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Does Tracker-action Make For Better Performances?


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YES!!!!

 

And what kind of actions do you think J-S Bach had, ladies and Gentlemen ?

The heavy one, with backfalls. (the Rückpositiv was already nearly gone, and

the Hinterwerk already there....Not to mention the 4 or more 8' on the Hauptwerk)

 

Pierre

 

As others are keen to avoid other types of generalisation, I am keen to avoid the one which says backfall actions are necessarily 'heavy' or 'difficult'. There is no reason this should be so.

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As others are keen to avoid other types of generalisation, I am keen to avoid the one which says backfall actions are necessarily 'heavy' or 'difficult'. There is no reason this should be so.

 

Sorry, David; my formulation was not precise enough.

I meant "difficult+backfalls".

 

Pierre

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For me, I've never been able to get used to the invariable sudden snap shut of wind to the pipes that electric action enforces. To play, for example, Bach's setting of 'O mensch bewein' and have each note abruptly cut off is a little painful. On a mechanical action instrument, I am able to release the notes with a little more grace. But then, I was brought up playing mechanical action instruments and hardly ever played other actions when I was acquiring my tertiary qualifications. I still remember my first big recital on an electric action instrument as I had to work hard at dealing with the difference and translate what I was able to do easily on a mechanical action instrument.

 

As students, when we sat through competitions and amused ourselves by trying to predict who would successfully move through to the next round after only a few bars of hearing candidates playing, we would also categorise them into those that learnt and practised on mechanical or non-mechanical action. It seemed to always be fairly obvious which performers were not used to the extra precision that a good mechanical action organ is able to provide.

 

==================

 

Perhaps we are in love with the illusion of control, rather than the actuality of control?

 

Why do I ask all this, you may wonder?

 

This goes to the very heart of the initial question, because certain things cast doubt upon the claims made by those who propound a greater sense of playing intimacy and control with tracker-action, when they may actually be referring to something else.

 

If the speed of sound is 343 metres per second at 20C at sea-level, we would hear the sound of an organ-pipe 3 metres away in approximately 0.008 seconds. (Let's call that the Hauptwerk windchest). The sound from 6 metres away would take twice that time, at 0.016 secs, which we can call the Oberwerk. Both manuals use tracker-action, of course.

 

Now consider a typical English Cathedral organ, with a remote set of big Trumpets, such as found at St.Paul's or Liverpool. I'm not sure of the distances involved between console and pipes, but 100 metres doesn't seem a bad figure for our purposes. That would result in a sound delay of only 0.08 seconds at the console, (all other things being equal), but that is the organist's equivalent to a light-year.

 

What this demonstrates is the incredible cognitive sensitivity of human hearing, which can detect astonishingly small time differences in the delivery of sound. (Compare this with eyesight, where between the limits of maximal photopic (daylight) vision and minimal scotopic (night) vision, the eye can function rather effectively to changes in brightness of as much as 1,000,000,000 times).

 

However, not all organ pipes speak at the same time, as we all know; larger pipes tending to be slower than the smaller, equivalent pipes of the same register. I have no idea how slow 'slow' actually is, (or how quick 'quick' is, for that matter), but there is clearly a difference.

 

It seems to me, that so long as any action works within a certain time paramater, it would be difficult to tell the difference aurally, between tracker and the best EP, tracker- touch action. Furthermore, because there is a fixed optimal speed at which a given organ-pipe speaks and falls silent, I suspect that any marked variation to that would sound wrong.

 

Nevertheless, promptness is not the overriding consideration, because there are certain organ actions which are, by the nature of their design, rather sluggish. Other actions are very quick of operation; tracker-action included. Whether very quick or simply slow, does not seem to present a major musical problem to those familiar with a particular instrument, and personally speaking, I have suceeded in making good music on slow pneumatic actions, good and bad tracker actions, half-decent EP actions and lightning-fast direct electric actions. With enough practice-time, all types of action become manageable, so long as they are working properly.

 

Could it be, that the real drawback of pneumatic and EP actions, are not so much to do with the speed of delivery, as with the spatial dispositions which they make possible?

 

Perhaps that was the REAL lesson of the orgelbewebung!

 

MM

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Are you certain that this was in no way due to any of the following factors:

 

The positions of the microphones in each venue.

The types of microphones, tapes, recording decks and other equipment used.

The relative acoustic ambience of each venue.

Fatigue (for example, jet-lag), in the case of Washington - or even just the performer not feeling quite 'up to par'.

The voicing of the pipes themselves. (Soissons is very much in the tradition of neo-Classique voicing; Norbert Duforcq may have had a hand in it, I cannot now recall.)

The wind pressures adopted, sizes of footholes (and the sizes of the holes in the upperboards).

 

No doubt others can think of further reasons why the perceived difference may not have been as straightforward as you think.

 

 

========================

 

 

I don't know much about the National Shrine instrument, but knowing what American organs can be like, it is quite probable that some of the pipework is situated half-way to Philadelphia!

 

MM

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"Could it be, that the real drawback of pneumatic and EP actions, are not so much to do with the speed of delivery, as with the spatial dispositions which they make possible?

 

Perhaps that was the REAL lesson of the orgelbewebung!"

(Quote)

 

Interesting point !

Of course the pneumatic and EP actions allowed "nearly all" as wrong disposition of soundboards,

crammed pipework etc.

But the Orgelbewegung threw the baby with the bath water -as always-, imponing the "Werkprinzip"

structure to all new organs, while this was already obsolete during Bach's time.

 

I have even had to explain, about a Walcker organ in Belgium, that is was not "wrong" for the

Swell to be placed behind the Great and not above it !

As a result we can find today organs that are supposed to render justice to the "romantic Repertoire",

but lack depth to the point you believe you are sitting on the windchests, whatever you ear, up to

a Vox humana, box closed.

 

There are wrong dispositions, yes. But this does not mean Hinterwerks and Fernwerks are such...

 

Pierre

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========================

 

 

I don't know much about the National Shrine instrument, but knowing what American organs can be like, it is quite probable that some of the pipework is situated half-way to Philadelphia!

 

MM

 

OK - so maybe the pipework was suffering from jet-lag....

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"Could it be, that the real drawback of pneumatic and EP actions, are not so much to do with the speed of delivery, as with the spatial dispositions which they make possible?

 

Perhaps that was the REAL lesson of the orgelbewebung!"

(Quote)

 

Interesting point !

Of course the pneumatic and EP actions allowed "nearly all" as wrong disposition of soundboards,

crammed pipework etc.

But the Orgelbewegung threw the baby with the bath water -as always-, imponing the "Werkprinzip"

structure to all new organs, while this was already obsolete during Bach's time.

 

I have even had to explain, about a Walcker organ in Belgium, that is was not "wrong" for the

Swell to be placed behind the Great and not above it !

As a result we can find today organs that are supposed to render justice to the "romantic Repertoire",

but lack depth to the point you believe you are sitting on the windchests, whatever you ear, up to

a Vox humana, box closed.

 

There are wrong dispositions, yes. But this does not mean Hinterwerks and Fernwerks are such...

 

Pierre

 

----------------------------------

 

 

 

I always suspect that Germany was never the best country to start an organ-reform movement, in much the same way that America and England wouldn't have been. Around 1930 or so, these were the three countries which took organ-building far away from its roots; Germany almost as extreme as America, and possibly a co-conspirator in the pursuit of outrageous excess.

 

In some ways, the pursuit of the orchestral organ was possibly more honest, in that it sought to reflect and express a genuine musical fascination with the heroic figures of the romantic classical repertoire; Beethoven, Wagner, Brahms, Mendelssohn et al. I suspect that Bach was regarded by some as a kindly old-man, who passed the musical parcel; his principal contribution that of the well-meaning man of history, who helped to make possible the ultimate goal of high-romanticism.

 

You can hear this in the expressionistic high-drama of Busoni, and the quasi-conrapuntal music of Middelschulte; both paying suitable homage to Bach, but in the language of romantic expression and pianistic virtuosity. Although not un-beautiful or inartistic, I am inclined to think upon this type of music as a symptom of growing nationalism and rather bullish musical arrogance, as if they were the chosen inheritors of all that had gone before.

 

Perhaps the keyword I'm struggling for, and have just found, is a belief in destiny.

 

It's quite interesting to consider the fact that the three countries most involved in organistic excess, were the three countries which enjoyed a certain belief in the destiny of their respective nations.

 

Was there ever a difference between "America America", "Deutschland, Deutschland," and "Land of Hope and Glory" ?

 

The differences were more to do with the detail and the methodology!

 

That finds an interesting parallel in organ-building, because what each of these countries shared, in organ-building terms, was an absolute faith in progress.....destiny by another name.

America had her forests of strings, beautiful orchestral reeds and fiercesome chamades; England her Grand Diapasons, Tubas, Full Swells and Open Woods; Germany her intensely complex choruses and suave flutes. Each found extraordinary ways of controlling and taming the beasts of their creating, and all shared a delight in sophisticated mechanical and electrical engineering.

 

Progress, unfortunately, is not always what it appears to be; sometimes up against the buffers and unable to go anywhere but backwards.

 

Was the "orgelbewebung" that far removed from the clarity of Boenhoffer and his "Confessing Church" movement, when "Christology" sliced through the calculated silliness of acceptable theology; itself corrupted by the tyrranies of self-perpetuation, self-selection and political expediency?

 

Organ-reform brought the instrument back down to Earth, and back into the realm of something intimate, elegant and deceptively simple. At the same time, it brought integrity and honesty back into the musical equation, which has shown to be as relevant to modernity and romaticism, as it is to classicism. That is what all reformation is about in due course.

 

As for "werkprinzip," I suspect that the late Dirk Flentrop, rather than Wittgenstein,

would have smiled at a philosophy suggesting that, "The world is everything that is encased."

 

MM

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I find myself becoming very frustrated, the more mechanical action instruments I encounter. So many of those that are old enough to have been rebuilt, and plenty of others besides, do not need to be as heavy as they are. So much depends on the training and mindset of the builder who last rebuilt, and/or subsequently 'adjusted' the action. If you are rebuilding, then you have what you have in terms of components, unless you choose to replace them, but say, barring pallet springs, centres and threaded wires you choose to leave them as they are. I have found numerous instances where actions remain unnecessarily heavy to produce a verbal comment to the customer, replying to the self-consideration of the builder, about the risk of ciphers. I still see things too tight and too strong, and hence, unless there is another factor, which quite often there is, the action is too heavy. In short, safety over responsiveness, accepting a good knowledge and competency, which is easy to argue, but not very satisfying to play.

 

I would dearly like to hear 'that's as light as it'll go to retain repetition and not cipher' a lot more often. That then leads me to ask more questions about how repetition is tested, and to what levels, but that's off on another thread.

 

AJS

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I find myself becoming very frustrated, the more mechanical action instruments I encounter. So many of those that are old enough to have been rebuilt, and plenty of others besides, do not need to be as heavy as they are. So much depends on the training and mindset of the builder who last rebuilt, and/or subsequently 'adjusted' the action. If you are rebuilding, then you have what you have in terms of components, unless you choose to replace them, but say, barring pallet springs, centres and threaded wires you choose to leave them as they are. I have found numerous instances where actions remain unnecessarily heavy to produce a verbal comment to the customer, replying to the self-consideration of the builder, about the risk of ciphers. I still see things too tight and too strong, and hence, unless there is another factor, which quite often there is, the action is too heavy. In short, safety over responsiveness, accepting a good knowledge and competency, which is easy to argue, but not very satisfying to play.

 

I would dearly like to hear 'that's as light as it'll go to retain repetition and not cipher' a lot more often. That then leads me to ask more questions about how repetition is tested, and to what levels, but that's off on another thread.

 

AJS

 

YES YES YES YES YES YES. Yes. Well, nearly. "As light as it'll go to retain repetition" can be too light and end up being counterproductive. You need to be able to control it too.

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"do not need to be as heavy as they are."

 

One of the great misunderstandings of this conversation is that "heavy = bad" and "light = good". In Britain, as soon as non-mechanical actions became the norm, organists lost the playing techniques for playing on heavier actions and fell in love with 'light' actions as much as they did with scattering the organ around the room. (I have letters from my great grandfather who was a reasonably prominent organist in the NE of England in the first half of the 20th century, and who had his organ electro-pneumaticised in the 1930s, deriding the dreadfully heavy trackers he sometimes had to play on). Of course this wasn't just the case in Britain, and, of course, the fabulous organs with non-mechanical action and their links to some pretty important repertoire (most especially late German Romantic) entirely justify non-mechanical organs (allied to a particular tonal style) as a musical alternative. The Orgelbewegung (in its first incarnation) didn't recognise this. (As a side note I am presently studying some Bossi for the first time - this is so clearly music intended for a non-mechanical action and it's wonderful!).

 

However, if we go back to, let's say, the 18th century and compare the mechanical actions of, for example, France, with, for example, Holland, we find that there was a great variety of taste even then about how an action should feel to the player. In France, the grooves had to be narrow, and the key as close as possible to the pallet. Result: light action, not dis-similar to that of a French harpsichord of the same time (Taskin...?) WITH pluck and punishing every sloppy release. Not for nothing does the Grand Jeux consist of so few stops and the language of ornamentation was so complex! In Holland there were psalms to accompany and 16' super-plena (coupled) were the order of the day. The grooves are wider and the actions much heavier. Even in Bach's corner of the world this is true to an extent (Hauptwerk and Oberwerk coupled at Freiberg may be lighter than Alkmaar but it's not for the faint hearted). In the UK, Victorian organs with mechanical action usually feel pretty chunky. This is all part of the fun...

 

What is interesting in all of this is that an organ builder like Jurgen Ahrend (whose contribution to 20th century organ culture can be compared in importance to Aristide Cavaille-Coll's in the 19th) clearly preferred the French way of doing things, even when restoring organs of Arp Schnitger. My feeling is that this is one objective criticism one can have of his achievements, even if the actions themselves are remarkably beautiful, and his combining of the best of all worlds an extraordinary feat!

 

Back to the UK - The problem for the reformers was in trying to sell mechanical action organs to organists who for 2 generations at least had come to love their light, pluckless non-mechanical actions, and who now wanted it all: mechanical action, electric stop action, light action, big effects... In general, organ building today has moved on but even now there are builders (in the UK, Scandinavia, Germany and elsewhere) who build mechanical actions WITHOUT pluck, without any possibility for the organist to make a bad sound, and as light as possible. I played a concert 2 years ago on a brand new organ in Germany where the builder was very proud of his ultra-light mechanical action and the advisor likewise. They might as well not have bothered - it felt precisely like a direct-electric action. Likewise, the (balanced) actions produced by the Danes don't seem to feel much different from the ones they were making in the 1950s (allied to a wonderful and very justifiable organ type which, as yet, has not really been recognised in its historical context outside certain small groups).

 

Back to the original question, does mechanical action make for better performances. The answer is yes, but only if the mechanical action is good (ie punishes the bad player as much rewarding the good one) and aesthetically related to the sort of music the organ is supposed to play AND the playing techniques associated with it. Otherwise, why bother making one? The lightness or otherwise of the action is a side-issue and the result of a series of aesthetic decisions at the planning stage of the organ.

 

Bazuin

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"do not need to be as heavy as they are."

 

One of the great misunderstandings of this conversation is that "heavy = bad" and "light = good". In Britain, as soon as non-mechanical actions became the norm, organists lost the playing techniques for playing on heavier actions and fell in love with 'light' actions as much as they did with scattering the organ around the room.

 

Yes, but... it is still undoubtedly true that a great many actions are much heavier than they need to be (and much more uneven) because of poor adjustment of springs, touch depth, and the presence of unwanted friction. In the 'typical parish organ' scenario, that is several hundred times more likely to be encountered than the situation you describe later.

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YES YES YES YES YES YES. Yes. Well, nearly. "As light as it'll go to retain repetition" can be too light and end up being counterproductive. You need to be able to control it too.

My definition of retaining repetition includes this. There's no point getting a machine to do repetition if your fingers won't do it. Mind you, this is part of the problem as many organ builders do not have agile enough fingers to do repetition like an organist. I've met many frighteningly light touches - 'go on, give a recital on it if you dare' and agree with you. I think you also have the message about many parish type organs in this country.

 

Bazuin, in what I say, I'm not making any judgments about what is good or bad. The point I am making is that actions are not necessarily set up to encourage the player as much as they could be - hence the relevance to the thread. The fact that historically there are differences in actions throughout Europe at different times is all perfectly true, and if we are to work with them, or in their style we should respect and understand that. However, it's a bit of a smokescreen to what we regularly encounter in this country, and how we encourage everyday players, and new players to take to the instrument. We have to relate what we say to what we find, and thence to what can be done about it if it's negative or discouraging. You can always blame the organ for the problem, but it ain't necessarily so.

 

AJS

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It is interesting to note that the actions are viewed, not from

the physical viewpoint -a complex instrument to be managed-

but from the strict ideal of the player.

No organ can have the "touch" of an harpsichord or a piano, save

if you are content with only one 8' -an hungry Quintadena- pro manual,

and light-wind rattling Regals (this last point is discutable, though, as reeds

use little wind in volume), and a rather delicate action with modern materials.

 

Such an organ would be a modern one, not at all suited for any existing "Repertoire"

at all save the Renaissance one, for which one Manual and 5 stops are enough.

 

If you really want very light actions, then we need to come back to what E-M Skinner

wrote: the pneumatic and EP actions were an immense progress, as they for the first

time broke the link between number of stops, wind-pressures and wind volumes, one side,

and the weight and travel of the note on the other side !

The perpetual move does not exist.

 

Pierre

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"do not need to be as heavy as they are."

 

One of the great misunderstandings of this conversation is that "heavy = bad" and "light = good". In Britain, as soon as non-mechanical actions became the norm, organists lost the playing techniques for playing on heavier actions and fell in love with 'light' actions as much as they did with scattering the organ around the room. (I have letters from my great grandfather who was a reasonably prominent organist in the NE of England in the first half of the 20th century, and who had his organ electro-pneumaticised in the 1930s, deriding the dreadfully heavy trackers he sometimes had to play on). Of course this wasn't just the case in Britain, and, of course, the fabulous organs with non-mechanical action and their links to some pretty important repertoire (most especially late German Romantic) entirely justify non-mechanical organs (allied to a particular tonal style) as a musical alternative. The Orgelbewegung (in its first incarnation) didn't recognise this. (As a side note I am presently studying some Bossi for the first time - this is so clearly music intended for a non-mechanical action and it's wonderful!).

 

However, if we go back to, let's say, the 18th century and compare the mechanical actions of, for example, France, with, for example, Holland, we find that there was a great variety of taste even then about how an action should feel to the player. In France, the grooves had to be narrow, and the key as close as possible to the pallet. Result: light action, not dis-similar to that of a French harpsichord of the same time (Taskin...?) WITH pluck and punishing every sloppy release. Not for nothing does the Grand Jeux consist of so few stops and the language of ornamentation was so complex! In Holland there were psalms to accompany and 16' super-plena (coupled) were the order of the day. The grooves are wider and the actions much heavier. Even in Bach's corner of the world this is true to an extent (Hauptwerk and Oberwerk coupled at Freiberg may be lighter than Alkmaar but it's not for the faint hearted). In the UK, Victorian organs with mechanical action usually feel pretty chunky. This is all part of the fun...

 

What is interesting in all of this is that an organ builder like Jurgen Ahrend (whose contribution to 20th century organ culture can be compared in importance to Aristide Cavaille-Coll's in the 19th) clearly preferred the French way of doing things, even when restoring organs of Arp Schnitger. My feeling is that this is one objective criticism one can have of his achievements, even if the actions themselves are remarkably beautiful, and his combining of the best of all worlds an extraordinary feat!

 

Back to the UK - The problem for the reformers was in trying to sell mechanical action organs to organists who for 2 generations at least had come to love their light, pluckless non-mechanical actions, and who now wanted it all: mechanical action, electric stop action, light action, big effects... In general, organ building today has moved on but even now there are builders (in the UK, Scandinavia, Germany and elsewhere) who build mechanical actions WITHOUT pluck, without any possibility for the organist to make a bad sound, and as light as possible. I played a concert 2 years ago on a brand new organ in Germany where the builder was very proud of his ultra-light mechanical action and the advisor likewise. They might as well not have bothered - it felt precisely like a direct-electric action. Likewise, the (balanced) actions produced by the Danes don't seem to feel much different from the ones they were making in the 1950s (allied to a wonderful and very justifiable organ type which, as yet, has not really been recognised in its historical context outside certain small groups).

 

Back to the original question, does mechanical action make for better performances. The answer is yes, but only if the mechanical action is good (ie punishes the bad player as much rewarding the good one) and aesthetically related to the sort of music the organ is supposed to play AND the playing techniques associated with it. Otherwise, why bother making one? The lightness or otherwise of the action is a side-issue and the result of a series of aesthetic decisions at the planning stage of the organ.

 

Bazuin

 

=============================

 

 

 

I think our friend 'Bazuin' has provided the definitive answer, which is what I was hoping for.

 

It really does come down to repertoire, which represents both a blessing and a curse, because organists, (unlike other musicians), like to play music representative of so many eras and styles. In fact, no-one raises an eyebrow when the music of Bossi is heard at the Bavokerk, Reger at Redcliffe and Bach on a Wurlitzer; all of which are perfectly possible.

 

The answer to the question, (Does tracker action make for better performances?), can only be answered properly in the way 'Bazuin' has described. In a nutshell, the answer is, "Yes, but only some of the time."

 

I don't know if anyone other than myself, has ever driven a proper racing-car, which are designed to do one thing, and one thing only....win races. They are noisy, harsh, unforgiving, precise to the point of silliness, heavy to handle, uncomfortable and raw in the extreme. They cannot double up as taxis, personal commuter transport or as a makeshift bed for the night when the hotels are full. Driving one down the high street would be the ultimate nightmare; even assuming that you could get enough heat into the brakes to make them work.

 

Only in a proper racing-car can a driver plant a wheel half-an-inch away from the same white-line at 150mph; lap after lap after lap. That demands total belief in the machine, and the machine demands total commitment from the pilot.

 

It takes a very special type of virtuoso to do this consistently, just the same as a baroque specialist playing the music of the era on an organ built concurrently. Perhaps it is more than mere precision: maybe as much to do with the psychology of musical empathy and understanding.....call it musical symbiosis if you will.

 

Is there a French Romantic enthusiast who wouldn't part with something precious, just for the chance to play Dupre at Rouen or Tolouse? The Barker action is part of the music, just as much as the unique sounds of Cavaille-Coll.

 

The trouble is, we all harbour that little worm called eclecticism in our bellies, and that means that we have no alternative but to bend most of the the music to suit most of the instruments.

 

Well, I've heard Elgar played on an 18th century organ in the Netherlands, and before I die, I want to try Howells at Alkmaar.

T

here's nothing quite so delicious as the "historically deformed!"

 

MM

 

PS: Good luck with the Bossi 'Bazuin,' it's terrific fun to play. I have a special memory of rattling through the "Etude Symphonique" at the Mother Church, Boston, Mass. That got the place rocking on its foundations, I can tell you!

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The trouble is, we all harbour that little worm called eclecticism in our bellies, and that means that we have no alternative but to bend most of the the music to suit most of the instruments.

Agreed, MM. But we always have to adapt the music for whatever organ we play. We have to adapt it rather more, I would argue, in terms of registration and playing to the acoustic than we do due to the action. Or, at least we should do, if a decent action (of whatever type) is installed.

 

I'm going to stick my neck out here and say that, whilst it can be very rewarding to play on a modern well-built and well-maintained tracker action (and I'm very grateful for having spent my teenage years learning and practising on one of Bill Drake's finest), for me the main concern about the action is that it shouldn't hinder the performance in any way. I have in mind heavy and/or uneven tracker actions and slow pneumatic/e.p. actions especially. If the action facilitates a good performance, the choice of action is very much of secondary importance to me behind the overall tonal resources of the instrument.

 

*ducks*

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Yes, but... it is still undoubtedly true that a great many actions are much heavier than they need to be (and much more uneven) because of poor adjustment of springs, touch depth, and the presence of unwanted friction. In the 'typical parish organ' scenario, that is several hundred times more likely to be encountered than the situation you describe later.

 

 

Yes - there are two fine three manual organs dating from the Victorian era in Brighton - a Bevington and a Hill - both in very resonant churches and good organ chambers but both have unnecessarily and exceptionally heavy and uneven tracker actions which render playing a large chunk of the standard repertiore almost impossible. On both the touch - and depth of touch - is uneven throughout and inter manual coupling is a nightmare.

 

Malcolm

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Or Willis Toggle touch.

 

R

 

 

==========================

 

 

Daft as it may sound, one of the very finest key-touches is that found on Wurlitzer Theatre Organs, which coupled to an impressively fast action, make for easy playing. It's just the sequin shoes I can never get used to, and a pedal board that's a tad wider than an RCO one.

 

MM

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  • 4 weeks later...
==============================

 

 

That's a wonderful quote, but having heard Germani give an absolutely STUNNING performance of Reger on the organ of Leeds PC, using EP action, it didn't seem to affect his ability or panache. This single performance has lived in my memory for 45 years, and it totally won me over the Reger's music at the tender age of 15!

 

Organ playing doesn't come any more powerful than that!

 

MM

that sounds to have been some concert!

Wish I had been into organ music then. Hindsight is a wonderful thing! At least out of the Old Skool Greats at least I heard The likes of GTB and Flor Peeters. Demisseux - sadly not to be ;)

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Much as I prefer a (good) tracker-action, some of the best performances I've ever heard were played on instruments with EP, direct electric or even pneumatic actions.

 

Is it simply the case that main advantage of tracker-action is a well-proven, reliable design which requires minimal maintenance over a long period of time?

 

MM

Tracker, without any doubt. Depends upon the genre of the piece and the capability of the executor.

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==========================

 

 

Daft as it may sound, one of the very finest key-touches is that found on Wurlitzer Theatre Organs, which coupled to an impressively fast action, make for easy playing. It's just the sequin shoes I can never get used to, and a pedal board that's a tad wider than an RCO one.

 

MM

 

So here's a wacky thought experiment. How about building a theatre organ with mechanical action? I'm sure that if pressed someone could build an instrument with suspended action and a chorus of Tibia Clausas instead of Prinzipal 16/8/4/2. But what on earth would it be like to play Chuganooga choo-choo?

 

Back to reality, I found that especially when the reverb is turned down, my home Johannus was remarkedly intolerant of sloppy phrasing and hasproven to be a better practice instrument than I had imagined was possible.

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Back to reality, I found that especially when the reverb is turned down, my home Johannus was remarkedly intolerant of sloppy phrasing and hasproven to be a better practice instrument than I had imagined was possible.

 

My machine too - an 'accidental' discovery but with the right stops this can be very benificial for some repertoire>

 

A

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So here's a wacky thought experiment. How about building a theatre organ with mechanical action? I'm sure that if pressed someone could build an instrument with suspended action and a chorus of Tibia Clausas instead of Prinzipal 16/8/4/2. But what on earth would it be like to play Chuganooga choo-choo?

 

Presumably, Mr Handel of The Strand, must have performed on a theatre-organ with tracker-action?

 

Anyway, for those who want to know just how fast a Wurlitzer action can be, the following link is both delightful and astonishing in equal measure, and to those who think that theatre organs are all Tremulants and Tibias, something of a pleasant surprise.

 

http://theatreorgans.com/southerncross/Radiogram/UKfiles.htm

 

When you get to the link, scroll down to the tracks played by Bryan Rodwell, and then click on a novelty musical item entitled "Punch".....fasten your seat-belt and be be amazed....be very amazed.

 

When you've got over that, try to work out how another track, "Jazz Pizicatto" was performed.

 

This is all intellectual stuff....we need to know.

 

MM

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