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martin_greenwood

Home Practice Organ Costs

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Hello All

 

On 20th January the Essex Organists' Association is holding a workshop evening on a theme of Home Practice Organs, and somewhat rashly I offered to pull the whole thing together.

 

The sorts of questions we aim to address include,

 

  • What type of house instruments are available?
  • Can you really fit a pipe organ in a living room?
  • Can you really fit a pipe organ in a living room?
  • How can I use an Apple Mac or PC to bring playing the world's best pipe organs within reach of my own home? Can I really do this incrementally without high initial cost?
  • What is the second hand market like?
  • How expensive are the various options?
  • Who can I speak to for first-hand impartial advice?

The questions above will be explored by means of photographs, recordings and first-hand accounts from the owners of 4 different styles of house organ - 2 pipe organs, a modern factory-built toaster and toaster build around the Hauptwerk Virtual Pipe Organ system.

 

Whilst most home practice organs are of the electronic variety, we were very keen to demonstrate that house pipe organs can be a viable option too - hence the 2 related case-studies (there's a pun there somewhere).

 

I've pulled most of the material together already, but am running light on typical costs of second-hand practice instruments. So if any forum members have purchased second-hand house organs (pipe or digital) in the not too distant past and would be happy to share price information with me, please contact me via PM.

 

Thanks

 

Sq.

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One thing which anyone considering a home practice organ (with pipework) needs to bear in mind is the lack of reverberation in all but the most palatial music/living rooms. This results in quite a dead sound and makes practice of romantic music difficult, although not impossible. Also, appropriately scaled and voiced pipework does not always have the same "zing" as one might expect in a church or hall situation, hence once again a dead sound. I once experimented with electronic reverb with dubious success, that is to say, the improvement was not such that I wanted to go out and purchase the reverb unit (an Alesis Microverb III since you ask) which I had borrowed.

 

That said, in June this year my box of whistles will be 20 years old and still worth something like what I paid for it, which it would not be if it was an electronic. And it looks nicer too, courtesy of Frank Bradbeer and Saxon Aldred.

 

JE

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One thing which anyone considering a home practice organ (with pipework) needs to bear in mind is the lack of reverberation in all but the most palatial music/living rooms. This results in quite a dead sound and makes practice of romantic music difficult, although not impossible. Also, appropriately scaled and voiced pipework does not always have the same "zing" as one might expect in a church or hall situation, hence once again a dead sound. I once experimented with electronic reverb with dubious success, that is to say, the improvement was not such that I wanted to go out and purchase the reverb unit (an Alesis Microverb III since you ask) which I had borrowed.

 

That said, in June this year my box of whistles will be 20 years old and still worth something like what I paid for it, which it would not be if it was an electronic. And it looks nicer too, courtesy of Frank Bradbeer and Saxon Aldred.

 

JE

 

Whilst demonstrating the small organs at the St Albans festival a few years back, Peter Hurford suggested that a tremulant to the whole organ was very effective in "floating" the sound in a totally dead acoustic, and much cheaper than a rank of pipes.

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[*]Can you really fit a pipe organ in a living room?

 

Whilst most home practice organs are of the electronic variety, we were very keen to demonstrate that house pipe organs can be a viable option too - hence the 2 related case-studies (there's a pun there somewhere).

 

Thanks

 

Sq.

 

I've had a small II/P 4 stop house organ by Peter Collins - about the size of a large wardrobe - for 10 years, and am generally pleased with it. The highly sensitive suspended action and slightly foreshortened keys together with the pipes a few inches from one's nose show up sloppy articulation quite mercilessly. Good discipline however for the barock and classical repertoire, but something of a handicap for bigger romantic works. Anything with big spread chords, for example, such as Henry Smart's Postlude in C, is well-nigh impossible to play cleanly. In such cases one really needs something less sensitive and more forgiving.

 

Some electroniums (as BIOS would call them) have an excessively light, springy touch which is almost as bad, particularly those with cheap, hollow, plastic keys. I also have a Viscount Cantorum with decent non-slip keys and a fairly heavy, deep touch which is much better in this respect.

 

JS

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I have sent a message but will publicly say a couple of things as my thoughts on possessing an organ at home have somewhat changed since living with one for the past 18 months. (2 manuals with a stop - both wooden - on each and with common bass, shove coupler and pedals permanently coupled to the lower keyboard.) The only place it would go is in a room 10ft by 7ft and the usual 8ft 6" in height. I left the door off. Sounds amazing in the kitchen 40 ft away down the hall. It is in a modern property of 20 years with double glazing and central heating. It took 2 people about 4 hours to install as it came in sections.

1. I use mostly the 8ft Bourdon and when tempted to luxuriate, I couple the two stops together. Not so often. Sometimes combining the two keyboatds for a slightly more meatier action.

2. A practice organ is just that really. It is not for me a scaled-down version of a church organ with choruses. It is for the rehearsal of notes and articulation not for the practice of sound.

3. Two ranks of same material means that tuning is of no problem with domestic heat.

4. A humidifier is necessary to maintain as near to 60% humidity to 20 degrees as possible. Surprising how action and sound changed when I bought mine. A revelation in fact.

It takes up so little room (about a 1/4 of the size). It is also a most lovely piece of furniture in a home.

5. A Tremulant is most difficult to add, as I asked the builder and he said 'non'. In fact the quality of sound is wonderful and needs nothing to aid it.

6. If someone can tell me how to do it and post, I would gladly record something so that you may hear for yourselves.

7. It saves the planet as you don't always get the car out to go to a church.

8. It is warm to practice.

9. For Romantic music I still mostly play the piano and then put things together.

10. You can have a glass of something when you want.

 

All best wishes,

N

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