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Digital Futures....?


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I see with somewhat wry amusement that some modern digital organs have `unsteady wind' as an option.

 

I spent much of my life trying to get rid of unsteady wind in pipe organs.

 

FF  :rolleyes:

 

It's a matter of taste, I suppose. In a real pipe organ there ia something slightly unnatural about completely steady wind and "perfect" tuning. I prefer the kind of organ where there is a subtle "random" element to the sound which means no two chords sound the same! Of course, electronic substitutes are unnatural by definition, and their designers put their best efforts into making them appear to sound as natural as possible.

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It's a matter of taste, I suppose. In a real pipe organ there ia something slightly unnatural about completely steady wind and "perfect" tuning. I prefer the kind of organ where there is a subtle "random" element to the sound which means no two chords sound the same! Of course, electronic substitutes are unnatural by definition, and their designers put their best efforts into making them appear to sound as natural as possible.

 

I wish I had had a few organists with your tolerance in my tuning days!!!

 

FF

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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.

 

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.

Do you really think the old Sheldonian organ was respectable, Paul? On the occasions I had to perform on it, it was close to being one of the worst organs I've played - I think your choice of adjective is pretty generous! Saying that is not the same thing as liking the idea of an electronic - I think the use of the old casework to conceal the speakers of the replacement is at best disingenous - but it was a poor organ.

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
Do you really think the old Sheldonian organ was respectable, Paul? On the occasions I had to perform on it, it was close to being one of the worst organs I've played - I think your choice of adjective is pretty generous! Saying that is not the same thing as liking the idea of an electronic - I think the use of the old casework to conceal the speakers of the replacement is at best disingenous - but it was a poor organ.

 

 

I think the former pipe organ at The Sheldonian sounded and behaved no worse than The Albert Hall organ before Manders worked their latest miracles upon it and for (largely) the same reasons: viz. under-use coupled with over heating. High quality pipework is easily recussitatable (awful word!), and if the instrument had needed new soundboards and releathered reservoirs, this would have come considerably cheaper than a 'state-of-the-art' organ-substitute.

 

I note that you (SJF) are not promoting electronic organs, but where are there any supporters and admirers of the Shedonian's replacement? When, for instance, do you think we could expect to see/hear a professional recording made upon it? Where are even a small number of public recitals or broadcasts? Any sort of success in an installation might expect this sort of follow-up. Their complete absence indicates to me that this 'organ' is not a success at all, and definitely an installation to remember when all that glib sales talk is constantly poured into our ears. It's got so that barely any pipe organ-builders advertise in some of our trade magazines and the substitute-pushers are busier than ever!

 

Thinking on....What have the new organ-substitutes got that smaller traditional pipe organs have not?

1. IMHO, they are easier to control ('shut down on a sixpence' etc.) a relatively limited player is less likely to be exposed as such.

2. They have more buttons and flashing lights - consequently much improving their appeal to the little boy in all of us. Unlimited specifications not restricted by anything so mundane as reality ensure that you too can have a 32' reed, even if your church/studio is far too small to actually 'need' one!

 

Have you noticed that Children's Television seems to work on the same principle? The more flashy the presentation, the more shallow the actual content. Actually, now I think about it, the parallels with Politics are even stronger! There the obsession with short-term gains and 'window-dressing' is even more a way of life.

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Thinking on....What have the new organ-substitutes got that smaller traditional pipe organs have not?

 

Have you noticed that Children's Television seems to work on the same principle?  The more flashy the presentation, the more shallow the actual content. Actually, now I think about it, the parallels with Politics are even stronger!  There the obsession with short-term gains and 'window-dressing' is even more a way of life.

 

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

 

I know exactly what Paul means, but then, I don't agree.

 

I play a wonderful "small" organ, but then, I don't have to worry about Anglican accompaniment, which would be almost impossible with what I've got. An electronic could probably do that rather better pound-for-pound, because a church could get an awful lot of electronic for the £100,000 a new pipe organ would cost.

 

So the argument again comes back to economics, and whilst a good pipe organ is by far the best option, in financial terms, they are very, very expensive luxuries and beyond the reach of many parishes to-day. In fact, they probably always were, which is why they had wealthy benefactors, and still do.

 

There is an alternative way of looking at this of course.

 

Asssuming a GOOD electronic instrument rather than something cheap and nasty, they are now fairly serious musical instruments in their own rights, and can often be found in serious music-making even at professional level.

 

More importantly, the very existence of the cheaper electronic item, has kept organ-music alive in many churches when it might otherwise have died a death.

 

At the technical level, the development of the electronic-organ has been nothing short of phenomenal. With the first acceptable electronic-organs becoming available in the 1930's, they are now knocking at the door musically, in just about 70 years of development. What was once completely unacceptable musically, even a decade or so ago, is now approaching a state of high development which, although still not perfect in every way, is close enough to the real thing as to represent a real threat.

 

Within my own lifetime, and since getting to know about organ matters, I have seen old valve electronics become solid-state, then solid-state with chips and now state-of-the-art digital. The musical development has been almost exponential, and I marvel at it. Indeed, what will the next decade bring?

 

As a musician, I really shouldn't concern myself as to the actual physical means of sound-production, but I should certainly be concerned with musical quality. As an organ-enthusiast, I express a quite different set of concerns and apply very different values.

 

I hope that being an organist doesn't mean that I have to automatically love every pipe-organ I come across, and hate every electronic on which I place my fingers and feet.

 

For the moment, I'm quite content to accept that the electronic-instruments still have a way to go before they can compete musically, but that doesn't mean that I cannot admire the real genius which has gone into developing them.

 

MM

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

 

I play a wonderful "small" organ, but then, I don't have to worry about Anglican accompaniment, which would be almost impossible with what I've got. An electronic could probably do that rather better pound-for-pound, because a church could get an awful lot of electronic for the £100,000 a new pipe organ would cost.

 

 

I think at today's prices, a top-quality pipe organ for £100,000 would have no more than 6 or 7 stops (based on discussions I'm having regarding a possible new 15-stop instrument). Second-hand could of course be cheaper, and may be fine if it fits the building - but I would have thought removal and restoration costs are still likely to mean no more than 12 or so stops for that money.

 

I suspect that a good, custom-made electronics can now give second-tier pipe instruments a run for their money - and may even sound considerably better. Which is not to say that top-quality pipe instruments, designed to last 100 years, are not a preferable option where space permits, and the powers that be are prepared to make such an investment.

 

JJK

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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.

 

Apologies for the delayed reply to this post - I have only just joined this Forum.

 

In 1979 we installed a large 3-manual analogue Makin at the church in Maidstone where I then played. I stayed another 10 years (and would have stayed longer, had I not been head-hunted by another parish). It was rebuilt 3 years ago (with latest Bradford-system hardware) by Hugh Banton. Were I not so involved in the music at the cathedral, I would be back there like a shot. Does this answer your challenge?

 

Regards,

 

Douglas.

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I am new to this as well, so please don't be too brutal.

 

I have been an organist for over 25 years and am a lover of the traditional instrument, but I am also a computer engineer and have not only played several digital organs but attempted to build one or two in my lifetime.

 

I think that the answer lies in the base technology; granted we can reproduce the sound of an organ in its steady state throug digital sampling, the proof of this is just to play a CD! Harry Nyquist was after all, correct.

 

There is also no doubt that the cost of the digital organ will continue to decline, as technology gets faster and cheaper. There is, I think, at least one piece of the puzzle missing: the pipe is dynamic, not static. Organ builders over the years have learned that by using metallurgy, wind pressure, pipe topology and construction they can not only vary the steady state and harmonic composition of a pipe, but also change the way in which it reaches that state, ie the 'chiff' in a soft flute or the gradual transition from wind to sound as a 32' pipe starts to resonate.

 

These nuances are difficult, if not impossible, to reproduce with sampling. Until such time as we can derive an accurate mathematical model of the acoustics of a pipe and emulate it in real time, then a true digital facsimile of a pipe will not be possible. I have been working on this problem for some time, if there is anyone out there that would like to help, please join in.

 

Cheers.

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
Apologies for the delayed reply to this post - I have only just joined this Forum.

 

In 1979 we installed a large 3-manual analogue Makin at the church in Maidstone where I then played. I stayed another 10 years (and would have stayed longer, had I not been head-hunted by another parish). It was rebuilt 3 years ago (with latest Bradford-system hardware) by Hugh Banton. Were I not so involved in the music at the cathedral, I would be back there like a shot. Does this answer your challenge?

 

Regards,

 

Douglas.

 

 

Right, so that's one of you then.

 

Thanks,

P.

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
I've been in my RC post since 1993, with a toaster; not the best, but the pay's good and it's better than the local Parish Church contraption: http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=D04826

 

 

OK, so that's two!

Your comment makes it clear, however, you are there because you appreciate the nature of the place rather than for the instrument. Fair enough, absolutely.

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk

[quote name=paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk' date='Apr 11 2006, 01:35

 

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.

 

[/quote]

 

 

It occurred to me that I should remind folks of this challenge, issued more than eight weeks ago now. This topic has had over 4,000 views and so far the pro-substitute tally stands at 2 (two). If we discount 3,000 views as the same folks revisiting the topic, and allow a further 500 as folks with no views one way or the other (I admit this is not very likely on this elite site) this still makes our two respondents who have stuck with their electronics as considerably less than 1%!

 

Attention all you loyal Substitute-Lovers! Anyone who has not just 'stuck out' a church installation of an electronic but enjoyed it for more than five years please add your voice here.

 

I was interested to discover recently that Sheffield Cathedral have just invested a further sum in having their substitute tonally 're-innarded' (what an awful expression!). This would tend to support my contention.

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I was interested to discover recently that Sheffield Cathedral have just invested a further sum in having their substitute tonally 're-innarded' (what an awful expression!). This would tend to support my contention.

 

Well yes...but there are plenty of pipe organs which have been re-innarded (revoicing, rebalancing, new pipes etc). In fact I seem to remember that the original substitute at Sheffield replaced a none-too-old pipe organ! And I would also contend that the original substitute sounded a bit iffy from the outset (an opinion maybe unfairly based on one choral evensong I heard) - so I'm not sure it's a case of the sound palling over time. Maybe it was always a poor substitute?

 

I still feel I would rather play a good substitute than a poor pipe instrument, with both some way behind a first-rate pipe instrument. I have plenty of experience with a poor pipe instrument, but not of a substitute (at least not in Church) - so I'm afraid I can't really add to your stats!

 

JJK

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OK, so that's two!

Your comment makes it clear, however, you are there because you appreciate the nature of the place rather than for the instrument.  Fair enough, absolutely.

 

Wrong, I'm afraid!

 

I would be there to a large extent because of the organ (and I AM going to call it an ORGAN, not a toaster - it's a very fine musical instrument and very rewarding to play), and to use that as a means of revitalising the music and worship in that parish.

 

Regards,

 

Douglas.

 

PS. Sorry, I've just noticed that Paul was replying to Andrew. However, what I said still applies.

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Guest Lee Blick
It occurred to me that I should remind folks of this challenge, issued more than eight weeks ago now. This topic has had over 4,000 views and so far the pro-substitute tally stands at 2 (two). If we discount 3,000 views as the same folks revisiting the topic, and allow a further 500 as folks with no views one way or the other (I admit this is not very likely on this elite site) this still makes our two respondents who have stuck with their electronics as considerably less than 1%!

 

Attention all you loyal Substitute-Lovers! Anyone who has not just 'stuck out' a church installation of an electronic but enjoyed it for more than five years please add your voice here.

 

Well considering that this forum is run by a pipe organ builder, one would expect these sort of results. But my experience on other messagboards and forums, especially the American ones, they seem far more enlightened and dare I say it, more respectful of those who play and discuss digital instruments and tend not to be quite so stuck in the past.

 

It is all very well for those in their high organ lofts to label them as 'Substitue-Lovers' and 'Toasters', but not everyone has access to pipe organs, nor afford them. I get the feeling sometimes these issues become subconsciously a 'have' and 'have not ' situation. The Christian faith is based on many things, but surely not this.

 

If our ultimate aim is to please God through our worship and music, I think it matters not whether we praise him through pipe organ or with digital organs. We should make the best with the resources we have at our disposal at every level of ability and attainment. :lol:

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
It is all very well for those in their high organ lofts to label them as 'Substitue-Lovers' and 'Toasters', but not everyone has access to pipe organs, nor afford them.  I get the feeling sometimes these issues become subconsciously a 'have' and 'have not ' situation.  The Christian faith is based on many things, but surely not this.

 

If our ultimate aim is to please God through our worship and music, I think it matters not whether we praise him through pipe organ or with digital organs.  We should make the best with the resources we have at our disposal at every level of ability and attainment.  :lol:

 

 

I hope you don't think I'm trying either to score points or to sneer. I 100% approve of electronic organs as rehearsal instruments, every home should have one. I'm just voicing a strong word of caution. The replacement of pipe organs by organ-substitutes still continues. Frequently neither organists nor organ-builders are much help when it comes to preserving the status quo - organists because their wants probably aren't the same wants as their predecessor or successor and organ-builders because some of them won't look at simple maintenance tasks which would keep an organ going and a congregation happy. Back in Gloucestershire, it was par for the course that 'the trade' were not usually prepared to look at a job for less than 15k - at that price, PCCs are very easily tempted to think that they are just exercising good housekeeping by replacing something carelessly spoken of as 'worn out'.

 

Here's a for instance: I attended to a typical little job about ten years ago only after it had been roundly condemned by the previous (quite well-known) tuner. It was an 18th century chamber organ, with 80% original pipework, complete down to shifting movement, GG compass and a nags head swell. The telephone call I originally received went (I quote)

'We've been told it is no good, but we like the sounds it makes'.

The re-opening concert was given by Martin Neary and the clean, overhaul, re-positioning in the gallery, replacement of one stop and recovering of the keys came in far cheaper (even) than an electronic.

 

Flashing lights, a huge (often grossly unrealistic) specification, settable pistons and a decrescendo 'to die for' are no substitute for genuine musical voices. So many times I have been asked to take a genuine organ away to make room for something which I strongly believe will not satisfy long term.

 

Comments were made above about the Mander/Willis at Sheffield being replaced - yes, but it did do 30 years first. The recent new voicing etc. at Sheffield has replaced Copeman Hart workings that have done more like five years.

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Comments were made above about the Mander/Willis at Sheffield being replaced - yes, but it did do 30 years first.  The recent new voicing etc. at Sheffield has replaced Copeman Hart workings that have done more like five years.

 

Well I think that in both cases the actual life of the instrument has been far less than should be expected. In the case of the pipe instrument I suppose the problem was reliability rather than tonal. And an electronic instrument should last rather more than the 7 or so years at Sheffield - but as I mentioned I think the answer lies in the fact that the instrument was never very good tonally (despite the excellent reputation of its maker), rather than any functional problems with the organ.

 

I guess my point is that there are good and bad examples of pipe organs as well as substitutes. I have played some really lousy pipe organs, preservation of which would do no-one any favours. And replacement by a good substitute would not necessarily be a retrograde step.

 

As an example, I know of one pipe instrument which is on its last legs 18 years after a major rebuild. The pipework is undistinguished and doesn't blend, the soundboards need restoring, the magnets are sticking, the solid state transmission system is playing up. It could be restored, but at an expense which is difficult to justify given the likely results and longevity. It seems that there are two reasonable options: -

 

1. a good quality custom digital instrument. No flashing lights, and a modest 2 manual spec, 25 stops, with the money spent where it counts on the tone generation, audio system and speakers. Probably around £25-30k, and an expected life of up to 15 years.

2. a new pipe instrument of around 12-15 stops - around £200k. Maybe less if a secondhand instrument used as the basis (although this would be difficult due to limited headroom available). Expected life - 100 years.

 

From my viewpoint, option 2 is preferable. It represents an investment for the long term, and would be a more satisfying musical instrument which would also visually enhance a fine, if small, building.

 

However, I also believe that in the short term option 1 could provide a more musical and reliable instrument than the current pipe organ.

 

May it not be the case that there are some digital instruments that have more musical integrity than some pipe organs?

 

Finally, let me also say that I do agree wholeheartedy with Paul about the dangers of what is going on. Many perfectly adequate pipe organs are being replaced by cheap substitutes with little or no musical integrity (and many of these pipe instruments are ending up in Latvia or Poland where they are appreciated!). But I am not convinced that simply taking the "pipes are always best" line is helpful in winning the argument.

 

JJK

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk

 

Well I think that in both cases the actual life of the instrument has been far less than should be expected. In the case of the pipe instrument I suppose the problem was reliability rather than tonal. And an electronic instrument should last rather more than the 7 or so years at Sheffield - but as I mentioned I think the answer lies in the fact that the instrument was never very good tonally (despite the excellent reputation of its maker), rather than any functional problems with the organ.

 

I gather that the actual situation at Sheffield Cathedral was along these lines.

The Willis/Mander (designed jointly by Francis Jackson and Graham Matthews) was operating OK, but was difficult to use with the choir. This for two main reasons, one its position which had always been quite a way from the choir stalls and two that it was a rather inflexible instrument both musically and practically. There were three unenclosed manual divisions and one enclosed division and a paucity of pistons and accessories. I imagine that at the time those involved thought that they were saving money by not over-gadgetting, but this is common in 50's 60's Mander jobs. Of course, multiple memories came quite recently - Hereford before the recent rebuild only had one and that was last rebuilt in the mid 70s.

 

I don't think the organ exactly failed, just that it was rather unlovely. That and the cathedral suddenly had a very keen Choirmaster - i.e someone who wasn't as interested in playing solo repertoire as having his choir colourfully accompanied! The electronic is still understood by all as a temporary measure, but building work in the cathedral and the raising of huge funds for a proper replacement are taking time. At one stage there was a possible buyer lined up for the redundant pipe organ, but this had to go by the board because the DAC dug their heels in and wanted a proper final decision regarding organs before they would allow one to be taken out. The console is in store and all the actual organ (bar the pipes that were in the little Nave case) is still in position. These had to come out to make room for a speaker or two.

 

I probably shouldn't repeat a little story, but here goes: A number of firms' respresentatives went round to quote for improvement/replacement work, amongst whom was one Ian Bell - heresay accounts that after standing around rather glumly listening to it, his comment was

"Well, of course, we've all learned a lot since this".

He was partly responsible for the work the first time around!

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Guest Barry Oakley

I'm no advocate of the electronic organ, much preferring the sound of a GOOD pipe organ. But as I have expressed before, I would rather listen to a good electronic substitute than a lousy pipe organ. The question of longevity and maintenance costs of electronic substitutes has come in for much unfair criticism on this forum. I know of an electronic, an off-the-shelf model, which is used just about every day for periods up to a couple of hours or more. It's now 20 years old, has lost none of its very acceptable tonal qualities, and over that period has only required one electronic card at a cost of £15 and the very occasional application of some WD40 to a volume control to eradicate crackling.

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I probably shouldn't repeat a little story, but here goes: A number of firms' respresentatives went round to quote for improvement/replacement work, amongst whom was one Ian Bell - heresay accounts that after standing around rather glumly listening to it, his comment was

"Well, of course, we've all learned a lot since this". 

He was partly responsible for the work the first time around!

 

 

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

 

I think Sheffield was one of those early "consultant driven" attempts to create a sort of neo-Anglican/neo-Baroque cross-breed, as happened elsewhere.

 

I don't know whether Frank Fowler would agree with me, but Bradford Cathedral was very similar in some ways, with an essentially traditional Hill organ at one end, and a new low-pressure, neo-baroque department at the west-end, standing on stilts with a chamade trumpet.

 

As originally envisaged, Bradford was never a bad instrument, yet the two sections stood apart tonally, as well they might.

 

It was this sort of experiment which the late Noel Mander and his team, (including Ian Bell) had to undertake, and yet, the basic organ was a Fr.Willis.

 

This was the period of "white heat" neo-classicism only a few years after Ralph Downes work at the RFH, and of course, in those days Mander Organs were not quite so established as they are to-day, even though they did good restoration work at Salford and Adlington Hall as well as elsewhere.

 

I think I can sympathise with the comment that "we've learned a lot since this" because ALL organ-builders were groping in the dark to some extent; having been brought up in a quite different tradition.

 

I think it is important to ask the question as to which of these "supercharged" old organs really cut the mustard, and to answer my own question, I would suggest not many. Kendal Parish Church, using similar Fr.Willis pipework, is one that does, but then the changes were not quite so radical as the work at Bradford or Sheffield, where much new pipework was installed.

 

Without that initial experimental learning-curve, there could not have been fine neo-baroque instruments, and certainly not instruments as successful (for example) as the Kenneth Jones instrument at Great St.Mary's, Cambridge.

 

So when an organ-builder says, "we've learned a lot," I am encouraged.

 

MM

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

 

I think it is important to ask the question as to which of these "supercharged" old organs really cut the mustard, and to answer my own question, I would suggest not many. Kendal Parish Church, using similar Fr.Willis pipework, is one that does, but then the changes were not quite so radical as the work at Bradford or Sheffield, where much new pipework was installed.

 

MM

 

I quite like this one - 'probably shouldn't when one considers what was done to a Father Willis but all the same it is quite exciting to play!!

 

http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=N06876

 

AJJ

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Guest delvin146

The whole issue of this pipe v. electronic argument surely has to come down to the quality and condition of each individual instrument and situation being assessed.

 

Surely there are few who would say it would be a good step to remove a PEDIGREE pipe organ in favour of a digital. But there are of course several other factors to consider. Lottery-Funding aside, it's not always easy to get for whatever reason, and so far as I'm aware they don't fund cronk-heaps.

 

I could see the justification for introducing a pipeless organ into a church who had absolutely no realistic means of restoring their quality instrument (PROVIDED THAT ORIGINAL INSTRUMENT STAYED IN SITUE). On the face of it, yes, it may LOOK as if it's been abandoned but should circumstances change it could be restored at some point in the future, or a new home found for it. It does not necessarily follow that all churches with a silent pedigree organ with an electronic in regular use are necessarily proud of that situation. Of course I would have to acknowledge there is the risk that the pipe organ will get forgotten about over time.

 

Sadly organs do get to the point where no amount of piecemeal money spent on them will keep them going. Some might say the money spent on purchasing an electronic could go towards a pipe restoration. The question is, how far would it go towards a proper restoration in the overall picture? Add to this, does the organ warrent such a huge figure spending on it.

 

When figures run into several hundred thousands of pounds for restoration of a cronk-heap I really can't blame those places who don't want to do it.

I also know of several really grotty pipe organs which really arn't worth spending any money on. I would argue that when these require major money spending on them a digital might well be a better alternative to the existing crappy pipe organ.

 

There are also the problem of badly sited organs where no amount of money spent on the pipe organ will ever get the sound where it needs to be heard, with no other suitable position in the building for such an instrument. Microphones might help, but who would want to amplify something like that?

 

What about churches with inappropriate heating systems. Logic would dictate that a grotty organ coupled with grotty heating would have many problems solved by installing a digital, rather than having the expense of both an organ rebuild and heating refurbishment. Money would be better spent for other charitable deeds perhaps?

 

I'm certainly not a lover of electronic organs, and I have no real desire to preside at one, but common sense surely dictates that in this day and age with alternatives to the traditional pipe organ they are a logical alternative in SOME situations and SOME churches will be better off for having them.

 

To take this a stage further, where some pipe-organ builders might start undoing soundboard screws to make things appear worse than they really are in order to get more work they often shoot themselves in the foot. The same goes really for tuners who can't be bothered to leave pipes properly on speech, or even in some sort of basic regulation either through laziness or the hope of further work. Churches will vote with their feet and they get found out eventually.

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To take this a stage further, where some pipe-organ builders might start undoing soundboard screws to make things appear worse than they really are in order to get more work they often shoot themselves in the foot.
Does this happen much? :angry:
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