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Guest Lee Blick

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Guest Lee Blick

Talking about digital organs on a pipe organ discussion board might not be politically correct but I have observed two developments I have seen on the internet that could have an effect on pipe organ builders.

 

My first observation concerns a prolific pipe organ builder in the US. The company is offering a range of digital organs as way for churches not able to afford a pipe organ initially. The idea is that pipe ranks can be added gradually to the digital instrument,

 

My second observation is that over the last few years a number of sites have sprouted up offering digital sampling of organ stops for use with MIDI instruments (i.e. keyboards) and musical sampling/production computer software. One website is selling MIDI compatible full length pedals and stools. Presumably this allows home enthusiasts to stack two midi keyboards together with a pedal board to form a home organ.

 

I have a couple questions:

 

I know there are already hybrid instruments available but could an initial digital set-up with a system of pipes gradually installed over time be viable for organ builders to offer?

 

Such a system could help smaller/poor churches if the development was spread over a period of time, perhaps coupled with a development programme for attracting new young organists.

 

To keep the art of classical organ playing alive in this country, is it not time for pipe organ builders to look at providing affordable, small practice instruments for the home? Something more compact, not necessarily to RCO console dimensions?

 

I’m not interested in the pipe organ sounds better than the digital organ debate. This has been played over many times, but what I am interested in, is a debate based on whether the new technologies available could have an effect on the organ building industry, both pipe and digital.

 

I believe that such new technologies could help reverse the decline of classical organ playing in this country but I would like to hear your views.

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Talking about digital organs on a pipe organ discussion board might not be politically correct but I have observed two developments I have seen on the internet that could have an effect on pipe organ builders.

 

My first observation concerns a prolific pipe organ builder in the US. The company is offering a range of digital organs as way for churches not able to afford a pipe organ initially.  The idea is that pipe ranks can be added gradually to the digital instrument,

 

My second observation is that over the last few years a number of sites have sprouted up offering digital sampling of organ stops for use with MIDI instruments (i.e. keyboards) and musical sampling/production computer software.  One website is selling MIDI compatible full length pedals and stools.  Presumably this allows home enthusiasts to stack two midi keyboards together with a pedal board to form a home organ.

 

I have a couple questions:

 

I know there are already hybrid instruments available but could an initial digital set-up with a system of pipes gradually installed over time be viable for organ builders to offer?

 

Such a system could help smaller/poor churches if the development was spread over a period of time, perhaps coupled with a development programme for attracting new young organists.

 

To keep the art of classical organ playing alive in this country, is it not time for pipe organ builders to look at providing affordable, small practice instruments for the home?  Something more compact, not necessarily to RCO console dimensions?

 

I’m not interested in the pipe organ sounds better than the digital organ debate.  This has been played over many times, but what I am interested in, is a debate based on whether the new technologies available could have an effect on the organ building industry, both pipe and digital.

 

I believe that such new technologies could help reverse the decline of classical organ playing in this country but I would like to hear your views.

 

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

 

 

I don't want to be negative about the real value of the questions raised, but is this not an example of placing the cart before the horse?

 

How many ranks of pipes do you need to fill a large cathedral with sound?

 

Let's try the following:-

 

8, 4, IV rk Mixture, Trompettes at 16 & 8

 

Pedal: 16ft Flue + 16ft Bombarde

 

That's ten ranks.

 

The £3,360,000 question (That's $6,000,000 dollars at forward spot rate) is whether a digital organ would cost more than or less than ten ranks of pipes; thus leaving the option open for additional ranks or micro-chips as funds allow.

 

Sorry to be so inverse in my thinking.

 

MM

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To keep the art of classical organ playing alive in this country, is it not time for pipe organ builders to look at providing affordable, small practice instruments for the home?  Something more compact, not necessarily to RCO console dimensions?

 

This is a fascinating question, Lee!

 

I think that this could be a really bad idea - whilst the bulk of a console can be reduced, changing the dimensions between keys and pedals, etc could be unwise.

,

There are sound reasons why the present, reasonably standard, dimensions have been in force for so long - they work!

 

Notwithstanding the fact that a number of instruments in this country now have flat, straight or flat and straight pedal-boards, altering the relationship between the key bench and upper surface of the pedals - or the vertical (or horizontal) alignment simply to make a console more compact seems to me to be fraught with pitfalls.

 

Insofar as the idea of digital organs being installed and then replaced piecemeal by actual ranks of pipes - in my view this is also likely to 'open a can of worms' as it were.

 

Firstly, the quoted cost of ranks on a new (pipe) organ normally includes a percentage of the cost of the building frame, soundboards, wind supply, action, console, etc. Therefore, a price of, for example, £11,000 - £18,000 per stop (depending on which builder was going to carry-out the work) would also provide the aforementioned components.

 

If one were going gradually to add pipework to a digital instrument, it would need to be decided first on the desired number of pipe-ranks, in order to construct the windchests of the correct dimensions - and, initially, to allow sufficient floor-space and height for the completed instrument.

 

Whilst the digital instrument was still in service, there would be, in all probability, tuning problems with any pipe ranks. I know that there are some sophisticated random de-tuning programmes around - and others, like the system used ob Rodgers (?), which senses the exact pitch of the pipe-work and adjusts the digital ranks accordingly. However, I think that it would be better still to spend the money on a real pipe organ.

 

A far better solution, in my view, is to save a worthy redundant organ from the scrap-heap - and spend the money restoring it. Whilst (according to Steve Bournias) there may not be a viable trade in redundant organs on the U.S., there are a number of instruments in this country - with the possibility of this number increasing exponentially to the number of churches facing closure. In fact, in the not-too-distant-future, there may well be a rather good four-clavier vintage H&H available.

 

Incidentally, regaring this instrument, I sincerely hope that, if the RCO does ever achieve its stated aim of building a new concert and examination hall, this instrument could be saved from possible destruction and installed - instead of yet another foreign organ -worthy though they may be.

 

(I have nothing against foreign instruments, per se; however I am of the opinion that for a national institution of some importance, not 'buying British' sends the wrong message to the organ world in general.)

 

With reference to MM's post - I believe that I know the point at which he is driving, but I would be a little unhappy to have to play the ten-rank instrument which he proposes. Yes, it would probably be adequate to support a goodly number of singers - but as an accompanimental instrument, a rather greater financial outlay would be required, in order to provide a number of other (necessary) quieter stops.

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Talking about digital organs on a pipe organ discussion board might not be politically correct but I have observed two developments I have seen on the internet that could have an effect on pipe organ builders.

 

My first observation concerns a prolific pipe organ builder in the US. The company is offering a range of digital organs as way for churches not able to afford a pipe organ initially.  The idea is that pipe ranks can be added gradually to the digital instrument,

 

My second observation is that over the last few years a number of sites have sprouted up offering digital sampling of organ stops for use with MIDI instruments (i.e. keyboards) and musical sampling/production computer software.  One website is selling MIDI compatible full length pedals and stools.  Presumably this allows home enthusiasts to stack two midi keyboards together with a pedal board to form a home organ.

 

I have a couple questions:

 

I know there are already hybrid instruments available but could an initial digital set-up with a system of pipes gradually installed over time be viable for organ builders to offer?

 

Such a system could help smaller/poor churches if the development was spread over a period of time, perhaps coupled with a development programme for attracting new young organists.

 

To keep the art of classical organ playing alive in this country, is it not time for pipe organ builders to look at providing affordable, small practice instruments for the home?  Something more compact, not necessarily to RCO console dimensions?

 

I’m not interested in the pipe organ sounds better than the digital organ debate.  This has been played over many times, but what I am interested in, is a debate based on whether the new technologies available could have an effect on the organ building industry, both pipe and digital.

 

I believe that such new technologies could help reverse the decline of classical organ playing in this country but I would like to hear your views.

 

Hi

 

Althoguh I've heard of the Rogers pipe + electronics organs, I've not heard one in the flesh - the closest is a couple of hybrid organs near here. The most recent is at Addingham Parish Church - a rebuild of a typical English country-church organ with digital additions using the Bradford system. The end result is reasonable - but on careful listening, the digital ranks can be identified - at least when played in isolation. Also, despite the automatic temperature sensors, the tuning wasn't spot-on until manually adjusted.

 

The other local instrument is Bradford cathedral, which has an older Bradford System Nave department - about 15 years old, and currently unplayable - I suspect that it's life-expired, which to me seem to be the major problem with mixing technologies.

 

Regarding the practice console, take a look at the articlew "Recreating Lost Organs" on http://www.pykett.org.uk/ (it's under the "publications" tab.)

 

I'm hoping to put something similar together to use with Haupwerke and Mitizer, for home use. The problem I have at present is finding an affordable MIDI encoder for a pedalboard. I'd be interested to know who manufactures the full-size ones that you mention (off lst if you prefer) - I've only found a 13-note MIDI pedalboard so far.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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Pershore Abbey, in Worcestershire, currently has a slightly strange 3-manual Bradford digital organ. (Strange because there's no swell-choir coupler.) This replaced a 3-manual Walker organ some years ago.

 

As I understand it, the Bradford organ is going to be replaced with a hybrid (part pipe, part digital) organ with Allen providing the console and the digital ranks, I can't remember who was supplying the pipes but I think it was an non-UK (possibly scandinavian?) builder.

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Interestingly, at the time that Pershore Abbey threw out their pipe organ, the Vicar (Rector?) was the Rev. Michael Tristram - who is, I believe, the son of Geoffrey Tristram, former Organist of Christchurch Priory.

 

I shall leave you to draw your own conclusions.... (he muttered darkly).

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I know there are already hybrid instruments available but could an initial digital set-up with a system of pipes gradually installed over time be viable for organ builders to offer?
At the practical level, the future addition of pipes would never materialise. Well, hardly ever. On existing pipe organs, how many "prepared for" stops ever get put in? If the initial electronic is sufficient to meet the churches needs, the church is probably not going to be interested in spending more money on it. So if the organist wants any pipe additions he is probably going to have to raise the money himself.

 

I've played this instrument in the states. About half of it is digital. It was almost impossible to tell which was which. The reeds were electronic, though you probably would not guess if you didn't know. One class of flue stops was also electronic. I think it was the flutes - or was it the strings? I couldn't tell.

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Ah, but I know what caused mine: I hit the reply button instead of the edit one.

 

I know it's teaching granny to suck eggs and I'm not sure it's technically possible for it to be the problem either, but might it be that you're double-clicking the "add reply" button instead of single-clicking it?

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Hmmm.... I do not think so. I think that the trouble usually starts when I am editing - or have edited. My computer appears not to like the 'Preview post' function - and in any case, I often find it easier to notice mistakes when the post appears on its normal background, etc. I suppose this is a little like those who prefer to print documents and letters in order to proof-read them, because they find it easier than spotting mistakes on a computer screen.

 

However, I will be careful to click the 'add reply' button once only and see how I get on.

 

Thank you for the suggestion, Vox Humana.

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As am I!

 

Even worse, are the times when I notice mistakes in parts of my posts which have been quoted by other contributors. Obviously, I am quite unable to change them....

 

I find that this is like sitting through a long boring sermon - over which I have no control.

 

I have requested a trap-door in the floor of the pulpit, with the control switch n the organ loft - so far, to no avail.

 

Before Rev. Newnham sends a fiery missive suggesting the opposite - I do not keep people waiting for in excess of twenty minutes when I am playing the organ. Honestly, if I were to improvise in a public competition the way some visiting preachers drone on, I would be disqualified for meandering.

 

Personally (and speaking as a teacher), I am not convinced that the average person is able to concentrate effectively for this length of time. I also doubt whether one could remember the content of a sermon of this length.

 

Anyway, I shall stop ranting, since this thread was not, I believe, about long sermons.

 

On the other hand, if anyone elso out there has any thoughts on the matter, perhaps it might be worth starting a new thread.

 

On that note....

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I have requested a trap-door in the floor of the pulpit, with the control switch n the organ loft - so far, to no avail.
Perhaps you'd have more luck requesting one of those stops they have at Ratzeburg - you know, the one that opens a drinks draw when you pull it. I've never come across one of those, though I did once know an organ with an ash tray.
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Perhaps you'd have more luck requesting one of those stops they have at Ratzeburg - you know, the one that opens a drinks draw when you pull it. I've never come across one of those, though I did once know an organ with an ash tray.

 

Now that sounds like a capital idea! (The mini-bar, not the ashtray.)

 

How about a 'Choir to Pub' stop?

 

:)

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
Interestingly, at the time that Pershore Abbey threw out their pipe organ, the Vicar (Rector?) was the Rev. Michael Tristram - who is, I believe, the son of Geoffrey Tristram, former Organist of Christchurch Priory.

 

I shall leave you to draw your own conclusions.... (he muttered darkly).

 

 

I'm afraid that, strange though all this already sounds, there is stranger to tell about the situtation at Pershore.

The adviser on the installation of an electronic organ-substitute*, the scrapping of the former pipe organ and the designer of the Bradford referred to above was none other than the great John Norman, (former HN&:) he of the high moral tone, unequalled expertise etc. etc.

 

The complete proposals drawn up for Pershore Abbey specified

1. A 'French Style' Bradford organ-substitute down in the church (replacing a much rebuilt but still potentially fine 3-manual J.W.Walker) and

2. A new tracker organ in a gallery at the West End. To date there is no sight nor sound of this one.

 

It is possible that a fee was payable to John Norman for his work designing this 'stand-in' for a musical instrument.

If so, this puts him IMHO some way lower down than Peter Collins who, for his collaboration with Allens, was publicly thrown off the prestigious organ builders' federation (or whatever it is now called). Do tell me, someone knowledgeable, is John Norman still a council member of that august body? If not, he certainly used to be!

 

*Not unconnected with this, I believe that there has been a pretty quick turn-over of musicians since the new 'instrument' went in - a far cry from the days of Rodney Baldwin and the Pershore Organ Festival!

 

Someone ought to carry out a study of how long organists (on average) remain in post after an electronic organ goes in. My guess is that there is much less real satisfaction with these solutions long term in a church (as apart from home) context.

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Good grief!

 

I am genuinely shocked to read this, Paul.

 

If this is true, then I am afraid that any respect which I may have had for certain people has now been tainted with disgust at yet another example of under-handed dealings.

 

With reference to Geoffrey Tristram, I have heard from at least two individuals that he and the Rector at the time both received some financial remuneration for persuading thier church to purchase a pipeless organ from a certain firm. I further understood that Geoffrey Tristram became involved in the company concerned, in the form of a board member, or some such position.

 

A point to bear in mind: These stories are un-substantiated as far as I am concerned. However, it would be difficult to do so. Geoffrey Tristram has been dead for over twenty years and it is not the sort of thing one could just telephone the organ builders and ask!

 

It must be said that I always found the maintenance engineers (or whatever one should call them) courteous and helpful when they came to sort out problems - which they did frequently. As far as I understand, the church never had to pay for any of these visits - it was all part of the original deal.

 

I hesitate to mention the name of a certain much-discussed cathedral again, but I have wondered (on more than one occasion) if, in about two to three years' time, we shall see a particular cathedral organist driving around the Malverns in a shiny new Porsche 911....

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As am I!

I find that this is like sitting through a long boring sermon - over which I have no control.

 

I have requested a trap-door in the floor of the pulpit, with the control switch n the organ loft - so far, to no avail.

 

Before Rev. Newnham sends a fiery missive suggesting the opposite - I do not keep people waiting for in excess of twenty minutes when I am playing the organ. Honestly, if I were to improvise in a public competition the way some visiting preachers drone on, I would be disqualified for meandering.

 

Personally (and speaking as a teacher), I am not convinced that the average person is able to concentrate effectively for this length of time. I also doubt whether one could remember the content of a sermon of this length.

 

 

 

Hi

 

I quite agree - to communicate efectively, the congregation's attention needs to be "regained" every few minutes. I trust my sermons are NOT boring (and they rarely last for more than 20 minutes - often much less, depends on what I have to say!)

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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Indeed - I am glad to hear that, Rev. Newnham! Although sometimes it is best to do as somebody once said; "Stand up, speak up - and then shut up!"

 

Not that I am referring to you, sir!

 

Now if only I can persuade the congregation to sit and listen to the outgoing voluntary - which is, of course, part of the service.... We occasionally schedule short organ recitals for after Evensong and find that it works best if we lock the doors during the service, in order that we shall have a good number to listen to the recital....

 

:D

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Guest Barry Oakley
Now that sounds like a capital idea! (The mini-bar, not the ashtray.)

:D

 

If you ever get the chance to play the Sixsmith-rebuilt 4-manual Hill at St Paul's, Newcastle-under-Lyme, you will find that the drawstop "Tibia Liquida" opens up a small cocktail cabinet above the Swell and Pedal jambs complete with lead crystal glasses and a small array of miniatures.

 

Who was it who said they would not have a stop labelled Tibia on their console!

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
Hi

 

I quite agree - to communicate efectively, the congregation's attention needs to be "regained" every few minutes.  I trust my sermons are NOT boring (and they rarely last for more than 20 minutes - often much less, depends on what I have to say!)

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

 

 

Tony will know...........

 

I have a theory that it is harder to write a good, complete and convincing 10-minute sermon than it is to go on for twenty minutes.

This theory explains, to my satisfaction, why so many feel it necessary to go on some good long while after most of the rest of us have stopped listening.

 

No offence is hereby intended to any clergy for whom I have worked since my first post in 1972, but I have soon found out which ones are going to have a point at all, able to reach it, present it well and then stop. There are not many clergy who seem capable of this, I regret to say.

 

I wish it were something which Theological College would teach them, but no, it isn't.

When you chat (as I have done) to some of those recently ordained there is quite a horror story to learn.

Once again, correct me if I am wrong, but I have been given to understand that in a total of three years of study, it is quite possible to receive less than a day (in total) covering the role of music in worship and none at all on the general presentation of 'liturgy' i.e. how to take a service!

 

I think that their time is mostly spent in Bible study and those training our future clergy assume that they will learn everything else in their first and second curacies.

 

I believe my best clergy have very largely been 're-treads' - i,.e. they have managed to survive like ordinary mortals in civvy street first. Is this common experience amongst others? The worst ones were career clergymen, not keen to mix with the rest of us and convinced that they were born to be God's local representative. Papal-style infallibility is common to this class of men/women.

 

I have a favourite quote from Roy Massey, I'm sure he wouldn't mind me repeating it here:

 

'I love the Lord, but I can't stand his friends!'

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