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andersboy_5

Loudest Tubas

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There isn't any point for discussion - As there are no sources, as you say, for the 'other' opinion, it's difficult to argue the point anyway I think.

It should be remembered that the stop was a gift of the firm - he was entitled to do with it whatever he pleased.

 

As a matter of interest, we've just completed a Trompette Militaire in the Auckland instrument, fitted up entirely with Willis shallots, not Gottfried ones, and it sounds extraordinarily similar. There are also Bombard 16, Tuba 8 and Tuba Clarion 4, which should carry a health warning! We'll be putting up an mp3 file on the webpage shortly at http://www.willis-organs.com/auckland_general.html where there are also pictures of the installation.

 

DW

 

 

===============================

 

 

I do recall ther late Stephen Bicknell going on about the Trompette Militaire, and suggesting that it was pure Gottfried, but who cares?

 

The fact is, that it is one of the finest reeds in the world, irrespective of the authorship/creator.

 

It was clearly a moment of inspiration to install this reed at St Paul's, and even if it had its own tremulant and Wurlitzer labels attached, it wouldn't alter the quality one bit. The fact is, Wurlitzer at their best were exceptionally good, and the reeds especially so. The fact that they went to Gottfried suggests that the supplier knew what he was doing, and the same truth must apply to Willis.

 

It's a bit like complaining that a new Rolls-Royce has a BMW engine, and that somehow, this is inferior in pedigree. As David will know only too well, engines don't come any better, whatever the label says on the crate.

 

Let's just continue to marvel at that reed, and enjoy it for what it is, rather than what it might be.

 

MM

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===============================

 

 

I do recall ther late Stephen Bicknell going on about the Trompette Militaire, and suggesting that it was pure Gottfried, but who cares?

 

The fact is, that it is one of the finest reeds in the world, irrespective of the authorship/creator.

 

It was clearly a moment of inspiration to install this reed at St Paul's, and even if it had its own tremulant and Wurlitzer labels attached, it wouldn't alter the quality one bit. The fact is, Wurlitzer at their best were exceptionally good, and the reeds especially so. The fact that they went to Gottfried suggests that the supplier knew what he was doing, and the same truth must apply to Willis.

 

It's a bit like complaining that a new Rolls-Royce has a BMW engine, and that somehow, this is inferior in pedigree. As David will know only too well, engines don't come any better, whatever the label says on the crate.

 

Let's just continue to marvel at that reed, and enjoy it for what it is, rather than what it might be.

 

MM

 

 

Absolutely! It is an inspirational register and reflects great credit on all who were associated with it.

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Absolutely! It is an inspirational register and reflects great credit on all who were associated with it.

 

Fair enough! The Auckland instrument sounds excellent, btw.

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I would like to nominate the Lancaster Town Hall's Norman & Beard solo Tuba...I have given a few recitals on the instrument and the Tuba always sounds massive each time I use it! :wacko:

Jeff Coffin and his team are working on the instrument, and the Great Reeds are now big enough, -but the Tuba makes my hair stand on end each time I use it!

Worth a play for any interested...

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This extract from 'The Great Cathedral Organ Series Remembered' by Brian Culverhouse, from the CD-ROM that comes with the boxed set recently discussed on this site, made me laugh. It describes, of course, the Tuba Mirabilis:

 

"A famous recitalist and obvious candidate for our second LP was Francis Jackson at York Minster: also a composer in his own right, he had charge of a fine instrument that J. W. Walker & Sons had rebuilt in 1960 with some fascinating stops. This led us to include Cocker’s Tuba Tune as a demonstration piece. As soon as Francis started to play it for the balance tests, the needles on the mixer flew in all directions and we had to grab the microphones and retreat towards the west door. But we coped, and the result was a sound unique in the entire series."

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This extract from 'The Great Cathedral Organ Series Remembered' by Brian Culverhouse, from the CD-ROM that comes with the boxed set recently discussed on this site, made me laugh. It describes, of course, the Tuba Mirabilis:

 

"A famous recitalist and obvious candidate for our second LP was Francis Jackson at York Minster: also a composer in his own right, he had charge of a fine instrument that J. W. Walker & Sons had rebuilt in 1960 with some fascinating stops. This led us to include Cocker’s Tuba Tune as a demonstration piece. As soon as Francis started to play it for the balance tests, the needles on the mixer flew in all directions and we had to grab the microphones and retreat towards the west door. But we coped, and the result was a sound unique in the entire series."

 

I have two recordings of this piece, played on the organ of York Minster by Francis Jackson. The recordings were separated by a few years, as far as I can remember. Whilst, obviously, Jackson uses the Tuba Mirabilis on both recordings, the main difference was that the second recording was made whilst the 32ft. Seackbut was being re-sited, so it was unavailable for the dominant pedal, shortly before the recapitulation. However, it was used on the earlier recording - and to good effect. I cannot say the same for the Tuba, though, since both recordings were made before Phil Burbeck was employed to re-regulate the pipes. Apparently, Harrisons' tuner had, at some point, closed the tuning slots on either the C or C# side, in order to avoid snagging his clothing as he squeezed past. The slightly odd result can be heard clearly on the recordings.

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Just to add to this thread, Compton's masterpiece at Southampton Guildhall has a Tuba and Harmonic Trumpet both on 25in wind and are magnificent & certainly loud, if not downright strident! Richard Hills uses both to good effect on the new CD.

 

P

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Just to add to this thread, Compton's masterpiece at Southampton Guildhall has a Tuba and Harmonic Trumpet both on 25in wind and are magnificent & certainly loud, if not downright strident! Richard Hills uses both to good effect on the new CD.

 

P

 

 

=============================

 

 

The equivalents have to be the two big reeds at Hull City Hall, which in combination can clearly be heard outside in the streets below!

 

I have yet to discover the exact source of Compton reeds. Some were clearly quite ordinary, but others were quite extraordinary, and it is known that W C "Billy" Jones was involved in at least some of them. However, another source of information suggests that Hill, Norman & Beard sometimes supplied reeds to Compton, and if so, it opens up a whole new can....not of worms, I hasten to add.

 

If you ever want to hear big Tubas and absolutely scorching big Trumpets, you don't need to look further than Hill, Norman & Beard. The seriously snappy Trumpets found on many of the Chrsitie theatre organs are the equivalent to English Mustard, in that one's eyebrows shoot up and return only slowly. (Eg: those at the Brighton Pavilion) Within the H,N & B empire was a father and son reed-voicing dynasty, Arthur and Brian Rundell, who were probably as great as Fr Willis IMHO. It wasn't just the big reeds, but the small ones too, which were always quite excellent, with superb examples of Clarinets, Vox Humanas and Orchestral Oboes, for instance. I don't for one minute think that "Billy" Jones was their equal, but others may think differently.

 

Without the slightest evidence, and only instinct on which to go, I'd almost be bold enough to wager that those "special" reeds at Hull and Southampton are Hill, Norman & Beard registers, because I don't know others found in Compton instruments of a comparable tonal quality.

 

As for accolade of loudest Tuba, it is probably the big 'un at Liverpool, but such is the scale of the building, it probably doesn't have quite the impact it would have in a smaller building. In a given room, I would suggest that the bottom end of the Tuba unit at Hull City Hall, when it goes towards the bottom of the 16ft pitches, is probably the loudest reed in England. To quote an American expression, it's a real "barn burner" of a stop. I know that when I was practising on that organ and drew the 16ft Tuba on the pedal, the person turning the pages burst into laughter when I stopped dead with sheer shock and proclaimed, "Dear God Almighty! It's the start of the apocolypse!"

 

OIf course, as I mentioned previously, a group of like-minded, organ-playing schoolboys, back in the 1960's, would often do silly imitations of the York monster, which always saw us grinning and falling about laughing; such was the blatant irregularity of that stop. It's a long time since I heard it, but I hope it hasn't been spoiled by being made more polite and uniform. After all, even English Mustard has a place in the world.

 

Best,

 

MM

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I know that Duncan Booth said his Father used to make some strings for Compton. Don't know about reeds though.

 

========================

 

 

Thank you for that snippet of information, which is now duly filed in the parts bin!

 

I suspect that Compton's were so incredibly busy, ( even in the depression years), outsourcing was one way of increasing prductivity and coping with orders; especially from cinemas.

 

I don't suppose I will ever be in the position of stating who supplied what and to whom, but thus far, there is evidence of Compton association and collaboration with J W Walker, H N & B, Spurden-Rutt and now Booth. I wouldn't be at all surprised if that list doesn't grow.

 

Best,

 

MM.

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Grinstead of Kilkenny was an ex-Compton man and his consoles looked very much like Compton consoles (eg Killaloe Cathedral, Co. Clare). I don't know if he got them from Compton or from a trade supplier to the same pattern.

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I would endorse what MM says about the Hull City Hall reeds, positive that he is referring to the 8ft Tuba and its wonderful sister stop, the Orchestral Trumpet. They are magnificently bold and musical. I'm not sure, though, of their pedigree because the original 1911 organ by Forster & Andrews (F&A) also listed these two stops on the Solo division. Being at the top of the organ the Solo division may have sustained some of the bomb damage during WWII. Although I have tuned both stops for the late Peter Goodman I did not have reason or thought to question their pedigree. But I rather fancy the present Tuba and Orchestral Trumpet could well be by F&A and would probably not be by HN&B who did not acquire F&A until much later. It is well documented that the 1911 F&A organ lacked power, something that Compton's rectified in their 1950/51 rebuild, much of the present reed voicing being done by Frank Hancock, Compton's principal reed voicer. I add the proviso that I could be wrong.

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I would endorse what MM says about the Hull City Hall reeds, positive that he is referring to the 8ft Tuba and its wonderful sister stop, the Orchestral Trumpet. They are magnificently bold and musical. I'm not sure, though, of their pedigree because the original 1911 organ by Forster & Andrews (F&A) also listed these two stops on the Solo division. Being at the top of the organ the Solo division may have sustained some of the bomb damage during WWII. Although I have tuned both stops for the late Peter Goodman I did not have reason or thought to question their pedigree. But I rather fancy the present Tuba and Orchestral Trumpet could well be by F&A and would probably not be by HN&B who did not acquire F&A until much later. It is well documented that the 1911 F&A organ lacked power, something that Compton's rectified in their 1950/51 rebuild, much of the present reed voicing being done by Frank Hancock, Compton's principal reed voicer. I add the proviso that I could be wrong.

 

 

==========================

 

 

Indeed, a senior moment on my part...and it was very late when I wrote what I wrote. However, I'd also forgotten what I didn't know in the first place, which was the actual nature of those original registers. Those two big reeds, (as they are now), were actually voiced on 12" wg pressure back in 1902, and whilst this may produce a good trumpet, it is unlikely to produce much more than a good Tromba at best.

 

The other evidence is to some extent conjectural, because I've never heard really good reeds by Forster & Andrews. Their Clarinets were poor, their swell reeds thin and underpowered and their Great Trumpets or Posaunes quite ordinary. For evidence of what the Forster & Andrews probably sounded like, I can go back to the four-manual instrument they built in "Schulze" style at All Soul's, Hailey Hill, Halifax. I remember this organ, and somewhere, there is a (poor quality) recording of it, (possibly on the Halifax Organist's Association website), with the late Skackleton Pollard playing. Good as the instrument was, it was never all that exciting and it certainly never shouted, even when all the reeds were drawn.

 

I think on the basis of the two observations above, what we hear at Hull City Hall are Compton reeds (now on 25" wg), but the question remains as to who actually voiced them or perhaps even re-made or made them anew. There's something about that Orchestral Trumpet which has the same devil and splash which was once heard at Bradford Cathedral, (now somewhat tamed and spoiled in the process). The fact that Compton were very busy at this time and would have dragged most of the Hull organ back to the factory in London, tells me that they would have had other organ-builders involved, and as we know that H, N & B probably supplied reeds to Compton, I'd still suggest that this was probably the source, even though I have no concrete evidence one way or the other.

 

Best,

 

MM

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Picture of 1844 'Fan Tuba' at York Minster?

 

I recently was thrilled to come across the following picture of York Minster's 'Five Sisters' window at a friend's house:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BysZXvZERdMZSThyVFhoMEpoSTd0WHp4dnFsQk1hcXFrUFRR/view?usp=sharing

 

On closer inspection, I saw what I can only conclude is the 1844 'Fan Tuba' (according to http://www.organstops.org/f/FanTuba.html) poking out from the screen:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BysZXvZERdMZVkNhMDR4aTU4Q1c1YmtOWlB3MWhKeHlfbHF3/view?usp=sharing

 

Please do correct me if I'm wrong!

(Sorry, couldn't figure out how to upload images.)

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Yes, that looks like the horizontal tuba which at one time fired west over the edge of the screen. I can't remember if it was taken inside the case when Walkers' rebuilt the organ in 1903 or on some previous occasion. The present Tuba Mirabilis is horizontal within the case, a position which has led to some notes being brighter than others, due I think to the tuning scrolls being disturbed, as can be heard on Francis Jackson's famous recording of the Cocker Tuba Tune.

 

Incidentally, Francis recently celebrated his 98th birthday and a picture on Facebook shows him looking very well. I'm sure we all wish him good health as he steams towards his century and beyond.

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The present Tuba Mirabilis is horizontal within the case, a position which has led to some notes being brighter than others, due I think to the tuning scrolls being disturbed, as can be heard on Francis Jackson's famous recording of the Cocker Tuba Tune.

 

This, of course, was made by Harrisons.

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Incidentally, Francis recently celebrated his 98th birthday and a picture on Facebook shows him looking very well. I'm sure we all wish him good health as he steams towards his century and beyond.

I wasn't aware of this as we don't hear much of him (understandably) these days. I don't suppose he frequents these pages but, nevertheless, I wish him a belated happy birthday and hope he achieves his century and receives his telegram from The Queen (hope she's still around by then too!).

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I wasn't aware of this as we don't hear much of him (understandably) these days. I don't suppose he frequents these pages but, nevertheless, I wish him a belated happy birthday and hope he achieves his century and receives his telegram from The Queen (hope she's still around by then too!).

 

Francis was 98 on the 3rd of October. Just how much playing he is doing nowadays I'm not too sure but he played for the wedding of a friend of mine not too long ago.

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Francis decided to stop recitalling a few years ago. He felt that he would rather do his garden than practice intensively. I believe he still plays the harmonium at East Acklam Church every Sunday.

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Francis decided to stop recitalling a few years ago. He felt that he would rather do his garden than practice intensively. I believe he still plays the harmonium at East Acklam Church every Sunday.

He does right. I think everyone would agree that he has done more than enough to further the world of organ music - both performance and composition.

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Going back to Tubas, no-one has mentioned St George's Hall, Liverpool. The big Tuba is a big sound.

However, Liverpool Cathedral and York Minster do not have the big Tubas extended down to 16ft pitch, yet the organ of Hull City Hall does.

I've never heard a 16ft octave bark and roar like that does; all voiced fairly flat-out on 20" wind.

MM

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I think it was MM who referred to the Hull 16' Tuba barking away like a Cavaille-Coll Bombarde on speed. I thought that was a brilliant description!

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Whilst the Tuba Magna at Liverpool Cathedral doesn't go down to 16' pitch, there is a Contral Tromba 16 on the Solo, on 20" and a Contra Tuba 16 on the Bombarde on 30" Both are independant ranks so the organ doesn't lack punch at that pitch

 

SGH Tuba Mirabilis is indeed a wonderful sound.

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I think it was MM who referred to the Hull 16' Tuba barking away like a Cavaille-Coll Bombarde on speed. I thought that was a brilliant description!

Yes....I'd forgotten that line. Thanks for reminding me of it. :)

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The present Tuba Mirabilis is horizontal within the case, a position which has led to some notes being brighter than others, due I think to the tuning scrolls being disturbed, as can be heard on Francis Jackson's famous recording of the Cocker Tuba Tune.

 

The Tuba Mirabilis is not in perfect condition at York Minster. Just to clarify, it isn't exactly horizontal; the boots and shallots are vertical, on top of the soundboard in conventional fashion. The treble pipes are heavily hooded to project over the parapet of the screen and the basses are mitred at 90 degrees at no great distance from the boot. The extreme bass pipes double back into the organ before being mitred 180 degrees to speak west over the screen parapet.

 

A little more than the tuning scrolls have been disturbed on this stop! The stop was re-tongued, either in the 1950s Walker rebuild or the 1990s Principal Pipe Organ work. I don't remember if the pressures were altered but I'm sure somebody on here will know. Listening to it now, it has none of the brilliance, tone or regulation which is apparent in the recordings I have of it before the 1950s rebuild.

 

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