-wise' it came over far better without the tourists everywhere and that sitting at the head of the nave with everything firing at the hands of M. Lefebvre it was actually quite civilized.

 

A

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Guest Roffensis
reply

 

Perhaps to get all the congregation out quickly after Mass! :lol:

 

I think NDdP is actually more balanced now. I also think it lost something, a certain fizz?

 

A bit like Blackburn.

 

R

 

 

Well, the tutti is now certainly dominated by the big reeds. And, although I do not think that it is any quieter, there is something missing from the sound now - call it 'fizz', if you will.

 

I am interested to read that you feel the same way about Blackburn. I only remember this instrument after it was rebuilt by Walker; I have yet to hear it in its present incarnation.

 

There is, to my ears, a definite difference at Blackburn. It sounds fatter. I find the organ also has lost it's attack, it almost "spat" at you and was incredibly exciting. It sounds more polite now, and, I think, certainly less exciting. The addition of electronic pedal notes I always truly abhor anywhere, and really if ever there was a case not to add weight, then here it was. This organ made it's name on the unique sound it had, a very vertical sound, ringing with brilliance and not a little brassy.

 

Someone else please give an opinion. Is it just me?

 

Now I fear the only truly representative organ we have left at Cathedral level of Walkers 60s era may well be the Metropolitan Cathedral, Liverpool, and long may it reign in it's present incarnation.

 

A gem. Incidently, Paul Derrett has made a couple of recording there well worth seeking out, one of Richard Francis' music, the other of six Liverpool organs, with a a stunning Toccata at the end which will raise a few hairs on the neck!! Great stuff!! The organ sounds brilliant under his hands. What an exciting sound!!

 

R

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There is, to my ears, a definite difference at Blackburn. It sounds fatter. I find the organ also has lost it's attack, it almost "spat" at you and was incredibly exciting. It sounds more polite now, and, I think, certainly less exciting. The addition of electronic pedal notes I always truly abhor anywhere, and really if ever there was a case not to add weight, then here it was. This organ made it's name on the unique sound it had, a very vertical sound, ringing with brilliance and not a little brassy.

 

Someone else please give an opinion. Is it just me?

 

I am inclined to agree; I knew this organ quite well in my youth, I was present at the dedication service and JB let me practice there during my student days.

I have been to quite a few recitals since the rebuild of 2002.

 

Firstly, the pedal reeds: the 16/32 Posaune rank is not particularly fierce, and whilst it made its presence felt in the original tutti, with the extra 16/32 tone provided by the electronic basses and mutations it doesn't really cut through now. This I feel is the crux of the problem.

 

Having heard the organ a number of times since the rebuild including the re-opening recital, and purchasing the David Briggs CD of French music, I am of the opinion that the digital basses have been reduced in out-put recently. I haven't been aware of the excessive 'roll' which I perceived at the opening recitals and on the CD.

 

The new Solo organ is a fine addition and the other minor transfers make sense.

It's still one of my favourite UK organs though!

 

DT

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Unfortunately, only a close examination of the flues, tips and wind pressures will answer this. I would be surprised, and rather saddened if anything had been done. This instrument did go with real crack of the whip, quite offensive to some, but a period work of art nonetheless. In synergy with the artistic ideals of the time, including the architecture of the Cathedral extension, it works so well.

 

Keeping to topic, I always loved the Imperial Trumpet - a big loud taxi horn - lots of fun.

 

AJS

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Guest Roffensis

I wonder how many would be delighted as much as I would to see the electronic basses removed. It didn't need fattening up. Such a move was totally contrary to the original scheme and tonal concept. One hopes the verticality of the sound could return. I agree the solo is a prudent addition, but despite all this, I still maintian that the drive and vigour it had has largely gone. I simply feel this should be fully addressed. I find it incredible if it was actually altered, it suited the building like a glove and really was such a unique and thrilling sound. Today it just doesn't thrill.

 

R

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Keeping to topic, I always loved the Imperial Trumpet - a big loud taxi horn - lots of fun.

 

AJS

 

 

An apt description! Through the late 70s and early 80s I used to record BBC choral evensong onto cassette - I still have boxes of them in loft! I remember one evensong in particular from Blackburn with Finzi God is gone up.......the Imperial Trumpet probably caused shockwaves in the BBC OB van parked outside! It was also used to good effect in the closing hymn - Rejoice, the Lord is King.

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Keeping to topic, I always loved the Imperial Trumpet - a big loud taxi horn - lots of fun.

 

I too like this stop, it's very different from the Orchestral Trumpet at the Met. which preceeded it (straight resonators as opposed to spun brass, and it doesn't take your head off)

 

John Bertalot's inspiration for this stop was the State Trumpet at St. John the Divine NYC.

During the mid 60's JB did a tour of the USA and on returning produced a music/slide show which I experenced 2 or 3 times at various venues around the Blackburn diocese.

I remember St. John's featured heavily and JB was full of enthusiasm for the organ and the trumpet.

 

On a general note about the Blackburn organ, it is devastating in the transepts, you have to get down the nave a bit but also sit fairly centrally to hear a good balance between the 2 sides.

 

DT

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I wonder how many would be delighted as much as I would to see the electronic basses removed. It didn't need fattening up.

 

R

 

I would certainly agree with this. I have never liked the idea of mixing pipes and electronics, even for bass registers.

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I am rather pleased that Cynic broke ranks and tried to turn the discussion to the most beautiful stop you know, because he was only saying out loud what I was privately thinking. Isn't it a bit adolescent to compare stops on the basis of 'mine is bigger than yours' ? As musicians, shouldn't we have outgrown this ? Shouldn't we be more concerned with beauty than with force ?

 

I like to think it is a sign of such maturity as I have achieved as a musician that quite often now when playing a concert on a big organ, I deliberately avoid the tuba. Loudness for its own sake is wearying, and so many tubas are not particularly pleasant or interesting to listen to. Unless I am playing a trumpet or tuba tune, whcih is the sort of music I tend not to feature in my programmes, I can see no reason to use the thing. Fiery solo reeds are a diffent matter, and can be genuinely 'orchestrated' in the music for a real musical purpose.

 

[The one exception I would make from instruments discussed so far is Eaton Square, which I heard recently in concert, accompanying a choir I was singing with. The tutti is very loud indeed, but without any trace of shrillness or harshness. It is genuinely thrilling and musical - the loudness has its own artistic purpose].

 

By contrast, a beautiful single flute or principal can be endlessly musical. I cannot nominate the most beautiful in the country because I have not played that many organs, but some stops that I have played that never fail to enchant me are the Cor de Nuit on the choir at Coventry, the stopped diapason on the swell at St Mary's Brighton and the Cor de Nuit Celestes at Westminster Cathedral. Also mentioned in dispatches are the flutes / principals on the Rieger at Oxford and at Marylebone. You find that you select these stops at the beginning of a piece, and then just want to carry on for the rest of the piece without change - the real test, in my view, of a musical stop.

 

Sorry if this spoils the fun !

 

m

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Guest Stanley Monkhouse

here's another: Great Stopped Diap 8 on St Patrick's, Powerscourt (Enniskerry), Co Wicklow, about 16 miles south of Dublin. Those unaltered Conachers (there are a few of them around there) are lovely.

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Since one now has to rely on good quality recordings to assess the sound of the instrument prior to 1990, I find it to have been a thrilling, very percussive and surprisingly clear sound. Only during Cochereau's trademark fast-repeated chords played on the tutti does it become difficult to sort out the actual notes - not necessarily something peculiar to this instrument, or even French instruments in general.

 

Percussive it really is/was....

pc, what do you think was first? The inspiration by the new chamades? Or has Cocherau always been the guy to use hammering "raddaddaddatt" motives, and did he install what he needed to express himself.....?

I have much respect for him, as I would never dare to play in such a way. But someone has to. A pity that so many players tried to copy, but on much lower level, and then those sounds really get penetrating, as do so many of reed and chamade stops commissioned by such guys....

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... By contrast, a beautiful single flute or principal can be endlessly musical. I cannot nominate the most beautiful in the country because I have not played that many organs, but some stops that I have played that never fail to enchant me are the Cor de Nuit on the choir at Coventry ...

 

If you mean the H&H at Coventry Cathedral, it is actually an 8ft. Harmonic Flute - but I agree, it is extraordinarily beautiful. In fact, I think that it is my favourite stop on this rather lovely instrument.

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If you mean the H&H at Coventry Cathedral, it is actually an 8ft. Harmonic Flute - but I agree, it is extraordinarily beautiful. In fact, I think that it is my favourite stop on this rather lovely instrument.

 

One of my most often played CDs is the complete Durufle from there (David M Patrick on ASV) - each time I listen I hear more amazing sounds - it fits the music like a glove too a fact that I discovered on hearing S. Etienne du M. in Paris for the first time earlier this year.

 

A

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I am rather pleased that Cynic broke ranks and tried to turn the discussion to the most beautiful stop you know, because he was only saying out loud what I was privately thinking. Isn't it a bit adolescent to compare stops on the basis of 'mine is bigger than yours' ? As musicians, shouldn't we have outgrown this ? Shouldn't we be more concerned with beauty than with force ?

 

 

I certainly see what you're getting at, and quite agree about the beauty of single stops, but actually music's about lots of things - beauty is only one of them. (Any kind of film music/opera which tried to convey only beauty would be very tedious...)

 

In another thread, someone mentioned a quote of Gordon Reynolds (?), reminding the organist not to forget that (s)he was once the small child down in the stalls whose toes clenched as full swell came shining through the great diapasons. (Apologies if I've mangled this!) A player who completely eschews all vulgarity, and performs only the most elevated pieces with immaculate taste won't attract the young or the Radio 2 audience (no condescension intended!) to the organ in the first place.

 

I think some of the hostility aimed at the Traditional Edwardian Tuba comes from a lack of understanding of its intended uses, and of the Edwardian style of playing. Francis Jackson somewhere mentions Bairstow's use of the tuba to solo the tenor line, in the style of orchestral trombones. FJ does this with great aplomb towards the end of the Stanford Postlude in D - and I've never heard this done by modern players. An important part of the tuba's role was also to augment the pedal line, rather than to swamp the manual choruses.

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I am rather pleased that Cynic broke ranks and tried to turn the discussion to the most beautiful stop you know, because he was only saying out loud what I was privately thinking. Isn't it a bit adolescent to compare stops on the basis of 'mine is bigger than yours' ? As musicians, shouldn't we have outgrown this ? Shouldn't we be more concerned with beauty than with force ?

I certainly see what you're getting at, and quite agree about the beauty of single stops, but actually music's about lots of things - beauty is only one of them. (Any kind of film music/opera which tried to convey only beauty would be very tedious...)

Yes! Absolutely! I find considering beauty in single stops is a bit superficial in organs. One needs to look at the whole picture to see how the sounds fit in and that helps to sort a musical instrument from a box of whistles that make some pretty sounds. It's all very well talking about the beauty of the charmingly named Double Gedacht 32' on the Norwich Cathedral organ but if it doesn't fit in with the chorus, is it really that relevant? And we need to think in terms of the choruses of the organ and the swell effects as much as a pretty little lieblich gedacht (!) or harmonic flute. A beautiful organ depends on so many things...

I think some of the hostility aimed at the Traditional Edwardian Tuba comes from a lack of understanding of its intended uses, and of the Edwardian style of playing. Francis Jackson somewhere mentions Bairstow's use of the tuba to solo the tenor line, in the style of orchestral trombones. FJ does this with great aplomb towards the end of the Stanford Postlude in D - and I've never heard this done by modern players. An important part of the tuba's role was also to augment the pedal line, rather than to swamp the manual choruses.

Well, this is interesting! I know a few places where I'd like my left hand to go on to the tuba in the Stanford postlude and I've heard it done with great aplomb. I also agree with the idea of coupling the tuba to the pedals to give them further definition - especially if they're carrying a big tune against something else in the manuals, like a French Toccata. And need we forget a lot of early music where the pedal carries the cantus firmus on a large Trompet at unison pitch...

 

I can remember the old Novello edition of the Bach Toccata in F major called for the tuba to be coupled to the pedals in the part where the pedals play notes in octaves against the manual chords. I never (particularly wanted to) do this but I can see the point in it. Again, this is an Edwardian edition and I think it gives an insight into how the tuba might have been used by contemporary Edwardian organists.

 

I wonder, is it no coincidence that a friend of mine, who plays a large 1950s Willis III on the South Coast, remarked to me that he thought the tuba was more of a pedal reed extended upwards than a true solo stop and he tended to use the Gt reeds to choir transfer to augment the tuba when he used it in a solo?

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Percussive it really is/was....

pc, what do you think was first? The inspiration by the new chamades? Or has Cocherau always been the guy to use hammering "raddaddaddatt" motives, and did he install what he needed to express himself.....?

I have much respect for him, as I would never dare to play in such a way. But someone has to. A pity that so many players tried to copy, but on much lower level, and then those sounds really get penetrating, as do so many of reed and chamade stops commissioned by such guys....

Recordings made prior to the installation of the chamade ranks show that Cochereau had been using this technique for some time. They also show that, even by then, the richness of his harmonic language and his extensive knowledge of form were already well developed. The chamades were, I think, installed solely to provide adequate sound in the immense Nave when a really powerful tutti was required.

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I can remember the old Novello edition of the Bach Toccata in F major called for the tuba to be coupled to the pedals in the part where the pedals play notes in octaves against the manual chords. I never (particularly wanted to) do this but I can see the point in it. Again, this is an Edwardian edition and I think it gives an insight into how the tuba might have been used by contemporary Edwardian organists.

 

My first teacher Dr George Gray (an Articled Organist of Sir Edward Bairstow at York Minster and later, himself a Cathedral organist), always had the Tuba coupled to Pedal for the final entry of the "St Anne". He also was perhaps was one of the last Cathedral organists not to conduct the choir unless for unaccompanied music - sometimes on Radio 3 Choral Evensong (Psalms were considered some of the very finest in the land). The distance from organ to choir was some 80ft or more. The 'waterfall effect' of rolling from the uppermost note on the keyboard to the pedal one was part also of the Edwardian tradition - not a musical affectation, but a necessary one - as it demonstrated to the choir when to stop singing when they finished together - Stanford in C, for example.

Best wishes,

Nigel

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I wonder, is it no coincidence that a friend of mine, who plays a large 1950s Willis III on the South Coast, remarked to me that he thought the tuba was more of a pedal reed extended upwards than a true solo stop and he tended to use the Gt reeds to choir transfer to augment the tuba when he used it in a solo?

 

Funny that - I used to learn on a large 1950s Willis III on the S. Coast with a Tuba that was extended downwards to the Pedals ending up as a road drill!!

 

A

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Funny that - I used to learn on a large 1950s Willis III on the S. Coast with a Tuba that was extended downwards to the Pedals ending up as a road drill!!

 

A

Yes, I think this is the very same. Was it a certain Dr. Williams, FRCO, who was organist there in those days? He's a bit before my time though. I don't know very much about him - happy to learn more though!

 

Would I be right that this 32' road drill is also housed in the Choir Swell box, on 15'' WP? It's still there, with its infinite graduation swell pedals.

 

I remember this organ was reviewed by Cecil/Sam Clutton in The Organ, circa 1950s.

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