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Pedalboard - Flat/straight Or Radiating/concave?


nachthorn

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I'm about to invest in a practice console for home use, my need for practice time now outstripping my ability to get convenient access to a decent instrument. Having decided that pinching the rather wonderful Peter Collins II/6 that my tutor owns would probably not work out well for me :rolleyes:, I've opted for a portable assembly of components from Hoffrichter, which I saw demonstrated a couple of years ago. Respecting our hosts' desire not to discuss toasters, I won't talk about the hardware specifically. Instead, can I ask what sort of pedalboard people think is a good choice for practice purposes? I know most consoles in the UK have radiating and concave boards, but would a straight/concave or straight/flat board have any benefits?

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..... but would a straight/concave or straight/flat board have any benefits?

There was a poll on this a year or so ago.

 

I think that with my big feet and old age I would play more correct notes on a straight and concave than radiating and concave. Lots of people will say you can get used to anything - but there are physical limits i.e you can't shrink the width of your feet!

 

Are there any real advantages to R&C? It's certiainly not an authentic pedal board for most of the major organist-composers.

 

I wonder if the rebuilt organ at St Albans has a straight and concave pedal board now - I wasn't sure from the photos I saw at the recent Festival - if so, that would be a turning point for UK Cathedral consoles?

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There was a poll on this a year or so ago.

 

I think that with my big feet and old age I would play more correct notes on a straight and concave than radiating and concave. Lots of people will say you can get used to anything - but there are physical limits i.e you can't shrink the width of your feet!

 

Are there any real advantages to R&C? It's certiainly not an authentic pedal board for most of the major organist-composers.

 

I wonder if the rebuilt organ at St Albans has a straight and concave pedal board now - I wasn't sure from the photos I saw at the recent Festival - if so, that would be a turning point for UK Cathedral consoles?

 

NPOR states R&C at the 2008 rebuild - not surprising really ! I regularly play for services (nothing demanding required) on 3 instruments with Straight & Flat, Straight & Concave and R&C respectively. I find the Straight & Concave the most comfortable of the 3 but a lot depends on the dimensions.

 

A

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It may be that you have your lessons on a straight pedalboard and this may be a consideration, but what's the ultimate purpose of all this? Playing the right notes at the right time, of course, but do you want to be able to do this only at home or also on the instruments you play in public? I'll wager that most of the latter will have R&C boards.

 

The difference in feel between R&C and straight boards is very significant IMO. You should go for the type of board you will mostly find yourself playing elsewhere. Unless you're going to be playing mainly abroad, it's a no-brainer really.

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I have had a straight/flat for over 3 years and was quite surprised at how little time it took me to adapt.

I also have a radiating/concave one, and don't find any particular problems in switching between the two.

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... but what's the ultimate purpose of all this? ... You should go for the type of board you will mostly find yourself playing elsewhere.

I take your point. If I spend 80% of my playing time practising on this console, however, would it make sense to choose the best pedalboard pattern for practice, then adapt (if necessary) to whatever I find when playing proper instruments?

 

Or am I over-thinking the whole thing? Probably...

 

I also have a radiating/concave one, and don't find any particular problems in switching between the two.

Ah, so which do you prefer?

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I take your point. If I spend 80% of my playing time practising on this console, however, would it make sense to choose the best pedalboard pattern for practice, then adapt (if necessary) to whatever I find when playing proper instruments?

I can only speak for myself. My normal fare is a R&C board, but (as you know) I recently had a short spell of playing straight pedalboards. I can only say that, as on similar occasions previously, I found adapting uncomfortable. I coped OK and don't recall playing any wrong notes, but I didn't find it easy. I'm sure if I played both kinds of board regularly it would be a different story. But I don't. But others seem able to adapt without turning a hair.

 

If I was rich, I'd get two, interchangeable pedalboards for my toaster!

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I wonder if the rebuilt organ at St Albans has a straight and concave pedal board now - I wasn't sure from the photos I saw at the recent Festival - if so, that would be a turning point for UK Cathedral consoles?

 

No, it doesn't. It is one of the most comfortable consoles around, and now attached to one of the richest and loveliest organs.

 

It has only one fault - that the G&P pistons combined goes in on the general cancel. Maddening!

 

As for pedalboards, and speaking personally, I have no preference and grew up with different styles.

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Hello,

 

Slight tangent, but what about other countries - e.g. Germany, France, Netherlands, USA? What pedalboard layout would you expect to find on new instruments in these countries? Do they have national standards?

 

Speaking for Germany, almost all new organs have a straight/concave pedal board.

And, yes, there is a national standard, called "Orgelspieltischnormen" (organ console standards), revised in 2000.

 

Cheers

tiratutti

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I'm equally happy playing on either type of pedalboard, but I know of several organists with shorter legs, who find playing the lower and upper notes of a straight pedalboard quite a stretch.

 

Yes, I'm one of them! I learned on a Bevington with a flat and radiating pedalboard (it was later changed to R&C at a rebuild) but found that the flat configuration slowed me down at the extreme ends of the board - it was OK in the centre. Changing between straight and concave or R&C isn't such a problem I found, after getting used to whatever I'm playing. But now playing on a flat pedalboard I find it difficult at the extremes (short legs) with a tendency to wrong notes. It seems to be the flat configuration that gives the problem. Obviously I can't comment on what people with longer legs experience as variable length legs have yet to be developed...

 

R.

 

 

EC

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Slight tangent, but what about other countries - e.g. Germany, France, Netherlands, USA? What pedalboard layout would you expect to find on new instruments in these countries? Do they have national standards?

 

Let alone Italy: the new organ for St. James's, Florence we have provided with a flat, concave pedalboard - much to the surprise of many, needless to say!

 

My reasoning was that most of those playing it will be not-English (for want of a better description) and therefore it would be unfair to have them wrestling with a concave and radiating pedalboard, however traditional to our firm (being the inventors! :P)

 

DW

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The R/C pedalboard has in the grand scheme of things never been more than a curiosity. It has no relation to any serious organ literature produced outside the UK or the US. It is the only pedalboard to promote equality of the heel and toe which is a very very late development in organ technique. It is interesting to consider that one of the chief proponents of heel/toe equality, Marcel Dupré, played on a straight/flat board both at church and at home throughout his entire life.

 

There are also significant health issues linked with the R/C board, because it is, inevitably, further under the organ than on any traditional console. This encourages a poor posture (what an American colleague of mine calls the 'Harley Davison' posture) as the leg weight, (the leg being angled away from the body) plays no role in supporting the body weight. This puts all the body weight on the lower back. No wonder physiotherapists go mad when they see organists play...

 

In terms of adapting - it's much easier to go from flat to R/C than vice versa.

 

For me then, straight/flat every time. Unless your repertoire includes Sowerby's Pageant, Germani's Toccata, Manari's Concert Etude etc etc!

 

Bazuin

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"The R/C pedalboard has in the grand scheme of things never been more than a curiosity."

(Quote)

 

This may seem somewhat overdreven, exaggerated, isn't it ? The "Repertoire" might

still follow, besides what already exists from British-speaking areas. I would certainly

suggest an R/C Pedalboard in a new organ; the fact that it is virtually unknown on the

continent does not mean it is "wrong"!

 

Pierre

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Straight and concave for me. I find you have far more space for your feet around the heel end, and I personally find I can pedal in more styles far more precisely. It also seems easier to adapt from S/C to R/C than vice versa. Have found that straight flat pedalboards are quite a stretch for the leg opposite the extremity where the notes being played are.

 

There's obviously a degree of personal taste in this, but a quick trial of one against another won't really work as your legs and ankles and brain will tend to go with what they know.

 

AJS

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Straight and concave for me. I find you have far more space for your feet around the heel end, and I personally find I can pedal in more styles far more precisely. It also seems easier to adapt from S/C to R/C than vice versa. Have found that straight flat pedalboards are quite a stretch for the leg opposite the extremity where the notes being played are.

 

I fully agree. If I were doing my custom-built toaster again (now 12 years old) I would go for 'straight and concave', cost of course rules out a replacement as I would also need a new wider bench.

A further issue is how to dispose the sharp pedals on a S&C pedal board, straight or in an arc (as those in a R&C pedalboard).

I prefer a slight arc, as in the manner of Cavaille-Coll pedalboards.

 

DT

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Thanks to all for their opinions. So, to summarise - straight/concave is the most preferred (by 4) for reasons of comfort, accuracy, space etc. Radiating/concave is advocated by two as the pedalboard most often encountered in the UK. One prefers straight/flat for not encouraging poor posture. I know it's not exactly a large enough sample to be generally representative, and I'm sure personal preference and dimensions have a strong influence, but nonetheless this is a rather interesting result. I'm probably going to go for straight/concave, leg length not being in short supply and posture being important to me. I'll see how it goes...

 

Now - 30 or 32 notes? :P

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Thanks to all for their opinions. So, to summarise - straight/concave is the most preferred (by 4) for reasons of comfort, accuracy, space etc. Radiating/concave is advocated by two as the pedalboard most often encountered in the UK. One prefers straight/flat for not encouraging poor posture. I know it's not exactly a large enough sample to be generally representative, and I'm sure personal preference and dimensions have a strong influence, but nonetheless this is a rather interesting result. I'm probably going to go for straight/concave, leg length not being in short supply and posture being important to me. I'll see how it goes...

 

Now - 30 or 32 notes? :P

 

Depends if you think it's worth paying a small fortune to enable you to play the Thalben-Ball variations. Or has anything else ever been written that demands top G?

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Thanks to all for their opinions. So, to summarise - straight/concave is the most preferred (by 4) for reasons of comfort, accuracy, space etc. Radiating/concave is advocated by two as the pedalboard most often encountered in the UK. One prefers straight/flat for not encouraging poor posture. I know it's not exactly a large enough sample to be generally representative, and I'm sure personal preference and dimensions have a strong influence, but nonetheless this is a rather interesting result. I'm probably going to go for straight/concave, leg length not being in short supply and posture being important to me. I'll see how it goes...

 

Now - 30 or 32 notes? :P

 

I played an organ last night which has a straight/concave pedalboard and I have to say that it was one of the most comfortable pedalboards I've played. The only problem with the console was that the Swell pedal was just slightly too far to the right and a full organ toe piston right next to it. Oh and better not forget the crescendo pedal... great times.

 

JA

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