father-willis Posted January 21, 2010 Share Posted January 21, 2010 From time to time I wonder about stop names: when I am at the organ, investigating another which I not seen before, asked by someone who isn't quite sure what one is or just idly pondering the question while walking the dog. Now I'm actually thinking about it while reading the forum messages so here goes! The titles sum it up really: When is an organ stop not the actual stop? When is a stop misnamed? How accurate are stop names and do we, quite often, have to make assumptions about a stop we use based on experience and knowledge? OK, so we all go rushing to the dictionary of organ stops when we come across something unusual or exotic. (And I should add that this is something really focussed on English organs and their derivatives). Baryphon, Diapsason Phonon, Dolce, Flute a Pavillon, Orlos, Pyramidion and the like make us reach for the shelves. Open Diapason, Mixture (III / 2 / 15 19 22 / etc), Rohr Flute, Sesquialtera II, Trumpet etc etc seem to pose no problem and are taken as read with, often, no hint of excitement or interest. But, are they always what they seem? We explain to people, that are interested, what stops are and what the names mean. 'This is what a Principal pipe looks like. The number refers to the length or pitch of the pipe at bottom C.' So far so good. But what about naming the stop? Unlike pitch (to some extent) do we name stops from what is at the bass end of the compass or by what the majority of the pipes are over that same compass? Oboe 8, Open Diapsaon 8, Principal 4, unless short compass are usually no problem. We know what the pipes look like and they are, in principle, the same throughout. Some examples and puzzles: Stopped Diapason - OK but does it have chimneys? Is it a Rohr / Chimney Flute? Does it matter? Claribel / Clarabella - Open wood, but is it? stopped for the bottom octave? Some builders are truly honest here and write 'Stop'd Diapason & Claribel'. Dulciana - Is the bass stopped wood? Gamba or Viola? Horn or Trumpet or Cornopean? These can change their names, especially after a clean-up or some attention by a builder. Does it matter? Double Open Diapason - where the bass octave is stopped wood? Mixtures are perhaps more problematic. Sesquialtera II - We assume it is 12 / 17. Is it that at the bass or is it really a tertian bass, 17 / 19? Sesquialtera III - 12 / 15 / 17 or 17 / 19 / 22 or the Hill style with teirce in the bass giving way to becoming a quint mixture for most of the compass? Almost the same can be said for Cornet with or without the number of ranks designated or Echo Cornet. There are probably many other examples. It seems to me that as organists we do really have to have a little more knowledge about the instrument, its construction, history, organ builders and their style than perhaps even we had realised. Any thoughts and obsevations very welcome. FW Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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