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Could somebody please explain mixtures to me.


I know what they do to add brilliance to a chorus, but I don't understand what a break is, or how the harmonics are put together as in a fourniture






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There is a good page on Wikipedia you can begin with:




Now, to "add brillance" is not the true role of a mixture, save in "Post-romantic" organs, when these stops were used as a "color sui generis", often usable with a wide variety of registrations; example: Skinner.

Even in neo-classical organs the mixtures are often designed that way. In a Gonzalez organ for instance you can use a Cymbal with a Bourdon 8' alone, a kind of registration you often find by Messiaen.

The first role of a chorus mixture is to emphazise the whole Diapason chorus, actually reinforcing the lowest ranks; it should not stand out for itself, but rather blend in the ensemble near to the point of vanishing.

Mixtures intended to modify the tone of a chorus, adding a strong colour by themselves, would be better filed with the Cornets, but this stop is so special we should better talk of "compound mutation stops": Sesquialter, Terzian, Rauschpfeife, Carillon,

the german "Kornett", etc. These stops nearly always contain 17th (tierce) ranks.


In romantic organs you will find mixtures that are actually a synthesis of the two conceptions above, aimed at accompany either a Diapason chorus +chorus reeds

(english organ) or the tutti (full organ) in continental romantic organs.


Best wishes,


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  • 1 month later...

Interesting point.


Dare I say that I think that Ralph Downes made a serious error in the design of the RFH reeds - all the examples of French reeds which he cites in Baroque Tricks were in large, resonant buildings. This had the effect of enhancing the sound and counteracting thinness of timbre. The RFH being acoustically quite dead merely accentuated this.


I am also surprised that he attempted to graft French reeds on to quasi-Dutch chorus and foundation-work.


When I play French romantic music on my own instrument, I hardly ever use any mixtures other than the IV rank quint mixture on the GO. Having said that, I have a number of recordings of the C-C organ at S. Sulpice, and the chorus mixtures are very bright - but wonderful. It really is a fantastic instrument.


The difference may lie in the acoustics, as has been said. It may also be in the intervals. If you are talking about tierce mixtures (à la Willis) then this is quite clear. French organ builders of any period hardly ever included tierce ranks in their mixtures - two notable exceptions being the Cornet and C-C's Carillon, which commenced at 12-17-22. Certainly the example in S. Etienne, Caen makes a fearful din (it did need tunung, though) and, to my surprise was included with the Jeux de Fonds - not the Jeux de Combinaisons.

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The Tierce ranks and the acoustics may be the answer.

The main difference betwen a belgian and a french baroque organ

is the absence in the second of the diapason-scaled Sesquialtera; this

stop was forgetted in France after a while when the lessons of the

flemish builders like Langhedul, very influential in France thanks to

Titelouze, were no more understood.

From that point on, the french organ was divided in two parts one

could not gather anymore: the "Plein-jeu" (Diapason chorus) and the

"Grand jeu" (Flutes, Cornets and reeds).

It may be quite amusing to learn that later, the french-speaking

aristocracy in Belgium wanted these flawed french organs too, so

that the belgian baroque organ of the 18th century may be seen, in

that respect, as a tremendous step backwards. Fashion!


Best wishes,


Pete Whistler Flowers.

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I was interested to read your post. The organ of St. Thomas, Fifth Avenue has long been a favourite of mine - although I hear that it is currently in need of restoration.


On paper it is similar to N-D (Gerre Hancock was a good friend of Pierre Cochereau), although the sound is different.


NIce church, too. I wonder if John Scot is enjoying himself there?

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