Vox Humana Posted February 6, 2006 Share Posted February 6, 2006 I haven't been able to sleep and I'm in a mean mood, so I thought I'd inflict you all with a good old grump. In another thread Tubular Pneumatic made the interesting comment that he much preferred high English consoles to the low-level American ones. Neither is the exclusive preserve of one nation, but I know what he means: as a generalisation the distinction is valid. My heart warms to our American friend: I wholeheartedly agree! A low level console means that in a large organ you've got to have three or four columns of stop knobs for each division. Once this happens it seems that the logical sequence of pitches from low to high goes to pot. A case in point is Washington Cathedral where the layout is somtimes quite bizarre. To take the Pedal reeds as an example, the 2ft Kornet appears in the middle of the five 8fts. The 16ft Bombarde is nowhere near the 32ft Bombarde, but is immediately above the 32ft Contra Fagotto (why didn't they swap the two 32fts?) The 8ft Bombarde is directly above the 16ft, but the Clairon is three columns to the left of them. Maybe this sort of thing happens over here as well, but I've never personally come across the three-column design in this country. I feel the Americans have a lot still to learn about console layout. Or is there some logic here that I'm failing to see? Low level consoles also mean that the couplers tend to get placed in a row of stop tabs above the top manual. This is very common in America where you have lots of couplers, but you get it fairly regularly in Britain too. And how I hate it! I can never find the one I want quickly. Bung them in their respective divisions every time, I say! In fact this problem of quick location goes for stop tabs generally. Give me knobs every time. It's said that an advantage of stop tabs is that you get from pianissimo to fortissimo quickly simply by doing a glissando across the top of them. No doubt. But what discriminating organist wants every Dulciana, Salicional and Celeste (not to mention Erzhälers) in the fortissimo? Then there's the continental type of low-level console with the stops in curving horizontal rows. Now I don't mind these nearly so much. At least the ones I've encountered were easy enough to manipulate. But because the stops are well below eye level it requires more eye movement to locate the ones you want. So I still find them less helpful than the traditional English design. Then there's console lights. The most crass design was one I came across a few times in America where the horizontal part of the music rest - the bit that stops your music falling onto the keyboard - was a flourescent music light. No doubt its inventor thought it a whizz-bang idea, but what actually happens is that the light shines not only onto the page your reading, but behind it as well, making the music on the reverse side show through and thus obscure what you're trying to read. Quite impractical! There, I feel better for that! Views, boquets and brickbats awaited. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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