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John Sayer

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John Sayer    0

The new "21st-century symphonic organ" being built by Gerald Woehl for the Studio Acusticum in Pitea, Sweden seems to break new ground in the design of the modern concert hall organ, at least judging by the specification.

 

See Stoplist which also has a live webcam monitoring work-in-progress on the construction of the instrument.

 

Obscure mutations (Aliquoten) were fashionable in the 60s and 70s in Germany and now seem to be back on the agenda. The so-called Harmonics Division must offer the most complete tonal palette, from the 128ft series upwards, of such stops - every 'rumble and tinkle' you can think of. It's hard to think of an artistic use for such an overloaded musical paintbox.

 

JS

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pwhodges    0

The proposal to have some of the pipework able to operate at two pressures to provide baroque and romantic chorus styles from the same pipes seems particularly dubious to me.

 

Paul

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John Sayer    0
The new "21st-century symphonic organ" being built by Gerald Woehl for the Studio Acusticum in Pitea, Sweden seems to break new ground in the design of the modern concert hall organ, at least judging by the specification.

 

See Stoplist which also has a live webcam monitoring work-in-progress on the construction of the instrument.

 

Obscure mutations (Aliquoten) were fashionable in the 60s and 70s in Germany and now seem to be back on the agenda. The so-called Harmonics Division must offer the most complete tonal palette, from the 128ft series upwards, of such stops - every 'rumble and tinkle' you can think of. It's hard to think of an artistic use for such an overloaded musical paintbox.

 

JS

 

An explanation from one of the consultants may be of interest:

 

"We're very excited about the Harmonics Division - it contains more than 100 microtonal steps to the octave throughout the entire compass of the organ (as compared to the normal 12 steps to each octave) and from its ranks we will be able to derive the vast array of mutations you see in the stop list. But it can of course also be used to create extraordinarily original undulating stops (celestes) ranging from just a hint of an undulation to an extremely thick and pulsating sound — all done with the use of normal, acoustic pipework. And each pipe in the Harmonics Division can be operated individually as well as assigned individually to each keyboard, it's entirely possible to work with microtonal scales of any complexity.

 

Also, the custom computer network we are developing allows data to be processed by any number of computers in real time, it's possible to create extremely detailed and complex sonic patterns dynamically, spanning the gap between acoustic and electronic sound."

 

OK fine, but how are they going to keep all those ranks in tune? Why do it acoustically - i.e. with real pipes - when it could be done electronically at a fraction of the cost?

 

JS

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ajsphead    0

No, sorry. There are large proportions of the concept that I just don't get. Call me a luddite if you wish, although I have been known to create some unusual compound stops, but it's always been via the Compton method of try it and see what gives the best response, not a slavish adherence to convention, which despite initial appearances, is what this looks like to me. Yes, you'll be able to create lots of different effects, but why? I know there's an argument in repertoire for it, but it's a very narrow repertoire for such a large number of odd pitched ranks.

 

There are lots of other bits I am struggling with too. Doesn't look as forward thinking as they're proposing, and I have a suspicion that it will sound just a like a lot of similarly specified continental recital room organs, but just with lots of weird stuff too.

 

Might always be proved totally wrong though.

 

AJS

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kropf    0
No, sorry. There are large proportions of the concept that I just don't get. Call me a luddite if you wish, although I have been known to create some unusual compound stops, but it's always been via the Compton method of try it and see what gives the best response, not a slavish adherence to convention, which despite initial appearances, is what this looks like to me. Yes, you'll be able to create lots of different effects, but why? I know there's an argument in repertoire for it, but it's a very narrow repertoire for such a large number of odd pitched ranks.

 

There are lots of other bits I am struggling with too. Doesn't look as forward thinking as they're proposing, and I have a suspicion that it will sound just a like a lot of similarly specified continental recital room organs, but just with lots of weird stuff too.

 

Might always be proved totally wrong though.

 

AJS

 

Maybe... Hans-Ola Ericsson (project leader) is one of the foremost players in new music and not bad in older one, and he is in close touch with specialists for any repertoire. He is a gifted composer, and with parts of this organ, he thinks of music not written yet, that may never be written down maybe, as it is just improvised.

 

Do not think in normal keyboard and piano/organ terms, when regarding the gimmicks of that organ (which undoubtedly will be more or at least not less than any other "continental recital room organ", as already the recital room itself has a movable roof and can change its reverb time from very short to several seconds, and Gerald Woehl is quite a special guy, but he knows how to make organs).

 

Think of real-time controllers like you know them from the synthesizer scene: Ribbon controllers, horseshoe swell pedals (thos we know, of course), pitch benders, touchpads and so on.

 

I am eagerly waiting for touch responsive pipe organs (No, a normal tracker is not completely touch responsive, as you have some speed control, but limited control of the amount of wind flow, once the pallet opened. It is beneath the possibilites of a system like this one (http://www.flayer.ch/orgues - click onto the "Ursy" link and watch the demonstration of the Syncordia action after some minutes).

Or, let's say, I am waiting for touch responsive consoles on large, electrically operated instruments. Imagine a touch responsive control of how many pallets / pipe magnets are open - a console for that purpose is coming in Ratingen, Germany. They already have nine ranks of their Kegelladen soundboards individually controllable, and try to get the full organ modified.

So, the Pitea Organ does not primarily search after strange STATIC sounds, which you could get on many trackers just by partially-pulling mutation stops, but for flowing colours, controlled by human and/or machine after artistic imaginations.

 

Of course, the traditional slider chest organ, tracker-activated, remains the best thing. But not in every situation and for every purpose. First is to leave the tracker, when the organ gets too large. Second is to have some individual pallets for certain or all pipes. We know the disadvantages, but it is not the Compton or Welte or Something-philosophy, that for a 40-stop-impression 12 ranks are sufficient, or 4 would be for a 20-stop-feeling. The need and use for such applications has to be guided be taste and artistic ability.

So give me tracker organs any day, below 60 stops. But I like "my" 83 stop instrument and am looking forward to explore it more deeply once a day with innovative playing aids (who DO WORK of course, and whose "human user interface" is UNDERSTANDABLE)

 

Why is that Swedish organ with pipes, and the mutation section not digital? They wanted an aerophone, at least they wanted definately acoustic sound generation (There are Bells etc. somewhere, I think).

 

The Swedish are not like [....... ] (maybe better not to name a nation!!). They would not spend lots of money for nonsense. One may say, they are more into electronics than other people, like compouters, mobiles, talking elevators and so on, and this may be felt at this project.

 

But even if they have to shut down the mutations division because it does not work or make sense, a very interesting concert organ shuld remain.

Personally, I will miss the haptic impressions of drawknobs or tabs, as they completely turned to touchscreens. Well then, this place will be the most important to check, if organists could start to like this. An addition of Touchscreens to normal stop jambs would make more sense to me, as the numerous functions would generate such a number of physically extent switches, that the console would get much to messy. (By the way, see some touchscreen installations here - if page is updated, search in teh calendar below for März 2010)

 

If the Pitea Organ fails, it will be an important input to people like me... But first we should welcome the fact, that there are places, where innovation to our instrument at least SEEMS to be possible. Let's watch!

 

Karl-Bernhardin Kropf

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Vox Humana    0

From the diagrams, it looks like the stops are going to be displayed on 2-foot high touch screens. I wonder how. For quick, efficient stop management I would find it impossibly difficult if the stops names were (i) not of an easily visible size and (ii) not reasonably well separated spacially. Small, cramped displays are not easy to manipulate quickly, as I know from having used Hauptwerk. I fear a larger version of the same problem.

 

There's an interesting list of borrowings on their Facebook site:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Pitea-Sweden...amp;topic=11528

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kropf    0
From the diagrams, it looks like the stops are going to be displayed on 2-foot high touch screens. I wonder how. For quick, efficient stop management I would find it impossibly difficult if the stops names were (i) not of an easily visible size and (ii) not reasonably well separated spacially. Small, cramped displays are not easy to manipulate quickly, as I know from having used Hauptwerk. I fear a larger version of the same problem.

 

There's an interesting list of borrowings on their Facebook site:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Pitea-Sweden...amp;topic=11528

 

You are right with worrying about accessability of the functions. I do not know, but I could imagine, that you do not have all the elements (may they be visualisations of toggles, tabs, drawknobs or whatever) visible at the same time. If I were to design such a control panel, I would rely to something like "flyouts", "pulldown menus" and what else we know from computer operation. So, one could have selected views of one division per screen only, or stops without couplers, or - most likely - every resident and visiting organist is allowed to design his own profile and to save it. So, it would need one finger movement more than on a traditional console, to activate something, but the time for searching over vast stopjambs is saved. At my console, I have 96 functions, multiplied with four free combination switches per tab... I do know the console quite well but still find me searching during improvisations for some fractions of seconds, so I could imagine, that operating a "view selector" on a screen which is smaller than my stop jambs are, would need approx. the same time.

 

The video feed is great, currently they are unloading the first bunch of organ parts.

 

Oh, another edit about the facebook borrowing info: The quotations are from Gerald Woehl's own description. German speaking readers will notice his style, which likes pretty much that of a master chef de cuisine describing some very delicate meals. This always makes me smile...

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ajsphead    0
Maybe... Hans-Ola Ericsson (project leader) is one of the foremost players in new music and not bad in older one, and he is in close touch with specialists for any repertoire. He is a gifted composer, and with parts of this organ, he thinks of music not written yet, that may never be written down maybe, as it is just improvised.

 

Do not think in normal keyboard and piano/organ terms, when regarding the gimmicks of that organ (which undoubtedly will be more or at least not less than any other "continental recital room organ", as already the recital room itself has a movable roof and can change its reverb time from very short to several seconds, and Gerald Woehl is quite a special guy, but he knows how to make organs).

 

Think of real-time controllers like you know them from the synthesizer scene: Ribbon controllers, horseshoe swell pedals (thos we know, of course), pitch benders, touchpads and so on.

 

 

Why is that Swedish organ with pipes, and the mutation section not digital? They wanted an aerophone, at least they wanted definately acoustic sound generation (There are Bells etc. somewhere, I think).

 

The Swedish are not like [....... ] (maybe better not to name a nation!!). They would not spend lots of money for nonsense. One may say, they are more into electronics than other people, like compouters, mobiles, talking elevators and so on, and this may be felt at this project.

 

But even if they have to shut down the mutations division because it does not work or make sense, a very interesting concert organ shuld remain.

P

 

If the Pitea Organ fails, it will be an important input to people like me... But first we should welcome the fact, that there are places, where innovation to our instrument at least SEEMS to be possible. Let's watch!

 

Karl-Bernhardin Kropf

 

Most of this, in principle I do understand. What I'm struggling with is how all these differing pitches can be integrated into music in a manageable way. We must be looking more forward than back with this, as other than specific examples from specific periods with specific people at the helm of a project, it is an unorthodox and uncommon route to follow. Are we going along the Guillou type route here of use your ears not your conventions ? If so I understand that, but with such an array of aliquots again I'm struggling to see how it can be used broadly and manageably, and how, other than with the titulaire or his close associates presiding, will a recitalist have the time and inclination to explore all this. in standard repertoire I suspect not, but agree that one has to consider a different type of repertoire to understand the inclusion of these things. I would be very interested to hear how it works in practise, but my concern otherwise is with the generalisability of anything spawned from it. To be truly forward looking, I think this is a necessary requisite.

 

Re the touch screens, I'm yet to be convinced of their clarity and reliability of response to the user. I'm not sure that they will promote anything other than inveterate button pushing, which also is the only way at the moment that I can see all the aliquots being brought into music.

 

I would like to have access to any papers written by the progenitors of the scheme to understand further.

 

AJS

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kropf    0

Porthead, I share all your questions. I'm glad, that there is a place (well, one or two for each continent might be enough), where they make the efforts to find the answers. I have exposed myself as beeing very interested and sharing fantasies of possibilities, but I am not unaware of the risks and questions. I have also certain visions of software breakdowns during concerts, player's panic in searching the right function, disappointment when engaging the harmonics division and having to discover that much material, work and knowledge was spent without noticeable benefit to musical expression...

 

I prefer to be on the positive side, but all the positive answers needed still have to be given. Anyway, the people involved are among the best to find them.

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bazuin    0

This project has to be taken very seriously because of the calibre of the people involved. Hans-Ola Ericsson is one of the great organists/scholars of our time and Woehl is undoubtedly a great organ builder. Of course there is nothing in the existing organ repertoire which requires all those mutations or the registration tools, but to think of it in those terms is to miss the point entirely.

 

One concern jumps at me though - the organ seems to be very large. The room clearly isn't.

 

Bazuin

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kropf    0
This project has to be taken very seriously because of the calibre of the people involved. Hans-Ola Ericsson is one of the great organists/scholars of our time and Woehl is undoubtedly a great organ builder. Of course there is nothing in the existing organ repertoire which requires all those mutations or the registration tools, but to think of it in those terms is to miss the point entirely.

 

One concern jumps at me though - the organ seems to be very large. The room clearly isn't.

 

Bazuin

 

Yes, it is not a very large hall. It has 639 seats, the stage is 10X18 m. See the interesting detailed plans here.

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"there is nothing in the existing organ repertoire which requires all those mutations or the registration tools, but to think of it in those terms is to miss the point entirely. "

(Quote)

 

Indeed !

I'll go a step further: to believe those things are pointless is to believe the history

ends with us. We know all. There will be no others composers for the organ, because

we know there cannot be.

 

Pierre

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DouglasCorr    0

Maybe I haven't read everything but (in John Sayers post)

 

"We're very excited about the Harmonics Division - it contains more than 100 microtonal steps to the octave throughout the entire compass of the organ (as compared to the normal 12 steps to each octave) and from its ranks we will be able to derive the vast array of mutations you see in the stop list. But it can of course also be used to create extraordinarily original undulating stops (celestes) ranging from just a hint of an undulation to an extremely thick and pulsating sound — all done with the use of normal, acoustic pipework. And each pipe in the Harmonics Division can be operated individually as well as assigned individually to each keyboard, it's entirely possible to work with microtonal scales of any complexity.

"

 

Can some one say plainly please how you access these 100 microtonal steps per octave from 12 keys per octave. Surely to get full advantage of the microtones you need to define how many keys to allocate to an octave as well. Of course you will also have to learn to play the new keyboard set up too!

 

PS Microtonal enthusiasts may also be interested in the Fluid Piano recently lauched on the South Bank (e.g. Fluid Piano)- which although "fluid" in terms of the tuning of the strings (although limited to I think a tone each way)- is fixed by access from a conventional keyboard.

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pwhodges    0
Can some one say plainly please how you access these 100 microtonal steps per octave from 12 keys per octave.

Just think of it as a unit chest that all those various mutations are derived from.

 

Paul

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kropf    0
Just think of it as a unit chest that all those various mutations are derived from.

 

Paul

 

Imagine a touch sensitive keyboard (still do not know if they will have some), that delivers, say, values of 1-128 for touch depth and/or speed, and free assign of that value to....????

 

Or the simple manner: The keyboard will be "spread", i. e. an acoustical octave will need two or more octaves on the keyboard, so the key semitones will be smaller than 100 cent and so on...

 

Or, imagine: You play, and by using a swell pedal, the amount of such a spread is varied, so if you hold a major triad (c-e-g), it can be modified (with an audible stepped glissando) as being compressed into a minor third (c-d-eb) or something.

 

I think, access will be quite different from all what we do and know now. (And maybe after inauguration we know, why we were happy without knowing! Maybe, it will be the opposite...)

 

And, as Pierre and bazuin put it, we have here the presentation of the tool first - artists have to follow and fill the envelope with content.

It would go to far to point to Cavaillé-Coll and his technical inventions, who then generated the adequate music. But maybe we just see a time, where a noticeable input to the organ culture is beeing made (remember, there are several places and persons struggling for the same targets), and where new music for aerophones will be generated. Music of very little interest for the broad audience, shure. But not every good thing will find the majority's applause.

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Maybe I haven't read everything but (in John Sayers post)

 

"We're very excited about the Harmonics Division - it contains more than 100 microtonal steps to the octave throughout the entire compass of the organ (as compared to the normal 12 steps to each octave) and from its ranks we will be able to derive the vast array of mutations you see in the stop list. But it can of course also be used to create extraordinarily original undulating stops (celestes) ranging from just a hint of an undulation to an extremely thick and pulsating sound — all done with the use of normal, acoustic pipework. And each pipe in the Harmonics Division can be operated individually as well as assigned individually to each keyboard, it's entirely possible to work with microtonal scales of any complexity.

"

 

Can some one say plainly please how you access these 100 microtonal steps per octave from 12 keys per octave. Surely to get full advantage of the microtones you need to define how many keys to allocate to an octave as well. Of course you will also have to learn to play the new keyboard set up too!

 

PS Microtonal enthusiasts may also be interested in the Fluid Piano recently lauched on the South Bank (e.g. Fluid Piano)- which although "fluid" in terms of the tuning of the strings (although limited to I think a tone each way)- is fixed by access from a conventional keyboard.

 

Hi

 

Keyboards for micro-tonal instruments have been aroung for at least a century! The reed organ museum at Saltaire has a couple of organs with reeds tuned to give microtones - one is now playable - the "keyboard" has, IIRC, 7 levels of finger-sized levers, each laid out in conventional pattern, but controlling reeds of slightly differing pitches on each level. I understand that some music was written especially for it, although the primary purpose was to demonstrate various temperaments.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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Hi

 

Keyboards for micro-tonal instruments have been aroung for at least a century! The reed organ museum at Saltaire has a couple of organs with reeds tuned to give microtones - one is now playable - the "keyboard" has, IIRC, 7 levels of finger-sized levers, each laid out in conventional pattern, but controlling reeds of slightly differing pitches on each level. I understand that some music was written especially for it, although the primary purpose was to demonstrate various temperaments.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

 

I have a photo of each which I'd be pleased to post on here, but I don't know how. I could e-mail them to someone if they have the means.

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Vox Humana    0

The Choir-Swell division at Atlantic City has a series of mutations that sound the ninth, tenth, eleventh, twelfth, minor fourteenth and octaves thereof.

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kropf    0

Just wanted to make you aware that the video stream (www.acusticumorgel.se) is quite fascinating. We have so many manufacturer's websites exposing wonderful still photographs, but watching the guys setting up the bellows rack (as currently ongoing) is very interesting, IMHO.

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kropf    0
Just wanted to make you aware that the video stream (www.acusticumorgel.se) is quite fascinating. We have so many manufacturer's websites exposing wonderful still photographs, but watching the guys setting up the bellows rack (as currently ongoing) is very interesting, IMHO.

 

....and that they opened the AUDIO channel - so for the 1st time you can listen to a voicing process online!

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MusingMuso    0
The Swedish are not like [....... ] (maybe better not to name a nation!!). They would not spend lots of money for nonsense.

 

Karl-Bernhardin Kropf

 

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

 

 

I can't get away from the depressng experience of driving old Volvos, before Ford showed them how to make proper cars which didn't trundle along like old trucks.

 

However..........leaving behind logs, chemical fertilisers and ice-cream, what exactly is innovative about this instrument?

 

Believe it or not, it has all been done before, and in the organ-world, John Compton could have done the same thing with maybe 4 or 5 ranks placed on an additional "mutation chest." I can't imagine he would have been stupid enough to waste 20 or more ranks to achieve very little.

 

Let's look beyond this organ for a moment, and ask ourselves what might be achieved musically.

 

Yes, there will be assorted micro-tones, but they will only make a difference at certain critical frequencies; largely in the range of what we would recognise as 4ft C to around the top notes of a 4ft rank. Outside that range, anything lower simply sound disagreeably out of tune, and above it, an unrecognizable jumble of harmonics. It is precisely for this reason that those infamous Polish Cymbals work so well; adding a gritty, en-harmonic tinkle which the ear does not recognise as anything other than harmonics. A similar, but not exactly similar effect can be heard in the Czech Republc, at St Jame's, Prague, where a large number of very high-pitched Mixtures create a not unattractive shrillness of tone in a vast acoustic.

 

The electronic solution is actually much cleverer, because instead of producing their own random harmonics as pipes tend to do, a much purer electronically engineered sound could produce anything from white-noise upwards, and thus act in a way which is musically more precise.

 

Micro-tonal music has its adherents of course, and I have heard some works I like from America, but really, is this vastly expensive organ merely a folly too far? In such limited a building, I would expect the aliquots to sound simply awful, and achieve absolutely nothing which couldn't have been done as an interesting experiment at a fraction of the cost.

 

MM

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DouglasCorr    0
============================

 

 

It is precisely for this reason that those infamous Polish Cymbals work so well; adding a gritty, en-harmonic tinkle which the ear does not recognise as anything other than harmonics. A similar, but not exactly similar effect can be heard in the Czech Republc, at St Jame's, Prague, where a large number of very high-pitched Mixtures create a not unattractive shrillness of tone in a vast acoustic.

 

 

MM

 

A well thought out scheme for the breaks in the mixture composition must surely be essential to acheive this type of wonderful effect?

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