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More Stops, Please!


Tubular_pneumatic
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Here in the US, the smallest available digital organ today from the most popular manufacturer is 23 stops. Just after the turn of the 20th century however, a spate of 7-stop pipe organs were sold with specifications either identical or very similar to this:

 

Great Organ

 

8' Open Diapason

8' Melodia

8' Dulciana

 

Swell Organ

 

8' Stopped Diapason

8' Salicional

4' Harmonic Flute

 

Pedal Organ

 

16' Bourdon

 

I don't know whether or not this is also the case in the UK, but I am curious to know what has changed about the literature, and perhaps more importantly the way it is listened to, that makes these small pipe organs viewed as inadequate to the task. Moreover, I should think that in the USA, congregational singing was much more robust 100 years ago than it is today.

 

- Nathan

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Here in the US, the smallest available digital organ today from the most popular manufacturer is 23 stops. Just after the turn of the 20th century however, a spate of 7-stop pipe organs were sold with specifications either identical or very similar to this:

[Octopod stoplist snipped]

 

I don't know whether or not this is also the case in the UK, but I am curious to know what has changed about the literature, and perhaps more importantly the way it is listened to, that makes these small pipe organs viewed as inadequate to the task. Moreover, I should think that in the USA, congregational singing was much more robust 100 years ago than it is today.

I'll dive in with courage born of ignorance and guess that one of the most significant influences on organ design, likes and dislikes in the last sixty years has been through recordings and broadcasts, technologies generally unavailable before the 1930s. Another hugely important factor over a similar time-frame has been the Orgelbewegung/Authentic Instrument movement/HIP which initially sought to recreate the organ world of the German Baroque and in more recent years has led to a desire for instruments that acknowledge other important historical styles of organ building and specific builders.

Additionally, the unavailability of recordings of orchestral music before the 1920s had led to live performance of orchestral transcriptions on the organ (and, more domestically, the piano), which led to the preponderance of organ stops that imitated orchestral sounds, and the provision of a large number of unison-pitched stops that enabled more gradual changes in dynamic.

 

Others with greater historical organ knowledge will be along in a minute :-)

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Here in the US, the smallest available digital organ today from the most popular manufacturer is 23 stops. Just after the turn of the 20th century however, a spate of 7-stop pipe organs were sold with specifications either identical or very similar to this:

 

Great Organ

 

8' Open Diapason

8' Melodia

8' Dulciana

 

Swell Organ

 

8' Stopped Diapason

8' Salicional

4' Harmonic Flute

 

Pedal Organ

 

16' Bourdon

 

I don't know whether or not this is also the case in the UK, but I am curious to know what has changed about the literature, and perhaps more importantly the way it is listened to, that makes these small pipe organs viewed as inadequate to the task. Moreover, I should think that in the USA, congregational singing was much more robust 100 years ago than it is today.

 

- Nathan

 

Harrison's produced some similar instruments around the same time. One near here goes:

 

Great

8' Open Diapason

8' Dulciana

4' Harmonic Flute

 

Swell

8' Lieblich Gedackt

8' Salicional (TC)

4' Gemshorn

8' Gamba Oboe (a reedy gamba)

 

Pedal

16' Bourdon

 

 

These days we expect a considerable amount of brightness out of organs (perhaps influenced by hearing recordings of historic European organs, as innate mentions) whereas 100 years ago it was gravitas that counted. Another consideration is that we have become accustomed to music being played more loudly. It seems to be generally accepted that the evolution of orchestral instruments in the 20th century was driven largely by the need to make more noise. Instruments like this just aren't loud enough for modern ears.

 

In terms of musical taste, if what you want is sentimental slush of the type being churned out by the yard at the time, these instruments are fine. At the side of the instrument I mentioned above is a cardboard box filled with a splendidly cobwebbed and mildewed collection of Edwardian slush. Whether it is representative of the repertoire organists of the early 20th century played on that organ is debatable- perhaps it is, or perhaps it is the dregs of somebody's collection.

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Interesting indeed.

 

I would be very curious to hear such an instrument restored, regulated, and on-speech, and indeed played with the prevailing technique of the time. Otherwise, it would seem difficult to judge.

 

This also seems to beg the question as to whether our predecessors were in rebellion 100 years ago, or were exhibiting a natural progress in a position closer to the source to where we now reach back.

 

- Nathan

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"Orgelbewegung/Authentic "

(Quote)

 

A fine contradiction with only two words!!! :blink::lol: :lol:

 

Such "Octopuses" we still have a number in Belgium today.

It was customary to glue some whistles on them (you know, that

standard cheap work, the same everywhere), or to sawn the celeste

to get a "Nazard" from it, but nobody would still do that today.

 

We indeed live in a noisy world today; engines and traffic, loudspeakers, have

deprived much of us of some hearing abilities, we are accustomed

to overdone effects in modern big-budgets movies, so that it needs

some effort to be able to taste Dulcianas and the like, hence the craze

for loud chamades -and the coming back of the Tuba-.

 

Once again, the "Baroque aequals Brightness" assumption is a false one.

It is not fair to the incredible riches of the baroque organ, a shortcut not

more to the point as "France= Froggs" and the like.

The "orgelbewegt" organ is a style in itself, just another interesting, genuine

page of the History of the organ. But it is not a "baroque" one.

 

Now how does sound a good Octopus like ?

 

Here is an example; indeed, this organ isn't an Octopus -it has 2' stops

and Mixtures- but here are only 8' used:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDWkqZIE13k

 

(The player is Cindy Castillo from Belgium)

 

Van Bever (not: "Van den Bever"!) organs have big scaled fluework,

all in Zinc save the treble plus occasional ancient pipework re-used from a previous

organ.

 

Pierre

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I agree with Pierre. The 7-stop gem of an 'octopod' I've just parted with was bright and 'loud' enough to lead a fair-sized congregation from its temporary gallery position. It could play Bach, Brahms, Caleb Simper and Graham Kendrick with equal aplomb, whatever technique one wished to employ.

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I agree with Pierre. The 7-stop gem of an 'octopod' I've just parted with was bright and 'loud' enough to lead a fair-sized congregation from its temporary gallery position. It could play Bach, Brahms, Caleb Simper and Graham Kendrick with equal aplomb, whatever technique one wished to employ.

I recall DJB persuading the Gloucester organ to give a fair rendition of some Kendrick on one occasion....

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