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Do You Mix Diapasons And Flutes?


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When I was young I my approach to registration was influenced by Reginald Whitworth's book Organ Stops and their Use. Whitworth didn't like thick registrations: his basic tenet was that you should only use as few stops as are necessary to obtain the tone colour you need; any others only add thickening. I didn't (and still don't) go along with him on every point (especially his advice that Full Swell should only requires the 16, 8 and 4 chorus reeds plus Mixture), but his book did leave its mark in that I tend to think of registration vertically instead of horizontally.

 

I suppose Whitworth was inveighing against the symphonic approach to registration which dictates that you add the stops in the order that produces the smoothest crescendo and don't bother subtracting any. Now I'm not by any means against mixing softer 8ft stops together. Romantic music needs warmth, after all. But I do have a horror of thickening diapasons with flutes of the same pitch. To me it seems so unnecessary. My organ teacher at the RCM thought so too.

 

Recently I was taken to task by an elderly (and very competent) organist who had been brought up in the old tradition. He had been taught always to use the Open Diapason together with the 8ft flute and made the admittedly valid point that on most English Romantic organs the stops have been voiced to be used that way (though I note Stephen Bicknell reckons that some builders did and some didn't).

 

I know from organs that I visit that this practice is still very much alive. So am I in a minority? What do you do?

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
When I was young I my approach to registration was influenced by Reginald Whitworth's book Organ Stops and their Use. Whitworth didn't like thick registrations: his basic tenet was that you should only use as few stops as are necessary to obtain the tone colour you need; any others only add thickening. I didn't (and still don't) go along with him on every point (especially his advice that Full Swell should only requires the 16, 8 and 4 chorus reeds plus Mixture), but his book did leave its mark in that I tend to think of registration vertically instead of horizontally.

 

I suppose Whitworth was inveighing against the symphonic approach to registration which dictates that you add the stops in the order that produces the smoothest crescendo and don't bother subtracting any. Now I'm not by any means against mixing softer 8ft stops together. Romantic music needs warmth, after all. But I do have a horror of thickening diapasons with flutes of the same pitch. To me it seems so unnecessary. My organ teacher at the RCM thought so too.

 

Recently I was taken to task by an elderly (and very competent) organist who had been brought up in the old tradition. He had been taught always to use the Open Diapason together with the 8ft flute and made the admittedly valid point that on most English Romantic organs the stops have been voiced to be used that way (though I note Stephen Bicknell reckons that some builders did and some didn't).

 

I know from organs that I visit that this practice is still very much alive. So am I in a minority? What do you do?

 

 

1. Frankly, there is only one golden rule in Registration - does it sound OK?

 

2. I realise that a lot of composers (particularly French ones) ask for specific stops, but even when these appear to exist on the organ at your disposal, you still need to refer to the golden rule (see above).

 

3. Variety is valuable - to stick to a pre-determined pattern throughout a range of pieces/periods/styles (as it were 'regardless') has got to be missing out from time to time.

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It may be interesting to note, as long as french romantic composers

are concerned, that the "Choeur des fonds" on Cavaillé-Coll organs

is always:

 

Montre 8' (slotted, somewhat horny)

Flûte harmonique 8'

Bourdon 8'

Gambe 8' (Mezzo-forte)

 

Names may vary (Viole de Gambe for instance) but it is always the same

principle. The result is equivalent to one big Diapason, but somewhat richer

in harmonic content.

 

The english equivalent is: Open Diapason I, II, III (etc), normally without

Flutes( I mean 8' open) and Gambas.

 

Of course this is not a "holy Truth", british organs are diverse -and only better

for that- but try it first.

 

Best wishes,

Pierre

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1. Frankly, there is only one golden rule in Registration - does it sound OK?
I wouldn't disagree, but the trouble is that it's a subjective judgement. Look at the early twentieth-century attitude towards mixtures. The man who took me to task thinks that flutes and diapasons sound OK together. On the whole (no hard rules and it depends on the music) I don't. We had an amicable discussion and agreed to differ!

 

The other day I was trying out an organ. I pressed the Gt 2 piston and, lo and behold, Open Diapason plus Hohl Flute. I subtracted the flute and there was no audible difference (at least, none to speak of); the diapason almost entirely swamped the flute. Clearly the piston had been set by someone who had been taught that that's what you do. I would say the majority of organs I visit have their pistons set up similarly.

 

There are a couple of practical points in favour of not including the flutes. If you're playing on the Great with the Swell coupled, then you're going to want the widest dynamic range from the swell box that you can get and it's not going to help if you increase the wall of sound on the Great by throwing the flutes in. Not an issue on a well-constructed, well-sited organ, but I'm sure we've all played ones where the swell box has been less than ideally effective. Also I've occasionally had to accompany choirs on rather loudly-voiced organs and in such circumstances singers really can do without the extra volume the flutes give.

 

But please don't think I'm out to change anyone's habits. I'm just interested to get a feel for the proportion of those who do to those who don't.

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
I wouldn't disagree, but the trouble is that it's a subjective judgement. Look at the early twentieth-century attitude towards mixtures. The man who took me to task thinks that flutes and diapasons sound OK together. On the whole (no hard rules and it depends on the music) I don't. We had an amicable discussion and agreed to differ!

 

The other day I was trying out an organ. I pressed the Gt 2 piston and, lo and behold, Open Diapason plus Hohl Flute. I subtracted the flute and there was no audible difference (at least, none to speak of); the diapason almost entirely swamped the flute. Clearly the piston had been set by someone who had been taught that that's what you do. I would say the majority of organs I visit have their pistons set up similarly.

 

There are a couple of practical points in favour of not including the flutes. If you're playing on the Great with the Swell coupled, then you're going to want the widest dynamic range from the swell box that you can get and it's not going to help if you increase the wall of sound on the Great by throwing the flutes in. Not an issue on a well-constructed, well-sited organ, but I'm sure we've all played ones where the swell box has been less than ideally effective. Also I've occasionally had to accompany choirs on rather loudly-voiced organs and in such circumstances singers really can do without the extra volume the flutes give.

 

But please don't think I'm out to change anyone's habits. I'm just interested to get a feel for the proportion of those who do to those who don't.

 

 

 

If you're asking, do Diapasons often sound better without Flutes drawn in unison with them? - I would probably agree. Not least, the tuning is likely to be better - you are using up far less wind too. In fast music, however, you may find that the 8' Principal doesn't speak quickly enough as the foundation for a chorus - Flutes practically always speak quicker and will keep up with the upperwork better.

 

In romantic music a Diapason on its own may sound a little dry or thin - depends on the voicing of course.

 

A sweeping statement, of course, but older Diapasons and Principals on the continent often sound much more flutey than Lewis/Willis or some contemporary voicers have given us. Some Diapasons are so flutey as to be more than halfway towards open flutes - I would give Renatus Harris stops in Wolverhapton or Twickenham as native examples. They are still gorgeous when played on their own - strictly speaking, an inauthentic thing to do. In those days, both Open and Stopped Diapasons were invariably drawn together where both are provided.

 

Still - registration rules aren't everything.

 

I have a self-taught organist friend who laboriously marks anything that bothers him on his music ready for the odd days when I go over. Practically always, I find that he has spotted things that are merely printing errors or accidental inconsistencies. [Like the missing accidentals common to all the French editions of Widor's famous Toccata.] I keep telling him that he should go with his instincts. In the same way, I suggest that you don't get bogged down with the 'letter' of registrations given but set your aim for the 'spirit'. If something sounds 'wrong' then it more than likely is - regardless of whatever you've seen in print.

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As Paul@Trinity Music so correctly observes, 'does it sound OK' is the only criterion. One reason for using stopped and opens together on old English organs is that the bass of the open is often speeded up by the addition of the stopped rank and I believe that this was the standard practice. It seems to work with a lot of Victorian organs also.

 

I used to believe all that stuff about not wasting wind etc that one read in books but if you look at the piston settings on most Cathedral and large parish church organs you'll find both the open and stopped in there together and - frankly - most of the listeners aren't going to be worrying too much about it.

 

Stewart Taylor

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if you look at the piston settings on most Cathedral and large parish church organs you'll find both the open and stopped in there together

Yes, indeed. That's precisely what prompted me to ask the question. I do wonder sometimes whether those organists actually listen critically to the sounds or whether they are just following a mantra. On the other hand, when you see well-known organists doing it you have to assume that they have given it some thought. I guess it boils down to individual taste. Your good point about flutes being more prompt in speech could well be an explanation. Another one that I've occasionally suspected is to help cover up non-speaking diapason pipes on clapped out instruments!

 

As far as the listening public goes, most of them wouldn't know a Tuba from a Regal. They just know when they have enjoyed something and when they haven't. I've heard it said that, when it comes to organs, the ordinary music lover likes the sound of any (decent) large organ at full bore, but otherwise finds the clarity of classical voicing more "musical" than Romantic mush. My empirical impression is that there may be something in this - but that's a topic for another thread.

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Just some toughts:

 

-Wouldn't the association Open-Stopped Diapason be a typical baroque

registration in England?

 

-Was the "mush" really the goal of the romantic builders?

 

We may suppose the multiplication of the 8' Open Diapasons originated with

the wish to keep the "good oyle Diapason tone" from the time british organs

had no heavy pedal 16' stops -and rather some pull-downs as anything else-,

along with the "modern" type, less singing stop. So the player still had the

possibility to display this tone.

Later, when you had three or four 8' Open Diapasons, it seems another idea, that is, to provide an "horizontal Diapason chorus" had merged with this first conception.

 

While wandering in England I often noted this: if you add a Diapason to the I, so I+II, you get an increase of tone, while if you add a Flute, you get about to nothing at all

more.

I concluded the voicing of these british romantic organs took the first case for granted as the aimed at practice, while the second was not.

 

Best wishes,

Pierre

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Just some toughts:

 

-Wouldn't the association Open-Stopped Diapason be a typical baroque

  registration in England?

Yes - and on an English Baroque organ they sound just great. A Victorian or early 20th-century Open Diap and 8' flute is not at all the same thing.

 

-Was the "mush" really the goal of the romantic builders?

OK, maybe I should have used a less subjective term. I was thinking mainly of instruments with specification that date back to the era of the symphonic organ when registration was additive - i.e. you piled on the stops in the order that gave the smoothest crescendo (8's first, then the 4's, then the reeds, lastly the mixtures) and never bothered to subtract any.

 

As I understand it the builders' goal was an "orchestral" sound. Wasn't it Willis who voiced his Geat Organs so that the diapaons were stronger in the bass, but the flutes stronger in the treble, so that, by using both together you get a more "singing" tone colour as you get higher, but a constant balance? On such an instrument it would be a very good reason for using both together, of course.

 

We may suppose the multiplication of the 8' Open Diapasons originated with

the wish to keep the "good oyle Diapason tone" from the time british organs

had no heavy pedal 16' stops -and rather some pull-downs as anything else-,

along with the "modern" type, less singing stop. So the player still had the

possibility to display this tone.

Later, when you had three or four 8' Open Diapasons, it seems another idea, that is, to provide an "horizontal Diapason chorus" had merged with this first conception.

I've not checked, but I think the proliferation of 8' Opens has everything to do with the symphonic style of registration I mentioned above. Not sure you find them so much at an earlier date, but, like I say, I've not checked, so I may be well off-beat here.

 

While wandering in England I often noted this: if you add a Diapason to the I, so I+II, you get an increase of tone, while if you add a Flute, you get about to nothing at all

more.

I concluded the voicing of these british romantic organs took the first case for granted as the aimed at practice, while the second was not.

It depends very much on the organ and the builder. According to Stephen Bicknell, some builders like Willis and Lewis voiced their diapasons and flutes to be used (and heard) together; others like Harrison & Harrison [and Walker?] did not. I played an old Compton pipe organ recently where the Swell was really an Echo organ and had very little impact when added to the Great. There's a lot of variety out there.

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Yes, indeed. That's precisely what prompted me to ask the question. I do wonder sometimes whether those organists actually listen critically to the sounds or whether they are just following a mantra. On the other hand, when you see well-known organists doing it you have to assume that they have given it some thought. I guess it boils down to individual taste.

 

On my own church instrument I use all the foundation stops (except the Swell Vox Angelica) most of the time for playing mf and above. The combination of a building which has an acoustic ambience which makes the RFH sound warm and fluffy and a buried east-of-transept-dog-kennel position means that so-called Baroque registrations of one stop of each pitch for the choruses sound absurdly thin and top-heavy. I am extremely fussy about registrations on any organ which I play and frequently get pupils to play musical excerpts using my prescribed registrations whilst I go and listen in several key parts of the building. Whilst this is not quite the same as having a building full of people, it nevertheless gives a good indication of the effect in various parts of the church.

 

Again, it is a case of individual instruments, buildings and organists.

 

A previously-mentioned point regarding a Hohl Flute and a Diapason is interesting. The Hohl Flute, regardless of which builder (or pipe-maker) produced the rank, seems to be a notoriously bad mixer. Just about every example I have encountered sounds thick, oily and unpleasant (with the possible exceptions of one or two by Wm. Hill). There used to be a particularly nasty specimen at a church where I was previously the Assistant Organist. However, following an excellent rebuild (for a very reasonable sum) by Lance Foy, this Hohl Flute went on to perform the valuable service of keeping him and his family warm over the Christmas period.

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  • 2 months later...

1. Frankly, there is only one golden rule in Registration - does it sound OK?

 

If only more organists would listen to what they are doing! So many seem to drift off into a world of their own imagination when playing and how many bother to go into the body of their church and listen to someone else playing their instrument?

 

Frank Fowler

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1. Frankly, there is only one golden rule in Registration - does it sound OK?

 

If only more organists would listen to what they are doing! So many seem to drift off into a world of their own imagination when playing and how many bother to go into the body of their church and listen to someone else playing their instrument?

 

Frank Fowler

 

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

 

Paul and Frank are absolutely right, and I can tell them that it applies just as much to a baroque-style instrument.

 

The little organ I play has a superb 8ft Principal made of tin (copper basses), with a quite a slow intonation and a rather sombre (almost stringy) quality of tone. It's the nearest I've heard to a Holzhey 8ft Principal, and even in single notes, it is very attractive. Chords, even played in the bottom octave, are entirely musical.

 

When I add the 4ft Octave, the tonal quality suddenly brightens up, and when the Mixture (IV rks) is drawn, the effect is electrifying; the big acoustic absorbing some degree of brightness down the nave, but the sound fairly ringing around the rafters.

 

To this clear and bright sound, I can add with impunity, the hugely-scaled, French-style Rohrflute....a big flood of sound. To this, I can add the French-style 2rks Sesquialtera and still hear great clarity with added richness. Interestingly, the use of the 8ft Principal and the Rohrflute, when heard from the body of the nave, sounds for all the world like a good English Diapason.

 

It's this "blending" quality which can be heard from so many organs in the Netherlands, both old and new, except for those deriving from the "Schnitger school." It is certainly something which can be done at St.Bavo to entirely musical effect, and lies at the heart of why that organ is so good for Reger's music.

 

It may sound far-fetched, but the organ I play IS a small version of St.Bavo, and I've played the one, flown home and practised on the other; never feeling that I am playing anything less good tonally. It is also the reason why I can play so much of the romantic repertoire on it, and even once performed the Reubke in recital, with just 11 speaking stops!!

 

Of course, it may be that Denys Thurlow has better ears than most, and that is the sole reason why this small organ is so good and so utterly musical.

 

At the absolute opposite end of the spectrum, there is another instrument I sometimes play for funerals and things. The Open Diapason and Claribel Flute drawn together, are easily the most revolting sound anyone could wish (or not wish) to hear. I've heard better blending fair-organs!

 

MM

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This is the first time a read about french Rohrflöte and Sesquialtera...

"Flûte à cheminée" exists sometimes, but then in 4' only, while the

french Bourdon does have little chimneys in the treble, but not up

to deserve the name Chimney flute.

The Sesquialtera was dropped in the 17th century already, and came

back in neo-classical organs (Gonzalez, Roethinger, synthesis baroque-

romantic) under a completely new form: Nasard and Tierce on the same

slide, so nothing like a true Sesquialtera.

 

Best wishes,

Pierre

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This is the first time a read about french Rohrflöte and Sesquialtera...

"Flûte à cheminée" exists sometimes, but then in 4' only, while the

french Bourdon does have little chimneys in the treble, but not up

to deserve the name Chimney flute.

The Sesquialtera was dropped in the 17th century already, and came

back in neo-classical organs (Gonzalez, Roethinger, synthesis baroque-

romantic) under a completely new form: Nasard and Tierce on the same

slide, so nothing like a true Sesquialtera.

 

Best wishes,

Pierre

 

 

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

 

 

I suspect it is exactly that...... a French style Bourdon with little chimmneys.

 

The Sesquialtera is of the metal, diapason type but voiced quite quick and "dull" in tone. I suppose it's the sort of thing found in a many Dutch instruments. It's a lovely sound anyway.

 

MM

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The other day I was trying out an organ. I pressed the Gt 2 piston and, lo and behold, Open Diapason plus Hohl Flute. I subtracted the flute and there was no audible difference (at least, none to speak of); the diapason almost entirely swamped the flute.

 

That might depend a little on where you are listening from and, of course, on how big the church is. Anything with a big scale tends to carry a lot better than anything with a small one, so that the balance of these two stops could change a lot with a little distance. Just a thought........

 

B

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The other day I was trying out an organ. I pressed the Gt 2 piston and, lo and behold, Open Diapason plus Hohl Flute. I subtracted the flute and there was no audible difference (at least, none to speak of); the diapason almost entirely swamped the flute.

 

That might depend a little on where you are listening from and, of course, on how big the church is. Anything with a big scale tends to carry a lot better than anything with a small one, so that the balance of these two stops could change a lot with a little distance. Just a thought........

 

B

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That might depend a little on where you are listening from and, of course, on how big the church is. Anything with a big scale tends to carry a lot better than anything with a small one, so that the balance of these two stops could change a lot with a little distance. Just a thought........
It's not that big a place so it would have to carry jolly well to make any difference, but you might be right. Next time I'm there with another organist I'll have a listen. But in any case the diapason on this organ is perfectly adequate on its own so why anyone would want to add a Hohl Flute is beyond me.

 

Personally I rather suspect someone used their ears and decided it sounded OK! :)

 

That was my point, really. It's all very well advising people to listen, but everyone has their own opinion on what is an acceptable sound. Some people like Vox Humanas; others think it's a vile sound on a matter of principle. I've met one or two "reluctant" organ players (you couldn't call them organists) who don't like the sound of any stops above 8ft pitch, except maybe the odd flute, because they've never been taught registration. In short, it's a subjective thing. People's ears need training and different generations and schools of thought have taught different things so there's a variety of opinions out there.

 

But surely shouldn't the question be not "does it sound OK?", but rather "what do the flutes add?" If your Great Open Diap sounds OK on its own and if the diapason chorus balances OK (that last "if" may be a big one), I don't understand why one would want to thicken the tone with flutes, especially if you have the swell coupled. I'm still wondering what the prevalent practice among is, though. Some people here seem to be a little coy about saying what they do personally. Or maybe they really don't have a standard approach.

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IBut in any case the diapason on this organ is perfectly adequate on its own so why anyone would want to add a Hohl Flute is beyond me.

 

If the Hohl Flute were on the piston before that, I might do it that way as well, because it's a matter of logic to add rather than substitute. Assuming all the usual things, for example they are in tune and that there is enough wind - not usually an issue on modern organs, bein all those built since the advent of blowing plant.

 

 

But surely shouldn't the question be not "does it sound OK?", but rather "what do the flutes add?" If your Great Open Diap sounds OK on its own and if the diapason chorus balances OK (that last "if" may be a big one), I don't understand why one would want to thicken the tone with flutes, especially if you have the swell coupled. I'm still wondering what the prevalent practice among is, though. Some people here seem to be a little coy about saying what they do personally. Or maybe they really don't have a standard approach.

 

Well, it depends. In my case, the organ which I have to play most often is hopelessly too small for the building, both in the number of stops and scale. The church is 120 metres long and 36 high and not exactly narrow either, and the organ has 37 stops, of which only 10 are at 8' pitch, including pedal stops and the reeds - if you subtract them, you are left with 5. So I almost never attempt to use the HW Principal 8' without the voluptuous "Spillflöte 8'". There is no swell to couple.

 

Now I do realise you are talking about a very different organ, the sort I learned on actually. I do think it is instructive that in the days of fixed combinations, which we still had in Cape Town in those days, the organ builders used to set up the pistons so that the progression was additive - the only thing that ever went off again was the Voix celeste or Vos angelica r whatever it was called on the organ in question. You can see the same thing it you look at the way people like Sauer set up their crescendo pedals.

 

Of course using your ears is subjective. But I don't think there's any way to avoid that in the whole business of music making, whether it's registration on the organ or tone on the clarinet or simply the whole business of everything from phrasing to tempo. Have you never heard a famous organist playing, and found yourself asking, "What can he have been thinking, to play it like that?" Or, for that matter, sat at a really ghastly organ and thought to yourself, "Funny - somebody must actually have liked it this way!"?

 

Incidentally - my catholic colleague across the road has a new instrument where you really CAN'T use all the 8's together, and it's the Sw. Hohlföte wot does it..... but you don't hear it at the console. But the voicer warned me....... interesting organ, have a look at

 

 

http://kirchenmusik-bistum-magdeburg.de/3910.html

 

Under the picture there's a link to the "Disposition"

 

Cheers

Barry

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Guest Lee Blick

I tend not to mix Diapasons and Flutes. But I sometimes mix a Dulcianna with a Flute or an Oboe with a Flute because you can get a different sound with the two together. A Diapason tends to be stronger than Flute so the effect isn't quite so good. Depending on the organ I sometimes mix a Voix Celestes with a Flute.

 

Is it bad practise to use Swell string + Voix Celestes + Suboctave and/or Octave coupler? I use it sometimes to get a 'wider' ethereal.

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I tend not to mix Diapasons and Flutes.  But I sometimes mix a Dulcianna with a Flute or an Oboe with a Flute because you can get a different sound with the two together.  A Diapason tends to be stronger than Flute so the effect isn't quite so good. Depending on the organ I sometimes mix a Voix Celestes with a Flute.

 

Is it bad practise to use Swell string + Voix Celestes + Suboctave and/or Octave coupler?  I use it sometimes to get a 'wider' ethereal.

 

I think that this can be quite a ravishing sound. Of course, it depends on the timbre of the stops, and the acoustics - if the strings are very keen, it might be a little too much - unless the building can take it.

 

On my own instument, my 'accompanying' channel I have set General 1 as: Swell Viola, Vox Angelica, Octave, Sub Octave; GO Gamba; Positive, Chimney Flute (4p) and Pedal Principal (Open Metal) 16, Bourdon and Flute 8p, with Swell to GO and Swell to Pedal. In the building this works well and sounds quite etherial. It is extremely useful for certain verses in the Psalms.

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If the Hohl Flute were on the piston before that, I might do it that way as well, because it's a matter of logic to add rather than substitute. Assuming all the usual things, for example they are in tune and that there is enough wind - not usually an issue on modern organs, bein all those built since the advent of blowing plant.

 

 

Oh, how I wish that were the case. My organ, built in 1956, is hideously under winded. I don't know if it's because the blower isn't big enough/knackered or if there are just too many leaks.

 

On a 70-odd stop organ, I use just 13 stops for full organ... The reeds are so huge that there's no audible difference with or without the chorus. Even that sags badly.

Those stops are:

 

Sw - Clarion, Trumpet, Waldhorn

Gt - Clarion, Tromba, Contra Tromba, OD 1

Ped - 32' Sub bass, 16' Violone, Contra Tromba 16 (ex-Gt), Contra Tuba 32 (ex Ch, enclosed), Double Tuba 16 (ex Ch, enclosed)

 

I would like to add a bit more of the Great chorus, but given that the above is unsustainable... :D

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Guest Andrew Butler

Perhaps there should be a separate topic for Octave Couplers"?

 

I agree that celestes + octave & sub octave can sound ravishing - especially with a 32p pedal! - but I do have a problem with having to use octave couplers as a matter of course. An organ I play for the odd funeral near me is a small 2-manual tucked away out of sight in quite a large building, and to make an impression on the congregation you just have to resort to the octave couplers.

A practical problem is that you lose the octave up/down effect at the top and bottom ends of the compass, not to mention "missing" notes when playing in octaves. This same problem obtains in "extension" organs.

 

No solutions here, just thoughts!

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Oh, how I wish that were the case. My organ, built in 1956, is hideously under winded. I don't know if it's because the blower isn't big enough/knackered or if there are just too many leaks.

 

On a 70-odd stop organ, I use just 13 stops  for full organ... The reeds are so huge that there's no audible difference with or without the chorus. Even that sags badly.

Those stops are:

 

Sw - Clarion, Trumpet, Waldhorn

Gt - Clarion, Tromba, Contra Tromba, OD 1

Ped - 32' Sub bass, 16' Violone, Contra Tromba 16 (ex-Gt), Contra Tuba 32 (ex Ch, enclosed), Double Tuba 16 (ex Ch, enclosed)

 

I would like to add a bit more of the Great chorus, but given that the above is unsustainable... :D

 

You could ask a builder to have a look and see what the problem is......... whether the reservoirs are too small (hard to fix), the trunks are leaky (a bit easier), the blower too small (not difficult and not even all that expensive really), or the pallet channels of the chest too small (now there we're talking REALLY expensive).

 

The issue of saving wind was historically more a matter of giving the poor blowers a break. They had to get those reservoirs filled, but they were always - in a good organ - big enough to support the lot, as long as the supply was guaranteed.

 

Now that sounds like a big noise, though possibly a little on the dull side!

 

B

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
Oh, how I wish that were the case. My organ, built in 1956, is hideously under winded. I don't know if it's because the blower isn't big enough/knackered or if there are just too many leaks.

 

On a 70-odd stop organ, I use just 13 stops  for full organ... The reeds are so huge that there's no audible difference with or without the chorus. Even that sags badly.

Those stops are:

 

Sw - Clarion, Trumpet, Waldhorn

Gt - Clarion, Tromba, Contra Tromba, OD 1

Ped - 32' Sub bass, 16' Violone, Contra Tromba 16 (ex-Gt), Contra Tuba 32 (ex Ch, enclosed), Double Tuba 16 (ex Ch, enclosed)

 

I would like to add a bit more of the Great chorus, but given that the above is unsustainable... :D

 

Dear Alastair,

Your instrument (St.Mary's Southampton) certainly must have had enough wind once - evidence is there on the BBC CD! Some things take much more wind than others, and I would suggest that the first things you check for leaks are the stop and key action. Action wind tends to get the heaviest pressure available - that and (of course) your heavy reeds.

 

Here at Holy Trinity Hull we have the exact same problem - though the action here has taken rather longer to get to this state. Where the two blowers are supposed to be alternatives, it is now essential to have them both on all the time. I explained it to the churchwarden that it is like filling a bath with both taps, but with the plug out.

 

My worry - and a problem that has got to strike in Southampton if your major leaks are not attended to, is that one can get to the point where there is insufficient wind for the stop action to work.

 

Curiously, it is small leaks that make the most noise - so you could have major gaps that have so far escaped detection. Classic places for these to appear are

1. Corners, or even whole side joints of reservoirs. The best quality (i.e. most expensive) duck tape will fix these in an emergency. Obviously, a strong glue (best is Evo-stick impact) and leather/upholstery vinyl would be better.

2. Junctions in trunking - maybe even flanges that are no longer screwed tight to the units that they feed. Here, you could go one size longer with screws (just be careful that your new screw doesn't go right through), or pack the screwholes with slivers of wood to try for a better grip.

 

Best way to find leaks is to crawl around with a length of tube to your ear, listening for them. Mind the wires underneath chests and the rusty screws left scattered around the floor!

 

A good electrician/engineer can also check for you whether your blower is actually developing its full strength of delivery. Most big blowers have more than one stage. All blowers start in a 'partially running' mode anyway. There is another thought which could be your problem: (and this has happened several times, even in famous places) some well-intentioned prat may have wired up your blower in such a way that the rotation has been reversed. This would not exactly make it suck, but it would certainly sap its strength.

 

Good luck and don't give up. There's plenty of fun to be had out of such a job, even if everyone's agreed that there'll never be a rebuild out of church funds!

 

BTW I still have that Flute Triangulaire, but it's coming up to Yorkshire in about a week if I don't hear from you or David C!

 

Anyone out there short of little blowers? I have some to practically give away. Last week I also burned six pedalboards - it felt silly to do it, but needs must, I have to be out and my new store spaces are not as capacious as the old ones.

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Dear Alastair,

 

Adrian :D

 

Your instrument (St.Mary's Southampton) certainly must have had enough wind once - evidence is there on the BBC CD!  Some things take much more wind than others, and I would suggest that the first things you check for leaks are the stop and key action.  Action wind tends to get the heaviest pressure available - that and (of course) your heavy reeds.

 

Actually, if you listen carefully to his Wayneship's CD, then there is evidence of sag at the endings of some of the Liszt movements. He also had problems registering around the lack of wind; I know this from people who were "assisting" at the recording, including the tuners.

 

1. Corners, or even whole side joints of reservoirs.  The best quality (i.e. most expensive) duck tape will fix these in an emergency.  Obviously, a strong glue (best is Evo-stick impact) and leather/upholstery vinyl would be better.

 

Yup, we've got a few side joints gone, particularly on the swell chests. Also the swell concussions are poor.

 

Good luck and don't give up.  There's plenty of fun to be had out of such a job, even if everyone's agreed that there'll never be a rebuild out of church funds!

 

Thank you.

 

BTW I still have that Flute Triangulaire, but it's coming up to Yorkshire in about a week if I don't hear from you or David C!

 

Thanks again - I'm still trying to find out what was actually in there originally. It looks like it was a Claribel flute from physical evidence, but a lot of the paperwork I have from '56 suggests that it was always a Gedeckt... I've currently got 1.5 octaves of Claribel flute in there, on loan from Geoffrey Morgan, and it does make a lovely noise!

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