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I would appreciate opinions about tuning celeste stops.

 

I prefer them sharp. Do most builders tune them this way? (When the Walker at St. Leonard-at-the-Hythe, Colchester was restored by ex-Walker man Ken Canter, he tuned the celeste flat because he said that Walkers' did it that way. I didn't like it and persuaded him to tune it sharp, as it had been before - a particularly nice one, I always thought).

 

It seems to me that one should tune celestes according to the beat with their companion stops, rather than in octaves, otherwise the trebles will beat too fast. Am I right?

 

Would a more stringy stop, say a Viole d'Orchestre, benefit from a slightly quicker beat, or vice versa?

 

I feel that about 3 beats per second is about right for an ordinary Vox Angelica type of stop.

 

My organ here has a sharp Voix Celeste (down to G8) in the Swell and a flat Viole Celeste (full compass, including extras for the octave coupler) in the Solo. I wonder if it would be worth sharpening the Solo celeste.

 

In 1971, I went with John Budgen to hold notes while he tuned the newly-rebuilt organ at Burnham-on-Crouch Church, Essex, in preparation for the opening recital by Gordon Phillips the same evening. When we got there, the parish organist asked John to tune the celeste flat. After getting half-way, it became apparent that the pipes wouldn't take it. A few words were said, and the stop retuned sharp. After the concert, the organist remarked how much better the celeste sounded now it was flat....

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I would appreciate opinions about tuning celeste stops.

 

I prefer them sharp. Do most builders tune them this way? (When the Walker at St. Leonard-at-the-Hythe, Colchester was restored by ex-Walker man Ken Canter, he tuned the celeste flat because he said that Walkers' did it that way. I didn't like it and persuaded him to tune it sharp, as it had been before - a particularly nice one, I always thought).

 

I've always understand that Celestes were always sharp and Angelicas flat. But I'm ready to be told I'm wrong :-)

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I've always understand that Celestes were always sharp and Angelicas flat. But I'm ready to be told I'm wrong :-)

 

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

 

 

That's my understanding too, but I'm not sure whether American Erzhalers fall into the first or second category......second I think. (I think they are essentially Dulciana style ranks).

 

One of the "dirtiest" of sounds can be heard on American romantic organs, where keen strings and celestes (tuned sharp), are mixed with multiple undulants tuned flat. They seem to like it, so they're happy, but I never quite got used to it.

 

MM

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I would appreciate opinions about tuning celeste stops.

 

I prefer them sharp. Do most builders tune them this way? (When the Walker at St. Leonard-at-the-Hythe, Colchester was restored by ex-Walker man Ken Canter, he tuned the celeste flat because he said that Walkers' did it that way. I didn't like it and persuaded him to tune it sharp, as it had been before - a particularly nice one, I always thought).

 

It seems to me that one should tune celestes according to the beat with their companion stops, rather than in octaves, otherwise the trebles will beat too fast. Am I right?

 

Would a more stringy stop, say a Viole d'Orchestre, benefit from a slightly quicker beat, or vice versa?

 

I feel that about 3 beats per second is about right for an ordinary Vox Angelica type of stop.

 

My organ here has a sharp Voix Celeste (down to G8) in the Swell and a flat Viole Celeste (full compass, including extras for the octave coupler) in the Solo. I wonder if it would be worth sharpening the Solo celeste.

 

In 1971, I went with John Budgen to hold notes while he tuned the newly-rebuilt organ at Burnham-on-Crouch Church, Essex, in preparation for the opening recital by Gordon Phillips the same evening. When we got there, the parish organist asked John to tune the celeste flat. After getting half-way, it became apparent that the pipes wouldn't take it. A few words were said, and the stop retuned sharp. After the concert, the organist remarked how much better the celeste sounded now it was flat....

 

 

I've always known Celestes to be sharp and Angelicas to be flat, but what's in a name? It really does vary from organ to organ. Some have them flat and some sharp. Some slow some fast. It also depends where the two ranks have been planted on the soundbaoard. If they have been planted next to each other then the beats will be less successful if you hear any beats at all, because they will want to pull each other into tune. It's far better to plant them 2-3 stops apart from each other which will give you a better beat.

 

With regard to flat or sharp, I think it is a combination between organ builder and the organist. I've not known J W Walkers just to tune their strings flat, if anything they tend to tune sharp, particularly with their newer instruments. I tune the strings at St. Chad's Cathedral, Birmingham sharp. I do think that the organist has a right of preference if the pipes will take to be flattened or sharpened.

 

With regard to speed again I think it's up to the organist if he or she wants would like them fast or slow or progressively getter faster the further up the compass one plays. I've always known Cavaillé-Coll strings to be fast and accelerating further up the compass ones goes but in all I think it's down to preference and taste.

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I've always understand that Celestes were always sharp and Angelicas flat.

That is what I have been told too. By default, I expect Vox Angelicas to be paired with smooth, Dulciana-type ranks and Voix Celestes to be paired with stringer, Viole-type ranks. I guess there's a connection here.

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I've always understand that Celestes were always sharp and Angelicas flat. But I'm ready to be told I'm wrong :-)

 

 

I hadn't heard that, and I should imagine that it varies between builders. The Vox Angelica on the Swell ay Belfast Cathedral was definitely sharp.

 

I don't think the name signifies much, although I suppose one would think of a Vox Angelica as fairly mild - salicional rather than viole - whereas Voix Celeste could mean anything.

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This depends on so many things, so I don't think there is a rule as such. Length of pipes and relative scale and position on the soundboard are the only really limiting factors. There are some which I know that defy logic but work beautifully, so it is a suck it and see. Many examples I have encountered are tuned too fast in the middle compasses and sound 'bent'. Others are not speeded up enough in the treble and then don't add anything eg with octave couplers. My rule of thumb is that they should shimmer and once you have a technique for achieving that, by and large it works across the board except for the excessively scaled stops or those with bad planting about which there is very little you can do when tuning.

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I've read that Unda Maris stops are generally tuned flat, but the only one I know of in my area (paired with a Dulciana) is tuned sharp.

 

Here is an unusual case: The Newberry Memorial Organ at Yale has no fewer than eleven celestes, with quite an interesting one by Steere:

 

Orchestral Organ

  1. Viole d'Orchestra 8'

  2. First Viole Celeste 8'
    (draws #1)

  3. Second Viole Celeste 8'
    (draws #1 & #2)

According to a recording by Thomas Murray, the first celeste is sharp, while the second is very sharp.

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I've read that Unda Maris stops are generally tuned flat, but the only one I know of in my area (paired with a Dulciana) is tuned sharp.

 

Here is an unusual case: The Newberry Memorial Organ at Yale has no fewer than eleven celestes, with quite an interesting one by Steere:

 

Orchestral Organ

  1. Viole d'Orchestra 8'

  2. First Viole Celeste 8'
    (draws #1)

  3. Second Viole Celeste 8'
    (draws #1 & #2)

According to a recording by Thomas Murray, the first celeste is sharp, while the second is very sharp.

 

 

Hope-Jones had a three rank celeste at Worcester, with a half-on position for the stop-tablet for when the third rank wasn't needed. They're not all that uncommon in North America, although none can approach the Wanamaker Organ in Philadelphia which has a complete String organ of some ninety stops including multiple celestes.

 

The late Ted Holt of Cambridge worked in his retirement for the organ builder Norman Hall & Sons, and with their help rebuilt the organ at the United Reformed Church, Cherry Hinton. Ted had a methodical mind and liked gadgets. The Cherry Hinton organ has a device which causes the Celeste to flip off if left on as part of an 'unsuitable' combination for more than fifteen seconds.

 

(Ted's brother Charles used to write letters to 'Musical Opinion'. Their father David started collecting organ specifications and the result was the Holt Collection now at BIOS. One of them, I can't remember which, picked up some manuscript music on Cambridge market which turned out to be two unpublished sets of evening canticles by Stanford. 'The Queen's Service', since published by Stainer & Bell, was one of them. Ted's son Edmund was Music Adviser to Orkney Islands Council, and therefore my boss when I was teaching there. It's a small world).

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I would appreciate opinions about tuning celeste stops.

 

I prefer them sharp. Do most builders tune them this way? (When the Walker at St. Leonard-at-the-Hythe, Colchester was restored by ex-Walker man Ken Canter, he tuned the celeste flat because he said that Walkers' did it that way. I didn't like it and persuaded him to tune it sharp, as it had been before - a particularly nice one, I always thought).

 

It seems to me that one should tune celestes according to the beat with their companion stops, rather than in octaves, otherwise the trebles will beat too fast. Am I right?

 

Would a more stringy stop, say a Viole d'Orchestre, benefit from a slightly quicker beat, or vice versa?

 

I feel that about 3 beats per second is about right for an ordinary Vox Angelica type of stop.

 

My organ here has a sharp Voix Celeste (down to G8) in the Swell and a flat Viole Celeste (full compass, including extras for the octave coupler) in the Solo. I wonder if it would be worth sharpening the Solo celeste.

 

In 1971, I went with John Budgen to hold notes while he tuned the newly-rebuilt organ at Burnham-on-Crouch Church, Essex, in preparation for the opening recital by Gordon Phillips the same evening. When we got there, the parish organist asked John to tune the celeste flat. After getting half-way, it became apparent that the pipes wouldn't take it. A few words were said, and the stop retuned sharp. After the concert, the organist remarked how much better the celeste sounded now it was flat....

My understanding, though I'm not sure where I learnt this from (?CWE at Durham?), is as follows:

 

Celestes are mild strings (gemshorn/viol d'amoure) and are slightly sharp woth a beat around 3/sec

Angelicas are dulcianas and are marginally sharp ie abour 2/sec

Violes are strong strings and are quite sharp ie around 4-5 sec (quite 'giddy').

Unda Maris are flat flutes amd gentle (?shades of Italiam Pfiarro)

 

In each case the beat is as 'gentle' or violent as the colour/voicing. I was also led to expect a roughly similar beat across the compass - ie the 'celeste' is tuned to the parent rank not to itself.

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I'm just back from York Minster and they have 3 celestes - all sharp. I had limited preparation time for 7 services (2-3 hours all told) and didn't have time to become intimately acquainted with the beast but gleaned the following information from the tuners notebook during the sermon on Sunday afternoon.

Swell Voix (4 beats/second), solo viol (2 beats/second) & swell diapason (3 beats/second).

The swell diapason has recently been changed to beat 1 second faster than the previous 2 beats/second at Robert Sharpe's suggestion. I disliked it and went back to JSW's demo of this stop from his DVD when I got home - to my ears it needs to go back to 2 b/s!

I didn't notice 4 b/s being too fast or 2 b/s being too slow so I assume it differs depending on all the factors mentioned by others above and is just a case of try it and see.

Interestingly, it was confirmed to me that there is a rebuild in the offing there which surprised me after only 18 years since the last one. However it is obvious that the 1993 work was only a stop-gap (no pun intended!), removing some of the 60's spike, adding some much needed new colours and sorting some new pedal stops. The consoles are also clearly in need of modernisation - it took 10 mins of faffing to get the nave console swell pedals to speak to the boxes for example. The setter piston in the nave had broken off (I used a pencil to push it in) and the piston settings on each console are independent which to my mind is a huge drawback. And don't get me started about the quire console keys!!!

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I remember some years ago my organ teacher telling me that Celestes on smaller country church organs were very much more likely to be flat than sharp. At the same time he said larger organs typically had the Celestes correctly tuned sharp. My experience is that he seems to be right.

 

John R

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I was a "sharpie" until arriving at West Point, which favors the flat celestes by design by carrying those down to 8' C - even though the availability of both sharps and flats as stops is nearly equal. There is something hauntingly beautiful about a flat celeste with a very slow beat. The sharp celestes tend to be tuned a bit wider/faster than the flats there. For instance, the point of departure for the Viol division is +7 cents for the sharps, and -5 for the flats - the result is most beautiful. The Choir organ features a quartet of Unda Maris ranks, three of them tapered, which are double-flat, flat, sharp, and double-sharp respectively, and are used with the Keraulophone.

 

The general rules of thumb that have come to me from my time at Thompson-Allen are:

 

1. Wider scales are set to beat slower, narrower ones faster.

2. All celestes are tuned (and tempered when convenient) to beat in ascending speed from bottom up.

3. Wider scales need to be placed further apart to beat properly, narrower ones are more forgiving.

 

I think there is something to said for a nexus between celestes, tremulants, the vibrato of orchestral instruments and that of vocalists. I haven't explored the subject in sufficient detail to add much further than that thought, except to say that only moving to either positive or negative territory exclusively would seem to me unnatural in these other musical situations.

 

My recollection is that Mr. Skinner favored sharps, although the double-sharp celestes in the Newberry were under his protest retained at the direction of the organist who served through all stages of development for that instrument, Harry Jepson. Still, Mr. Skinner gave a nod to the flats with the First Orchestral II, and First Muted II celestes in the String division, which have no unison rank but are Flat/Sharp.

 

- Nathan

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My own criteria when designing organs are as follows;

 

VOX (Voix) CELESTE - Narrow-scaled string, tuned sharp to beat with similar scaled pipework, usually on Manual III (Schwellwerk / Oberwerk)

 

VIOLE CELESTE Of larger scale, tuned sharp but slightly slower, designed to beat with a larger scaled string. Again on the Swell division

 

 

UNDAMARIS - Wider-scale, tuned flat and designed to beat with either the principal or secondary 8ft rank of the department (eg.Gemshorn)

and slower than a sharp-tuned stop On larger instruments it can also be made as a two-rank, self contained register.

 

TRAVIZERA - Almost always of 2-ranks, normally to tenor c. Self contained register of open wooden pipes and designed to beat flat

with a very gentle flute tone. The design was inspired by organs built in Spain during the 18th century

Naturally a register of this type is somewhat of a luxury and therefore only used in larger instruments of three or four

manuals

 

BIFARIA / PIFFANO Two rank, large-scaled, open metal pipes. Contained on the principal division (Great / Hauptwerk)

Can be either tuned sharp or flat and designed to enhance the presence of the main chorus of a very large organ

( four to five manuals) which is contained in a building with a vey resonant acoustic. Of flute rather than string tone.

 

 

ERZAEHLER ( German = Narrator) Traditionally this is indeed made as a celeste but as far as I know, only on organs in North America.

However, because of the origin of the name, I have always used this for a fractional-length reed stop, a close relation to the

Vox Humana. Made exclusively of wood (boots and resonators) and voiced with emphasis given to the vowel sounds A,E,O and

U. throughout the compass. As can be imagined, this is not easy to acheive but the result is well worth the time and effort

involved. Only incorporated in organs of moderate size and chamber organs.

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ERZAEHLER ( German = Narrator) Traditionally this is indeed made as a celeste but as far as I know, only on organs in North America. However, because of the origin of the name, I have always used this for a fractional-length reed stop, a close relation to the Vox Humana. Made exclusively of wood (boots and resonators) and voiced with emphasis given to the vowel sounds A,E,O and U. throughout the compass. As can be imagined, this is not easy to acheive but the result is well worth the time and effort involved. Only incorporated in organs of moderate size and chamber organs.

 

I believe the original stop was developed by E.M. Skinner who, casting around for a name, asked a German employee what came to his mind on hearing it. Henry Willis III produced something similar but called it Sylvestrina, sometimes with a celeste.

 

I've never heard a Holtkamp Ludwigtone, which was described as a doppel flute voiced as a slow celeste. It sounds like an interesting idea.

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I've never heard a Holtkamp Ludwigtone, which was described as a doppel flute voiced as a slow celeste. It sounds like an interesting idea.

I came across one once on the three manual house organ in New Hampshire. It was indeed a two-mouthed pipe voiced to undulate. The undulations struck me as rather unstable across the compass. Of course it may just have been a bad example; I seem to recall hearing somewhere that it is a difficult stop to make.

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I came across on once on the three manual house organ in New Hampshire. It was indeed a two-mouthed pipe voiced to undulate. The undulations struck me as rather unstable across the compass. Of course it may just have been a bad example; I seem to recall hearing somewhere that it is a difficult stop to make.

 

June%203%202010%20019.jpg

 

Here's a newish one by the J. P. Buzard company in the USA who use this type of stop quite a bit. A wooden doppel flute with each side independently ajustable.

A

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June%203%202010%20019.jpg

 

Here's a newish one by the J. P. Buzard company in the USA who use this type of stop quite a bit. A wooden doppel flute with each side independently ajustable.

A

 

 

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

 

 

I'm just amazed.........I never knew that Celestes could be this involved, and when I played around with them in America, I just enjoyed them.

 

The nearest I ever came to this complexity was a lady in knew called Celeste, who being rather flat-chested, nevertheless had a very sharp wit.

 

MM

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I came across on once on the three manual house organ in New Hampshire. It was indeed a two-mouthed pipe voiced to undulate. The undulations struck me as rather unstable across the compass. Of course it may just have been a bad example; I seem to recall hearing somewhere that it is a difficult stop to make.

 

 

Johann Ludwig Trost was doing this sort of thing 250 years ago - e.g. the double-bodied Unda maris 8 at Waltershausen and elsewhere.

 

JS

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Perhaps I should have written "to get right" rather than "to make". I imagine the construction is straightforward enough. My memory is dim (a bit like my brain, really), but, from what I remember, the example I heard was quite distinct from your standard Flute Celeste; it was more of a slight, poorly controlled quavering, slightly reminiscent of an elderly, infirm voice. I didn't find it that attractive.

 

In the brief toot

the fundamental sounds firm enough and yet there's something that to my ears doesn't sound quite right - though it's possible that the wind supply might be the culprit.

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In the brief toot
the fundamental sounds firm enough and yet there's something that to my ears doesn't sound quite right - though it's possible that the wind supply might be the culprit.

 

Sounds like it's been nicked off the Flying Scotsman...

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I'm just back from York Minster and they have 3 celestes - all sharp. I had limited preparation time for 7 services (2-3 hours all told) and didn't have time to become intimately acquainted with the beast but gleaned the following information from the tuners notebook during the sermon on Sunday afternoon.

Swell Voix (4 beats/second), solo viol (2 beats/second) & swell diapason (3 beats/second).

The swell diapason has recently been changed to beat 1 second faster than the previous 2 beats/second at Robert Sharpe's suggestion. I disliked it and went back to JSW's demo of this stop from his DVD when I got home - to my ears it needs to go back to 2 b/s!

I didn't notice 4 b/s being too fast or 2 b/s being too slow so I assume it differs depending on all the factors mentioned by others above and is just a case of try it and see.

Interestingly, it was confirmed to me that there is a rebuild in the offing there which surprised me after only 18 years since the last one. However it is obvious that the 1993 work was only a stop-gap (no pun intended!), removing some of the 60's spike, adding some much needed new colours and sorting some new pedal stops. The consoles are also clearly in need of modernisation - it took 10 mins of faffing to get the nave console swell pedals to speak to the boxes for example. The setter piston in the nave had broken off (I used a pencil to push it in) and the piston settings on each console are independent which to my mind is a huge drawback. And don't get me started about the quire console keys!!!

 

Only just picked up on this. The Diapason celeste is actually tuned flat. The note in the tuner's book about the number of beats is of many years ago, I think. The comment about the Diapason celeste was made because we changed the two stops round at the start of the year, making the (Hill) Open Diapason the unison, and the (Walker) Violin Diapason the celeste. This latter stop is, along with the Gamba and Voix Celeste, on the 7 inch pressure shared with the reeds. It took a little while to get the tuning right but I think it's sorted now. The unison is still engraved 'Violin Diapason' but in fact is the Open. This stop is the Hill No 1 Open from the 1859 Great and is a most effective solo stop as well as chorus stop, and it was Francis Jackson's comment that Bairstow often used it as such in the tenor register with the tremulant which prompted the experiment.

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Here's a newish one by the J. P. Buzard company in the USA who use this type of stop quite a bit. A wooden doppel flute with each side independently ajustable.

 

This instrument is only about ten minutes from my house. I missed the inaugural recital due to work (though I have a copy of the programme) but I will try to report back with impressions of the Ludwigtone at the next opportunity.

 

Does anyone know of any recordings from Saint-Ouen which feature the Voix éolienne? I've always been curious about this stop, especially since the name was nearly unique for so long: Was this stop unsuccessful, and therefore not emulated by other builders? The Lausanne Fisk and the enormous Casavant at the Brick Presbyterian Church in NYC both include stops of this name.

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I *think* that the JAV recording of Daniel Roth playing at St. Ouen may feature the Voix Éolienne but that it's hidden away on the SACD layer. I don't have a SACD player, nor will our DVD player or Windows 7 PC CD ripper play them so can't be sure. Shame, as I would love to hear the SACD tracks which include improvisations and commentary by M. Roth.

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I *think* that the JAV recording of Daniel Roth playing at St. Ouen may feature the Voix Éolienne but that it's hidden away on the SACD layer. I don't have a SACD player, nor will our DVD player or Windows 7 PC CD ripper play them so can't be sure. Shame, as I would love to hear the SACD tracks which include improvisations and commentary by M. Roth.

 

I am in the same position - in fact, I have never even seen a SACD player. I have one or two other discs in this format. Does amyone know if there is some downloadable programme (preferably legal) which would allow one to access this layer on a CD-ROM, for example, please?

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