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Shrewsbury Abbey

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

 

 

I'm trying to get my head around this Pierre.

 

You seem to be suggesting that top quality materials and thrashing an engine will make it last longer.

 

A formula One engine revs to 17,000 rpm, it uses the most exotic materials (including magnesium), sodium cooled valves and a variety of exotic steels and alloys. The working life is about 600 miles, after which it needs to re-built at a cost of approximately 300,000 Euros.

 

Makes organ-building look cheap doesn't it? :P:)

 

MM

 

No, I did not talk over a F 1 engine, but rather a Honda VTEC one. And yes, that one will last longer

if trashed enough to reach its optimal temperature.

 

And yes a pneumatic action, if it can stand to be forgetted for 50 years, likes to be trashed as well;

the more you play it, the better it works. Preferably everyday -the same is true fror the electro-pneumatic

action-.

 

Pierre

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No, I did not talk over a F 1 engine, but rather a Honda VTEC one. And yes, that one will last longer

if trashed enough to reach its optimal temperature.

 

Pierre

 

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

 

 

Ah yes! Honda VTEC....spot on engineering.

 

You can't actually thrash them because they're short-stroke, lean-burn engines; the variable valve-timing producing more low-down torque than would otherwise be available.

 

They're like a nice sewing-machine.

 

MM

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

 

I'd wager that "Heckrlphone" doesn't realise the significance of his statement.

 

Which statement in particular? There have been several.

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

 

 

Ah yes! Honda VTEC....spot on engineering.

 

You can't actually thrash them because they're short-stroke, lean-burn engines; the variable valve-timing producing more low-down torque than would otherwise be available.

 

They're like a nice sewing-machine.

 

MM

 

....And here lies the risk: should you content yourself with this low-down torque,

the longetivity of the engine will suffer. Give it revs!

With a pneumatic action it is the same.

 

Pierre

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....And here lies the risk: should you content yourself with this low-down torque,

the longetivity of the engine will suffer. Give it revs!

With a pneumatic action it is the same.

 

Pierre

 

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

 

 

Oh dear! I'm not getting drawn into another discussion about motor-engineering, but you are wrong.

 

Engine wear occurs critically in the cylinder bores, the crankshaft journals and camshaft lobes/valvetrain. Increasing the speed of an engine is like sanding a piece of wood faster....wear rates increase as a physical principle of friction.

 

Reciprocating masses (pistons) need to be stopped and started with each rotation. The higher the speed, the more those loads increase, causing wear on journals and bearings as a simple matter of physics. (I forget whether the loadings are exponential, but I seem to recall that they are).

 

Diesel engines last a long time because they run slower; usually between 500rpm and 1,500rpm....often capable of 1,000,000 + kilometeres if serviced regularly.

 

8,000 rpm is not that remarkable, since most engines will spin up to 6,500rpm. The last semi-race engine I built up would spin up to 11,000rpm, but we were at the limits of materials strength and reliability was at best marginal. (It woke the neighbours up though, when I got home at 5am on a Sunday morning....the tickover at a giddy 1,300rpm, below which it would stall).

 

Sorry Pierre.....you should stick to organs! :P

 

MM

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Halas, MM,

 

I have been trained first in motor design/ engineering (before shifting to history!) so that I can say

your views, so logical as they may seem, are somewhat out-dated.

And yes, it is out of place here, so I suggest you ask the engineering teams in Japan

directly.

 

And so let us go back to the organ, and what I mean with "Pneumatic actions need to be trashed

like a modern, high-revving engine".

 

When pneumatic organs were built, they ever had some form of combination system. Often,

this consisted of some fixed combinations (Voix céleste on II with Flute on I: Foundations; Tutti...)

with rather simple registrations that were often used then.

They also had a number of couplers, among which the absolute hit was the Swell to great in 16',

a sub-octave coupler also.

 

Now some years afterwards, the fashion changed. The people wanted shrill, top-heavy sound, so that

the sub-octave coupler went out of use as well as the combinations.

But the organ was still used for some decades, before going in the depth of the *forgetting*

 

.....And then, again some decades later, somewhat funny people like your servant re-discovered

those poor little "bac à cantiques" ("canticles binns", as they were called in Belgium till 1980).

 

Of course, they did not re-work that good ! they had to be awakened first. Mind you, there are few moving

parts in such a system, but those that exist are all leather, an organic material.

But some functions were, 9 times out of 10, completely out of order and refused to work.

Guess which ones ?

Bingo: the combinations and the sub-octave coupler Swell to great !

 

So the best way to maintain a pneumatic organ fit "by trashing it" is:

 

-Play, play, play them again ! with "repertoire", so that all the notes are used, from the lowest

to the highest, on each manual.

-Use the couplers. Activate the combinations, even for a short time or if you won't use them.

The aim is to have absolutely all leather parts moving, at best once a day.

 

Pierre

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Halas, MM,

 

I have been trained first in motor design/ engineering (before shifting to history!) so that I can say

your views, so logical as they may seem, are somewhat out-dated.

And yes, it is out of place here, so I suggest you ask the engineering teams in Japan

directly.

Pierre

 

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

 

 

Physical principles do not go out of date Pierre.

 

I'll go one better than Japan and ask my friend at 'Pro-drive" near Lichfield, as well as my brother who has done engine development work for Honda/Rover.

 

I'll PM you with the results.....others may request a copy if they so wish.

 

MM

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The bottom line I think is threefold:

1. Shrewsbury Abbey has an instrument of musically very fine pedigree (i.e. an early twentieth-century, pre-Great War Hill) in original condition with a few later bits tacked on with varying degrees of success.

2. It is absolutely at the end of its useful working life, having never had much maintenance during its lifetime; I suspect Arthur Hill would be amazed and impressed if he could see it now, but equally would not be surprised that the action and winding was on its last legs. Were pneumatic actions ever designed to last centuries without any maintenance, unlike small tracker actions?

3. Vicar, choir and congregation cherish the instrument and want it brought back to first class condition.

 

Whilst there have been minimal tonal changes to the original pipework (I don't know if the Swell oboe had to be revoiced or not when it was transplanted down an octave, but the remaining Hill pipework is pretty sound and all made in one batch), there have been a small number of later additions, none of which have with hindsight been spectacularly successful. So we know what doesn't work, and these can be modified if necessary.

 

We also know what was intended - and yes it's bizarre that the earlier modifications (apart from the Great reed) never really seem to have followed the original plan to complete the organ. So things are at a crossroads. One could reverse the more unsuccessful later changes (for instance I think there is room for a 2 foot on the Choir, but the Choir needs a Gemshorn 4 rather more than it needs an insipid 2 2/3 stop), and try to recreate what we know Hill intended had the money been there from the beginning. In doing so it gives a chance to amend slightly those things that in practice have been limiting but could easily work more effectively without modifying chests or pipes - for instance turning the buried and poorly sounding Choir from an Echo division to a Choir division just by considering the internal layout and maybe jettisoning the (later) box since originally only the two choir reeds were enclosed. There is no reason why that should require new soundboards (I note elsewhere Nicholson's response to the earlier question about Malvern Abbey was that they reused all the existing soundboards). To answer another question, yes an extra chest would need to be placed in the Swell where there was floorspace left for the heavy reeds but no windchest (I haven't risked my neck to climb up and confirm but am going on what was reported a while ago). Incidentally some of the later changes (e.g. the Great Posaune) were specifically given in memory of people, and it raises an interesting question about what to do when someone generously donates something like a stop that turns out not to be very useful or attractive. Unfortunately the console at Shrewsbury is a bit littered with little brass plaques beside the donated stops, and at the very least one would want to tidy these up a bit (though the Posaune itself would certainly be staying!)

 

Alternatively all additions could be jettisoned and the organ returned to the incomplete state that it was originally installed in. Inevitably that would also mean throwing out the blower (added in the 1920s) and going back to handpumps (long since removed, but the two slots in the lower case where the hand bellows used to sit, and get flooded whnever the River Severn rose, are still present). Oh and it would also mean scrapping the simple but fine case since that was later too.

 

On balance I think the former approach is the more sensible, the more musical and the more useful for the purposes for which the Abbey needs to use its organ.

Yes, pretty much right.

 

It would be very interesting if you could uncover the original spec and post it up here. I know Dr. George Sinclair drew up the original specification but I'd be surprised if it varied dramatically from standard Hill practice. In any case, the big name doesn't really add very much, except to raise the profile and publicity to influence people. I think we can all guess the gaps pretty accurately but it would be good to have them confirmed.

 

NPOR suggests that the only reed on the Great and Swell Organs when the organ was installed was the Swell oboe. This seems incredibly spartan on a medium sized three manual organ. Would I be right to suspect that money became an issue as the original organ was installed? I would have thought even the most rigid stickler for historical accuracy would question whether it is right to restore an organ to this incomplete state. I think it would be right to complete the organ to original design (or very closely), either using suitable period pipework, if it can be sourced (which means right builder, right period and right scales for this organ) or as near as possible replicas. I understand that the case was envisaged from the outset too, and it seems to have its own provenance in any case, so there is a strong argument that it should be retained too.

 

I would not jettison later additions if they fit in appropriately with the original design - as you say, it's already possible to know what fits in and what doesn't work. Some of the best restorations reflect some of the additions and stages of the organ's history - the planned work at the Vater/Muller/Batz organ the Oude Kerk in Amsterdam is a good example. The most obvious candidate for retention is the Great Posaune. If it is by HNB in the 1920s, it has a clear link with the rest of the organ and good provenance, even if the amalgamation with N&B means that styles moved on slightly. Obviously each addition needs to be considered on its own individual merits and how it fits into the overall scheme and it sounds as though it would be advantageous to excise some of the later additions for more appropriate stops.

 

I think the point MM has been trying to make is that HNB might have converted the action to exhaust pneumatic when they worked on the organ at some stage. This is certainly not beyond the realms of possibility - HNB did the same to the Hill organ at Arundel Cathedral in the 20s or 30s but we are led to believe that the results were not entirely happy. If that is the case, it may not be so clear-cut what approach to take with the action: a restoration to Hill charge pneumatics would be less straightforward and involve a level of guesswork. Hill charge pneumatics are generally very good - long lived, reliable and very pleasant to play - but the most appropriate solution may be elsewhere.

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Yes, pretty much right.

 

It would be very interesting if you could uncover the original spec and post it up here. I know Dr. George Sinclair drew up the original specification but I'd be surprised if it varied dramatically from standard Hill practice. In any case, the big name doesn't really add very much, except to raise the profile and publicity to influence people. I think we can all guess the gaps pretty accurately but it would be good to have them confirmed.

 

NPOR suggests that the only reed on the Great and Swell Organs when the organ was installed was the Swell oboe. This seems incredibly spartan on a medium sized three manual organ. Would I be right to suspect that money became an issue as the original organ was installed? I would have thought even the most rigid stickler for historical accuracy would question whether it is right to restore an organ to this incomplete state. I think it would be right to complete the organ to original design (or very closely), either using suitable period pipework, if it can be sourced (which means right builder, right period and right scales for this organ) or as near as possible replicas. I understand that the case was envisaged from the outset too, and it seems to have its own provenance in any case, so there is a strong argument that it should be retained too.

 

I would not jettison later additions if they fit in appropriately with the original design - as you say, it's already possible to know what fits in and what doesn't work. Some of the best restorations reflect some of the additions and stages of the organ's history - the planned work at the Vater/Muller/Batz organ the Oude Kerk in Amsterdam is a good example. The most obvious candidate for retention is the Great Posaune. If it is by HNB in the 1920s, it has a clear link with the rest of the organ and good provenance, even if the amalgamation with N&B means that styles moved on slightly. Obviously each addition needs to be considered on its own individual merits and how it fits into the overall scheme and it sounds as though it would be advantageous to excise some of the later additions for more appropriate stops.

 

I think the point MM has been trying to make is that HNB might have converted the action to exhaust pneumatic when they worked on the organ at some stage. This is certainly not beyond the realms of possibility - HNB did the same to the Hill organ at Arundel Cathedral in the 20s or 30s but we are led to believe that the results were not entirely happy. If that is the case, it may not be so clear-cut what approach to take with the action: a restoration to Hill charge pneumatics would be less straightforward and involve a level of guesswork. Hill charge pneumatics are generally very good - long lived, reliable and very pleasant to play - but the most appropriate solution may be elsewhere.

 

 

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

 

 

It is indeed curious that the instrument didn't have an 8ft Horn at the very least, and this is something of a priority, I would have thought, for all sorts of musical reasons.

 

My main concern is the lack of Hill upperwork other than the Swell Mixture, in spite of the addition of a Great double/Pedal extension. This will not be a timid unit by any means, if my experience serves me right. I would have thought that a Hill chorus, which usually starts quite dull, builds wonderfully as the octave registers and a quint mixture are drawn. The instrument also seems to lack a solid 16ft bass such as an Open (wood) Diapason. I would place far greater importane to this than the provision of a Tuba.

 

The Great Posaune we have already discussed, and I've nothing to add to those observations. I would just say that if this reeds sits somewhere between a true Trumpet and a Tromba, it is right for the job.

 

I'm not quite sure why Colin thinks that I was referring to the action system when I mentioned the changeover period between the days of Hill and the days of H,N & B. The Norman & Bard exhaust action is probably far in advance of anything Hill did, and I know of many which still function well. Under the circumstances, I would always go for elecrification of any pneumatic action on the grounds of cost savings, unless it is of critical importance, as was probably the case at Armley with the Binns action.

 

My own overall feeling, for what it's worth, is that the organ at Shrewsbury is probably a fine basis for something much better and more felxible, but I suspect that a simple re-building of the current instrument, or some sort of historical

restoration, are probably not the best answers musically.

 

As the instrument stands, it has just a few too many period deficiences, whereas just a few years previous, the organ would have been better and different.

 

It says something about the era in which the organ was built, that many organists regarded Hill organs as "coarse" in tone; certainly as compared with the then prevailing fashion.

 

MM

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

 

 

It is indeed curious that the instrument didn't have an 8ft Horn at the very least, and this is something of a priority, I would have thought, for all sorts of musical reasons.

 

My main concern is the lack of Hill upperwork other than the Swell Mixture, in spite of the addition of a Great double/Pedal extension. This will not be a timid unit by any means, if my experience serves me right. I would have thought that a Hill chorus, which usually starts quite dull, builds wonderfully as the octave registers and a quint mixture are drawn. The instrument also seems to lack a solid 16ft bass such as an Open (wood) Diapason. I would place far greater importane to this than the provision of a Tuba.

I don't agree. A Swell 19.22 mixture is usually fine on a Hill organ, even of this period and this size. The Great Organ had a Twelfth, Fifteenth and Mixture III from the beginning. The Pedal Organ had an Open Diapason 16 ft from the beginning.

 

I would suggest checking your facts (as any good engineer would do) on NPOR first: http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi...ec_index=N04613.

 

The Great Posaune we have already discussed, and I've nothing to add to those observations. I would just say that if this reeds sits somewhere between a true Trumpet and a Tromba, it is right for the job.

 

I'm not quite sure why Colin thinks that I was referring to the action system when I mentioned the changeover period between the days of Hill and the days of H,N & B. The Norman & Bard exhaust action is probably far in advance of anything Hill did, and I know of many which still function well. Under the circumstances, I would always go for elecrification of any pneumatic action on the grounds of cost savings, unless it is of critical importance, as was probably the case at Armley with the Binns action.

 

I don't agree. It is contentious to say that the N&B action is "far in advance of anything Hill did" - the Hill Pneumatics are very good and worthy of restoration. The N&B exhaust actions, although arguably technically admirable, have a rather dead, vague feel and are not universally liked by players.

 

My own overall feeling, for what it's worth, is that the organ at Shrewsbury is probably a fine basis for something much better and more felxible, but I suspect that a simple re-building of the current instrument, or some sort of historical

restoration, are probably not the best answers musically.

 

Like what? This organ looks very orthodox to me - good choruses on Swell & Great Organs, including a Great Twelfth, which is unusual to see on an Edwardian organ. Why would you want to introduce new elements that are not part of the outlook of this organ? Such changes would not be in this organ's best interests at musical, aesthetic and artistic viewpoints.

 

As the instrument stands, it has just a few too many period deficiences, whereas just a few years previous, the organ would have been better and different.

 

If I can be diplomatic for a minute, this is utter poppycock. What are these deficiencies? What are the differences you talk of? Are they really better?

 

It says something about the era in which the organ was built, that many organists regarded Hill organs as "coarse" in tone; certainly as compared with the then prevailing fashion.

 

MM

 

The people that regarded the (very traditional - please note) Hill organs of this period in this manner were trying to promulgate their own tonal ideals. Hill was targeted as the "establishment" they were keen to topple. In the best pre-WWI work of H&H & N&B these new ideals produced some fine results but the style that was being promulgated needed very careful judgement and finishing if the results were not to become coarse and heavy. The traditional Hill recipe makes it far easier to produce good results.

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I don't agree. A Swell 19.22 mixture is usually fine on a Hill organ, even of this period and this size. The Great Organ had a Twelfth, Fifteenth and Mixture III from the beginning. The Pedal Organ had an Open Diapason 16 ft from the beginning.

 

I would suggest checking your facts (as any good engineer would do) on NPOR first: http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi...ec_index=N04613.

 

 

 

I don't agree. It is contentious to say that the N&B action is "far in advance of anything Hill did" - the Hill Pneumatics are very good and worthy of restoration. The N&B exhaust actions, although arguably technically admirable, have a rather dead, vague feel and are not universally liked by players.

 

 

 

Like what? This organ looks very orthodox to me - good choruses on Swell & Great Organs, including a Great Twelfth, which is unusual to see on an Edwardian organ. Why would you want to introduce new elements that are not part of the outlook of this organ? Such changes would not be in this organ's best interests at musical, aesthetic and artistic viewpoints.

 

 

 

If I can be diplomatic for a minute, this is utter poppycock. What are these deficiencies? What are the differences you talk of? Are they really better?

 

The people that regarded the (very traditional - please note) Hill organs of this period in this manner were trying to promulgate their own tonal ideals. Hill was targeted as the "establishment" they were keen to topple. In the best pre-WWI work of H&H & N&B these new ideals produced some fine results but the style that was being promulgated needed very careful judgement and finishing if the results were not to become coarse and heavy. The traditional Hill recipe makes it far easier to produce good results.

 

 

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

 

 

Quite right....my mistake. I was under the impression that the Great Mixture was a later addition, with the 17.19.22 composition. NPOR is unclear in this respect, as the original pitches are not included. If it was originally a tierce mixture, then it has a certain Thomas Hill influence or earlier.

 

(Incidentally, I do not regard myself as an engineer....merely a nuts & bolts man who can drill, weld, use machinery and put engines together. My brother is the engineering academic.....he has lots of "oligies." We talk AT each other wonderfully.)

 

I just don't see any point in restoring any pneumatic-action. Why use air to operate valves which operate other valves?

I suspect that ANY organ builder would have welcomed reliable electric actions as a much easier and more effective method. (H & H made their first in 1911, and it was still working fine in the late 1960's and beyond).

 

As far as deficiences are concerned, the Pedal organ is the first target. Earlier Hill organs often featured a more independent pedal organ, and it always seems to me that things went downhill very rapidly after 1880-90 or so.

 

Then there is the Choir Organ, which we know to be ineffective. To be honest, I've seldom found much of a use for most English Choir Organs; especially when they are far too quiet as compared with the other divisions.

 

I seem to recall that the Choir Organ at Ilkley was totally enclosed, and now it is totally unenclosed, with additions to the stop-list. Of course it means that the orchestral reeds are no longer under expression, and that is a musical negative to my ears, but on the plus side, it now serves a function and can at least be heard.

 

Anyway, it's no use taking any notice of anything I say, because I'm no preservationist. Neither were people like Willis, Harrison and Compton. They would alter anything with confidence and create something quite new in the process, as have all the great organ-builders right across the world.........Hagabeer/Schnitger, Cliquot/Cavaille-Coll, Snetzler/Thomas Hill etc etc.

 

MM

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Maybe a little Off-Topic again, but....

 

I just listened to the BBC3 Evensong stream from Eton College, with David Goode playing Bach's B minor P+F as final voluntary.

I really have to say, that I enjoyed the playing and the instrument. Of course it sounded even better during the accompaniments, but if I had not found out that it is a (Mander-restored) Hill with full pneumatics, I would have never guessed so.

The dark 32' reed during the service would have pointed me into the direction of a very late romantic instrument, but the fresh playing and fine registration of the Bach nearly gave the organ a neo-classical appeal.

So this, for me, is another example, where a capable player makes out much more of an instrument than one would expect from it.

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Maybe a little Off-Topic again, but....

 

.... but the fresh playing and fine registration of the Bach nearly gave the organ a neo-classical appeal.

So this, for me, is another example, where a capable player makes out much more of an instrument than one would expect from it.

 

I always remember hearing a lecture (given with sound examples) by Mr Ralph Downes. He lamented the passing of the Hill organ (one which is thankfully still at Eton) in Westminster Abbey when it was recast in 1937 (for the Coronation?) as in his estimation it was the finest Bach chorus we possessed. I think the talk was for the Organ Club in the 1980's.

 

Best wishes,

N

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I always remember hearing a lecture (given with sound examples) by Mr Ralph Downes. He lamented the passing of the Hill organ (one which is thankfully still at Eton) in Westminster Abbey when it was recast in 1937 (for the Coronation?) as in his estimation it was the finest Bach chorus we possessed. I think the talk was for the Organ Club in the 1980's.

 

Best wishes,

N

 

Thank you, Nigel - I was interested to read this.

 

I realise that I am probably alone in regretting the number of fine organs (not least those by Hill) which were given the oh-so-standardised 'Harrison' re-designing. To be honest, it always amazes me when I read in old accounts of Harrison rebuilds 'the scheme was drawn up in consultation with....' The organs of Arthur Harrison were so standardised as to be, in one sense, tedious. Practically the only variety was whether or not there was a fourth clavier - and whether the G.O. trombe would be voiced to obliterate that division only, or the entire organ. They were truly 'off-the-shelf' schemes. Yes, I know that they are good accompanimental organs ; however, they are not unique in this respect. I get just as much (if not more) pleasure in accompanying a service on the Walker organ of Bristol Cathedral, or the Willis at Salisbury, as I do at Ripon, or on the remnants of the former Harrison stops at Saint Peter's, Bournemouth, for example.

 

I honestly wonder if there was something wrong with Lieut.-Col. George Dixon's hearing, since apparently he preferred Harrison trombe to Hill's glorious, musical low-pressure chorus reeds.* Did he, by any chance, serve as a gunnery sergeant previously?

 

 

 

* No prizes for guessing my own preference....

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Thank you, Nigel - I was interested to read this.

 

 

I honestly wonder if there was something wrong with Lieut.-Col. George Dixon's hearing, since apparently he preferred Harrison trombe to Hill's glorious, musical low-pressure chorus reeds.* Did he, by any chance, serve as a gunnery sergeant previously?

 

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

 

 

I believe it was much worse than this........artillery, if I recall correctly.

 

However, apart from being a very astute observation by 'pcnd,' this is something I've often pondered myself.

 

How loud was the mid-Victorian period, I wonder?

 

The cotton and woollen mills would have been very loud, and so too would ship-building and iron-casting, but I'd wager that the volume level of the average city was as nothing compared with that during the steel age which followed.

 

I don't know if anyone on the discussion-board ever experienced one of the great metal-bashing factories, making all sorts of things, from washing-machines to railway-engines, and thousands of items in between. Deafness was far more prevalent among older people than it is to-day; partly because of active military service and artillery-weapons, but more specifically from a lifetime of working in a manufacturing environment.

 

I recall the noise of a factory I worked in, which made road and rail-tankers. It was incredibly loud, with rolling-machines, lathes, electric motors, hydraulic-presses, rivetting machines, stamping, welding, forging, sheet metal cutting, metal sawing, pipe-cutting etc etc. I suspect that the sound-level of the working envrionment was regularly around 120dB, which people had to endure maybe 10 hours a day.

 

Obviously, defaness was preceded by partial-deafness, and hearing-aids were very common among the over 50's.

 

I therefore wonder if the organ did not "develop" accordingly, with ever greater power on the one hand, and much reduced upper partials on the other?

 

I recall the deaf organist Paul Whitaker OBE, (Music for the deaf). telling me that he could feel bass vibrations even though he could barely hear music. (He was then perhaps 17 years of age). For those with hearing-loss rather than actual physical deafness, anything above the top note of a 4ft rank was possibly inaudible.

 

Food for thought, when so many very powerful instruments of the Edwardian period had only limited brightness of tone, but immensely powerful basses and foundation registers.

 

MM

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... The organ is at the East end, and the abbey floor slopes slightly up from west to east. In addition the organ was raised many years ago about four feet off the ground. ...

 

I have only just noticed this.

 

In the interest of accuracy, it is in fact situated in the North Transept* - and raised a few feet from pavement level.

 

 

 

 

 

*At Shrewsbury Abbey, the transepts are quite shallow, not extending past the outer walls of the Nave aisles.

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... Please would provide examples that illustrate your point please? I can't find any instances of Hill organs of this size built between 1895 and 1914 that have 4ft pedal stops. Even the new 1909 Hill Organ of Selby Abbey (47/IVP) doesn't have any 4ft Pedal stops. The only examples with 4ft pedal stops I could find were Bangor Cathedral and Kings College Cambridge, both of which are considerably larger and rebuilds. Hill very, very rarely used the nomenclature "Octave" and "Superoctave", if ever - his typical nomenclature was the traditional English "Principal" and "Fifteenth". ...

 

 

 

I had forgotten to answer this. I hope that board members will not mind if I do so now, since I had promised that I would.

 

In fact, on his Pedal organs, Hill did use the nomenclature 'Octave' - I found a fair number of examples of this. It also appears that there are plenty of instances in which Hill named a Pedal 8ft, metal stop 'Violoncello'.

 

In addition, the Pedal Organ on the instrument in the Chapel of Saint John's College, Cambridge (Hill, 1839, 1868, 1889 and Norman & Beard, 1902) possessed a Principal, Fifteenth and a Mixture III (which may have contained a tierce). This organ was not that much larger that the instrument which was specified for Shrewsbury Abbey. For the record, I think that it is unlikely that Norman & Beard added this Pedal upper-work. However, it was retained in their rebuild of 1902, so I think that it would be justifiable to include this organ as an example.

 

There is also the church of Saint Andrew, in Aldershot, which, at the time of the 1897 rebuild by Hill, both a Principal and a wooden Violoncello on the Pedal Organ (The Fifteenth was added in 1984, by H&H).

 

It appears that the names 'Octave', 'Principal' and 'Violoncello' are fairly evenly distributed in organs by Hill; it is certainly not correct to say that the name 'Octave' was used 'very, very rarely' in instruments by Hill, which fall between the narrow confines of your defined parameters. I am not even sure why you chose these dates.§ The organ of Shrewsbury Abbey was new (except for the re-use of some pipe-work from the former organ) in 1911. This was the first and only recorded time which Wm. Hill & Son worked on this instrument. For that matter, some of the additions discussed may be the work of a firm other than Hill, Norman & Beard. The NPOR twice gives dates of work undertaken by 'unknown' firms: in 1927 and 1945.

 

In any case, this is all just splitting hairs. There is sufficient precedent to allow the addition of a Pedal stop of metal, labelled either 'Principal' or 'Violoncello' - and even a 4ft. stop of metal*. (For the record, the largest of the 8ft. Pedal flues at Shrewsbury Abbey is labelled 'Octave' - and has been so since 1911.)

 

However, since this thread has gone rather quiet in the intervening period, it does seem as if this instrument is unlikely to receive a thorough restoration (with or without some attempt at completing the tonal scheme) in the near future - which is a pity.

 

 

 

 

§ Thomas Hill died in 1893 (and the firm then continued under the direction of his son, Arthur for a few years). The amalgamation with Norman & Beard did not take place, as far as I know, until 1916 - initially trading under the name 'William Hill & Son & Norman & Beard.'

 

 

* Having been at one time Organist and Choirmaster at Shrewsbury Abbey, and having also had the pleasure of playing the fine Hill/Compton instrument in Bangor Cathedral, I would suggest that this is a moot point. Shrewsbury Abbey possesses a somewhat greater cubic capacity than that at Bangor Cathedral - which is really a 'parish church' cathedral. It would be interesting to be able to swap these instruments around, and hear them both in their new environments. It might be that each would suit their new surroundings better than they do at present. (When I played the organ of Bangor Cathedral, it was some years prior to the recent rebuild and re-ordering by David Wells. At that time, this large four-clavier organ made its presence known very clearly in the Choir and at the console. However, the projection down the Nave was rather less effective.)

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Having not been back to Shrewsbury for several months I can only add that on my most recent visit suggested fundraising was actively happening in anticipation of a major restoration once funds permitted, and I spotted that a new blower had recently been fitted.

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Having not been back to Shrewsbury for several months I can only add that on my most recent visit suggested fundraising was actively happening in anticipation of a major restoration once funds permitted, and I spotted that a new blower had recently been fitted.

 

Then this is indeed good news. Let us hope that this project is carried to completion.

 

Thank you for this, Contrabombarde. Any further news regarding this would be much appreciated.

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All Hallows' Gospel Oak (1915) has both Octave and Violoncello on the pedal; extensions to Open Wood and Violone, respectively. Nothing above 8' here.

 

It was my understanding that Arthur Hill was the son of Thomas and therefore grandson of William. He took over directorship of the firm in 1893 and continued, following the merger (where the staff of the two firms worked quite separately for some years), until his death in 1923 when the firm was bought by John Christie.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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All Hallows' Gospel Oak (1915) has both Octave and Violoncello on the pedal; extensions to Open Wood and Violone, respectively. Nothing above 8' here.

 

It was my understanding that Arthur Hill was the son of Thomas and therefore grandson of William. ...

 

And mine, too. I have no idea why I should have originally typed 'nephew'. I have now corrected this error.

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