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Earliest Example Of An Undulating Rank In An English Organ


pcnd5584
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It looks as though the 1853 Hill in the Panopticon had a two-rank Vox Angelica on the Solo, although the information in NPOR is not completely conclusive. It certainly seems to have been there when the organ moved to St. Paul's Cathedral in 1861.

 

http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi?Fn=Rsearch&rec_index=N16545

 

Slight tangent - Wivenhoe Church, Essex, has a very fine old Walker, which has paradoxically got more Walkerish over the years as the Great Fifteenth replaced a Clarinet in 1962 and the Swell strings were replaced by a Gemshorn and Mixture in 1971 (the Swell was entirely octopod before that). I gave a concert on it to celebrate its 125th birthday in 2010 (I used to play it a lot as a teenager, especially for weddings so that the organist - he's still there - could play cricket). The Celeste was long gone, but I found that one could get just as good an effect by half-drawing the Open Diapason with the Stopped Diapason. No rocket science here - I'm sure lots of people do the same thing - but I wonder if such an effect was ever used in the nineteenth century, when the 'effect' would have been appreciated but the actual undulant stop not present.

 

http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi?Fn=Rsearch&rec_index=N08706

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It looks as though the 1853 Hill in the Panopticon had a two-rank Vox Angelica on the Solo, although the information in NPOR is not completely conclusive. It certainly seems to have been there when the organ moved to St. Paul's Cathedral in 1861.

 

http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi?Fn=Rsearch&rec_index=N16545

 

Slight tangent - Wivenhoe Church, Essex, has a very fine old Walker, which has paradoxically got more Walkerish over the years as the Great Fifteenth replaced a Clarinet in 1962 and the Swell strings were replaced by a Gemshorn and Mixture in 1971 (the Swell was entirely octopod before that). I gave a concert on it to celebrate its 125th birthday in 2010 (I used to play it a lot as a teenager, especially for weddings so that the organist - he's still there - could play cricket). The Celeste was long gone, but I found that one could get just as good an effect by half-drawing the Open Diapason with the Stopped Diapason. No rocket science here - I'm sure lots of people do the same thing - but I wonder if such an effect was ever used in the nineteenth century, when the 'effect' would have been appreciated but the actual undulant stop not present.

 

http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi?Fn=Rsearch&rec_index=N08706

 

Thank you, David.

 

There are a number of organs by Hill which have (or had) a two-rank Vox Angelica on the Solo Organ; the short-lived transept organ in Worcester Cathedral is another example.

 

I was interested to read of your subterfuge for obtaining an undulating rank, at Wivenhoe Church, Essex, Indeed, I have resorted to similar tricks - even, occasionally between claviers. Partly drawing the Swell Open Diapason at Romsey Abbey, and coupling it to the Choir Organ (and playing on the lowest clavier), produced a reasonable Céleste. *

 

On an even more tenuous tangential matter - I have several ways of faking a 32ft. register on my 'own' church organ - including using the bass of the Positive Gedeckt (uncoupled), to provide the first few harmonics of the 32ft. octave. This works surprisingly well in certain keys.

 

Fortunately this instrument does have an undulating rank, a Vox Angelica (in the Swell Organ). However, I had it re-tuned sharp several years ago, and much prefer the effect. (Yes, I know it is supposed to be tuned flat, but it was fairly ineffective thus.)

 

 

 

* This is no longer possible; the stop and combination of the Romsey instrument action was altered to electric in 1995, by J. W. Walker.

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  • 1 month later...

So if the organ has a two-rank Celeste controlled by one stop knob, presumably the ranks are placed side by side?

I guess this would be easier than having to add another stop action for the second rank, but then the problem of one rank pulling the other into tune would probably occur.

 

JA

 

I had wondered about this. Pierre's reply (see above, but immediately below Josh's) would indicate a possible solution.

 

The earliest example I have found to-date is the Voix Célestes (II ranks) 8ft., in the Swell Organ of the Wm. Hill instrument of Saint John's College Chapel, Cambridge; this apparently dates from 1839. Does anyone have another source (aside from the NPOR) which could verify - or refute - this, please?

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Sometimes, the celeste was made to draw the unison string with it, giving two ranks. The Walker at St. Leonard-at-the-Hythe, Colchester was an example, but there was a little slide inside which took the gamba off the celeste drawstop (I found this beeter, because the celeste with the stopped diapason but not the gamba was a nice sound. Thus, the two ranks might not be on the same slide, or even on adjacent ones, and the problems of sympathy between the tuning of the two would not arise.

 

Maybe if one rank was flat and the other sharp, they would be tuned far enough apart to avoid sympathy. Just a thought - I don't know if I'm right!

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