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Digital Futures....?

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Having "lurked" on this highly informative forum for some time now, I've finally decided to take the plunge and post! Please treat me gently, for my subject is somewhat contentious.....

 

I should perhaps first explain that although I'm somewhat "out of the loop" as an organist these days, not having held a post for the last twelve years or so, I have in the past had the privilege of playing many fine instruments in this country, particulrly in my university days when "visiting choir" duties allowed me to accompany services at several cathedrals. These day much of my work involves using computer technolgy to produce music, orchestral arrangements, scores etc.

 

Everyone who posts here is obviously a lover of the organ, as I am myself, so please be assured that I'm not trying to start some sort of "pipe v digital" argument here, since that would be shot down in flames very rapidly, and deservedly so. However, as technology advances, I think we would be foolish to argue that digital organs not only HAVE improved vastly, but will continue to do so.

There are certainly issues with regard to harmonic development as touched on by Mr. Mander in the thread on Southwell Minster, but given the accuracy of current digital sampling, I'm inclined to think that the main problems are in reproducing the sound to the listener, i.e. loudspeaker systems.

 

My question, therefore, is -

 

a) can we forsee a point where a point where digital technology faithfully reproduces the sound of pipes, and

b)if a) is is achievable in theory, what are the implications for traditional organbuilding given that electronics will become cheaper as the cost of craftsmanship and materials rises?

 

I hope this won't just produce a lot of sniping from entrenched positions - I see this as the biggest threat to the organ as we currently know ( and love ) it.

 

Thoughts.......?

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... My question, therefore, is -

 

a) can we forsee a point where a point where digital technology faithfully reproduces the sound of pipes, and

b)if a) is is achievable in theory, what are the implications for traditional organbuilding given that electronics will become cheaper as the cost of craftsmanship and materials rises?

 

I hope this won't just produce a lot of sniping from entrenched positions - I see this as the biggest threat to the organ as we currently know ( and love ) it.

 

Thoughts.......?

 

Welcome, Keyplayer!

 

It is an interesting point.

 

To be honest, I personally do not think so. There is one vital difference which, as far as I know, no-one has yet mentioned: No electronic substitute 'moves the air' - physically, that is.

 

It is late, and I am due in at school at 07h45 in the morning. However, I will try to explain myself.

 

I have played a fair number of electronic organs, including those by such firms as Viscount, Norwich, Copeman Hart, Allen, Makin, Rodgers, etc. These had been installed (either permanantly or temporarily) in a variety of buildings - from Gloucester Cathedral to the chapel of a preparatory school.

 

To my ears, there was, in every case, something missing. At first, I could not think what it was. Then, one day I concluded that, however 'realistic' the sound and however clever the random de-tuning, etc, was - the sound was 'dead'. This was particularly true when these organs were played loudly - in each case, I found that I got a headache after prolonged playing (not just at full organ, I hasten to add!) The Rodgers in the Quire at Gloucester was the worst offender in this.

 

However, when playing a pipe organ - however large, I have never experienced this phenomenon - not even at N.-D., although my ears did distort!

 

I decided that it was in some way connected with the point I mentioned regarding 'moving the air'.

 

Sorry, it is not a good explanation, but it is the best that I can manage, tonight!

 

I hope that this helps.

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Guest Lee Blick

I predict the next thing that will shape digital organs will be small individual cube or rectangle shaped speakers available for each stop. It will enable speaker placement to mirror real soundboard placements and allow for better spacial depth of choruses.

 

Another development that would benefit both digital and traditional pipe organs is 'wireless connection'. No longer would there be the need for long cables between console and organ case. This could enable the console to be moved or sited anywhere in the building.

 

Computerisation could aid pipe organs of the future. No longer would you need a tuner and his mate to press the notes on the keyboard. The tuner would be able to do that from a hand-held device. Organists would be able to shut off cyphering pipes through the same device.

 

I reckon there could be a revolution concerning console design. Already several digital organ manufacturers are using different stop controls. You only have to look at the development of the home theatre organ/keyboard designs over the last 20 years to see that it will only be a question of time before digital makers and finally pipe organbuilders will start to change.

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I reckon there could be a revolution concerning console design.  Already several digital organ manufacturers are using different stop controls.  You only have to look at the development of the home theatre organ/keyboard designs over the last 20 years to see that it will only be a question of time before digital makers and finally pipe organbuilders will start to change.

 

Personally I think that this would be a shame. You cannot beat a really elegant draw-stop console!

 

Personally, I dislike stop-keys, rocking tablets, luminous light-touches, buttons!* etc.

 

 

 

* BLEAH!!

 

:)

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Guest Lee Blick

pcnd. I agree with you, there is nothing like a traditional drawstop RCO standard console.

 

But there would be a demand particularly for organs in people's homes where a more compact design would be required. The organ I am getting for my flat uses smaller lighted drawstop stops and this alone enables the console to be not quite so high. I would not be able to get a traditional console comfortably into the room.

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
      My question, therefore, is -

 

a) can we forsee a point where a point where digital technology faithfully reproduces the sound of pipes, and

b)if a) is is achievable in theory, what are the implications for traditional organbuilding given that electronics will become cheaper as the cost of craftsmanship and materials rises?

 

 

Thoughts.......?

 

 

 

This is a worthwhile topic for discussion. There is no question that the organ-substitute manufacturers have got a whole lot closer to the correct sound. Only a few years ago, it seemed impossible to get a 'pipe-organ-like' build up on an electronic and 8' stops on their own were extremely dull. This time has largely gone.

 

I would say that a lot of these instruments can now do the job more-or-less adequately.

 

Two contributors above have suggested that it is loudspeaker technology that really needs to move forward. pcnd defines it well - somehow the sound, although now a very good imitation (even on relatively cheap electronics) still does not sound 'real' in the room.

 

You still have the choice, it seems to me, of listening to music that is with you in the room or listening to the equivalent of a very faithful recording. Mind you, one day there will be a leap in speaker technology, you can count on it. For instance, the makers of Bose Radios seem to know something that (so far) electronic organ manufacturers don't.

 

Even when the best speakers have finally arrived and the sound produced by electronics also appears 'real' in the room...there is still the philosophy of the whole thing.

 

We could all live perfectly well by drinking nothing but water. Nobody on earth (once weaned) needs anything else. Mind you, who would choose to live without their favorite drink, be it tea, coffee, wine, beer, cider, cola? Because we are fortunate enough to have the choice, we choose to substitute water (adequate though it is to our needs) with something with that bit more character!

 

Where money is the paramount consideration, I expect more and more purchasers to go for the organ-substitute because the impression is pretty good - if you're really not that bothered about the effect. If you want the real experience - and that includes a congregation who really want to sing their hearts out and be led by a musical instrument - there is nothing to beat real pipes that are actually in the room with you.

 

Organists are not plentiful and are unlikely ever to become so. It is worth bearing in mind that when organists have the choice I am sure that most would choose to play a real organ, something with individuality and character. A church with a good pipe organ is likely (both now and long term) to have a better chance of finding a musician to lead their worship.

 

The future IMHO:

A church that wants good music

A musician who wants pleasure from his/her practice instrument

An educational institution that aspires to high standards

 

......will not settle for water when they can save up and get wine.

 

Maybe, and this is often the point of this forum, they will have to settle for just a little wine instead of a lot of water.

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Guest yfd
This is a worthwhile topic for discussion.  There is no question that the organ-substitute manufacturers have got a whole lot closer to the correct sound.  Only a few years ago, it seemed impossible to get a 'pipe-organ-like' build up on an electronic and 8' stops on their own were extremely dull.  This time has largely gone.

 

I would say that a lot of these instruments can now do the job more-or-less adequately.

 

Two contributors above have suggested that it is loudspeaker technology that really needs to move forward. pcnd defines it well - somehow the sound, although  now a very good imitation (even on relatively cheap electronics) still does not sound 'real' in the room.

 

You still have the choice, it seems to me, of listening to music that is with you in the room or listening to the equivalent of a very faithful recording.  Mind you, one day there will be a leap in speaker technology, you can count on it.  For instance, the makers of Bose Radios seem to know something that (so far) electronic organ manufacturers don't.

 

Even when the best speakers have finally arrived and the sound produced by electronics also appears 'real' in the room...there is still the philosophy of the whole thing. 

 

We could all live perfectly well by drinking nothing but water. Nobody on earth (once weaned) needs anything else. Mind you, who would choose to live without their favorite drink, be it tea, coffee, wine, beer, cider, cola?  Because we are fortunate enough to have the choice, we choose to substitute water (adequate though it is to our needs) with something with that bit more character!

 

Where money is the paramount consideration, I expect more and more purchasers to go for the organ-substitute because the impression is pretty good - if you're really not that bothered about the effect. If you want the real experience - and that includes a congregation who really want to sing their hearts out and be led by a musical instrument - there is nothing to beat real pipes that are actually in the room with you

 

Organists are not plentiful and are unlikely ever to become so. It is worth bearing in mind that when organists have the choice I am sure that most would choose to play a real organ, something with individuality and character. A church with a good pipe organ is likely (both now and long term) to have a better chance of finding a musician to lead their worship.

 

The future IMHO:

A church that wants good music

A musician who wants pleasure from his/her practice instrument

An educational institution that aspires to high standards

 

......will not settle for water when they can save up and get wine.

 

Maybe, and this is often the point of this forum, they will have to settle for just a little wine instead of a lot of water.

 

 

digital=synthesizer

 

if someone wantsa nice synthesizer then go ahead and spend plenty of lute on a nice model with a pipe organ console attached to fool people into thinking that their synthesizer is a musical instrument that generates sound independently.

it matters not if speaker tech improves a millon times. what are u sending thru those super duper speakers? synthetic sampled sounds some from various parts of a compass of a real organ and others perhaps from pipe to pipe but it is still fake.

 

so do u want a real painting by a famous artist to grace ur home or will a k-mart special be ok? is real dairy what u expect or is soy acceptable? want a steinway full concert grand at carnegie hall to hear horowitz? ah no y bother? we have this gizmo from emenee chord organ co that now makes electric pianos.

 

once we let down our standards to anything less than a real honest to ggodness wind-blown pipe organ and instead prefer oscillations of electricity to appropriate music we have abandoned the cause we started out to champion and have let it down and joined the opposition who dont care. if they did they wouldnt copy pipe organs in their appearance or sound but would create their own unique genre. they bash pipe organs to kingdom come but imitate them at the same time. the ago went to the famed smithsonian in washington dc and a proud guide said to them here is opus 1 of the hammond collection dared 1935. then to everyones utter disbelief one person shouted when are they bringing the rest of them in? hahahahahaha

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      My question, therefore, is -

 

a) can we forsee a point where a point where digital technology faithfully reproduces the sound of pipes, and

b)if a) is is achievable in theory, what are the implications for traditional organbuilding given that electronics will become cheaper as the cost of craftsmanship and materials rises?

 

Thoughts.......?

 

I think it is entirely credible that digital organs will become indistiguishable from the real thing in terms of the sound - although I agree that significant developments in speaker technology may be needed.

 

However, to me, this still leaves a fundamental problem. Digital organs are extremely good at imitation; but what happens if there is nothing left to imitate? Pipe organs have evolved to their present form as a lot of very clever and artistic builders have found new ways of making and voicing pipes, and designing the associated wind system etc. If there were no, or very few, new pipe organs then it seems to me that there will be little further evolutionary development of this instrument. Digital organs will be stuck with imitating Hill, Willis, Mander, Tickell etc, but there will be nothing new.

 

And if digital organs were to evolve in their own right, then I guess they would very quickly start to sound nothing like a pipe organ - because the same constraints in terms of what pipes can be made to do would no longer be there. Of course this might not be a problem - and might be seen as more "honest" - unless you happen to like pipe organs, and their imitations, as I do.

 

JJK

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Whatever the arguments for and against digital organs in churches, they most certainly have a place in the home as practice instruments.

 

Has anyone heard any of the Hauptwerk samples live? I know of one electronic organ builder who is very excited about the latest version. Most of the mp3s on the web sound almost indistinguishable from CDs of the real thing, but then, coming out of loudspeakers at at CD quality they would, wouldn't they? The proof of the pudding, however, will be in the eating, not in the cookery book.

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Greetings,

 

I can't help but think that in the end, the digital instrument still won't hold the sort of value as a tracker instrument. The pipe organ seems to have the edge in the way of longevity and infinite renewability; and plastic is still plastic and will return to its natural state. More importantly, the pipe organ is still and ever shall be an accoustic instrument, so the best the digital instrument can hope to do is to immitate that.

 

It is rather interesting that within the audio world, we find that many engineers and musicians prefer reel-to-reel tape and tube pre-amplifiers to their digital counterparts - while there are countless digital devices and even software programs to add the "warmth" of the older analog devices, there is still a discernable difference to ears at various levels of training. A similar situation is evident with the Hammond organ, where the digitalists have achieved a remarkable level of realism in their immitations.

 

There seems to be a glut of 19th century trackers available in the US at all times, and I would choose any one of them first over a digital.

 

Best,

 

Nathan

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I do not believe the deficiency is merely in speaker technology. I think there are also problems with the signal being pumped into the speakers.

 

When you play through a rank of pipes on even a distinguished instrument in good condition, every pipe has a slightly different sound - often most noticeable in the starting transients of flutes, finishing transients of reeds and the vvvvvvvv sound that most diapasons make (which I am pretty sure is at frequencies unrelated to the musical note they sound).

 

Secondly, the sound from each pipe in a real pipe organ comes from a different part of the building from every other pipe, and is modified by the building in a slightly different way. This never happens with speakers.

 

There is also the interaction between pipes, which means that the sound of a note sounded with several ranks drawn is not merely the sum of the sounds of the individual ranks. Effects such as the pipes drawing each other into tune, and the additional momentary drop in pressure in the channel under the pallet when many stops are drawn means the the whole is not merely the sum of the parts. It is a highly non-linear system.

 

Finally, there is the small matter of the brain's involvement in hearing. There is a discussion going on in PIPORG-L as to whether you can hear beats if you hear (say) 440Hz in one ear and 441Hz in the other (using headphones, for instance). Apparently you can, but you hear them at twice the speed you would expect. The usual physical explanation for beats relies on the fact that the sum of the pressure levels of a 440 and 441 Hz sound is physical the same as 440.5Hz varying in volume (modulated) at 1 Hz. But when listening through headphones to one pitch in one ear and a slightly different pitch in the other, the sound waves never meet in order to interact in this way. Clearly there are things going on in the brain that we don't understand. I am not claiming that it is something that can't be explained by physics - but for sure it can't be explained by the simple physics of the superposition of two sine waves. Again, it is probably quite non-linear.

 

That said, I do believe there is a place for electronic instruments. There is a small church near here that has a poor pipe organ crammed into a side chapel that barely communicates with the rest of the building. Even if they could afford a new pipe organ, it would be criminal to put it in that chamber, whilst there is neither the floor space nor the headroom to erect an organ in the body of the church without re-ordering it (again, and quite radically!).

 

Has anybody ever heard an electronic piano that exactly emulates what a real piano does? You would think this was a much simpler task than emulating the sound of an organ, yet I have never heard a truly convincing emulation, even in top of the range electronic pianos. They usually fall down on sympathetic resonance. You never get the same effect by pressing down the sustaining pedal in mid-chord that a real piano produces. And there is a piece called "Harmonics" in Bartok's Mikrokosmos that is unplayable on any electronic piano I have ever seen. In this piece, you hold down major triads silently with the left hand. The right hand plays the note an octave below the root, staccato and ff, then plays a melody above the chord.

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My church is about to take delivery of a new digital instrument. I heartily agree that there is no substitute for real pipe sound, but irrespective of the cost argument, which is complex, some ancient buildings pose real difficulties in finding a location for a pipe instrument - but I'm getting off the point.

 

In my researches before placing the contract for our new organ, which by-the-by is being custom built by Wyvern Organs, I went to some lengths to try out "state of the art" offerings from everyone you would expect up to and including Copeman-Hart. As other correspondents have suggested, many of these instruments, even some of the most expensive, cause headaches within quite a short period. I've no idea why this should be, but I've certainly suffered as a result. The quality of sound differs dramatically too. In no particular order, you could not mistake an Eminent for a Copeman-Hart, or a Rodgers for a Makin, or a Wyvern for a Viscount.

 

So, what am I trying to say? There is still a long way to go before even the best pipe organ can come near to replicating the experience of a good pipe organ. Having said that, there are many dreadful, dull, heavy, pipe organs in village churches which are of little merit, and we as a body are sometimes dishonest in suggesting that any pipe organ is by its very nature a better and more musical proposition than any digital instrument.

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Having "lurked" on this highly informative forum for some time now, I've finally decided to take the plunge and post! Please treat me gently, for my subject is somewhat contentious.....

 

 

a) can we forsee a point where a point where digital technology faithfully reproduces the sound of pipes, and

b)if a) is is achievable in theory, what are the implications for traditional organbuilding given that electronics will become cheaper as the cost of craftsmanship and materials rises?

 

 

Thoughts.......?

 

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

 

 

For once I am flumoxed......I flumox wonderfully.

 

Human hearing is incredibly advanced, and I can only go by what I "hear" when I play a really good digital-organ and a really good pipe-organ.

 

The I ask myself why digital-organ designers feel the need to include random-motion generators: the more modern and rather better development of the old "Rotafonic" speakers.

 

I ask myself why I hear strangely "ringing" harmonics in digital overtones and Mixture registers.

 

Put simply, I don't honestly think I would know the difference between being hit by a wet-kipper and actually knowing why I find digital-organs generally less than satisfying; no matter how clever the simulation of pipe-organ sound may be.

 

I suspect there is a world of difference between an instrument being recorded digitally and reproduced in the living room, and digitally simulating the digital reproduction of sampled-sound. (I hope that makes sense!)

 

If computer simulation relies on sampled-sound, then all notes played in between the sampling points are going to be guesstimates, if my understanding of digital-sampling is correct. It comes down to some rather clever mathematics, where the computer is programmed to fill in the gaps by theoretical means.

 

Cut back to digital-reproduction of pipe-organ sound, and the results can be very impressive. My rather large speakers certainly move air....and the floor....quickly followed by the cat. Give me wattage and big enough speakers, and the walls will surely tumble-down!

 

Speakers may colour the sound, but what comes out is very obviously the sound of a pipe-organ, whereas what comes out of a digital organ is not.....quite.

 

My guess ( and it is a guess) is that the differences may seem small, but perfecting digital simulation would require a very different way of doing it and possibly enromous computing-power....at which point economics enter into the equation.

 

Just how much research, development and hardware could be justified by the available budgets dedicated to simulating the sound of a pipe-organ?

 

It is for this reason that I doubt the ability of digital-organ makers to perfect the product.

 

I suppose that the best are close enough to the real thing, and will certainly satisfy a less discerning market or a market with limited funds, just as they already do, but that is not "state of the art" anything, and certainly not "state-of-the-art" organ-building.

 

When I listen in awe to the Schnitger of the Martinikerk Groningen, or the majesty of the Muller at Haarlem, I KNOW that there is no truly worthy substitute, and possibly never could be.

 

MM

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Guest Roffensis
Having "lurked" on this highly informative forum for some time now, I've finally decided to take the plunge and post! Please treat me gently, for my subject is somewhat contentious.....

 

     I should perhaps first explain that although I'm somewhat "out  of the loop" as an organist these days, not having held a post for the last twelve years or so, I have in the past had the privilege of playing many fine instruments in this country, particulrly in my university days when "visiting choir" duties allowed me to accompany services at several cathedrals. These day much of my work involves using computer technolgy to produce music, orchestral arrangements, scores etc.

 

     Everyone who posts here is obviously a lover of the organ, as I am myself, so please be assured that I'm not trying to start some sort of "pipe v digital" argument here, since that would be shot down in flames very rapidly, and deservedly so. However, as technology advances, I think we would be foolish to argue that digital organs not only HAVE improved vastly, but will continue to do so.

There are certainly issues with regard to harmonic development as touched on by Mr. Mander in the thread on Southwell Minster, but given the accuracy of current digital sampling, I'm inclined to think that the main problems are in reproducing the sound to the listener, i.e. loudspeaker systems.

 

      My question, therefore, is -

 

a) can we forsee a point where a point where digital technology faithfully reproduces the sound of pipes, and

b)if a) is is achievable in theory, what are the implications for traditional organbuilding given that electronics will become cheaper as the cost of craftsmanship and materials rises?

 

I hope this won't just produce a lot of sniping from entrenched positions - I see this as the biggest threat to the organ as we currently know ( and love ) it.

 

Thoughts.......?

 

 

Q.a........No!! :(

 

Q.b........It will never be achievable, and the number of new pipe organs being built proves it I think :D . You just cannot get the same out of electronics, and a knowledge of how pipes work, even in relation to each other, planting on chest, and a whole catalogue of critical considerations that are so artistic, will forever relegate electronics to the lower end of "organ building". Electronics are by definition not organs anyway. Don't worry, don't be fooled either, it ain't gonna happen!! :D

Incidently, I found a small Bewsher and Fleetwood organ in Lancashire last week, with Tenor C Swell and the keys below missing and blocked off by wood, it was a revelation. Gamut G great, lovely!! Chirpy as anything, unforced, and a complete joy to play. Out came the Walond, and I was back in the 1800s :) . That will never be reproduced by any electronic. The "patina" of the sound and whole feel of it is something I will always remember. The organ is 1827, at Osbaldestone. It had been damaged in the past, but has been restored well, very conservatively, and honestly. Worth a visit.

R

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Thanks for some interesting and thought provoking replies! I think we are all pretty much in agreement over the philosphy of "real" v "fake" ( or wine v water, as paul nicely puts it ), indeed I would have expected no less here. While the number of new instruments being built is an extremely positive sign, I think we would be unwise to believe that this will always be the case in the face of an increasingly effective digital alternative. This was really the point of my question.

 

We live in a time when much of value is discarded, often without a second thought, for reasons of finance, convenience, or simply to follow the latest trend. Much "orchestral" music that we hear in tv and film is already produced with sampling technology because it is easy, cheap and good enough to fool 97.5% of the people 100% of the time. Some examples here -

 

EastWest

 

I fully expect to see a perfect ( or near as makes no difference ) digital instrument in the next 10 - 20 years. Why do I think this? Well, two main reasons.

 

Firstly, I've worked with computers and music of various kinds for almost twenty years. What I'm able to achieve now was unimaginable when I first started. Computing power will continue to increase and become more affordable, and if I'm still going in another twenty years I expect to similarly amazed.

 

Secondly, dwindling congregations and rising expenses. The burden of upkeep of buildings and instruments falls on fewer and fewer people. Unless there is a drastic reversal this will be a massive problem in twenty years time, and considerations of artistry and tradition will be low on the priority list. There will be a big market for cost effective solutions. Many churches accept the imperfect solution already. If offered an instrument which sounds to most ears exactly the same at a fraction of the cost of the real thing, is there any reason to believe this trend will be reversed?

 

Roffensis, as an organist I would agree entirely that elecronics are not by definition organs anyway. Sadly, to many people ( including but not limited to some congregations, PCC treasurers and vicars ), I fear they are already one and the same. Don't Allen already claim to be " the worlds largest manufacturers of church organs "? Advertising is a powerful thing, even on the back page of the Church Times. How many people do we think REALLY know the difference? Or worse still, even care?

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    Secondly, dwindling congregations and rising expenses. The burden of upkeep of buildings and instruments falls on fewer and fewer people. Unless there is a drastic reversal this will be a massive problem in twenty years time, and considerations of artistry and tradition will be low on the priority list.  There will be a big market for cost effective solutions. Many churches accept the imperfect solution already. If offered an instrument which sounds to most ears exactly the same at a fraction of the cost of the real thing, is there any reason to believe this trend will be reversed? 

 

Hi

Possibly the realisation that most electronic items have a limited life span will finally register - perhaps by the time a church has replaced it's digital organ 2 or 3 times - but of course, for many that will be too late, as the pipes will have already been consigned to the scrap heap.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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I think, to be fair, the argument about replacing electronic instruments at regular intervals is often overstated. I would estimate the life span of an electronic at around 20-25 years. If you look at the recent history of our cathedral organs most are being overhauled at least this often at costs in the hundred-thousands. Even in "ordinary" parish churches a thorough cleaning is likely to be needed every 25-30 years at a cost equivalent to a good quality electronic.

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This is true.

 

However, if one were to take this argument to its logical conclusion, one could just dispense with the middle-man and have a CD playing through the PA system. This would be better for at least three reasons:

 

Firstly: it is considerably cheaper than buying any type of organ.

Secondly: No organist's salary - savings, again.

Thirdly: If only CDs of real pipe organs were played (for hymns and voluntaries)* the sound quality argument would not apply - particularly if the PA system were of good quality.

 

* I doubt that it will be long before some enterprising cathedral organist produces a commercially-available 'Karaoke' anthem backing - with a choice of three speeds for most works.

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many years ago ( 50's) my father played a small 2 manual H & H in the little church in Witton Gilbert, Durham. and it was a very fine organ. when he moved back to the area in the early 70's, and was back playing now and again, Copeman Hart had installed a 23 stop, 2 manual electronic. This organ was obviously transisterised as digital was still a few years away for the mainstream instuments. It served its purpose well enough, dad even organised a short series of recitals which I recorded. I remember Ian Shaw (sub at Durham Cathedral at the time) coming down and spending a few hours practising Liszt B.A.C.H. it came off quite well. Did anyone go to the Leeds Organ day a few years ago ?. the town hall organ pushed the digitals onto another planet :( David Wyld had his mirabilis recording gear there, but it was never issued, I wonder why :D

Peter

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Did anyone go to the Leeds Organ day a few years ago ?. the town hall organ pushed  the digitals onto another planet  :( David Wyld had his mirabilis recording gear  there, but it was never issued, I wonder why :D 

Peter

 

I remember attending a 'battle of the organs' at St George's Hall, Liverpool, many years ago. The 'combattants' were Noel Rawsthorne and Carlo Curley on his Allen touring organ.

 

I heard afterwards that NR had been asked to tone down his registration to allow the toaster to compete.

 

No contest!

 

John

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This is true.

 

However, if one were to take this argument to its logical conclusion, one could just dispense with the middle-man and have a CD playing through the PA system. This would be better for at least three reasons:

 

Firstly: it is considerably cheaper than buying any type of organ.

Secondly: No organist's salary - savings, again.

Thirdly: If only CDs of real pipe organs were played (for hymns and voluntaries)* the sound quality argument would not apply - particularly if the PA system were of good quality.

 

* I doubt that it will be long before some enterprising cathedral organist produces a commercially-available 'Karaoke' anthem backing - with a choice of three speeds for most works.

 

Hi

 

Hymn accompaniment CD's are already available, and have been for some time. Mayhew's market one set - the one example I heard had a rather poor electronic on it - and there's others available, one of our local Anglican churches uses them (and that sounded like real pipes - given the limitations of any sound system).

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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However, if one were to take this argument to its logical conclusion, one could just dispense with the middle-man and have a CD playing through the PA system.
A Methodist church near me, a modest building hardly larger than a big church hall, recently had its interior extensively rebuilt. The contractors advised that the Allen electronic's two external speakers on the rear wall could be ditched and the organ fed through the PA system. The churchwarden, who has no knowledge of, or interest in, music readily agreed - naturally without bothering to ask any of the musicians in the congregation. By all accounts the results are pathetic (surprise, surprise!) but the original speakers are gone forever. Serves them right. Personally I'd be seeking legal advice, but the church doeasn't seem inclined to go that far. It will be interesting to see what, if anything, they do.

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My local town centre parish church has a large 3 manual in a north choir chamber and used to have a large choir (complete with repertoire) nearby as well. I went to deputize there earlier this month after an absence of a year or so and was directed to the north side of the main church where there is an electronic piano (with rhythm section and multitudes of other noises) along with seats for the much reduced choir and its 'choir leader'. The Vicar then re programmed this machine to give eight different 'organ' sounds ranging from very quiet to Royal Albert Hall - ''Those should do.'' He added.

I played the hymns and setting (not using the sustain pedal - though the 'quiet' pedal did give an added set of dynamic variations) but not able to play any of the prepared pieces for after the service for obvious reasons.

They pay well so I will probably go back - maybe next time I will head straight for the 'real' organ marooned in the chancel and refuse to move!!

 

AJJ

 

PS They are advertising for an organist - so far without any luck!

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I've had to play an electronic during our pipe organ interregnum. As electronics go, it's no great shakes but it's pretty good.

 

However, the experience has simply cemented my own personal policy - and it's just internal to me - that I would not be organist of a church with an electronic organ.

 

Thankfully, the organist of the next parish church up the road (St Cross) has kindly let me practice there when I want so I can remind myself every now and again what it is like to play a real organ.

 

I also work in the technology sector. I could speak for hours but in a nutshell all I would say is that the improvement predictions pundits predict of improvements technology never materialise to the quality they predict in the timescales they mention.

 

We are now in a phase of evolution of digital and speaker technology and I do not believe we are going to see the massive improvements in quality of sound we have seen over the past 20 years with the advent of digital technology. There's nothing on the cutting edge of sound reproduction I know of that is going to come to the leading edge over the next 10 years. And having heard a eletronically reproduced flute and a real flute in the same room against each other, there's still a gulf to overcome.

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Its interesting to see the different priorities some of us have in deciding which church posts appeal. Although I'd love to have a top-notch pipe organ at my disposal I'm actually far more interested in the quality and scope of the choir. I'd be very frustrated in a church with no choir or a choir with no ability or ambition, but am happy to tolerate a lesser organ for the opportunity to work with a good choir.

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