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Guest stevecbournias

Some Still Unanswered Questions

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Dear Mr Bournias

 

I have found no written evidence of the added Great stops being on a higher pressure - nor is it particularly relevant because it depends what the voicer does with the pipes on that pressure that matters.

 

Indeed!

 

Take Truro (again!) - the Double, the two Open Diapasons and the Claribel all speak on a pressure of 175mm - and Truro Cathedral is considerably smaller than St, Paul's. Yet, in the building (and at the console) it is simply impossible to tell that these stops are on the same pressure as the Tromba and Clarion, such is the quality and musicality of the voicing.

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Guest stevecbournias
Dear Mr Bournias

 

What I request you to do is wait until you receive the book, because then you can wade through it and find all the answers, where they are to be found.

 

I have found no written evidence of the added Great stops being on a higher pressure - nor is it particularly relevant because it depends what the voicer does with the pipes on that pressure that matters. The two stops were the Opens 1 and 4 i.e the strongest and the weakest, so that only the former would have been likely to make any difference to the effect of the chorus. (Quite what Open No 4 was for is debateable, as the No 3 of the four - the current No 2 - is rather soft in itself).

 

Fr Willis added a Pedal 16' Open Diapason, of metal pipes, in the Dome organ in 1899. That is the stop that I think you have assumed is made of Lewis pipes.

 

When I left St Paul's in 1998 the redundant Gemshorn pipes (made redundant by the return to the Choir organ of Fr Willis's original Choir 4' Principal to its rightful home) were being stored inside the organ. I do not know if they are still there, but expect that they are (also the remains of the unused original 1872 pipes of the Pedal Violoncello and Mixture were stored for safety by the Dome organ blowers).

 

There is a problem for anyone coming to conclusions on any subject based upon suppositions. At times I see things being asserted as fact when I know they are coming to this conclusion by assuming things.  This then gets spread about as 'fact'.

 

St Paul's organ is one of the worst victims of this kind and perhaps that's one of the dangers of things like message boards. It's not helped by there being a lot of organ folklore about certain aspects of this organ e.g. the provenance of the Trompette Militaire and, dare I say, some misinformation by Willis III (one example of that is that the very highest wind pressures in both St Pauls and Liverpool Cathedral organs are not quite as high as the published pressures - at St Paul's 30" is in reality a bit lower - about 26" or 27" I believe. Another is that Willis said that he threw away the American shallots and tongues of the Trompette when they arrived in the Willis factory, however I have been assured that they were still attached to the pipes in the 1970s!)

 

Anyway, I hope I have now cleared up your questions as much as possible.

 

 

The stop of Lewis I am suggesting is the bottom 12 of the 16 double open in the new manual dome chorus by Manders. You will note that these 12 are not not listed as new pipes in the 1970s. Rather it seems to be that they are from the SE quarter gallery collection. Logically ithey would be since at the grave pitch they would produce would result in a savings without any compromise in quality of sound. The pipes you refer to from Father Willis are dome pedal pipes 1899-1900.

 

You mention the 1899 diapasons as interferering with the clear egress of the speech of the 1872 works. That alone would justify their removal. Also you mentioned a lack of balance in the chorus with these additional unison elements weighting the balance at 8ft and throwing the balance off from the superstructure above.

 

My preliminary findings are NOT presented as gospel but are conclusions drawn from available data SUBJECT to revision and further acknowledgement here in the future when I have considered the book in detail. I am NOT in the business of spreading misinformation per se but neither do I go around footnoting and bibliographing since my forum critics here have already decried my efforts as false and lacking in any redemptive power and my pushing themselves to the limits of their endurance as English gentlemen.

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Steve, you have some interesting things to say - it is just that you appear to be cross quite often!

 

 

I expect that there are many things which we can all learn from each other. One of the instruments about which I would value news is that at St. Thomas, Fifth Avenue; (on paper, not dissimilar to N.-D. de Paris - un-surprising since Gerre Hancock was a good friend of Cochereau - and is an excellent improviser himself).

 

I would be interested to hear of its current state of preservation.

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Guest Roffensis

My only observation of ST Pauls has been that there is not so much foundation under the Dome from the chancel organ. That said, it was, it was very cramped and cluttered, and it was logical to make the disposition more open than it had been with the continued additions by Willis. Where there was a space, they would sure fill 'em. At canterbury there was not so much of a case to have removed so much, including the fine Willis console, which believe me was a art work in itselfd, and frankly superior to that now used. The stopknobs on the current for example look very cheap, and the swell sub octave coupler was even removed, as well as the choir sub and octave. These were not good moves. Nor was its reduction to three manuals, and one hopes that in the future it will recieve a good rebuild, usinbg the extremely fine Great, Swell, Pedal and Tubas, together with a small hand of other stops, as a basis for a new instrument, still Willis, but enhanced, not obliterated. The Willis work is still much in evidence, and the pipework far exceeds both Salissbury and indeed Truro. There can be no doubt of it, it's magnificent.

St Pauls has to my mind been the most logical rebuild of the last century, to rely on sheer numbers of stops is not good, and everything there can now be heard, where as in the past it did sound muddled up. The Altar organ incidently, for all its tweakings and so on, was utterly useless, and was a waste of resource. It needed to go and it was appropriate to get rid of it, I heard it, as i did often the "old" organ. Believe me, it is still there, and still is one of our very finest instruments.

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The stop of Lewis I am suggesting is the bottom 12 of the 16 double open in the new manual dome chorus by Manders. You will note that these 12 are not  not listed as new pipes in the 1970s. Rather it seems to be that they are from the SE quarter gallery collection.

 

They are Willis pipes from the pedal stop of 1899.

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They are Willis pipes from the pedal stop of 1899.

 

I think the biggest unanswered question is why the moderator is not putting this thread out of it's misery. Andrew Lucas obviously has the patience of a saint !!

 

I think the advice to contributors, Mr Lucas apart is get a life or get a therapist !!

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the swell sub octave coupler was even removed, as well as the choir sub and octave. These were not good moves
[troll]

 

Why on earth not? I could go along with you on the Ch octave, but suboctave couplers are of no musical use, least of all in the hands of those impervious to the missing pipes in the bottom octave. I make an honourable exception for loud French music, of course; the French knew how to use them properly. Personally I think organ builders should only make them on condition that the moment any key below tenor G is played they operate the general cancel piston. :lol:

 

[/troll]

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Andrew Lucas obviously has the patience of a saint !!

 

You're too kind - but no I haven't!

 

It's just that having spent 17 years playing that organ, and the best part of a decade being responsible to the organist and the D&C for its maintenance and welfare, I made sure that I knew as much about the organ as I could possibly find out.

 

The Niland and Plumley book came out after I left but I was aware of it being in preparation. I find it answers all questions and the more you read it the more you see how much has been altered over the years, and more interestingly what happened to it between 1925 & 1929 and again between 1939 and 1946. It's like detective story and I think it's fascinating stuff.

 

But then, I would :lol:

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This  is all well and good MM, but I was speaking from a personal viewpoint and, from a personal viewpoint I strongly dislike the very sound of cinema organs. I also strongly dislike the sound of singers who sing with a constant vibrato - I certainly do not wish an organ to sound like that!

 

You have inferred rather more than I intended from my post - nowhere did I mention any cinema organist - much less decry the technical ability of a particular exponent!

 

I was speaking from the standpoint of my own opinion - which is that I find any such connotation unfortunate!

 

Whilst you are welcome to disagree with my viewpoint, nevertheless I stand by my post - as it were....

 

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

 

 

Well that's OK then! Blame it on the violinsts and Stokowski!

 

Actually, if you listen to the old recording of Sidney Torch and Quentin Maclean, they didn't use the "trems" half-so-much as their American counterparts.

 

One thing I do know, is that Tremulation can be far too heavy or rapid, but in the best theatre organ installations, it tends to be more subtle. Also, in the bigger instruments across the pond, the Tremulation is not uniform, but divided according to specific voices, and cosequently, they tend to be out-of-sync and less obvious. The nest result is a sort of oozing, seething, breathing wobble....a bit like a large jelly-fish rather than a pocket-size, supermarket souffle. The latter can be quite offensive to the ear.

 

I speak of Simon Gledhill very highly, and in the opening of his CD recorded on the famous "Castro Wurlitzer" voiced and set-up with loving care by Ed Stout, it is the nearest thing organ-wise to experiencing a theatre show-band playing "California, here I come," which just happens to be the title of the CD.

 

That is EXACTLY what the theatre organ was designed to do, but many fall short of that ideal when they are set-up badly.

 

What's this got to do with classical music?

 

Well, Wurlitzer had an interesting pedigree as makers of musical-instruments. They were also absolute authorities on violins, and their authentication mark is still honoured by auction houses around the world. More importantly, their history could be traced back to the 16th century (it may be the 17th?) as violin-makers in Germany, and it is not impossible that Bach may, indeed, have played a Wurlitzer.

 

Another thought occurs.......on what organ, around 1930, was it possible to play French Baroque music "almost" convincingly?

 

MM

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Some fascinating information, MM - thank you! Just please do not expect me to listen to the things!

 

A propos your comment regarding French music. On a British organ, I suspect that there was none - and I suspect that it is still not possible on organs such as Peterborough without some compromise. However, the H&H (in its 1975) incarnation at Ely cathedral did it beautifully - c.f. the excellent Michael Smythe recording of Dr. Arthur Wills on the 'Vista' label. I assume you meant British organ - I can think of several French instruments which would have done a superb job....!

 

Sic transit gloria....! (Well, I liked the 'French' H&H!)

 

Oh, MM, by the way - why 'troll'?

 

Are there hobbits near, too?

:lol:

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[troll]

 

Why on earth not? I could go along with you on the Ch octave, but suboctave couplers are of no musical use, least of all in the hands of those impervious to the missing pipes in the bottom octave. I make an honourable exception for loud French music, of course; the French knew how to use them properly. Personally I think organ builders should only make them on condition that the moment any key below tenor G is played they operate the general cancel piston.  :lol:

 

[/troll]

 

I am glad to hear it, Vox Humana!

 

Certainly, I found the effect of Octaves Graves sur GO at S. Etienne, Caen, very fine indeed - even when the full GO was employed; the French do not, of course, have such thick-toned basses to their (clavier) 16p reeds as we do here! I also did not find the action when used thus, unduly heavy.

 

Huzzah! for Charles Spackman Barker....

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Oh, MM, by the way - why 'troll'?
That was me! Troll: a usenet/forum member who posts deliberately inflammatory remarks. :lol: It was rather naughty of me and I humbly apologise to forum members - a bit.

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Guest yfd
Yes.

 

the two Diapasons - you say high pressure, but were they? They were respectively the first and fourth diapasons. They were added in 1899 on the old Solo soundboard at the top of the case. I understand that the bass pipes crowded the lower part of that case and the balance of the chorus was compromised (no stops above 8' were added). In the end it was decided to remove them and additionally this would help improve the layout and let the original chorus project better.

 

The Tibia was replaced with a new Claribel in 1946. No-one liked it so it was replaced with a Stopped Diap in 1972 and later a Claribel based on the one at Salisbury was added in the 1990s.

 

The Great Bourdon was removed - it was useless in the position it was in (below the console where it didn't manage to speak out or more crucially with any of the other Great stops) because there was never enough room for it on the Great soundboard, either in 1930 or 1972.

 

The Altar division was also apparently ineffective. It was originally a Fr Willis string organ (+Vox Humana), designed to accompany the priest singing at Bodley's High Altar and was positioned east of the main organ (this was destroyed in the 2nd world war). Meanwhile in the 1930s it was remade into a 'flute' organ by cutting the pipes down (one of the Vox Angelica ranks was made into the bass of the Choir Nazard in 1930 and they are still in the South Choir organ). After the war it was revoiced 50% louder to make an Echo organ (Willis II's description). Christopher Dearnley told me that it was still inaudible! So it was ditched.

 

Solo Chorus Mixtures - these were of no use - too loud in the Quire and the new Dome chorus superceded them.

 

Choir Koppelflute - I have been told that it was the old Harmonic Flute cut down and revoiced with new tops. No-one liked it and if the story is true its a bit of tatty organ building that has been tidied up. The Harmonic Flute was reinstated in the 1990s (as was the Choir Bourdon,  Principal and Corno di Bassetto).

 

Your information seems a bit out of date.

 

All this information is in an excellent book (ISBN 0 906894 28 X) I've mentioned elsewhere in replies to you. Buy the book.

 

To Whom It May Concern:

The book You suggest is interesting but NOT worth the high cost. Nevertheless it mentions the names of the organ consultation committee. Among them only one, the late Sir George Thalben Ball is quoted in the book as opposing the removing of the diapasons fron the great in the 1972-77 period from 4 total to only 2 total.

He being an old timer would have favoured a more foundational great department than the young bucks on that committee that shared the duties of advising the project. As to pressure there is no mention in the book at all of high versus low wind pressure on these added diapasons.It is unimaginable what more can be done to this organ other than basic maintenance and a dome recital console for balance as the book suggests. If any tonal developments should arise it would be surprising.

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
To Whom It May Concern:

The book You suggest is interesting but NOT worth the high cost. Nevertheless it mentions the names of the organ consultation committee. Among them only one, the late Sir George Thalben Ball is quoted in the book as opposing the removing of the diapasons fron the great in the 1972-77 period from 4 total to only 2 total.

He being an old timer would have favoured a more foundational great department than the young bucks on that committee that shared the duties of advising  the project. As to pressure there is no mention in the book at all of high versus low wind pressure on these added diapasons.It is unimaginable what more can be done to this organ other than basic maintenance and a dome recital console for balance as the book suggests. If any tonal developments should arise it would be surprising.

 

 

Dear yfd,

You really must meet Steve C. Bournias! You and he both come from the same part of the U.S.A. and both appear to hold the same opinions, or seem to. You can find his address (if you don't already know it) by carrying out a Google search as I have done.

 

He designs organs (amazingly compiled, extremely large ones) and acts as an agent for some organ builders.

 

Never having met either of you, (and I'm sure you are both delightful company) in print you seem to share the same tendency of assuming that 'everyone else is out of step'.

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Perhaps we could organise a meeting of these two gentlemen - now that would be really interesting....

B)

 

But, just for the record:

 

At the time of writing his article in 1948, W. L. Sumner gave the following information - which I have arranged as a list:

 

The GO Lieblich Bourdon, trebles of the Double Open Diapason, Open Diapason I (of IV) and Principal 2 (he probably meant '1') were voiced on a pressure of 125mm.

 

The former wooden Open Diapason (of V), added in the 1899-1900 rebuild, was only named Tibia between 1930-39.

 

My apologies - I will shortly continue with the rest of the list. I was slightly distracted by the fact that my actual toaster* had suddenly decided to throw bread halfway across the kitchen floor when it had finished cooking it.

* i.e. kitchen appliance - not electronic organ.

 

The 'Tibia' was indeed replaced by a Claribel Flute 8p (from c13 to the top) in 1946. Apparently it was modelled on the stop of the same name on the GO of Truro Cathedral (FHW 1887). However, since the St. Paul's rank was voiced on 90mm and the Truro stop on double this pressure, it is possible that they were not that alike. Certainly, I do like the sound of the Truro stop - if I had not known, I doubt that I would have guessed that it was on a high pressure - for a flue stop, at any rate.

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
I was slightly distracted by the fact that my actual toaster* had suddenly decided to throw bread halfway across the kitchen floor when it had finished cooking it.

* i.e. kitchen appliance - not electronic organ.[/color][/font]

 

 

 

Dear pcnd,

 

I've noticed you calling electronic organs 'toasters' before. I think you are the only one that does, however.

 

Please could I recommend the term

'organ-substitute' which I think is clearer, legally correct and equally offensive to the makers of organ-substitutes (which I know is what matters!)?.

 

I very nearly contacted Advertising Standards when Allens advertised themselves (a year or two ago now) on the back of the Church Times as the most successful organ builders in history!

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Dear pcnd,

 

I've noticed you calling electronic organs 'toasters' before.  I think you are the only one that does, however.

 

Well, there are others! But, I will endeavour to remember that on this board!

 

To be honest, having spent two years playing a supposedly 'good' example, I still think that 'toaster' is a fitting epithet! Perhaps we could compromise and call them' synthesisers' - which is also equally correct and, I suspect, equally irritating to the manufacturers of the things!

 

However, I agree regarding the advretisement for Allen Computer Organs - I am also not entirely sure that they have not stopped advretising. I seem to remember seeing one of their advertisements in a fairly recent issue of that esteemed organ.

 

 

B)

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Whilst not on the subject of the NPOR site, I am slightly amazed that it can note the destruction of a FHW organ (St. Peter's, Cranbourne, Windsor) which happened on 14th January of this year - yet it still has not updated the second set of corrections to my own organ, which I sent a few months ago!

 

B)

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Dear pcnd,

 

I've noticed you calling electronic organs 'toasters' before.  I think you are the only one that does, however.

 

Please could I recommend the term

'organ-substitute' which I think is clearer, legally correct and equally offensive to the makers of organ-substitutes (which I know is what matters!)?.

 

I very nearly contacted Advertising Standards when Allens advertised themselves (a year or two ago now) on the back of the Church Times as the most successful organ builders in history!

 

On reflection, I am happy with this!

 

I agree - it is the substance of your second paragraph that is the important thing!

 

B)

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Well, there are others! But, I will endeavour to remember that on this board!

 

To be honest, having spent two years playing a supposedly 'good' example, I still think that 'toaster' is a fitting epithet! Perhaps we could compromise and call them' synthesisers' - which is also equally correct and, I suspect, equally irritating to the manufacturers of the things!

 

However, I agree regarding the advretisement for Allen Computer Organs - I am also not entirely sure that they have not stopped advretising. I seem to remember seeing one of their advertisements in a fairly recent issue of that esteemed organ.

B)

 

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

 

This is a bit unfair. The hybrid pipes/electronic instrument has been around since the 1930's and the work of John Compton and his team. John Compton called his electronics "organs" and that remains the official description of such wonders.

 

A modern digital-organ is best described as a "simulator" rather than a synthesiser, and whilst all but the best are obviously electronic substitutes for the real thing, they have a place in the musical scheme of things.

 

On balance, I think I would prefer to live with a good digital-organ than some of the rubbish I've played over the years, but obviously, even the best are a poor relation to a quality pipe-organ.

 

MM

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Guest Barry Oakley
=========================

 

On balance, I think I would prefer to live with a good digital-organ than some of the rubbish I've played over the years, but obviously, even the best are a poor relation to a quality pipe-organ.

 

MM

 

I would go along with this. Whilst a real pipe organ would always be the preferred choice, a good pipeless organ, near-emulating the real thing, is infinitely better than a rubbish pipe organ or a rock band.

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Guest Lee Blick

Ugh, Steve. please only post under one person, otherwise I shall start adopting my Jennifer Bates, Virgil Fox and Father Willis personas. B)

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Guest Lee Blick

An 'Order of Merit' as far as musical accompanimental resources in a church would go like this?

 

1) A brand new Mander organ (naturally!)

2) A decent pipe organ by all other reputable organ builiders

3) A professional instrumental ensemble

4) A 'unit' pipe organ

5) A modern digital organ

6) A bad pipe organ by a dodgy local firm such as 'I. Bodgit and Sons'

7) A piano

8) A digital piano

9) An older analogue 'toaster'

10) A harmonium

11) A worship music group

12) A church teen goth 'praise' collective

13) A 1960's Bontempi/ casio keyboard

14) A tone deaf priest leading the singing

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Perhaps we could organise a meeting of these two gentlemen - now that would be really interesting....

B)

 

But, just for the record:

 

At the time of writing his article in 1948, W. L. Sumner gave the following information - which I have arranged as a list:

 

The GO Lieblich Bourdon, trebles of the Double Open Diapason, Open Diapason I (of IV) and Principal 2 (he probably meant '1') were voiced on a pressure of 125mm.

 

The former wooden Open Diapason (of V), added in the 1899-1900 rebuild, was only named Tibia between 1930-39.

 

The 'Tibia' was indeed replaced by a Claribel Flute 8p (from c13 to the top) in 1946. Apparently it was modelled on the stop of the same name on the GO of Truro Cathedral (FHW 1887). However, since the St. Paul's rank was voiced on 90mm and the Truro stop on double this pressure, it is possible that they were not that alike. Certainly, I do like the sound of the Truro stop - if I had not known, I doubt that I would have guessed that it was on a high pressure - for a flue stop, at any rate.

 

It's all a bit odd, isn't it?

 

I remember reading that bit of information too, but it doesn't quite stack up from the information I gleaned whilst I worked there.

 

When Willis first built the organ in 1872 the Great (and also the Swell) pipes sat in two storeys, as they do now. On the top level sat the 3 Great reeds and the Solo organ (2 small soundboards I think, one for the 8' and 4' Flutes plus the two small reeds and the other for the 8' and 4' Tubas).

 

In the next rebuild (1899) the softer stops were moved to the much enlarged new Solo division on bay further east, with the pipes of the Pedal organ, whilst the Great reeds and the Tubas remained. The old soundboard for the removed stops was reused and two new Great Diapasons (Nos I and IV) were placed on it. Actually the old Solo 8' Harmonic Flute bass pipes - 10 pipes in all - were the pipes facing east and west in the sides of the case and they just became the bass of the new Open Diapason IV. (They were still marked as Harmonic Flute pipes when they were removed in the 1970s.) This layout remained until the 1970s.

 

It was all very cramped up there which is why the two extra Diapasons were removed in the end (and it still is, even though now there are only the Great reeds and the Tubas at this level).

 

The rest of the Great pipes (all the original stops except one) remained on the soundboard on the level below and it could be assumed that they were not altered or moved around. So it's impossible to guess whether there were several different wind pressures but it seems unlikely that Opens I and IV, being on the same chest, were on different wind pressures. And the Great Double Open and Principal were on the lower chest. A bit of mystery but I think not really that important.

 

I never understood the Wood Open Diapason thing either. It appeared on the organ in 1899, and the same stop seemed to become a Tibia, as you say, in the 1930 restoration of the organ after its five year sojourn in the Nave.

 

There was a Claribel on the Great in 1872. That seems to have disappeared in 1899, but there is no mention of its pipes either staying or going.

 

The history is all a bit blurry but maybe someone knows what actually happened.

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