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justinf

Pedal Cornets

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Pierre posted a YouTube link featuring the Holtkamp organ at Christ Church Cathedral in Cincinnati a few days back. This instrument reminded me of the Holtkamp at my university, though ours was much smaller: Two manuals, exposed pipework, no enclosed divisions, setter board round the back. And yet, it was so thoughtfully voiced and blended so well that it could convincingly pull off much more music than its specification (which I can't find) would suggest.

 

Listening to the Cincinnati organ, especially the Karg-Elert

, I am impressed at how effective is the Pedal Cornet. Looking around online, I see Holtkamp installed a number of these Cornets, for example at St. Paul's Episcopal in Cleveland (at 16' and 32', in a Pedal division which also included a Compton Polyphone!), Houghton College, MIT's Kresge Auditorium, and elsewhere.

 

Can anyone clue me in as to what makes a convincing Pedal Cornet, i.e. a resultant 32' and not the 4' or 2' reed? The organ at the church where I grew up had independent 10 2/3' and 6 2/5' ranks, plus a two rank Cornet at 5 1/3' and 3 1/5'; Added to the pedal flues these could add point and definition, a kind of exciting thrum which made me think of Cochereau's comment about the NDP mutations (especially the 4 4/7 Septième) sounding like a chorus of double basses. But in no way did our mutations give the impression of a low pedal reed.

 

I imagine it must be necessary to add further harmonics to fool the ear effectively, probably at least to the septième, just as a manual Cornet demands a tierce. Would the Houghton College example at ten ranks extend this up to the quart, i.e. 16, 10 2/3, 8, 6 2/5, 5 1/3, 4 4/7, 4, 3 5/9, 3 1/5, 2 10/11? How far up the compass of the pedalboard are such Cornets effective, and what do builders do at the top end?

 

It seems these Cornets, when done right, can add solemn grandeur by the bucketfull (as Stephen Bicknell wrote), so I'm surprised not to see more of them. Though I suppose David Briggs is working on it!

 

Justin

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The idea of the deep Pedal Cornet goes back to Eberhard Friedrich Walcker,

and was based on Ab Vogler theory about the resulting tones (but those

were known long before him by the organ-builders).

The main reason was to reinforce the 16' and 32' tone; the "reedy" effect

appears only in the higher part of the compass, and is at its most in 8'

on the manuals, provided the Cornet (or the seperate ranks) are voiced

to that end.

 

(W. Holtkamp Sr was in advance upon his time to the point he even tried, for example,

to introduce the "Kornettmixtur" after the Trost way!!! But his voicing methods were

still post-romantic. Hear how those Chamades sound like Tubas -happily!-)

 

Pierre

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It has as much to do with the tone of the ranks as the pitch of them, particularly with the 6 2/5 4 4/7 3 5/9. If the ranks are independent, you can also play around with the tuning of them to enhance the affect.

 

AJS

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It seems these Cornets, when done right, can add solemn grandeur by the bucketfull (as Stephen Bicknell wrote), so I'm surprised not to see more of them. Though I suppose David Briggs is working on it!

 

Justin

 

He's not alone: the pedal specification for St. Matthew-in-the City includes 10 2/3 - 6 2/5 - 5 1/3 - 4 4/7 as independent ranks. We first considered doing this in our proposal with Stephen for the Miami-Dade concert hall organ which never happened.

 

DW

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Thank you all for your replies. This board is as always a great wealth of information and I do appreciate it.

 

The St. Matthew-in-the-City organ looks to be a very interesting project! One of my (non-musical) coworkers happened by while I was looking at the construction pictures and was floored by the quality of the wood and millwork.

 

My first post ought to have read "Compton Polyphone" not "Diaphone" (since corrected). I blame the ghost of R H-J. It does seem a strange collaboration, Holtkamp and Compton, but I suppose it's a warning to anyone trying to pigeonhole Walter Sr.

 

Justin

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It often seems the case that manual mutations become less and less effective the lower down the compass one goes. The tone ceases to bind; the individual ranks become audible and it starts to sound like a chord rather than a single note.

 

How do builders avoid this effect in 32' based cornets?

 

And if they can do it effectively on the pedal, why do they have difficulty with the bottom couple of octaves on the manuals?

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It is because the aims are not the same; a Pedal Cornet is built and

voiced for resultant tones, so not to be heard for itself, while

a manual Cornet is very different in that respect, as indeed resultant tones

would be rather undesirable in the bottom octave of the manual compass.

It is for that reason E-F Walcker did not build manual 32' Cornets any more after the one he made

in his first big instrument for Frankfurt (1829-33).

The 32' belongs to the Pedal, the 16' to the manuals; 32' resultant tones on the manuals are

interesting only in the treble, but only some french baroque builders used them regularly

(Jean-Esprit Isnard, the Cliquots, and Jean de Joyeuse), in the "Fourniture".

 

E-F Walcker fine-tuned his harmonic concept in the course of his carreer, and ended up

with the Mulhouse (F) organ (1864), which is a case study of organ design, the archetype of a thourough

tonal architecture. (Would anyone build a new organ after german romantic lines, this would be

the Specifications to start with!)

 

See especially the Mixtures and the mutation stops, and how they are attributed

to the several departments:

 

I MANUAL

 

Principal 16'

Flauto major 16'

Montre 8'

Bourdon 8'

Viola di gamba 8'

Hohlflöte 8'

Gemshorn 8'

Quintatön 8'

Nasard 5 1/3'

Prestant 4'

Rohrflöte 4'

Flûte d'amour 4'

Terz 3 1/5'

Nasard 2 2/3'

Doublette 2'

Forniture(sic) 6r: 4(stopped), 2 2/3'(nasard),2', 1 3/5'(conical), 1 1/3',1'

Scharff 3r: 1', 4/5', 1/2'

Cornett 5r (à partir de g): 2', 1', 2/3', 1/2', 2/5'

Fagott 16'

Trompete 8'

Clairon 4'

 

II MANUAL

 

Bourdon 16'

Montre 8'

Bourdon 8'

Salicional 8'

Bifara 8'+4' (le 8' bouché, le 4' ouvert)

Nasard 5 1/3'

Prestant 4'

Rohrflöte 4'

Spitzflöte 4'

Sifflöte 2'

Forniture(sic)5r: 2 2/3', 2', 1 3/5', 1', 1'

Trompete 8' (plus douce que celle du I)

Fagott & Oboe 8' (anches libres)

Vox humana 8'

Corno 4' (jamais placé, remplacé par un Bassethorn 8')

 

III MANUAL (expressif)

 

Principalflöte 8'

Bourdon 8'

Concertflöte 8' (à deux bouches)

Aeoline 8'

Fugara 4'

Traversflöte 4'

Dolce 4'

Nasard 2 2/3'

Flageolett 2'

Bassethorn ou Clarinett 8'( en finale: Trompette harmonique 8')

Physharmonika 8' (force réglable via une pédale)

 

PEDAL

 

Grand Bourdon 32' (Bottom octave: Borrows Quinte 10 2/3' and Tierce 6 2/5'. The Tierce dropped at H. Quinte stops at fs, the rest = plain Bourdon 32')

Principalbass 16'

Subbass 16'

Violonbass 16'

Quintbass 10 2/3'

Octavbass 8'

Hohlflötenbass 8'

Violoncell 8'

Bourdon 8'

Terzbass 6 2/5'

Octavbass 4'

Flöte 2'

Bombardon 16' (résonateurs en......Zinc!)

Trompete 8'

Clairon 4'

 

II/I, III/II, I/P, II/P, III/P

Expression III

Expression Physharmonika

4 combinaisons fixes

Crescendo

 

This incredibly complete, thorough tonal structure is even mire impressive than Cavaillé-Coll's

in Notre-Dame, and it is more than a guess: Cavaillé-Coll tried to follow there !

 

Pierre

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Pierre, the information you have at the ready never fails to enlighten. Here in the US we have a commentator named Michael Barone (not the Pipedreams host) who authors an almanac of American politics and who appears on television every election season. He is well known for his ability to speak from memory and in minute detail on the demographics, history, and geography of every congressional district. When news shows ask him about polling stations in the Wichita suburbs, or voter trends in Pennsylvania 15, or the effects of icy weather in the Chesapeake Bay area, he always provides an informed and meticulous answer.

 

You leave him in the dust!

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Well, Justinf, do not over-estimate my tiny brain; mind you, in the room here

where I have the PC, there are about 1,000 books about the organ, and 24 big boxes

filled with notes, not to mention the Internet and the CDs (downstairs, those). Suffice

to bow towards the right file.

The true matter is: who will build the Mulhouse organ again first ?

 

To summarize: German romantic organ structure= huge Cornet with all imaginable

scales and pipe forms, mixed, after recipes which varies according to the acoustics the organ is

to cope with.

I mentionned Pedal = 32', Manuals = 16'.

This is of course an option; the real basis is 16' on the Pedal, 8' on the manuals, like

with every other kind of organ.

 

So the theoretical structure is:

 

MANUAL EINS

 

Quint 5 1/3'

Terz 3 1/5'

Cornet 5r (the usual 5 ranks from 8')

(Mixture with a 1 3/5' rank, breaking back on 3 1/5' towards the treble)

 

MANUAL ZWEI

 

Quint 5 1/3'

Cornet 5r (smaller scales as on I)

(Mixture with a 4/5' rank, breaking back to 1 3/5'))

 

MANUAL DREI

 

Quint 2 2/3'

Terz 1 3/5'

Cornet with breaks, starting in 4' or even in 2' on C (see Mulhouse)

(Scharf with a 2/5' rank on C, breaking back two times higher)

 

PEDAL

 

Grossquintbass 10 2/3'

Grossterzbass 6 2/5'

Sesquialterabass in 16', for example 3 1/5'-2 2/3'- 2'

 

Add now some reed stops to this, and you will see the spoke of Dom Bédos

shouting "Mais qu'avez vous fait de mon Grand-Jeu???"

 

(E-F Walcker had two books: a Bible, and "L'art du facteur d'orgues".)

 

Pierre

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The true matter is: who will build the Mulhouse organ again first ?

 

 

Pierre

 

But surely the crux of the matter is that one can be hypothetical on paper until les vaches come home. For me every tonal scheme must be the conception of the designer, builder and voicer so that the sound they imagine with all these harmonics blend as one. I read with horror very recently (not in the UK) that an organ builder put on a range of Pedal mutations as the organist was a dab-hand (my words!) at Improvisation. What on earth has such things got to do with Improvisation?

Mutations in my experience are all well and good so long as that they do not cloud counterpoint or overwhelm the fundamental stops that they enhance. It is a fine line and one that the player must draw with utmost care I think. There is an organ in Paris (not on an island) that is almost a caricature of what we/I enjoy as organ sound. It is well-nigh impossible to find a plenum to play Bach with any clarity. And the fundamental that is achieved by wodges of mutation stops actually produce a most painful experience making everything ballast-heavy. I just liken these sorts of organs to the old Hammond electronic organs with the draw bars that let you experiment with the harmonics - instruments equally at home in the home or physics lab! In my mind, if you are including mutations in a scheme you are actually wanting to make the fundamental stop have little personality as you are adding to its character artificially. A musical Barbie Doll or Action Man (mustn't be sexist!), that you can titivate with this or that colour in other words? But I would find it rather expensive and cost-producing to have such a department when one needs to add such stops. In the Pedal, I long always to have a pure characterful 16ft that can be played on its own mp. By the gentle addition of other stops (8fts, 5 1/3 etc) the fundamental is almost unnoticeably enhanced. A local builder to my home in the last century created extraordinary small-scaled Violons which (depending on the other stops) could sound like orchestral Double basses or Bassoons. Now that is what I consider good design. One of the builder's greatest examples is actually being thrown away as far as I know in Emmanuel Church, Loughborough - the finest organ in the Diocese of Leicester in my thoughts.

But a time when to me all these pedal mutations could come into their own is on Symphonic concert hall organs where power and effect are required with full symphony orchestras - Alpine Symphonie etc. In a other schemes I would be hard-pressed to condone the cost of such things unless they were actually necessary to the complete tonal scheme from the outset and not fancy additions plugged on at a later date. But tinkering with the original conception is courting danger. It is the equivalent to me of a person going in for a nose job or some 'brustwerk' enhancement.

All best wishes,

Nigel

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It often seems the case that manual mutations become less and less effective the lower down the compass one goes. The tone ceases to bind; the individual ranks become audible and it starts to sound like a chord rather than a single note.

 

How do builders avoid this effect in 32' based cornets?

 

And if they can do it effectively on the pedal, why do they have difficulty with the bottom couple of octaves on the manuals?

See my post above. Also the mistake I hear time and again is that the basses of manual mutations are voiced too loud. You would be amazed at how soft they need to be in both tone and loudness to blend with the harmonics of the 8' bass and not sound like a chord.

 

AJS

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"A local builder to my home in the last century created extraordinary small-scaled Violons which (depending on the other stops) could sound like orchestral Double basses or Bassoons. Now that is what I consider good design."

(Quote)

 

I fully agree: Let us reconstitute the Worcester organ as well as Mulhouse's!!! :lol:

 

Why should we ? Because the neo-baroque fashion teached us one thing: we cannot go ahead

if we do not preserve the past first.

And as there are no E-F Walcker organ left with his mutation scheme....

 

Pierre

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I am surprised that nobody has, except incidentally, mentioned John Compton in this. What is being described is the Harmonics of 32', an incredible cost saving device to overcome the need for a 32' reed - and which, in my experience, actually can do a far better job. The recent one at Christchurch Priory (albeit missing its top harmonic) can be used under a moderately full Swell accompaniment, but also adds thunderously to Full Organ by complementing what is there. This was all achieved by the provision of a drawstop, and changing some settings via a laptop.

 

In a Compton organ I have recently been working on, some ranks (unisons and quints) are derived from the Sub Bass unit, others (Septieme and Tierce) from a huge (almost Tibia) scale stopped flute which (uniquely on this instrument) appears nowhere else in the stop (switch?) list, and actually forms part of the display pipes - the pipes are the correct visual scale for a large 8' Open Diapason, but go round the back and you will find most of the back cut away, and stoppers about a third of the way up the length.

 

It is a great shame that these mutation ranks are not available seperately, as in all other respects the organ is very good for Improvising. It has two sets of Celestes and of course all manual divisions are enclosed.

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I had 2 builders in mind (and knowledge) when replying above. JC was one, and Reiger was the other. Strange bedfellows in one respect, but both knew exactly what they were doing. As I'm sure others here know, the Compton method of creating compound stops was often a hit and miss affair, trying different ranks at different pitches until they found what worked in the building. I can think of one straight away that had 2 ranks drawn from the Open Wood, 2 ranks from the Subbass, one from the Second Diapason and the 3 5/9 was a stopped metal rank on its own, just of the type you describe. They are very effective, except in perhaps the most unkind of dry acoustics, but an effective way of producing 32' reed type tone from an Open Wood, a Bourdon and a bit of something else, and they will shift a fair bit of wind.

 

Personally, I wish we were a bit less stuffy, and organists were a bit better informed, and then we could specify them more freely.

 

AJS

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It often seems the case that manual mutations become less and less effective the lower down the compass one goes. The tone ceases to bind; the individual ranks become audible and it starts to sound like a chord rather than a single note.

 

How do builders avoid this effect in 32' based cornets?

 

And if they can do it effectively on the pedal, why do they have difficulty with the bottom couple of octaves on the manuals?

 

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

 

 

As I've stated previously in a lengthy discussion about acoustics and modern concert-halls, the human ear is especially sensitive in the middle of the hearing range......say from Ten G or so and two octave above at 8ft. Go into the high-end of hearing, and almost anything can sound musically correct.Those un-tuned Polish Cymbels are a good example, which don't actually blend as such, but don't sound bad in any way.

 

Naturally, fractional length harmonics are going to be in that critical musical range when they are played low down on the keyboard.

 

The Compton approach to the 32ft Harmonics, I feel sure, was derived from a scientific understanding of tonal synthesis, in which sine-waves can be used to build-up more complex and interesting sounds. The closer an organ-pipe can get to producing the sort of sound associated with a sine-wave, the better, for the purposes of tonal synthesis. (Here, our friend "Portheard" - AJS - is absolutely spot-on, because the type of tone is as critical as the pitch).

 

It explains why Open Wood derivatives and Tibia style ranks are found in these 32ft Harmonics stops.

 

Of course, the 32ft Harmonics or 32ft Cornet, has a long history, and they are quite common in America also.

 

Of course, an equally spectacular effect, using open metal pipes, is that achieved by Arp Schnitger, with the 24ft register adding an extraordinary gravitas which is, so far as I know, almost unique to to Groningen and the F C Schnitger organ at Alkmaar, but these are not Cornet registers of course.

 

MM

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Guest Cynic
I had 2 builders in mind (and knowledge) when replying above. JC was one, and Reiger was the other. Strange bedfellows in one respect, but both knew exactly what they were doing. As I'm sure others here know, the Compton method of creating compound stops was often a hit and miss affair, trying different ranks at different pitches until they found what worked in the building. I can think of one straight away that had 2 ranks drawn from the Open Wood, 2 ranks from the Subbass, one from the Second Diapason and the 3 5/9 was a stopped metal rank on its own, just of the type you describe. They are very effective, except in perhaps the most unkind of dry acoustics, but an effective way of producing 32' reed type tone from an Open Wood, a Bourdon and a bit of something else, and they will shift a fair bit of wind.

 

Personally, I wish we were a bit less stuffy, and organists were a bit better informed, and then we could specify them more freely.

 

AJS

 

I am sure you don't mean this to sound like you think Comptons didn't know what they were doing. They emphatically did.

 

Rather than a 'hit and miss affair', I believe that they were working empirically and with more-or-less complete freedom to obtain optimum results. Michael Whitehall (of Wisbech, a friend of mine) patiently analyzed the original Derby Cathedral mixtures before Roughwork and Creeper rebuilt that instrument and although the mixtures are now (I believe) straight, they are (to several ears) not as effective as the entirely derived stops that Comptons originally provided. According to MW one particular rank only got used for two octaves in the middle of a Great mixture, but it was absolutely the key to the effect that Mixture had.

 

To the best of my knowledge, the Compton system allowed for each rank from the respective division to be tapped as necessary, so at Downside, for instance, when it claims on the stop-head that a mixture is of twelve ranks, this means that twelve tappings are possible.

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Dear Paul

 

If you contextualise with the preceding 8 words, I think that clarifies it. I tend to find with Compton's mixtures that it is best to accept them for what they are, not necessarily what it says on the tin. As for whether they work, I find that, in general they do, notwithstanding any self imposed limitations. I think we also need to reveal the spirit of relaxed professionalism amongst people who really know what they are doing. Yes, it's hit and miss, but we don't all understand that in the same context. When you work with real genius, as I would suggest many of the thinkers amongst JC's staff were, then you get to see things in an entirely different way. One day I hope we will wake up to this.

 

AJS

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Excellent comments. So, now can anyone come up with a scheme that does or might work for a pedal Harmonics (stops and pitches used) so that it could be a staring point for experimentation?

 

F-W

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Excellent comments. So, now can anyone come up with a scheme that does or might work for a pedal Harmonics (stops and pitches used) so that it could be a staring point for experimentation?

 

F-W

 

-In which kind of organ ?

-The Specifications ?

-In what kind of room (such stops need room to act as "acoustic levers"...)

 

Pierre

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-In which kind of organ ?

-The Specifications ?

-In what kind of room (such stops need room to act as "acoustic levers"...)

 

Pierre

 

 

OK, I am really just interested in how they work and where they do exist/work how they are constituted. But let's say it's on a large later nineteenth century English romantic organ (something by Hill maybe) in a fairly large English church. Ideas?

 

F-W

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If there is at least one open 16' on the manuals and one stopped 32' on the Pedal,

you could try the Walcker Scheme, that is, something like:

 

Grossquintbass 10 2/3' (open!)

Grossterzbass 6 2/5' (open!)

Quintbass 5 1/3'

Sesquialterabass 3 1/5'- 2 2/3'- 2' (assuming there is an independant 4' stop of course)

 

The voicing rather dull, intended to favorise the resultant tones.

 

Pierre

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Dear Paul

 

If you contextualise with the preceding 8 words, I think that clarifies it. I tend to find with Compton's mixtures that it is best to accept them for what they are, not necessarily what it says on the tin. As for whether they work, I find that, in general they do, notwithstanding any self imposed limitations. I think we also need to reveal the spirit of relaxed professionalism amongst people who really know what they are doing. Yes, it's hit and miss, but we don't all understand that in the same context. When you work with real genius, as I would suggest many of the thinkers amongst JC's staff were, then you get to see things in an entirely different way. One day I hope we will wake up to this.

 

AJS

 

 

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

 

 

Ah! Moments of genius......always unexpected and often off-the-wall.

 

There was the tea-lady (?) at the Vickers factory, who suggested drilling a hole in the cap of the SU carbs on the V12 Merlin engine which powered the "Spitfire." This enabled the plane to fly upside-down and dive, which the German Meschersmitts could do with ease; being fitted with fuel-injection.

 

My favourite was the reply given by Keith Duckworth, the designer/engineer of the superb DFV Cosworth emgine in Formula One.

 

"How did you make it breathe so efficiently?"

 

Answer:- "Well, I just imagined I was a lump of gas, and asked myself what the best way down a hole and round a corner might be."

 

I could kick myself, because someone once told me how Compton got the 32ft Harmonics to work, and detailed the pitches involved. I should have written it down for posterity, or even pesterity.

 

Anyway, I didn't and no-one else seems to have done. I searched without much success for an hour or two, but at least discovered that the pedal Septieme is a critical pitch component.

 

One thing is fairly certain, and that is the need for separate pipes rather than derived tones for the full effect to work......something to do with true harmonic tuning per note, and at the right amplitude.

 

Compton employed some fiendishly clever people; many of whom went on to do remarkable things, and it doesn't surprise me at all that the factory did important work in military hardware during WWII.

 

MM

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The Compton Harmonics was usually 10-2/3', 6-2/5', 5-1/3', 4-4/7' and sometimes, (but not always) 3-5/9'. The 10-2/3' and the 5-1/3' ranks were usually pinched from the Bourdon or Sub Bass unit but the other harmonics were delivered by large-scaled stopped metal pipes, a bit like normal Compton tibia pipes. These pipes were of course tuned 'true' and their pitches were really quite indistinguishable individually. Other ranks were often derived by extension also providing a large and extraordinarily effective 32' reed effect. On at least one Compton organ I have seen, played the 16' big reed at 32' pitch to tenor C with the "Harmonics" taking over at B. The Harmonics were nine ranks consisting: 16', 10-2/3', 8', 6-2/5', 5-1/3', 4-4/7', 4, 3-5/9', 3-1/5'.

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The Compton Harmonics was usually 10-2/3', 6-2/5', 5-1/3', 4-4/7' and sometimes, (but not always) 3-5/9'. The 10-2/3' and the 5-1/3' ranks were usually pinched from the Bourdon or Sub Bass unit but the other harmonics were delivered by large-scaled stopped metal pipes, a bit like normal Compton tibia pipes. These pipes were of course tuned 'true' and their pitches were really quite indistinguishable individually. Other ranks were often derived by extension also providing a large and extraordinarily effective 32' reed effect. On at least one Compton organ I have seen, played the 16' big reed at 32' pitch to tenor C with the "Harmonics" taking over at B. The Harmonics were nine ranks consisting: 16', 10-2/3', 8', 6-2/5', 5-1/3', 4-4/7', 4, 3-5/9', 3-1/5'.

 

 

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

 

Excellent....thank you!

 

The bit about "indistiguishable" is the clue to the mechanism of how the effect works. In other words, it's as close to pure sine wave as it is possible for pipes to get, which of course is one of the mechanisms of electronic sound synthesis, and the one used by Compton when they made electronic organs. It must then come down to the various degrees of amplitude and the need for on-site experimentation before the best result is obtained.

 

It starts to make sense.

 

MM

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The Compton Harmonics was usually 10-2/3', 6-2/5', 5-1/3', 4-4/7' and sometimes, (but not always) 3-5/9'. The 10-2/3' and the 5-1/3' ranks were usually pinched from the Bourdon or Sub Bass unit but the other harmonics were delivered by large-scaled stopped metal pipes, a bit like normal Compton tibia pipes. These pipes were of course tuned 'true' and their pitches were really quite indistinguishable individually. Other ranks were often derived by extension also providing a large and extraordinarily effective 32' reed effect. On at least one Compton organ I have seen, played the 16' big reed at 32' pitch to tenor C with the "Harmonics" taking over at B. The Harmonics were nine ranks consisting: 16', 10-2/3', 8', 6-2/5', 5-1/3', 4-4/7', 4, 3-5/9', 3-1/5'.

I concur within the caveat of the ranks available. The thing is not to be too prescriptive. You have to use your base but then be prepared to swap things around depending on what your ears tell you, very easy to do electro mechanically.

 

AJS

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