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Digital Futures....?


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I really cannot comment on the voicing at Petersfield, having never heard it. Perhaps it was just done in a style that the organists at the church just didn't like. I note that people have described the voicing of Lammermuir organs as "characterful and individual" - whatever that means but it does seem to indicate it is a little different from the norm. I understand the Petersfield contract was won on the basis of cost - perhaps a loss leader to develop business in the not-so-lucrative market of English Anglican parish churches but that again is just a rumour.

 

I understand Henry Willis IV walked into the church during voicing and pronounced the organ "the Lockerbie organ/disaster" (sources differ on the exact noun used) but there again, I can imagine HWIV wouldn't be terribly complimentary about an organ he didn't build on his doorstep.

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
I really cannot comment on the voicing at Petersfield, having never heard it.

 

 

Like you, I haven't heard Petersfield. However, I have heard the Chapel/Middleton Hall organ at Hull University. The principal choruses there are markedly flutey (or is that fluty?) resulting in a paper specification with promise sounding some way below expectation. I think there is a chance that it was originally brighter but louder and that the present character reflects a change at some point. Short of dismantling a pipe above the languid, trimming the body just by the cut and then resoldering it up (a laborious process at the best of times) there is no decent or practical way of lowering a cut-up! A loud pipe once softened inevitably ends up more like a flute than a principal!

 

Mind you, I quite like an 8' Principal to be not too agressively bright - a Renatus Harris Diapason has much more in common with an Italian Principale or a Baroque French Montre than it has with a neo-classic Principal. I like them all. When you get to upperwork, however, a full chorus does not excite without an element of brilliance and flutes are not brilliant unless you make them ridiculously high-pitched at which point they stick out like anything. Who would want an orchestra with 4 piccolos?!

 

Another thing about the Hull instrument, the console is (by all accounts) non-ergonomic to the point of causing real discomfort according to one famous recitalist whom I heard there recently.

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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.

 

I’m sure a mathematical model of a pipe is possible. In Formula One they model the cars aerodynamics very accurately. How much memory this takes I don’t know. Nyquist is just double the max sampled frequency plus a safety factor. On a cd, they take the max frequency as 20K Hz, double it, and add a bit for safe measure. This gives you 44.1k (or is it 44.2K?). :lol:

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1. St.Mary's Stafford, where a major four-manual H&H in arguably 'the wrong place' and of 'the wrong style' was supplemented by a new partly extended HN&B in an antique case. You will not be suprised to learn which instrument remains the preferred choice of players there.

 

The last time I played there, the H&H was barely used, barely usable, and not at all maintained. This was about 15 years ago, I guess - I think the organist at the time was David Norris?

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I’m sure a mathematical model of a pipe is possible.  In Formula One they model the cars aerodynamics very accurately.  How much memory this takes I don’t know.

 

 

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

 

I've worked in Formula 1!

 

Computing-power at the design stage is BIG, with huge amounts of wind-tunnel testing being done, and very careful "lift", "drag" and "downforce" measurements taken from prototype model race-car shells.

 

It was back in the 1970's that they first experimented with the negative-g of "ground effect" and it's not totally amazing to discover that the designers of these vehicles are well versed in aeronautic design theory.

 

Carbon-fibre for organ-pipes!!

 

MM

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

 

I've worked in Formula 1!

 

Carbon-fibre for organ-pipes!!

 

MM

 

Might entice the max power brigade into church. :blink:

 

Not too sure what they’d sound like but it would remove the problem of heavy pipes causing structural problems.

 

;)

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Might entice the max power brigade into church.  :blink:

 

Not too sure what they’d sound like but it would remove the problem of heavy pipes causing structural problems.

 

;)

 

 

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

 

They would sound good actually, but would they end up in landfill sites?

 

The interesting possibility is, that because carbon-fibre organ pipes would be naturally eletrically conductive, they could each be individually wired from a computer-control interface and include their own electronically activated servo-valves at the toe.

 

I've a funny feeling that it would be possible to make excellent reeds with carbon-fibre.

 

It puts a whole new perspective on organ-tuning.

 

"Hey Jim, just throw me down that 32ft CCC and I'll saw a bit off !"

 

MM

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The interesting possibility is, that because carbon-fibre organ pipes would be naturally eletrically conductive, they could each be individually wired from a computer-control interface and include their own electronically activated servo-valves at the toe.

 

I can’t work out if your taking the **** or not. I’m all for using technology in organ building. F 1 engines no longer use cams, points etc and all for the better. We shouldn’t be afraid of technology, only badly used technology. :P

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I can’t work out if your taking the **** or not.  I’m all for using technology in organ building.  F 1 engines no longer use cams, points etc and all for the better.  We shouldn’t be afraid of technology, only badly used technology.  :P

 

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

 

Of course not!

 

I can well envisage the situation where the organ's nitrogen tanks are replenished from a BOC lorry on a regular basis!

 

Just think of the spiritual advantages of a slowly descending white-mist as the organ played through the intercessions.

 

Then the "race commentary" for the final voluntary.

 

"I think Wayne Marshall holds the record here for the Widor Toccata, but this year, "Arty" has the edge on outright speed".

 

OMG....."Arty" returns to haunt us!!

 

:P

 

MM

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I can’t work out if your taking the **** or not.  I’m all for using technology in organ building.  F 1 engines no longer use cams, points etc and all for the better.  We shouldn’t be afraid of technology, only badly used technology.   :P

Well, technology and development is alive and well in organ building. Even a very traditional, all mechanical organ like the organ at Twyford uses new technology, materials and ideas where appropriate. So the conveyancing is stuck in with a modern glue rather than Chatham compound, we've eliminated slider seals, etc... But the organbuilders have applied technology and development as appropriate to this style of organ - so the console is free of the latest advancements in stop control mechanisms and we don't have a carbon fibre 32' reed or carbon fibre trackers, all of which would be entirely inappropriate on this organ...

 

But look carefully and you can see it's an evolution of latest thinking and ideas applied appropriately in a new organ with a traditional bias.

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Well, technology and development is alive and well in organ building. Even a very traditional, all mechanical organ like the organ at Twyford uses new technology, materials and ideas where appropriate. So the conveyancing is stuck in with a modern glue rather than Chatham compound, we've eliminated slider seals, etc... But the organbuilders have applied technology and development as appropriate to this style of organ - so the console is free of the latest advancements in stop control mechanisms and we don't have a carbon fibre 32' reed or carbon fibre trackers, all of which would be entirely inappropriate on this organ...

 

But look carefully and you can see it's an evolution of latest thinking and ideas applied appropriately in a new organ with a traditional bias.

 

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

 

 

I'll try and make a serious point here.

 

Carbon Fibre has real harmonic resonance as a material, but it's difficult stuff to work with and mighty expensive.

 

Try flicking a finger-nail against a piece of carbon-fibre fishing rod.....it will make a distinct ringing sound.

 

I suspect that in the unlikely event of a 32ft reed being made of the stuff, it would possibly sound much the same as a metal rank, yet weigh almost nothing!

 

However, for small, absolutely stable and incredibly strong action components, it might just be the perfect answer, because it doesn't warp, it doesn't shrink and it is impervious to just about anything.

 

MM

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

I'll try and make a serious point here.

 

Carbon Fibre has real harmonic resonance as a material, but it's difficult stuff to work with and mighty expensive.

 

Try flicking a finger-nail against a piece of carbon-fibre fishing rod.....it will make a distinct ringing sound.

 

I suspect that in the unlikely event of a 32ft reed being made of the stuff, it would possibly sound much the same as a metal rank, yet weigh almost nothing!

 

However, for small, absolutely stable and incredibly strong action components, it might just be the perfect answer, because it doesn't warp, it doesn't shrink and it is impervious to just about anything.

 

MM

I was interested to read about Walker's experience using the stuff in their organ in Grand Rapids, USA. They used it for tracker runs of enormous distance. I wonder how it is has coped - I got the impression that the church was in a harsh climate.

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I was interested to read about Walker's experience using the stuff in their organ in Grand Rapids, USA. They used it for tracker runs of enormous distance. I wonder how it is has coped - I got the impression that the church was in a harsh climate.

 

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

 

I went for a quick Google about Grand Rapids, only to discover certain astonishing facts about the place.

 

There are 23 organs in Grand Rapids which get a mention.

 

The 23 organs contain a total of 1265 ranks of pipes, there are 4 x 5 manual organ, 5 x 4 manual organs, plus 14 others. The average number of ranks per organ is 55, and the average number of manuals 3.4 per instrument.

 

That must work out at something like an average of 3,905 pipes per instrument and about 89,000 organ pipes in total.

 

Only in America!!

 

MM

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
Well, technology and development is alive and well in organ building. Even a very traditional, all mechanical organ like the organ at Twyford uses new technology, materials and ideas where appropriate. So the conveyancing is stuck in with a modern glue rather than Chatham compound, we've eliminated slider seals, etc... But the organbuilders have applied technology and development as appropriate to this style of organ - so the console is free of the latest advancements in stop control mechanisms and we don't have a carbon fibre 32' reed or carbon fibre trackers, all of which would be entirely inappropriate on this organ...

 

But look carefully and you can see it's an evolution of latest thinking and ideas applied appropriately in a new organ with a traditional bias.

 

Dear Colin,

Can you post us full details of this job or a link to a site where these can be found?

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Well, technology and development is alive and well in organ building. Even a very traditional, all mechanical organ like the organ at Twyford uses new technology, materials and ideas where appropriate. So the conveyancing is stuck in with a modern glue rather than Chatham compound, we've eliminated slider seals, etc... But the organbuilders have applied technology and development as appropriate to this style of organ - so the console is free of the latest advancements in stop control mechanisms and we don't have a carbon fibre 32' reed or carbon fibre trackers, all of which would be entirely inappropriate on this organ...

 

But look carefully and you can see it's an evolution of latest thinking and ideas applied appropriately in a new organ with a traditional bias.

 

The majority of this is mainstream - as far as I know most people have been using PVA/silicone etc for sealing up conveyances, whether traditional or kopex, and a hot glue gun for tongue weights. I think the days of Chatterton are behind us except for a dedicated few. Personally I don't like silicone or kopex, but that's the way it is. I recently saw a fairly new instrument which made heavy use of PVC overflow pipe and waste pipe, and duct tape to seal reservoirs. I thought this was going a little far myself...

 

On the other hand, I did similarly hear of an incident involving a highly authentic organ building firm which shall be nameless, whose employees were compelled to pickle zinc plated screws to get them back to raw steel before they could be considered for use. Now that too is probably going a bit far in the quest for authenticity, don't you think?

 

I recently dismantled for restoration a very nice little chamber organ which had all manner of unusual features. For one, the inside of the reservoir had been painted in a nice red gloss paint, which was fine - except 30 years of constant damp chaser use had caused the paint to peel and shred and thenceforth work its way into every known crevice of the soundboard and pipework. Secondly, the few conveyances were made from secondhand metal pipes, cut above the mouth then along the long seam, rolled into a tighter tube and wrapped around with insulation tape. Lovely! I did however gain a nice long leather knife, left INSIDE the reservoir by the previous occupant... it would have been better left on the outside, as the organ was found to be trying to run on just under an inch of wind. With such vile little monsters around the place, it's easy to make the case for digital. However, a good blow out and a couple of bellows weights later, it sounds gorgeous and is set for another 200 years of service, with another blow out in perhaps 75 years or so. Not sure even the most adventurous and/or foolish digital builder can claim that kind of longevity.

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Guest delvin146

I recently saw a fairly new instrument which made heavy use of PVC overflow pipe and waste pipe, and duct tape to seal reservoirs. I thought this was going a little far myself...

 

I think I saw this one to. I presume it's a building with 2 pipe organs, one at the west end. Dirty fingermarks all over the tin pipes and the case not quite in line?

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On the other hand, I did similarly hear of an incident involving a highly authentic organ building firm which shall be nameless, whose employees were compelled to pickle zinc plated screws to get them back to raw steel before they could be considered for use.  Now that too is probably going a bit far in the quest for authenticity, don't you think?

Yes absolutely. Usually this sort of thing is dictated by the grant giving bodies, like the Lottery Fund, rather than the choice of the organ builder.

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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.

And now you can have that Walker if you want it:

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?Vie...em=220224150422

 

(And quite separately, a smaller organ by Bates which I think I knew slightly in the distant past when I lived in Crawley:

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?Vie...m=330228251425)

 

Paul

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Guest Barry Williams
Yes absolutely. Usually this sort of thing is dictated by the grant giving bodies, like the Lottery Fund, rather than the choice of the organ builder.

 

Even worse, I know of one case where the organ builders were 'required' to work with damaged screws (i.e. with 'swarf') merely so that the original screws could be re-used. Also, it was 'required' that the passage boards, NOT be screwed down as they were not so screwed down by the original maker. Needless to say, if it had been on my patch I would have had some legal words about health and safety - which is not optional and always - absolutely always - comes before historical matters.

 

Barry Williams

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Even worse, I know of one case where the organ builders were 'required' to work with damaged screws (i.e. with 'swarf') merely so that the original screws could be re-used. Also, it was 'required' that the passage boards, NOT be screwed down as they were not so screwed down by the original maker. Needless to say, if it had been on my patch I would have had some legal words about health and safety - which is not optional and always - absolutely always - comes before historical matters.

 

Barry Williams

 

 

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

 

I would have thought that the legal position would correspond to your own, and that anyone who objected to it, might actually be guilty of an offence.

 

I recall the restoration work at Alkmaar, where the workmen not only had a fully constructed "floor" underfoot, just below the roof of the church, and to which access included a steel stairway (with handrails) and a lift.

 

I can't imagine for one minute that safety would ever be compromised, even in the usually thorough Netherland ways of meticulous organ-restoration, because they actually seem to understand certain basic priorities.

 

What is wrong with people in this country?

 

MM

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Guest Cynic
==========================

 

I would have thought that the legal position would correspond to your own, and that anyone who objected to it, might actually be guilty of an offence.

 

I recall the restoration work at Alkmaar, where the workmen not only had a fully constructed "floor" underfoot, just below the roof of the church, and to which access included a steel stairway (with handrails) and a lift.

 

I can't imagine for one minute that safety would ever be compromised, even in the usually thorough Netherland ways of meticulous organ-restoration, because they actually seem to understand certain basic priorities.

 

What is wrong with people in this country?

 

MM

 

 

It's hands-on government that has set the tone. Our high and mighty just love setting regulations for the rest of us - they don't necessarily follow them themselves. My favourite classic story of The Expert Advisers concerns the Numeracy and Literacy hours brought in and imposed on Junior Schools. No wait, that's not the point. Point coming up!

 

Anyway, every day in schools up and down the land an hour each and every day suddenly had to be spent on each of these two disciplines - no problem, most schools were already spending close to this amount of time anyway. However....the government advisers then really got into gear and came out with their requirements/pronouncements/instructions - to ignore which would be to set oneself up as a sacrificial victim for OFSTED. The English Literacy Hour team demanded that every classroom be set up with children working around desks bunched together in small groups, facing each other. The Maths Advisory team then came in demanding that all students should have their desks arranged to face the board. What did HMG Chiefs decide - one or the other? No way.... their advice was that every single day time should be set aside for the classroom to be rearranged (presumably by small children with nothing better to do) between the two subjects.

 

I can't resist telling you another: this case appeared in the national press, maybe some of you remember it. Experienced teacher in a rural infant school receives an OFSTED inspection in the Spring. One morning as a break from the ordinary lessons she takes the children to a nearby field so that they can see the lambs being born. Result? Fail. It wasn't in her lesson plans from the beginning of the year.

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