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Organ Specifications


Guest stevecbournias

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk

Price negotiable! (quote)

 

 

 

Dear Steve,

I have never been to the U.S.

I have been told that there are some superb instruments there.

I have also been told that US Congregations have more money than ours in the UK.

This I firmly believe.

 

If you can find the space to install it, the donor to pay for it and the organ-builder to create it, I agree that this instrument would be fun to play and probably terrific to listen to.

 

However,

and this ought to make you jealous,

we have no money, few donors, organ-builders who seem not to be trusted by 'the experts' to the extent that at least half of our high profile large new instruments in recent years have been imported

 

but....

some of us lucky paupers have acoustics suitable for organ music! For instance,

I play a severely tatty instrument, last rebuilt in 1938 - it leaks like a sieve.

In my church (completed in 1425) loud combinations sound totally stunning and soft ones are ravishing.

 

 

Change of subject:

Sorry to be cheeky, Steve. I like reading your contributions but find them very hard going. What you write is barely intelligible to anyone not used to text messages. I have to ask: Do you have a case shift or any punctutation marks on your computer?

 

Best wishes,

P.

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  • 3 weeks later...

All the stops save the Diapasons have been tried first in "mad"

ancient organs like Casparini's, Jordi Bosch's, Gabler's and the like.

If we don't accept "madness" we shall never make anything new and still

build neo-baroque organs in 200 years -and we sall be very few to still

listen to them-.

 

Take as an example the Voix céleste.

This late child of the italian Voce umana was first tried as an Unda-Maris

by Casparini in his Görlitz monster-organ before being adopted by Silbermann

and others in medium-size organs.

Today we can have it in a 12-stops organ.

 

Best wishes,

Pierre

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I like the sheer logic in this one, and the use of a dedicated mixture

for each possible function they can have.

"Harmoniques des anches" is an excellent idea, and well named so that

any organist will understand at once what it is intended to do.

 

"Montre" implies that the pipes are in front so this name would be better

avoided for enclosed stops. This said, Gebrüder Link named so the 8' Principal

in the Mirepoix organ's Swell.

 

Best wishes,

Pierre

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
our friend who says that my schemes r madness has not traveled

he needs to get out of the confines of his little world of comfort and check out what is doing on the rest of the planet earth

or does he think the universe revolves around him and his choirs and his cathedrals and everyone else be damned

maybe he does

if so let him live on in his little dream world of non-reality while life passes him by

and anything new or different that should happen to criss-cross his path will surely appear to be something let out of an insane assylum

 

Dear Steve,

While I find some imaginery specifications interesting, the mere size/length of yours, and the (apparent) inclination to include every single stop you have ever heard of makes the whole experience quite unreal. In response, here is a serious invitation/request/challenge:

 

Please post for us the specification of a large instrument which you have actually built or helped to build for us to discuss/appreciate. I think that this would be

1. much more interesting to read

2. taken more seriously.

 

I am prepared to post one or two (acutally built schemes) of mine in exchange. Then we can discuss (to some purpose) why things have been placed as they are in divisions, why things have been included or omitted. More to the point, we can discuss how they actually work out in practice!

 

Paper specifications are so much cheaper than the real thing, which is why I imagine some readers have termed your schemes 'madness'. Over here (in the U.K. - which is where most of the Mander Site's correspondents live) the concept of any organ over about sixty stops actually being built new is so unusual that it is virtually unthinkable! I am open to correction, but I can't think of more than two or three new organs of this size (in this country) in the whole of the last twenty years. For us 40-60 stops also qualifies as large and even then most of these have been imported ones recently - incidentally, not all of these are viewed as successes! Meanwhile, our larger firms have been shipping large organs abroad - St.Ignatius Loyola being a case in point.

 

I referred to us as 'paupers' in one of my earlier replies to your postings. I mean it! Even our universities have little or no available funds for instruments, let alone civic halls and churches. I am 100% convinced that we aren't living in the same world as you so far as sponsorship/church finances are concerned. Don't think any the less of us for this..... it does, however, underline our need to get the best possible organs for our hard-earned budgets and hence the great interest to be drawn from schemes in general. Small schemes, however, are very much more-to-the point. Cleverness, or originality are what we would most like to see - and learn from!!

 

 

 

Change of topic:

I would like to argue with you concerning your description of Organs in Holland. Obviously I cannot speak of every organ there by any stretch of the imagination, but I have got to know and appreciate several there including both the organs you named. In terms of size, and maybe in terms of romantic expression, the Dutch organs have little to teach us, but in terms of case design, durability of construction, naturalness of voicing, effectiveness of chorus and solo stops, adaptability for most of the repertoire and (most-of-all) general attitudes towards proper historic preservation the Dutch have an unbelievable amount to teach anyone who visits with an open mind.

 

You suggest that there may only be one or two organs worth playing in Holland - I would counter with an even more sweeping statement: there is barely a single poor musical instrument in the whole country! Even the smallest little church seems to contain a case of real beauty with a musical instrument inside. Single stops glow, with tone of interest and subtlety. I wouldn't part with my own native organ culture, but I really admire theirs!

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The next point being, of course, that the more stops you have, the less individual any of them tend to be. Colour has to be got by mixing them up together, so you need 20 stops to play a trio sonata...... organs over 60 stops are a waste (speaking as one who has 93 stops in the workshop at present). Like the drawbars on a gigantic analog Hammond.

 

Quite apart from the nightmare of making it all actually work.....

 

Happy new Year!

Barry

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There is also the consideration that, over here, we realised long ago that the eclectic organ (by which I mean one that has Schnitger Principals, Cavaillé-Coll reeds, Cliquot mutations, etc., etc.) does not make a coherent artistic entity. Better to produce an organ that does have integrity and can cope with the whole repertoire effectively without trying to ape every different voicing style at once. Quite simply, you don't need more than 60 stops to get an organ that can play anything under the sun with something approaching the registration the composer wanted. Above about 80 stops, it begins to look as if size and extravagance is getting the better of people's sense.

 

Remember Sir Thomas Beecham: "Organists are like broken-down carthorses: they're always wanting another stop".

 

One of the things that makes Mozart a great composer is that he only wrote as many notes as were necessary. None is superfluous, every one tells (a generalisation maybe, but by and large it's true). Organ designers would do well to think likewise. Anybody can design an all-purpose specification by throwing in every stop imaginable. It takes intellect to get the maximum versatility out of limited resources. And, dare I say it? the result is likely to be more fun.

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My dear Steve

 

Please believe me: my views were not aimed at you personally. I certainly have no wish at all for you to be unsuccessful. May every good fortune be yours!

 

If you think I am jealous of American wealth, then, yes, I am to a certain extent. But if you think I am jealous of your large organs, then you misunderstand the point I was trying to make. You can take my previous post at face value.

 

I would remind you that I have played Washington Cathedral. I also know similar organs over here. St Paul's and Liverpool cathedrals make just as fine a racket in their way. I can handle such organs - and have - but I don't have to prefer them to smaller ones.

 

I acknowledge that you Americans tend to view these things differently. To find, as you not infrequently do in America, a sizeable four-manual organ in an ordinary church is something that's apt to make British jaws drop, but I don't have a problem with this at all. I'm actually all for it so long as the instrument is unified and coherent. I once played in a parish church that had a vintage four-decker E. M. Skinner and it was one of the most magnificent organs I have played over your side. In fact the vast majority of instruments I have played in the states have been good, coherent instruments. I just don't have a liking for ones that sprawl around the building - whatever country they're in. It's a perfectly tenable position to dislike playing an instrument if it feels like you're taking a jellyfish for a walk along an elastic band. And that is a problem with the Wanamaker organ. You ask Peter Conte.

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
great

 

bourdon16...facade

principal8....facade

gedeckt8...metal

octave4

spillflute4

blockflute2...non-tapered

fourniture-II

cymbale-II

paulistenposaune-8

gt16-4-u

chimes

16-8-4sw

16-8-4ch

 

swell

 

rohrflute8

viola8

violaceleste8

principal4

spitzflute4

octavin2

larigot1-1/3

scharff-III-26-29-33

krummhorn16

trompette8

tremolo16-4-usw

 

choir

 

holzgedeckt8

gemshorn8

gemshornceleste8

fugara4

koppelflute4

nazard2-2/3

flageolet2

tierce1-3/5

oboe8-revoiced from  old organ

voxhumana8-revoiced from old organ

tremolo

ch16-4-u

sw16-8-4

gt16-8-4

 

pedal

 

principal16

subbass16

bourdon16-gt

octave8x

pommergedeckt8-metal

choralbass4

stillflute4

schwiegel2

mixture-III

posaune16

trumpet8x

schalmey4

gt8-4

sw8-4

ch8-4

in 1975 a chancel section was added where the old organ once stood but in a smaller enclosure

 

bordun8-metal

spitzprincipal4

waldfloete2

quint1-1/3

trompetta8

chancel on choir 16-8-4

chancel on pedal 8-4

 

 

Dear Steve,

Thanks for your last couple of postings. I am particularly grateful that you have started putting periods in occasionally for the rest of us. This really helps!

 

Take it from me, if nobody was interested in what you have to say, you would get no replies - so in a way, argument is a sort of compliance - sounds ridiculous but maybe you know what I mean. I for one would love to try some of the organs you describe.

 

I wish to comment on the spec above (which I have quoted complete for reference).

There are a number of things that worry me on paper - no doubt the instrument works well in the building! I pass over the 16' Krummhorn on the Swell and the 4' Fugara on the Choir, but I wish to take issue with virtually every 2' in the organ being (at least in name) a type of flute!

 

Over here, a number of builders in the late 19th century and early 20th wanted brightness but had to get it past 'advisers'. Because of the resistance to upperwork in some quarters (down to the influence of writers like Audsley and players like Lemare) you regularly see Great organs stops called Flautina. In reality these stops could be (for the all the world) full-blooded Fifteenths - or Octaves to you!

 

I write because IMHO a 2' flute does not complete a chorus - well - not a chorus of principals!

 

Pierre has invited us to define what we mean by a good chorus - my ideal would be along these lines:

Firm 8' - more musical than dominant - not slow speaking!

Bright 4' Octave* - not much less in power than 8' - enough harmonic for it to 'reach upwards'.

 

*I have heard several excellent Principals in my time - most of the best can give the impression of a modest 2' being already drawn.

 

Firm 2' - in the same style (but perhaps just a little softer than the 4')

 

All the time, the tone is extending upwards (each rank broadly similar) and still bright- toned. In practice this often means they are made to a somewhat lesser scale. I would rather have that than a flutey treble - sometimes this comes about because a powerful stop has had to be softened.

 

I agree with what you say about 12ths. Several designers over here have started leaving them out, even in fairly large schemes. All the same, I believe that they are very characteristic of an English organ sound. I accept that some people don't like them - I certainly dislike being forced to have a 12th drawn as in organs with Quartanes but no separate Fifteenth. I also accept that you may well be correct in saying that these need less tone, narrow mouths etc. in order to take their proper place in the chorus.

 

Until you've played a seriously big organ with all the right stops from an Open 16' up, the point of a Quint 5.1/3 is not seen. At such a big organ when one draws the full Great chorus, the 5.1/3 has something very worthwhile to say - the effect is infinitely richer with it. In a similar way, a decent great twelfth adds a certain richness and definitely helps to bind the principal tones together. Mind you, I would draw it fourth or fifth not third!

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(Steve Bournias) when the holloway firm ceased business its prominent employees reorganized under a new firm of goulding and wood and now r a well established concern tho the principals r retired the succesors have some impressive jobs both behind and in front of them

 

 

Well well, this one was very nearly in English. But what a perfectly ghastly specification. I'd run a mile from that one, I'm afraid.

 

B

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Pierre has invited us to define what we mean by a good chorus - my ideal would be along these lines:

Firm 8' - more musical than dominant - not slow speaking!

Bright 4' Octave* - not much less in power than 8' - enough harmonic for it to 'reach upwards'.

 

*I have heard several excellent Principals in my time - most of the best can give the impression of a modest 2' being already drawn.

 

Firm 2' - in  the same style (but perhaps just a little softer than the 4')

 

(snip)

I agree with what you say about 12ths.  Several designers over here have started leaving them out, even in fairly large schemes. All the same, I believe that they are very characteristic of an English organ sound.  I accept that some people don't like them - I certainly dislike being forced to have a 12th drawn as in organs with Quartanes but no separate Fifteenth.  I also accept that you may well be correct in saying that these need less tone, narrow mouths etc. in order to take their proper place in the chorus.

 

All those early organs, especially in East Friesland, show that a chorus of 8,4,Quint, 2 really is already "organo pleno" - and much more suitable for polyphony than breaking mixtures. Then it really is important that the 2' be of principal scale AND tone, ie not ruined by emasculation through excessive cut-up or reduction of wind-flow, whether this is achieved at the flue or the foot. The same is true for the quint; if it is to blend properly, it needs to be a principal; I personally like the somewhat reedy quality of a strong Quint providing that the 4' has enough harmonic development to carry it properly; others may not. But the hermaphrodite "Nasat" as it is often called here doesn't cut the mustard; although softer, it is often more intrusive because it does not take its place in the harmonic development of the chorus, especially if it is made as a Rohrflöte, common enough over here.

 

The issue of 8' and 4' principals being made to fluty is becoming quite serious in Europe. The new Rieger organ in Essen cathedral is a warning to all in this respect!

 

Cheers

B

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Well, here we begin to have a very interesting thread!

 

In order to avoid filling the thing with ten pages I shall try to split

some ideas upon several days.

 

What is a good chorus?

This does not exist.

A good chorus is the one that fits for its purpose.

And there are as many different purposes as there are organs, better still,

as there are divisions.

 

First a distinction must be made between "classical" and "romantic" organs.

 

Classical= Werkprinzip (more or less developed according to the styles)

Romantic= Abschwächungsprinzip ("Terraced dynamics")

 

With both kinds the Diapason chorus remains the backbone of the organ, but

in the romantic organ it is not sought after for itself. Often the Mixture won't

be drawn before at least all flue stops of all families are drawn; better, in many

organs even the reeds will be added first.

 

Even if we discuss this very wide distinction Classical/romantic only, there are

many many items deserving consideration....

 

We could talk from several kinds of romantic Mixtures, and then the classical french, dutch, flemish, italian, german, south german, spanish, the several english...

 

Best wishes,

Pierre

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Remember Sir Thomas Beecham: "Organists are like broken-down carthorses: they're always wanting another stop".

 

 

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

 

 

I don't want to sound pedantic....but........the quote came from Canon Sydney Smith of St.Paul's Cathedral.

 

Beecham was far less kind to organists!

 

Didn't he once look at Parry's grave, which had an inscription reading something like, "Here lies a fine organist and musician"

 

Beecham turned and said, "How did they get them in the same grave?"

 

MM

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