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Back on the subject of electric verses pipes and house organs - it's worth bearing in mind many organ builders now make small 2 manual and pedal organs of about 5 or so stops. Usually, these end up in the £25-£35k bracket - so what you would expect to pay for a new 5'6'' to 6'6'' Grand piano by a reputable maker. And they are very much the equal of a good grand. I guess, given a few years there will be second hand ones about, roughly in line with 2nd hand grand piano prices...

 

For those of us, who don't have pockets or space for these, then, just like clavinovas, there are your Wyvens and Viscounts at a fraction the cost... I see quite a lot of parrallels between the house organ market and the piano market.

 

So what is the home pipe organ equivalent of, say, a Yamaha C3 Grand? Just over 6 foot in length and to be found in many recording studios even if not a professional pianist’s first choice they retail for c.£10000. I'd be in the market for a 2/P, 3 stop pipe organ at a similar price but couldn't think of going to £25-£35K.

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So what is the home pipe organ equivalent of, say, a Yamaha C3 Grand? Just over 6 foot in length and to be found in many recording studios even if not a professional pianist’s first choice they retail for c.£10000. I'd be in the market for a 2/P, 3 stop pipe organ at a similar price but couldn't think of going to £25-£35K.

Well, the manufacturer's price for a C3 is about £17k new but as you say, you could get one for £10k. Herein lies the difference - C3s are made in fairly large volumes compared to pipe organs, which are made to order only, so it's possible to get a bargain on the piano. Pipe organs, from the manufacturer, with perhaps a 10% profit margin (max!) just don't have the same discounting abilities as dealers. I think Peter Collins makes his EOS practice organs in batches - and I guess you could probably get a 3 stop version between 10 and 15k. Most tend to be 15-20k but they've usually got a few more stops. I think Walkers used to do a very small practice organ of II/P of about 3 stops. Don't know what it costs, probably the same bracket.

 

I would say I've played a few Yamaha C3s, including one in a toaster showroom and it put me off buying a electronic substitute. I would more than happily live with one - in fact, a good grand is higher up my shopping list than a pipe organ for my home!

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Well, they were de rigeur again quite recently.... and girl's fashions were quite 1960s again quite recently - they now seem to be a bit more extreme. I don't mind one bit but they must get very cold bearing all that mid-riff in the depths of winter.

 

Back on the subject of electric verses pipes and house organs - it's worth bearing in mind many organ builders now make small 2 manual and pedal organs of about 5 or so stops. Usually, these end up in the £25-£35k bracket - so what you would expect to pay for a new 5'6'' to 6'6'' Grand piano by a reputable maker. And they are very much the equal of a good grand. I guess, given a few years there will be second hand ones about, roughly in line with 2nd hand grand piano prices...

 

For those of us, who don't have pockets or space for these, then, just like clavinovas, there are your Wyvens and Viscounts at a fraction the cost... I see quite a lot of parrallels between the house organ market and the piano market.

Hi there.

I am organ nut and always enjoy this message board.

I have been fortunate over the years to able to 'pootle' here and there on local instruments. (Now, considering I live in Cambridge that's no bad thing!)

I have just placed an order for an electronic instrument (toaster?) so I can knuckle down and try to learn properly the music of the instrument which I love the most.

Yes, I could practise in a church when it's convenient for everyone, I will be taught how to play the instrument by it itself (remembering learning can be a 2 way street) and I can remember to allow for the ears of others when practising.

My free time doesn't really allow for this, which is why I've decided to 'toast'.

I can practise when I want/can with headphones when nessecary and record to evaluate my progress etc.

I will probably never be 'an organist' anywhere but at home, but I will be able to explore and enjoy the music I love.

To me, a 'toaster' will be worth every penny, and perhaps the home is where 'toasters' should mainly be?

(It is a Wy***n 2 decks & feet).

Regards,

Oliver.

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Oliver, I'm with you all the way. For three years in my lithe and supple youth I lived within 50 yards of a 72-stop, four-manual organ and played it for an hour or three every evening. You can't beat that - obviously. But anyone who is in a similar situation must realise how damned lucky they are and has no right to look down on those who are less fortunate and have to traipse a mile or two to their decrepit, wheezing seven-stop two-manual to practise in sub-zero temperatures (and I've done that too). Who could reasonably deny such martyrs the luxury of having a boopatron at home to ease the burden?

 

My own is a two-manual Wyvern. And do I feel guilty about it? Do I, hell! It enables me to escape humdrum reality. And what's music about if not escaping humdrum reality? Since I don't have a church job it enables me to pretend I'm playing in a cathedral. Is that so wrong? Of course not. And when I do play in a cathedral I'm a dam sight better prepared than if I'd done all my practising on a Steinway concert grand.

 

I mentioned Hauptwerk in a previous post. A friend of mine who has just been over to Germany to see it demonstrated reckons it knocks the spots off a bee's knees. There's no way you'll convince me it could be preferable to a pipe organ, but for home practice it's surely got to be worth looking at...

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I mentioned Hauptwerk in a previous post. A friend of mine who has just been over to Germany to see it demonstrated reckons it knocks the spots off a bee's knees. There's no way you'll convince me it could it be preferable to a pipe organ, but for home practice it's surely got to be worth looking at...

I have Hauptwerk. It is an incredible program. You need a gutsy computer, but the results are way beyond what any other electronic can do. And the sample sets you can buy range from Spanish and Czech baroque organs to Skinner, Willis, Wurlitzer, even a harmonium; and a number of free sample sets are around - a carillon, harpsichord, calliope, and a super little house organ by Ott. You can set any temperament you fancy; the effects of wind variations are modelled (except in the USA, for patent reasons); looping is varied on repetitions of the same note; some sample sets are recorded ambient (good for headphone use), and some are dry for use in churches or with locally added ambience. The ability to add impulse-defined reverb as part of the program is planned.

 

Details are at http://www.crumhorn-labs.com

 

Paul

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A friend of mine who has just been over to Germany to see it demonstrated reckons it knocks the spots off a bee's knees.

 

 

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

 

 

It's amazing what you learn on this board!

 

I guess someone will reply concerning the cuticles on Fish Fingers.

 

:lol:

 

MM

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Oliver, I'm with you all the way. For three years in my lithe and supple youth I lived within 50 yards of a 72-stop, four-manual organ and played it for an hour or three every evening. You can't beat that - obviously. But anyone who is in a similar situation must realise how damned lucky they are and has no right to look down on those who are less fortunate and have to traipse a mile or two to their decrepit, wheezing seven-stop two-manual to practise in sub-zero temperatures (and I've done that too). Who could reasonably deny such martyrs the luxury of having a boopatron at home to ease the burden?

 

My own is a two-manual Wyvern. And do I feel guilty about it? Do I, hell! It enables me to escape humdrum reality. And what's music about if not escaping humdrum reality? Since I don't have a church job it enables me to pretend I'm playing in a cathedral. Is that so wrong? Of course not. And when I do play in a cathedral I'm a dam sight better prepared than if I'd done all my practising on a Steinway concert grand.

Well, I had a similar experience - not 72 stops but still a glorious 30 stop 3 manual Walker in a superb acoustic, a stone's throw from my house which I could walk into and play any time, day or night. And yes, I know how lucky I was, even if it was frigging cold at 10pm on a february evening.

 

I have an electronic organ - a 2 manual Viscount and I find it simply invaluable, both for practising and recreation. It's great to have a simulation of an organ that can do anything and I wouldn't be without it. But I can't quite understand one of my friends who has just bought a massive 4 decker drawstop toaster for around 20 grand to replace his old (still digital but worn out) 2 manual Wyvern. Yes, it does everything about three times over but I know I would have spent the money differently, especially when I learnt he does 75% of his practice on the swell 8' flute... it just seemed like a tasteless waste of money to me, more to do with stroking an ego and letting it live in cloud cuckoo land than in the land of the living.

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Well if you've got the money and you've got the space why not indulge yourself.

 

My church had a new custom built Wyvern-Phoenix organ installed in February this year and I must say that in the body of the church the sound is just fantastic. Arguably we now have the finest recital instrument in Cheltenham.

 

By comparison, last night I had the misfortune to accompany Stainer's "Crucifixion" on the 3-m pipe organ in Upton-upon-Severn parish church. What a lousey heap of an instrument (sorry Paul, perhaps you disagree). I know which I prefer both to listen to and play.

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Well if you've got the money and you've got the space why not indulge yourself.

 

My church had a new custom built Wyvern-Phoenix organ installed in February this year and I must say that in the body of the church the sound is just fantastic. Arguably we now have the finest recital instrument in Cheltenham.

 

By comparison, last night I had the misfortune to accompany Stainer's "Crucifixion" on the 3-m pipe organ in Upton-upon-Severn parish church. What a lousey heap of an instrument (sorry Paul, perhaps you disagree). I know which I prefer both to listen to and play.

 

 

 

Dear Neil,

Thanks for your sympathetic remarks! However, you need not have spared my blushes on this one. I went to Upton for the choir (a keen, friendly bunch) not for the organ* which cannot ever have been much good. As it stands at the moment, it is virtually inaudible from the body of the church and (even if you can hear it) it behaves pretty poorly too.

 

In my two years as Titulaire, I never set foot inside it - I could see that if one were ever to start trying to improve things (such as finding replacement pipes for missing notes) one could get horribly bogged down. It is the first electropneumatic action job I've ever played where the organ sounds just like a heavy tracker viz. the more stops you draw the less in tune it is - almost as if everything starves.

 

*This is a small old 3-manual Nicholson rebuilt by the present Nicholson firm a while ago. It's on NPOR, but I wouldn't recommend anyone to look it up. The best bit is the early 19th century case which is more-or-less in 18th century English style. Even this has seen much better days.

 

Where I would disagree with you is in the inherent musicality of any 'reproduction' organ-substitute versus any pipe organ. I confidently predict that however wonderful you new job sounds now, you will eventually tire of it. There are stops on any half-decent pipe organ (and yes, even at Upton) where this is not the case.

 

I am ready to be proved wrong so I issue this challenge: How many of our readers are still organist (at church) of an organ-substitute and have been more than five years in the same post? I don't think we'll get more than ten replies.

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Where I would disagree with you is in the inherent musicality of any 'reproduction' organ-substitute versus any pipe organ.  I confidently predict that however wonderful you new job sounds now, you will eventually tire of it.  There are stops on any half-decent pipe organ (and yes, even at Upton) where this is not the case.

Glad you agree about the qualities of the Upton instrument

 

As you know I am lucky enough to get regular opportunities to play on the very best pipe organs throughout the south-west and would of course agree that a good pipe organ is always preferable. My point is that, to me, some bad pipe organs are not preferable. You may be right about tiring of the overall sound, but there are certainly individual stops on the Wyvern that I cannot imagine tiring of. The thing that distinguishes the flute stops for example is that they are way better than one would expect to hear on most parish church organs.

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Dear Neil,

Thanks for your sympathetic remarks!  However, you need not have spared my blushes on this one. I went to Upton for the choir (a keen, friendly bunch) not for the organ* which cannot ever have been much good.  As it stands at the moment, it is virtually inaudible from the body of the church and (even if you can hear it) it behaves pretty poorly too.

 

In my two years as Titulaire, I never set foot inside it - I could see that if one were ever to start trying to improve things (such as finding replacement pipes for missing notes) one could get horribly bogged down.  It is the first electropneumatic action job I've ever played where the organ sounds just like a heavy tracker viz. the more stops you draw the less in tune it is - almost as if everything starves.

 

*This is a small old 3-manual Nicholson rebuilt by the present Nicholson firm a while ago. It's on NPOR, but I wouldn't recommend anyone to look it up.  The best bit is the early 19th century case which is more-or-less in 18th century English style.  Even this has seen much better days.

 

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

 

For anyone who wants to really get their teeth into the comlexities and some of the short-comings of electronic-organ sound generation and re-production, the following article is....well....rather in-depth.

 

The whole web-site of Dr Pickett is crammed with many fascinating learned-articles and observations.

 

I can't help but think that the on-going debate about electronics v. pipe-organs is not very far removed from the debate about extension-organs v. straight-organs a few decades back.

 

I suppose it depends on how we approach the debate. If we were to compare three 60 stop instruments; the first being (for example) a Fr.Willis pipe-organ, the second being a Compton extension instrument and the third being a "real time synthesis" electronic; it's fairly obvious which is going to sound best to the ears of trained musicians.

 

If we approach the debate from the point of view of cost v.effectiveness as a financial exercise, then the electronic would come 1st, the Compton extention 2nd and the Fr.Willis 3rd.

 

I suspect that the very best (and most expensive) electronics would come close to equalling a Compton extension organ in terms of musical quality balanced against musical compromise, but of course, what the electronic could never has is the top-quality craftsmanship of the Compton and the longevity of it.

 

However, purely on a cost by cost basis, the electronic instrument would always win; even over the period of a century, where two replacements may have to be obtained.

 

Perhaps it is the cynic in me which "knows the cost of eveything but the value of nothing," but the artist within me screams back just as loudly, perhaps bringing to mind the old advert for a Rolls-Royce, which stated, "The quality will remain long after the price is forgotten."

 

Then again, I am reminded of another advert for a rather expensive sports-car, which stated, "If you can't afford to run it, don't buy it."

 

MM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where I would disagree with you is in the inherent musicality of any 'reproduction' organ-substitute versus any pipe organ.  I confidently predict that however wonderful you new job sounds now, you will eventually tire of it.  There are stops on any half-decent pipe organ (and yes, even at Upton) where this is not the case.

 

I am ready to be proved wrong so I issue this challenge: How many of our readers are still organist (at church) of an organ-substitute and have been more than five years in the same post?  I don't think we'll get more than ten replies.

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I'm sorry, I messed up both the last postings a little.......let's try and get this right!

 

 

For anyone who wants to really get their teeth into the comlexities and some of the short-comings of electronic-organ sound generation and re-production, the following article is....well....rather in-depth.

 

http://www.pykett.org.uk/voicing_electronic_organs.htm

 

 

 

The whole web-site of Dr Pickett is crammed with many fascinating learned-articles and observations.

 

I can't help but think that the on-going debate about electronics v. pipe-organs is not very far removed from the debate about extension-organs v. straight-organs a few decades back.

 

I suppose it depends on how we approach the debate. If we were to compare three 60 stop instruments; the first being (for example) a Fr.Willis pipe-organ, the second being a Compton extension instrument and the third being a "real time synthesis" electronic; it's fairly obvious which is going to sound best to the ears of trained musicians.

 

If we approach the debate from the point of view of cost v.effectiveness as a financial exercise, then the electronic would come 1st, the Compton extention 2nd and the Fr.Willis 3rd.

 

I suspect that the very best (and most expensive) electronics would come close to equalling a Compton extension organ in terms of musical quality balanced against musical compromise, but of course, what the electronic could never has is the top-quality craftsmanship of the Compton and the longevity of it.

 

However, purely on a cost by cost basis, the electronic instrument would always win; even over the period of a century, where two replacements may have to be obtained.

 

Perhaps it is the cynic in me which "knows the cost of eveything but the value of nothing," but the artist within me screams back just as loudly, perhaps bringing to mind the old advert for a Rolls-Royce, which stated, "The quality will remain long after the price is forgotten."

 

Then again, I am reminded of another advert for a rather expensive sports-car, which stated, "If you can't afford to run it, don't buy it."

 

MM

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I'm sorry, I messed up both the last postings a little.......let's try and get this right!

For anyone who wants to really get their teeth into the comlexities and some of the short-comings of electronic-organ sound generation and re-production, the following article is....well....rather in-depth.

 

http://www.pykett.org.uk/voicing_electronic_organs.htm

The whole web-site of Dr Pickett is crammed with many fascinating learned-articles and observations.

 

I can't help but think that the on-going debate about electronics v. pipe-organs is not very far removed from the debate about extension-organs v. straight-organs a few decades back.

 

I suppose it depends on how we approach the debate. If we were to compare three 60 stop instruments; the first being (for example) a Fr.Willis pipe-organ, the second being a Compton extension instrument and the third being a "real time synthesis" electronic; it's fairly obvious which is going to sound best to the ears of trained musicians.

 

If we approach the debate from the point of view of cost v.effectiveness as a financial exercise, then the electronic would come 1st, the Compton extention 2nd and the Fr.Willis 3rd.

 

I suspect that the very best (and most expensive) electronics would come close to equalling a Compton extension organ in terms of musical quality balanced against musical compromise, but of course, what the electronic could never has is the top-quality craftsmanship of the Compton and the longevity of it.

 

However, purely on a cost by cost basis, the electronic instrument would always win; even over the period of a century, where two replacements may have to be obtained.

 

Perhaps it is the cynic in me which "knows the cost of eveything but the value of nothing," but the artist within me screams back just as loudly, perhaps bringing to mind the old advert for a Rolls-Royce, which stated, "The quality will remain long after the price is forgotten."

 

Then again, I am reminded of another advert for a rather expensive sports-car, which stated, "If you can't afford to run it, don't buy it."

 

MM

 

Hi

 

Interestingly, the early Compton electronics were very well built - the consoles using the same components as their pipe organs - and they last - given a bit of care and attention. There are still several around in reasonable to good playing order. The mechanical tone generator system helps here - as with tonewheel Hammonds - the generators have little to go wrong - and the remaining electronics are fairly straightforward and use mainly standard parts.

 

Obviously, they don't stand comparison with any but the most basic of the current crop of digitals - but that's a different matter. It seems to me that, with a few exceptions in the custom field, most digitals are built to a price - just as extension pipe organs often were (and small straight organs come to that). If the comparison was between a minor-league builder pipe organ and a Compton extension and a digital, then maybe the order would be different?

 

As regards value for money, I remain to be convinced by the digital argument - assuming that the church has an existing pipe organ that is reasonably adequate for the job. The average life of electronics is still only 15-20 years - and then what - a new organ? We have (an admittedly small) pipe organ that is over 150 years old - and the prices I've been quoted for restoration wouldn't buy much beyond the bottom of the market digital (and we're talking complete dismantleing - the reservoir needs new leather - not surprising after 150 years and at least 5 moves, and replacing the Stopped Diapason Treble which has been changed for a Keraulophon at some time in the past). Yes, it costs us more annually to maintain the pipe organ - and it will need cleaning again in perhaps 30-50 years - but do the sums really add up - let alone the vastly better sound of real pipes.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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Hi

 

Interestingly, the early Compton electronics were very well built - the consoles using the same components as their pipe organs - and they last - given a bit of care and attention.  There are still several around in reasonable to good playing order.  The mechanical tone generator system helps here - as with tonewheel Hammonds - the generators have little to go wrong - and the remaining electronics are fairly straightforward and use mainly standard parts.

 

Obviously, they don't stand comparison with any but the most basic of the current crop of digitals - but that's a different matter.  It seems to me that, with a few exceptions in the custom field, most digitals are built to a price - just as extension pipe organs often were (and small straight organs come to that).  If the comparison was between a minor-league builder pipe organ and a Compton extension and a digital, then maybe the order would be different?

 

As regards value for money, I remain to be convinced by the digital argument - assuming that the church has an existing pipe organ that is reasonably adequate for the job.  The average life of electronics is still only 15-20 years - and then what - a new organ?  We have (an admittedly small) pipe organ that is over 150 years old  - and the prices I've been quoted for restoration wouldn't buy much beyond the bottom of the market digital (and we're talking complete dismantleing - the reservoir needs new leather - not surprising after 150 years and at least 5 moves, and replacing the Stopped Diapason Treble which has been changed for a Keraulophon at some time in the past).  Yes, it costs us more annually to maintain the pipe organ - and it will need cleaning again in perhaps 30-50 years - but do the sums really add up - let alone the vastly better sound of real pipes.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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I many years connected with organs, organists and churches, I wonder in my dotage years, how many organist actually conside their job is to offer musical worship to God and not an excuse to indulge in their own pipe (or digital) dreams of making bigger and (not always) better noises.

 

FF

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Who can say? But I wouldn't mind betting that there are a few organists out there who long to express the majesty and grandeur of God, but can only do so on an Open Diap, 8 & 4 flutes and a few 8 & 4 Swell stops. And I bet there are others who would love to enhance the liturgy with a far wider range of appropriate effects than they actually have at their disposal. Cynic though I am, I can't believe it's invariably just a matter of ego.

 

How much of the organist's job actually is about offering musical worship to God? Some of it (voluntaries come to mind) may well be, but a simple offering like this is a purely personal act that requires no inter-action with anyone else. There's more than that to playing in church. Christian witness may enter into it. And what about making other people's worship of God more meaningful? Isn't that most important of all? I would have thought that any organist worth his salt will want to bring pleasure and meaning to others since that's what musical performance is all about. It is only natural that he should want the resources to do it in the best way he can envisage. ("Meaning" is not quite the word I'm looking for here - it's too precise - but I can't think of the right one at the moment.)

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Its not all about being loud. On our new organ we have:

 

- a selection of beautiful and characterful flutes of exquisite quality

- a lovely oboe on the swell equally suited to soft solo work and as a soft chorus reed for the psalms etc.

- a beautiful clarinet on the choir

- a gentle 32' contra bourdon that people can FEEL in the nave

- a cornet separee with lovely individual ranks offering a range of wonderful characters

- a substantial solo reed

- spent a total (including VAT and installation) of c £30K.

 

I have found that my improvisation (never a strong point) has improved as I respond to the wonderful range of really ravishing sounds that are available. This toaster's the best thing since sliced bread!

 

Get real, talk honestly. There is no cost argument. A quality digital like this wins hands down if cost is the only consideration. When it comes to musical and artistic arguments the best pipe organs are still streets ahead - but the best digitals are much better than many old squeezeboxes in parish churches.

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Hi

 

Interestingly, the early Compton electronics were very well built - the consoles using the same components as their pipe organs - and they last - given a bit of care and attention.  There are still several around in reasonable to good playing order.  The mechanical tone generator system helps here - as with tonewheel Hammonds - the generators have little to go wrong - and the remaining electronics are fairly straightforward and use mainly standard parts.

 

Obviously, they don't stand comparison with any but the most basic of the current crop of digitals - but that's a different matter.  It seems to me that, with a few exceptions in the custom field, most digitals are built to a price - just as extension pipe organs often were (and small straight organs come to that).  If the comparison was between a minor-league builder pipe organ and a Compton extension and a digital, then maybe the order would be different?

 

As regards value for money, I remain to be convinced by the digital argument - assuming that the church has an existing pipe organ that is reasonably adequate for the job.  The average life of electronics is still only 15-20 years - and then what - a new organ?  We have (an admittedly small) pipe organ that is over 150 years old  - and the prices I've been quoted for restoration wouldn't buy much beyond the bottom of the market digital (and we're talking complete dismantleing - the reservoir needs new leather - not surprising after 150 years and at least 5 moves, and replacing the Stopped Diapason Treble which has been changed for a Keraulophon at some time in the past).  Yes, it costs us more annually to maintain the pipe organ - and it will need cleaning again in perhaps 30-50 years - but do the sums really add up - let alone the vastly better sound of real pipes.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

 

 

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

 

I'm not sure that I would agree that Compton extension organs were built to a price; the quality was very high, to which many extant instrument bear testimony.

 

Rather, I would suggest that Compton very cleverly sold the idea of a much bigger-sounding instrument for about the same money as an instrument with a much smaller specification. I must confess, that if restricted to an organ with 5 or 6 ranks, I would much prefer the Compton equivalent.

 

I would dispute the notion that electronics only last 15-20 years. The analogue job I have at home is now almost 30 years old and still going strong, and it has been well hammered over the years. Until such time as it is engulfed in flames, I don't see much point of getting rid of it, sad though it sounds. Assuming that a console is basically well-constructed, it is not a very difficult task to add new digital electronics to an old console, which certain people offer as a service.

 

The arguments, I'm afraid, do not really work economically, and this is why the pipe-organ market has contracted so, coupled the high rate of church-closures; the two factors acting like a pincer-movement on the pipe-organ industry.

 

Most churches, assuming that they even want to hear an organ these days, will often choose the cheapest option, and I can think of many examples. Even in places of relative prestige, a digital organ has often been chosen; especially in the RC cathedrals such as Norwich, Leeds, Salford etc.

 

Fortunately, as with anything, there will be those who place absolute quality and integrity above all else, and they will either continue to have new pipe-organs built or old ones re-built.

 

My own church, in quite a poor parish, has just managed to raise £12,000 for the partial restoration and cleaning of the organ, but even there, some people suggested the electronic path from the outset and considered only the expense.

 

Perhaps we may console ourselves by the fact that digital instruments set out to imitate the real thing, and if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then it is the pipe-organ which still sets the standard.

 

MM

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
Its not all about being loud. On our new organ we have:

 

- a selection of beautiful and characterful flutes of exquisite quality

- a lovely oboe on the swell equally suited to soft solo work and as a soft chorus reed for the psalms etc.

- a beautiful clarinet on the choir

- a gentle 32' contra bourdon that people can FEEL in the nave

- a cornet separee with lovely individual ranks offering a range of wonderful characters

- a substantial solo reed

- spent a total (including VAT and installation) of c £30K.

 

I have found that my improvisation (never a strong point) has improved as I respond to the wonderful range of really ravishing sounds that are available. This toaster's the best thing since sliced bread!

 

Get real, talk honestly. There is no cost argument. A quality digital like this wins hands down if cost is the only consideration. When it comes to musical and artistic arguments the best pipe organs are still streets ahead - but the best digitals are much better than many old squeezeboxes in parish churches.

 

 

Dear Neil,

Ignoring your enthusiasms above, (which you are entitled to express being a proud purchaser!) I would concede that you have a rather unusual situation at Charlton Kings. I know you have a decent choir (for which a range of flexible colours and a 32' are a great help) and an extremely confined space to put any kind of organ - if ever there was a building with nowhere to put pipes St.Mary's C.K.'s is it - which probably explains why there has been a succession of electronic instruments since (I think) the 60's when the former (restricted) pipe organ went to Dean Close School.

 

If I remember correctly, the first electronic at CK was a Compton. Am I right in thinking that your new organ is the third, however?

 

I hope you don't think me rude to prolong this. Sorry.......!

 

If, of course, you had the space to put one in, your £30k would have got you a quite substantial second-hand pipe organ. You could have re-homed something really worthwhile. My hackles rise most when pipes go and electronics come in - the classic case IMHO being Pershore Abbey which I have mentioned once before on this site. A three-manual (perfectly rebuildable) J.W.Walker of the 1950's was ditched in favour of a quasi-French Bradford Computing Organ designed by (the) John Norman.

 

Now - thinking 'state of the art' - who has heard the electronic organ at The Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford? By all accounts, an extremely generous donor asked Simon Preston one day what he thought of electronic organs by a particular firm. On being told something reasonably tactful, the condition was then given that the University would be given a new organ so long as it was ordered by said firm! Since you will not have heard or read much of this project since, let me give a brief summary of it.....

 

First and foremost, it is/was (very proudly) a money no object, 'there's never been a better instrument' organ-substitute. The console is like something out of science fiction - no stops or tabs, just a large quantity of small television screens! This is because it boasts four alternate specifications, Salisbury Cathedral and Pembroke College Cambridge being the two representing UK organ styles. It replaced a (rather baked but still respectable) Father Willis that had been successively rebuilt by Willis 3 and H&H.

 

There was a big v.high profile launch (thinks: up like a rocket, down like the stick!) with Simon Preston and a well-known professional chamber orchestra and not much has been heard of it since. It was the musical equivalent of the City Technology College idea so beloved of those who want to make their political careers on the backs of teachers and poor messed-about pupils. The proud boast is 'we'll show them how to do it' and the actual result is a dismal faliure which could have been predicted by anyone who stood a sufficient distance away.

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I many years connected with organs, organists and churches, I wonder in my dotage years, how many organist actually conside their job is to offer musical worship to God and not an excuse to indulge in their own pipe (or digital) dreams of making bigger and (not always) better noises.

 

FF

 

Hi Frank

 

Some of the comments I've heard - both on this list and elsewhere - I wonder the same thing. Fortunately here our organist is relatively tolerant - and due to age, he only plays once a month, so I actually play the organ more than he does!

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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

 

I'm not sure that I would agree that Compton extension organs were built to a price; the quality was very high, to which many extant instrument bear testimony.

 

Rather, I would suggest that Compton very cleverly sold the idea of a much bigger-sounding  instrument for about the same money as an instrument with a much smaller specification. I must confess, that if restricted to an organ with 5 or 6 ranks, I would much prefer the Compton equivalent.

 

I would dispute the notion that electronics only last 15-20 years. The analogue job I have at home is now almost 30 years old and still going strong, and it has been well hammered over the years. Until such time as it is engulfed in flames, I don't see much point of getting rid of it, sad though it sounds. Assuming that a console is basically well-constructed, it is not a very difficult task to add new digital electronics to an old console, which certain people offer as a service.

 

The arguments, I'm afraid, do not really work economically, and this is why the pipe-organ market has contracted so, coupled the high rate of church-closures; the two factors acting like a pincer-movement on the pipe-organ industry.

 

Most churches, assuming that they even want to hear an organ these days, will often choose the cheapest option, and I can think of many examples. Even in places of relative prestige, a digital organ has often been chosen; especially in the RC cathedrals such as Norwich, Leeds, Salford etc.

 

Fortunately, as with anything, there will be those who place absolute quality and integrity above all else, and they will either continue to have new pipe-organs built or old ones re-built.

 

My own church, in quite a poor parish, has just managed to raise £12,000 for the partial restoration and cleaning of the organ, but even there, some people suggested the electronic path from the outset and considered only the expense.

 

Perhaps we may console ourselves by the fact that digital instruments set out to imitate the real thing, and if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then it is the pipe-organ which still sets the standard.

 

MM

 

Hi

 

I'm aware of the quality of the Compton extension jobs - maybe I didn't phrase it too well - I think that they aimed at the part of the market now dominated by digitals.

 

Re. the life of electronics - I'm well aware that some instruments last longer - but statistics that I've seen - and experience - indicates 15-20 to be the expected life span.  Retro-fitting digital electronics in an existing console is an option - but not necessarily a cheap option if you want the quality.

 

Glad to hear that your parish has raised the funds - pity it's only a partial rebuild, but that's better than nothing.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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

 

It's only 30 year old Tony!

 

The main problem were the original 1:1 ratio Schwimmers and the fact that the vertical stability of the pans was suspect right from the start; resulting in all sorts of intermitent flutterings. For 5 years, one of the Schwimmers was kept horizontal by various bits of wood which Heath Robinson would have been proud of.

 

Other than cleaning, everything else functioned fine, but as the windchests had to come out, the opportunity was taken to renew all the slider-seals, action-bushes and other bits and bobs.

 

Amusingly, it was discovered that the wonderful 4 rk Mixture really operated on a wing and a prayer; the dead-length of the pipes having been cut wrong originally, and the tuning-slides almost falling off the tops of the pipes!

 

The only expedient was to shove the pipes up a note and have four new ones made for bottom C. I suppose this is technically altering the scale of the Mixture slightly, but having listened to it, I can't tell the difference, so all's well that ends well.

 

The original 4 top-note pipes have been wrapped in paper and placed on top of the tone-cabinet.

 

Of course, the organ-historians will have fun in a few hundred years time, when they ponder the origin of the pipework; one rank of which is dated from the 50's and with the Walker name scribed on it!!

 

Another mystery surrounds the Pedal reed (half-length) which has been so stable over the years, the tuning wires were completely seized-up. I reckon that the tuning hasn't shifted in all that time. Is that a record I wonder?

 

MM

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Dear Neil,

Ignoring your enthusiasms above, (which you are entitled to express being a proud purchaser!) I would concede that you have a rather unusual situation at Charlton Kings.  I know you have a decent choir (for which a range of flexible colours and a 32' are a great help) and an extremely confined space to put any kind of organ - if ever there was a building with nowhere to put pipes St.Mary's C.K.'s is it - which probably explains why there has been a succession of electronic instruments since (I think) the 60's when the former (restricted) pipe organ went to Dean Close School.

 

If I remember correctly, the first electronic at CK was a Compton. Am I right in thinking that your new organ is the third, however?

 

I hope you don't think me rude to prolong this. Sorry.......!

 

If, of course, you had the space to put one in, your £30k would have got you a quite substantial second-hand pipe organ.  You could have re-homed something really worthwhile. My hackles rise most when pipes go and electronics come in - the classic case IMHO being Pershore Abbey which I have mentioned once before on this site. A three-manual (perfectly rebuildable) J.W.Walker of the 1950's was ditched in favour of a quasi-French Bradford Computing Organ designed by (the) John Norman.

Not enthusiams - honest opinions, but on the whole that's an accurate summary of our situation and recent history at CK. The last pipe organ was removed in 1965, it was a 3-manual Hill rather lacking in upperwork. As you have said, it survives, much altered by Percy Daniels, in the chapel of Dean Close school.

 

The organ that we have just replaced dated in parts from 1965 and was, as you correctly stated, built by Comptons. The sound generation units (but not the amplification and speaker systems) were upgraded by Makin in 1985. I'd rather not comment on the tonal quality of the resulting instrument.

 

I agree entirely about Pershore Abbey where an act of cultural vandalism occurred.

 

I feel confident that we have acted as good stewards in spending our £30K as we have, although if the 3 manual H&H had appeared on ebay 6-months sooner...

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