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Mander Organs
Peter Clark

128 Foot Stop

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The instrument, like its owner, is rather eccentric. Nice chap though and very accommodating to those who want to come and play the beast which originally came from an Irish Cathedral and has been expanded, including the "128 foot" stop. I had a bash on it last autumn and was made very welcome by the host.

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The instrument, like its owner, is rather eccentric. Nice chap though and very accommodating to those who want to come and play the beast which originally came from an Irish Cathedral and has been expanded, including the "128 foot" stop. I had a bash on it last autumn and was made very welcome by the host.

 

I contacted David out the blue and despite being unknown to him was rewarded with the privilege of giving a charity recital last December, the proceeds of which went to support my day-to-day job as a doctor working for a charity in war-torn north-eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Despite being the middle of winter an enthusiastic audience very generously contributed more than £1000. Search for MEDAIR and CONGO on Youtube for a few clips; the host was kindness himself.

 

Contrabombarde.

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Unless the 128 and 64 stops have their own dedicated speaker - I would find it hard to beleive that the ensemble effect was acoustically true . Do they have an independent speaker?

 

PS Sorry to discuss electronics - but I think this is a fundamentally interesting point.

 

- Good job each organ pipe is in effect an independent "speaker"!

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Unless the 128 and 64 stops have their own dedicated speaker - I would find it hard to beleive that the ensemble effect was acoustically true . Do they have an independent speaker?

 

PS Sorry to discuss electronics - but I think this is a fundamentally interesting point.

 

- Good job each organ pipe is in effect an independent "speaker"!

And surely a normal cone speaker simply isn't capable of producing such low frequencies properly? This might be more successful (how many $$$ I wonder?)

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And surely a normal cone speaker simply isn't capable of producing such low frequencies properly? This might be more successful (how many $$$ I wonder?)

 

I wonder which is cheaper: this or real pipes. On the plus side at least this could perform a double function if the church's cooling systems broke down...

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I have tried Marshall & Ogletree digital organ in Middle Collegiate Church NYC where Cameron Carpenter designed the organ. It has stops at 128 and 64 pitch driven by Thigpen Rotary Subwoofers. These devices are like aircraft propellers and can deliver unlimited volume levels down to 2hz. The sound of Sine Wave stops is very strange thud, giving a feeling similar to being punched in the stomach....not entirely musical.

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I have tried Marshall & Ogletree digital organ in Middle Collegiate Church NYC where Cameron Carpenter designed the organ. It has stops at 128 and 64 pitch driven by Thigpen Rotary Subwoofers. These devices are like aircraft propellers and can deliver unlimited volume levels down to 2hz. The sound of Sine Wave stops is very strange thud, giving a feeling similar to being punched in the stomach....not entirely musical.

 

I know of a church where some money was left for 'use of the organ' - the music staff felt strongly that an electronic 'tack on' Tuba and 32' reed would be nice - this on a nice sized 3 man of reasonable vintage (rebuilt and in good working order) in a moderate sized building with not much acoustic. Ok it would have been fun but as to necessary - another question. The DOA was against it - I was asked for an opinion and agreed with him. The music staff got quite hot under the collar when it was not allowed but in reality the organ and building did not need these proposed extras and there was no real need musically either.

 

So what about 128' - subtle noises under Vierne or a very Plein Jeu in Couperin? Mind you I know also of one or two organs that have the same effect as a punch in the stomach too.

 

Megalomania can do strange things.

 

A

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This topic stirred sumething in my subconscious. I found this link http://www.infrasounddesigns.com/. which skates over a few things including what I remembered. 64' and 128' stops are only a small skip and a jump away from sonic weapons, investigated although I'm not sure if ever used by, the US dept of defense.

 

AJS

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:angry: Ha ha ha. What intrigues me is the use of the word earthquake on a German organ. It wouldn't have been my first thought for English nomenclature being used there.

 

AJS

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it's already been done. Here is a demostration of one of these devices (as a 128 foot stop) in action, on an organ:

 

Well - unsurprisingly I heard nothing!! I expect the response to this frequency recorded into a youtube video and played through my even moderately good computer speakers is nil. Maybe there was a shade of the 4th harmonic or so..... Probably something you really have to experience live?

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To answer an earlier question about the Hammerwood (electronic - there are two pipe organs in the house too) organ, the speaker that gives the 128 and 64 foot tones is inside a sort of false wall in the room - I guess a sort of "infinite baffle" arrangement (see Colin Pykett's article for more info on how to most authentically reproduce tones in the 32 foot range given the limitations of most speakers, out of respect to our hosts I won't gve the link here but it's on his website).

 

There are something in the region of 35 amplifiers and speakers for the Hammerwood electronic organ, many of which are distributed along a gallery which stretches the length of the room, and come in many shapes and sizes, from "wardrobes" to horn-shaped speakers and the owner has even managed to create a speaker, for fun, using something that came out of a birthday card! The organ's creater, having been an acoustician, seems to know his stuff in terms of how to get the best sound out of different speakers, which frequencies to come out of which speakers, what shape of speaker to use for given stops etc. The result is, for a dgital organ, a remarkably impressive achievement and it's such an outrageously nonsensical design that it is hideous fun (as well as being pretty hideous and intimidating to get your head around at first). Some stops still manage to sound synthetic, especially the earlier ones, others sound very nearly indistinuishable from genuine pipes. I guess the key to a successful digital organ is a keen awareness of the acoustic limitations of speakers, and very careful choosing of their placing, carefully selecting which frequencies, which divisions, which notes to route through which speaker (I seem to remember reading somewhere that because of the "pull" of running similar notes out of the same speakers in an ideal setup you would have one speaker for C, another for C#, for D, Eb etc to counteract ). As with a pipe organ, choosing the right scaling, the right wind pressures, the right materials for the pipes and then competently voicing, are no mean feat.

 

Of course if you went the whole hog and had one speaker per pipe, you might as well give up and go for a pipe organ, which I'm sure we'd all agree would be the better, small and quite possibly the cheaper option by that point anyway...and I think David Pinnegar would be the first to admit that his five manual monster isn't a serious attempt to reproduce a pipe organ but more an acoustic laboratory that enables the organist to experiement with tones, temperaments, combinations of stops and voicings in a way that could not be possible with a pipe organ, and thus gives a greater appreciation of the physics and capabilities of pipe organs, of which he owns two in any case.

 

Contrabombarde

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To answer an earlier question about the Hammerwood (electronic - there are two pipe organs in the house too) organ, the speaker that gives the 128 and 64 foot tones is inside a sort of false wall in the room - I guess a sort of "infinite baffle" arrangement ......

 

Contrabombarde

Yes that's all very exciting - but it underlines the inevitable disappointment when you listen to a video recording through computer speakers!!.. :P

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