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Knowing the new vicar, I would be surprised if the organ will get any attention at all. A new guitar and 5 watt combo amp is more his thing..........

 

 

I think thats a rather unfortunate thing to say.

 

True the new incumbent described himself to me as "the most evangelical vicar the Abbey has ever had", but I had a genuine feeling that he wanted only what, he saw, was best for the Abbey. Certainly he wanted an instrument that would do the job it had to do - and, if I read his comments correctly, he wasn't precious about an historical restoration.

 

It's good to remember that people change - often according to new places and new circumstances - he might see that there is a place for both his new guitar and 5 watt combo amp (clearly 'bombarde32' knows what this is!!) as well as hundreds of kids in church on a Saturday night (a la Beverley Minster!) and a rebuilt pipe organ and a fine choral tradition - I think Shrewsbury could be a quite exciting place to be!

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I think thats a rather unfortunate thing to say.

 

True the new incumbent described himself to me as "the most evangelical vicar the Abbey has ever had", but I had a genuine feeling that he wanted only what, he saw, was best for the Abbey. Certainly he wanted an instrument that would do the job it had to do - and, if I read his comments correctly, he wasn't precious about an historical restoration.

 

It's good to remember that people change - often according to new places and new circumstances - he might see that there is a place for both his new guitar and 5 watt combo amp (clearly 'bombarde32' knows what this is!!) as well as hundreds of kids in church on a Saturday night (a la Beverley Minster!) and a rebuilt pipe organ and a fine choral tradition - I think Shrewsbury could be a quite exciting place to be!

 

Clearly only time will tell. However, it has always been my experience that attempting to mix styles of worship (regularly) in the same building leads to dissatisfaction on both sides - and therein lies the problem. It is difficult not to produce 'sides' or factions in such a situation. With the best will in the world, I have seen this type of situation degenerate into something which leaves bitterness and resentment on both sides.

 

Please note that I wrote 'I have seen' - this is not simply what I think will happen, but something which has come to pass in real situations in churches with which I was either involved, or knew well.

 

Without wishing to be entirely negative, the instances I can recall where people have changed, I could number on the fingers of, well, one finger.

 

My observation is that it is far better for a particular church to become known for offering a particular type of worship which they do well, as opposed to attempting to 'be all things to all men'. I realise that Saint Paul adjured us to do exactly this - and I realise only to well that without a regular influx of young people (who will become young worshippers), any church may well be dead in the water in less than a generation. On this point, I read recently of a survey whose results suggested that the type of service which is presently eperiencing the strongest rejuvenation (in terms of noth numbers and enthusiastic support) was that of cathedral-style worship - particularly choral evensong. The survey further suggested that this increase in attendance was mostly confined to cathedrals and greater churches - i.e. places where this type of service is usually conducted to a high standard.

 

No doubt other board members could point me to some of their own local churches which are literally bursting at the seams and where the music is what I will call (for no other reason than the convenience of simplicity and clarity) Christian rock band style - the sort of thing which I used either to play piano or drum kit for (under the dynamic leadership of Graham Kendrick), when I was a student in London.

 

Such a situation is indeed heartening. However, I also have experience of a few churches where new (particularly younger members) have almost literally been 'conditioned' to accept this or a similar style of worship. In a couple of instances, youth leaders and even congregation members continually re-inforced the 'belief' that only this style of worship was honouring to God.

 

Personally, I find this attitude obstructive and possibly blasphemous.

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Guest Cynic

snip

 

My observation is that it is far better for a particular church to become known for offering a particular type of worship which they do well, as opposed to attempting to 'be all things to all men'. I realise that Saint Paul adjured us to do exactly this - and I realise only to well that without a regular influx of young people (who will become young worshippers), any church may well be dead in the water in less than a generation. On this point, I read recently of a survey whose results suggested that the type of service which is presently eperiencing the strongest rejuvenation (in terms of noth numbers and enthusiastic support) was that of cathedral-style worship - particularly choral evensong. The survey further suggested that this increase in attendance was mostly confined to cathedrals and greater churches - i.e. places where this type of service is usually conducted to a high standard.

 

No doubt other board members could point me to some of their own local churches which are literally bursting at the seams and where the music is what I will call (for no other reason than the convenience of simplicity and clarity) Christian rock band style - the sort of thing which I used either to play piano or drum kit for (under the dynamic leadership of Graham Kendrick), when I was a student in London.

 

Such a situation is indeed heartening. However, I also have experience of a few churches where new (particularly younger members) have almost literally been 'conditioned' to accept this or a similar style of worship. In a couple of instances, youth leaders and even congregation members continually re-inforced the 'belief' that only this style of worship was honouring to God.

 

Personally, I find this attitude obstructive and possibly blasphemous.

 

 

I was once seriously told by some members of the congregation at Christ Church Cheltenham,

'you can tell the Christians, they're the ones who clap'

as their evidence for the fact that some of the choir 'only came for the music'.

 

Well, my wife was one of those who used to feel decidedly awkward about standing in full robes and clapping.

But...why should appearances matter? She's as sincere a worshipper as you or they will ever find!

What's wrong with each person approaching worship in their own way?

 

I can be patient with all types of music, what bothers me is that other people apparently can't.

Curiously, the ones who are often unable to be flexible are the ones who want nothing that reminds them of the past.

[As a side issue, have you ever noticed that no self-respecting praise band can ever have enough hymn books?

You can read what you like into this, which I propose as fact.]

 

But as for music that folks here don't like..

if it's genuinely in praise of God...what can be the actual harm, even in choruses so weak in both text and music that they would never pass GCSE.

Maybe it's a pride issue. It's dangerous for anyone to think that their education has given them the right to deny others what they want.

 

Only my opinion of course.

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"Could you enlarge on why it was considered a mistake to electrify pneumatic actions, please? (Are we talking about electrifying the primaries, incidentally?)"

(Quote)

 

It was customarily in Belgium to "electrocute" pneumatic organs for decades (about since WWII up to the la te 1980s).

We had indeed excellent electro-pneumatic actions, built after the example from Klais in the Kristuskoning kerk in Antwerpen, built already in 1930.

And then....

We realized 1)- We still had pneumatic organs that were "forgetted" during that time. Some, especially the ones built by Kerkhoff of Brussels, still worked after 50 years of complete neglect, not even a tuning, and under tens of centimeters of dust.

A little basic maintenance job sufficed to have them in a pristine state back !

We knew then of no other system that could cope with that that way.

The germans did the same discovering, as there too, there were builders that had excellent systems (Walcker, Sauer, Röver, Schlimbach, Gebrüder Link, of whom we also have such organs in Belgium that are now cherized and protected to the point they have their Facebook pages, and others...)

And as some of these excellent pneumatic organs, especially the ones that were in "fashionnable" places, have, though, been condemnen and changed, sometimes for *things* that did not present a tenth of the actual value of the pneumatic jobs they replaced, we had to come to the conclusion the condemnation of the pneumatic action was a fully

ideological one.

 

2)- The touch of a pneumatic organ still gives a dedicate contact with the pipes. It is of course a delayed one, which was considered as a fault. But we know today it is not a fault.

Even in tracker organs, the couplers never have all the manuals working at the same time; there is always a little temps perdu, this a mechanical necessity.

In pneumatic organs this comes as a slight "offset" between divisions, whose effect can be particularly interesting

in certain kinds of music -among which the british choral music !!!- as "waves of sound" as opposed to the

Kalachnikov's attacks of neo-baroque organs.

So the pneumatic action has its sense, value and place musically.

 

"Of course there are builders who can rebuild pneumatic actions - our own hosts did a superb job at Bristol Cathedral. However, the action needed very regular maintenance and adjustment."

(Quote)

 

Like all up-to-date, Premium organ-builders of today, Mr Mander of course restore pneumatic actions. And you can be sure that if he does so, it is not to deliver jobs who requires fine-adjustements the every next month, but something that works.

 

Pierre

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... Like all up-to-date, Premium organ-builders of today, Mr Mander of course restore pneumatic actions. And you can be sure that if he does so, it is not to deliver jobs who requires fine-adjustements the every next month, but something that works.

 

Pierre

 

Thank you for your reply, Pierre.

 

I was interested to read the first section.

 

To answer briefly your last point: I have no doubt about the quality of workmanship at Bristol. Nevertheless, I described a situation which actually happened - not something imagined. Other board members have also commented on the same matter with this otherwise superb instrument.

 

The present Director of Music told me a few years ago that they were thinking of having it converted to electro-pneumatic - for a number of reasons, the chief of which were reliability and response.

 

When it was in excellent condition, it was indeed a joy to play upon - and I would not have entertained the idea of replacing it for a moment. However, for whatever reason, a few years after the restoration, there was a marked decrease in both relaibility and response. This organ has a specific job to do, and it was becoming increasingly difficult to persuade it to carry out its task adequately. I played it on a number of occasions for services and choir courses, over a period of several years; there was a tangible and real falling-off in the quality of both the reliability and response. whether this was due to the vagaries of the heatimg system, I do not know. However, the fact remains that the action did become poor in certain aspects, when it was not subject to regular adjustment.

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Somewhat off topic, of course, but to comment on the previous few posts...

 

I wonder if the problem in many churches is indeed the attempt to provide differing styles of worship? (It feels so from my experience and so I concur with pcnd fully.) Possibly in the present day this is a harmful, though understandable, way of proceeding.

 

Offering half-committed (in the musical time and resource sense) worship in whatever style neither honours God nor facilitates worship amongst his people. In fact, as we all know, it often causes dissension and strife. (It should not be forgotten that contemporary styles of worship music are resource-hungry in terms of electronic equipment, etc.. In most places where this is expected to co-exist with traditional music one or other, or more probably both, will be starved of the resources they need - to say nothing of the people who try to give their time and attention as participants across both styles.)

 

Put against this the fact that most people, and this applies also to church people, are quite mobile these days, and can take themselvesto wherever they feel interesting and comfortable. Thus a few churches offering praise-band style in a district, together with some offering traditional worship - and some offering styles in between - could enable excellence in each to be developed without the distraction and thin-spread of resources in those places which offer a mixed model. Though this might smack of 'ghettoisation' - this could be avoided by that development of excellence through specialisation.

 

I suppose the model I suggest is not one of distinct parishes as worshipping communities - but perhaps it is more representative of modern society, and therefore likely to fit the desires and aspirations of people less imperfectly.

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"However, for whatever reason, a few years after the restoration, there was a marked decrease in both relaibility and response. "

(Quote)

 

Then, there is a specific problem with that organ. Like with whatever system,

there can obtain a design weakness, a material weakness, a workmanship weakness,

that we here of course do not know, as we are hundred miles away from the place.

This problems belongs to the colloque singulier, the private relationship between the

builder in charge and the church, not us here in the open space.

But what we do know is this: as many differing pneumatic systems can work perfectly,

the problem obtains not "because the action is pneumatic" (ideology), but because there is

that specific, peculiar problem, and the principle of the pneumatic action isn't to be questionned.

 

Pierre

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The principle of the pneumatic action isn't to be questionned.

 

Pierre

 

Not sure about that. Other systems have come along specifically to reduce the inherent complication of pneumatic actions, especially coupling, and improve response times.

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Not sure about that. Other systems have come along specifically to reduce the inherent complication of pneumatic actions, especially coupling, and improve response times.

 

Indeed.

 

I also wonder if the idea that pneumatic action (I am not sure whether there is any inherent difference in charge or exhaust) actually allows the player to be more in control of the key (and consequent pipe) response. It is, after all, only air moving through lead tubes. It seems to me that wind has some characteristics shared with electricity; for example, in the same way that one cannot 'see' electricity but can see (and feel) its effect.

 

I am presently uncertain how pressurised air permits me to have greater control over key and pipe response. I have played several instruments with pneumatic action in this country and have found the resopnse and feel inferior to a good electro-pneumatic* action. I have yet to play an organ with any type of pneumatic action which has superior control - and repetition - over my own church organ (which has electro-pneumatic action which is approaching its half-century - and which receives regular hard usage).

 

 

 

 

* Or, in the case of Gloucester Cathedral, direct electric action. This is probably the most responsive action fo any type which I have ever played.

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The "response" you expect today (repetition in rapid traits, ornamentation etc) is not the kind

of which the organists of the late-romantic period wanted.

Indeed, it is documented baroque organs were given pneumatic actions in order to "smoothen" them,

to have "rounded" attacks !

(something I won't advocate, of course, as I would have preffered the late-romantics to have

left the ancient organs alone, while concentrating with the construction of new organs after their style,

so that we would have inherited of both...)

 

The time was one of slow, Legato playing; the aim was dignity, Grandeur and "Churchy roll".

 

Something like this:

 

 

As opposed to this:

 

 

We deal with two different worlds, that need to be considered, and respected, on their own.

 

Pierre

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The "response" you expect today (repetition in rapid traits, ornamentation etc) is not the kind

of which the organists of the late-romantic period wanted.

Indeed, it is documented baroque organs were given pneumatic actions in order to "smoothen" them,

to have "rounded" attacks !

(something I won't advocate, of course, as I would have preffered the late-romantics to have

left the ancient organs alone, while concentrating with the construction of new organs after their style,

so that we would have inherited of both...)

 

The time was one of slow, Legato playing; the aim was dignity, Grandeur and "Churchy roll".

 

Something like this:

 

 

As opposed to this:

 

 

We deal with two different worlds, that need to be considered, and respected, on their own.

 

Pierre

 

And this is part of the problem. There is probably not a single instrument which is called upon to produce but one style of playing from one historical period. Even at the beginning of the twentieth century, Max Reger bemoaned the trend of contemporary German organists to play just about everything quite slowly. I have even seen it suggested, in a quite scholarly article, that this accounted for his apparently obssessively fast tempi and performance directions; presumably on the basis that if he wrote 'Prestissimo', he would actually get 'Allegro' - which was what he wanted in the first place.

 

However, my original question remains unanswered....

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The question to have both worlds in one organ has been answered since the neo-classical

organs have been built: as a "play-it-all" instrument, it is a complete failure.

The real organ lovers won't ever accept it again -and we are your customers, after all-.

 

If I see a Reger or Bach CD recorded on such an organ, I refuse to buy it, it is as simple as that.

(Of course, if it is Messiaen, Duruflé, I WILL listen to it, and buy it if I like it!).

 

So we need both kinds of instruments.

 

Would you imagine for a nanosecond something like this little gem with pipes attacking

with chiffs ?

 

 

This would be like a Bach Fugue played Legato from the first to the last note with the same Tempo...

 

Pierre

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Something like this:

 

 

Doesn't this particular instrument actually have mechanical key action (with the keys of all three coupled manuals moving)? Although the music would obviously work just fine on a pneumatic instrument as well, this example perhaps wasn't the best choice (?).

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Doesn't this particular instrument actually have mechanical key action (with the keys of all three coupled manuals moving)? Although the music would obviously work just fine on a pneumatic instrument as well, this example perhaps wasn't the best choice (?).

This is a good point. It does appear that the coupling is mechanical.

 

Over to you, Pierre....

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The question to have both worlds in one organ has been answered since the neo-classical

organs have been built: as a "play-it-all" instrument, it is a complete failure.

The real organ lovers won't ever accept it again -and we are your customers, after all-.

 

If I see a Reger or Bach CD recorded on such an organ, I refuse to buy it, it is as simple as that.

(Of course, if it is Messiaen, Duruflé, I WILL listen to it, and buy it if I like it!).

 

So we need both kinds of instruments.

 

Would you imagine for a nanosecond something like this little gem with pipes attacking

with chiffs ?

 

 

This would be like a Bach Fugue played Legato from the first to the last note with the same Tempo...

 

Pierre

 

It still depends on the particular instrument. You have apparently just condemned every neo-Classical organ in one sentence. My own church organ is, I suppose, if it is anything, neo-Classical and it does a superb job of performing organ music from many different styles and periods. It also (apparently) possesses a good proportion of centuries-old pipework. In addition, at the last major rebuild, it was voiced by a consummate artist, who, in companionship with the rest of his team, produced an utterly honest, thoroughly musical instrument, in which there is not one unpleasant sound - unless, of course, you do not like horizontal reeds.

 

To hear and play this instrument in the building for which it was designed (at certain vantage points, given the architecture and acoustic properties), is almost always a thrilling experience.

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This would be like a Bach Fugue played Legato from the first to the last note with the same Tempo...

 

Pierre

 

Actually, I can see nothing wrong with playing the Fugue from the Prelude and Fugue, in C minor (BWV 546) in this manner. Why would one wish to alter the tempo during a Bach fugue? Unless, of course, you mean allowing places for the music to 'breathe' naturally?

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I do not condemn any organ, but the ideologies around them.

If I disagree with a Bach-CD on a Gonzalez (but not in a recital of course), I can

appreciate it greatly in Messiaen ! (I actually do like many Gonzalez organs, even

later ones, like in Beauvais for example, where Jennifer Bate made an excellent

series of Messiaen recordings which is among the references).

 

A Bach fugue played Legato with the same tempo from A to Z ? I call that

"Campbell's soup". Indeed, the good recordings of Bach are extremely rare....

 

Here is one:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sPnVuoqArXo

 

It is played well-detached; the tempo is not rigid. Hence, the music lives, breathes,

despite an actually very heavy, rich organ (like all organs Bach played...). All te voices

are recognizable, you can hear all the notes.

If you play this Legato, it becomes an unintelligible mess, the kind of things people

say they like it "because it is Bach", politely, while actually they are bored with it and

wait for the Widor Toccata which is due afterwards!

 

I come back to this:

 

"Doesn't this particular instrument actually have mechanical key action (with the keys of all three coupled manuals moving)? Although the music would obviously work just fine on a pneumatic instrument as well, this example perhaps wasn't the best choice (?). "

 

This 1891 organ is indeed pneumatic.

(Later addition): I am wrong here ! I checked it, and I am one year wrong: the introduction of the pneumatic

action by Sauer dates 1892, not 1891 !

So this organ still has mechanichal Kegelladen. But the point here was the kind of playing, which

is the one suited to pneumatic actions.

 

 

Pierre

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(Later addition): I am wrong here ! I checked it, and I am one year wrong: the introduction of the pneumatic

action by Sauer dates 1892, not 1891 !

So this organ still has mechanichal Kegelladen. But the point here was the kind of playing, which

is the one suited to pneumatic actions.

 

Pierre

 

I also tried to find some information about this instrument, which turns out to be one of the most important German romantic instruments from the late 19th century. In Mühlhausen, better known for its Divi Blasii Chruch, where Bach was organist for a short period of time, a support society has been founded in 2009 in order to fund the restoration of this instrument (estimated cost: € 750.000) - more info here. Unfortunately the website has no details about the organ, but I found the following on the homepage of Christian Scheffler, who's in charge of the restoration:

Mühlhausen, Marienkirche - 1. Bauabschnitt

Restaurierung der Sauer-Orgel 1891, mechan. , Kegellade, Barkermaschinen, III/P, 61 Register

This obviously explains the moving coupled keys.

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The "response" you expect today (repetition in rapid traits, ornamentation etc) is not the kind

of which the organists of the late-romantic period wanted.

Indeed, it is documented baroque organs were given pneumatic actions in order to "smoothen" them,

to have "rounded" attacks !

(something I won't advocate, of course, as I would have preffered the late-romantics to have

left the ancient organs alone, while concentrating with the construction of new organs after their style,

so that we would have inherited of both...)

 

The time was one of slow, Legato playing; the aim was dignity, Grandeur and "Churchy roll".

 

Your original statement that "the principle of pneumatic action is not to be questioned" has jumped forward two spaces, six to the left and turned around three times to get to this; the action is OK because this is what the music should sound like, and the music sounds like that because the action responds like that. The only alternative you admit is a chiffy neo-classical box of squeaks, which has nothing to do with the argument at all as far as I can tell.

 

That's not the debate we're having. Nobody disputes that pneumatic action is an acceptable way of making pipes sound, and indeed some of them last quite a long time with the right combination of weather, attention and luck. You said the principle of pneumatic action is not to be questioned. Therefore, would you, in all seriousness, build one from scratch today in a country with long-ish dry summers, long-ish centrally heated winters and about four weeks of moderately warm and humid weather between each? I sincerely hope not.

 

I think that before condeming all the alternatives as 'neo classical' you might address my earlier point; that the widespread adoption of the electropneumatic action happened because of the widespread difficulty, expense and inconvenience of having an action which was characterised by being slow in response, unpredictable on cold/hot/dry/wet days, and exceedingly complicated to fix should (say) something go wrong with one note of one coupler. Something better came along which kept the best features of the old and combined them with speed, reliability, convenience, compactness and a very low price.

 

(That's not to say that I'd bin every pneumatic action. I wouldn't. But I'm curious about why your defence of them has to go so far into the realms of ideology that it begins to lose credibility.)

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Your original statement that "the principle of pneumatic action is not to be questioned" has jumped forward two spaces, six to the left and turned around three times to get to this; the action is OK because this is what the music should sound like, and the music sounds like that because the action responds like that. The only alternative you admit is a chiffy neo-classical box of squeaks, which has nothing to do with the argument at all as far as I can tell.

 

That's not the debate we're having. Nobody disputes that pneumatic action is an acceptable way of making pipes sound, and indeed some of them last quite a long time with the right combination of weather, attention and luck. You said the principle of pneumatic action is not to be questioned. Therefore, would you, in all seriousness, build one from scratch today in a country with long-ish dry summers, long-ish centrally heated winters and about four weeks of moderately warm and humid weather between each? I sincerely hope not.

 

I think that before condeming all the alternatives as 'neo classical' you might address my earlier point; that the widespread adoption of the electropneumatic action happened because of the widespread difficulty, expense and inconvenience of having an action which was characterised by being slow in response, unpredictable on cold/hot/dry/wet days, and exceedingly complicated to fix should (say) something go wrong with one note of one coupler. Something better came along which kept the best features of the old and combined them with speed, reliability, convenience, compactness and a very low price.

 

(That's not to say that I'd bin every pneumatic action. I wouldn't. But I'm curious about why your defence of them has to go so far into the realms of ideology that it begins to lose credibility.)

 

The funny thing is the fact that E-F Walcker adopted the Kegellade -first step towards pneumatic chests, as well as the Barker lever was the first step towards pneumatic actions- because he met huge problems with the classical slider-chest in....Russia.

To say the pneumatic organs that have succeeded through long perios owe it to "chance" or "care" is.....Maybe somewhat ideological. Sorry, but the ones who did it in Belgium were precisely those that were deprived of any care at all!

 

To build new from scratch ? I would certainly do. And to do it in continental, severe climates ? After some testing on a limited basis, maybe. It would certainly be interesting to have, for example, a pneumatic chest as a temporary extension of an existing organ, tested in a church were the conditions are difficult.

The saying that such actions are "slow, unpredictable" etc would be disagreed with by several builders, in Germany, but also in France, who have especialized with it since years.

 

Pierre

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The saying that such actions are "slow, unpredictable" etc would be disagreed with by several builders, in Germany, but also in France, who have especialized with it since years.

 

Pierre

 

Does anyone here know a British organist who regards his or her pneumatic action as a viable modern-day solution to making music, rather than a quirky but interesting relic to be carefully nurtured and tolerated? If so, please invite them along.

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Does anyone here know a British organist who regards his or her pneumatic action as a viable modern-day solution to making music, rather than a quirky but interesting relic to be carefully nurtured and tolerated? If so, please invite them along.

 

The same can be said about the tracker organ -even more an old nail-, the next step of this way of thinking is to give up the pipes altogheter and go for the toasters, the *modern*-day "progress".

 

Pierre

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The same can be said about the tracker organ -even more an old nail-, the next step of this way of thinking is to give up the pipes altogheter and go for the toasters, the *modern*-day "progress".

 

Pierre

 

Ah - but it can't. There's no inherent faults with tracker organs. In your view, the pneumatic organ is a good thing, and you don't accept the view that slow response, varying performance in different climates and excessive complications are all inherent faults.

 

In my view, if you're going to make any sort of organ which cannot be controlled with mechanical action, you need to ask yourself why you're doing it.

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Does anyone here know a British organist who regards his or her pneumatic action as a viable modern-day solution to making music, rather than a quirky but interesting relic to be carefully nurtured and tolerated? If so, please invite them along.

Interesting question from Heckelphone.

 

I can't help thinking if if electricity had been sufficiently reliable in the latter half of the nineteenth century, pneumatic actions would never have even begun to be developed. In "The Art of Organ Building" George Ashdown Audsley in 1905 claims the first patent for electropneumatic action was filed in 1863, and the first organ to be built with this action, in Paris, and by a certain Mr Barker of lever fame, was in 1866. His assessment of forty years of subsequent development was hostile:

 

There remain the objectionable elements of uncertainty and unreliability...notwithstanding what has been done....we can with perfect assurance advise the rejection of all such systems for Organs that can be satisfactorily constructed on the most approved tubular-pneumatic systems.

 

Clearly the development of pneumatic and electric actions began almost in parallel, though by the beginning of the twentieth century it was recognised that both had their issues - an article in Etude magazine in 1900 stated

 

Tubular and electric actions are so delicate and susceptible to atmospheric changes that there will generally be about five "silent keys" or "ciphers" with tubular or electric action, in the course of a year, to every one with tracker action in an organ of the same size.

But with the substantial improvements in electricity that came with routine domestic use, electropneumatic actions rapidly overtook pneumatic in popularity - why?

 

For a church like Shrewsbury Abbey, the preferred action would be by definition the most reliable action since the organ has a job to do, and the organist does not want to spend every weekend on the phone to the builders asking them to adjust fiddly pneumatic motors when electric solenoids are more reliable especially given the different climatic zones in your typical Anglican church. Of course, had electricity not have taken off, then we'd be left with pneumatics for all organs. I don't recall when the last new pneumatic organ was built in this country, but I would be very interested to know how often brand new organs these days anywhere in the world are built with tubular pneumatic action (as opposed to EP, mechanical with servo assistance or straight mechanical). Can someone point me to any?

 

Of course, one could go the whole hog and have direct electric action with motion sensors (as opposed to contacts) on the keys that control the speed at which the pallet is opened. What experiences if any have people had with these systems? Do they really offer the panacea of adjustable control of pallet opening speed in organs too large or remote from the keys to accommodate tracker (or pneumatic) action, which seems to be an essential element of Pierre's enthusiasm for pneumatic actions?

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Of course, one could go the whole hog and have direct electric action with motion sensors (as opposed to contacts) on the keys that control the speed at which the pallet is opened. What experiences if any have people had with these systems? Do they really offer the panacea of adjustable control of pallet opening speed in organs too large or remote from the keys to accommodate tracker (or pneumatic) action, which seems to be an essential element of Pierre's enthusiasm for pneumatic actions?

 

I was already waiting whether anybody will bring this up. Although - as far as I know - this system cannot be used with the sort of soundboards used for tubular pneumatic action (?), I think this is the type of action that will eventually make any kind of electro pneumatics obsolete. I know of two companies that offer electromechanical action systems: NovelOrg from Canada and Eltec from Italy. The system works as an exact translation of key movement into pallet movement, for which special sensors and proportional magnets are used. One of the main obstactles preventing a wider usage of this system is of course its price: if a "normal" pallet magnet costst some 20-30 € a piece, proportional magnets can cost as much as 150 € (or even more). Of course, there's still a lot more electronics used, not just the magnets.

 

One of the most recent (as well as prominent) realizations of this system can be found in the great Pasi organ in the Sacred Heart Co-Cathedral in Houston, Texas (dedicated on October 2 2010), which utilizes the NovelOrg system. The company has a number of videos on their homepage demonstrating the electromechanical action as compared to the standard tracker action.

you can see how this thing works in the Houston organ.

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