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AJJ

New organ for new RC cathedral in the USA

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This looks interesting:

 

http://cbfisk.com/sites/default/files/instruments/specifications/147_spec.pdf

 

Granted this is is only a stoplist and the building has yet to be completed but from what we already know about this firm I am sure the result will be exciting. The brief apparently was one with repertoire and liturgy in mind and certainly the copious 'fonds' and different levels of celestes throughout will no doubt assist with the latter. The tierce mixture on the Choir is interesting as is the lack of mixture and double enclosure of reeds on the Swell. With ultimately two 'big' reeds, three 32' stops, a pedal non unison designed to adapt to its surroundings and what looks like a fairly sturdy Great flue chorus the whole thing should be capable of a large dynamic spectrum. Choir and organ will be on a west gallery.

 

A

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What an interesting specification, thank you for posting.

 

I've never encountered double enclosure before and wonder if anyone can enlighten me as to its musical benefit and perhaps links to other instruments that use this system?

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What an interesting specification, thank you for posting.

 

I've never encountered double enclosure before and wonder if anyone can enlighten me as to its musical benefit and perhaps links to other instruments that use this system?

 

Schoenstein of San Francisco use it a lot in their boxes. It means basically to insert a second set of shutters inside the box, somewhat down the chest. Usually, the second enclosure contains what is needed for a full-Swell effect – mixtures and fiery, high-pressure reeds (or reed units), and/or a Vox humana. The apparatus aims at still more control and nuance. Here's a picture – note the tunnel-like depth of the box.

 

I imagine it helps to further soften the transition from fully-shut to slightly open, which is usually the most noticeable jump in loudness. I guess, though, that you would need really keen sounds inside the second enclosure if you want to overcome the usual loss of character that comes with boxed pipes. Being a champion of the sound of pipes in the open, I watch with suspicion such attempts at taming down the sound even more.

 

Best,

Friedrich

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A new Schoenstein is heading for London soon too I believe.

 

A

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Schoenstein's tonal director, Jack Bethards, wrote a long and detailed article ("A Brief for the Symphonic Organ") about this type of instrument, and devoted attention to "enclosure" and "dynamic control" which described the Schoenstein system of double expression at some length. The article was in BIOS Journal volume 26, 2002.

 

There is also a condensed description of the system on the firm's website at:

 

http://www.schoenstein.com/double-expression.html

 

CEP

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'Schoenstein's tonal director, Jack Bethards, wrote a long and detailed article ("A Brief for the Symphonic Organ") about this type of instrument...............The article was in BIOS Journal volume 26, 2002.'

 

 

As one of the editors of this BIOS Journal I had quite a bit of correspondence with Jack Bethards at the time. He is a great enthusiast for the British organ of the late 19th and early 20th centuries with a huge knowlege of builders, instruments and styles etc.

 

A

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Mention of the quint being brought in for the lowest notes on the Great when the Double Diapason is drawn is interesting. I have often wondered how useful the (separate) Quint is on the Great at St Paul's Cathedral - does it get used, I wonder, and what is its purpose? I have experimented on our school organ by coupling the Choir Tierce through to the Great at the sub octave but it isn't an effect that I've been longing for all my life, I must admit, but presumably I need to have 16' tone in the combination too. Does anyone have ready access to a manual 5 1/3 stop, and if they do, what combination needs to be drawn to reap that stop's full value?

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I found the 5 1/3 Quint at Cork Cathedral to be quite effective, ditto Downside. As regards the 3 1/5 tierce, it can have a beautiful effect in an old French organ (Le Petit Andely comes to mind), but in other instruments practice does not often equate to theory. The Ulster Hall acquired a 3 1/5 Tenth on the Great when our hosts rebuilt it in consultation with Lord Dunleath, but in more recent years it was replaced with a 4' flute. Oddly enough, though, last Saturday I was in Cambridge and went into St. Clement's Church (I had never found it open before). The organ is a one manual Bryceson which had its upperwork replaced by soothing syrup somewhere along the line but later, when the organ builder Bill Johnson played there, some transpositions and replacements were made so that today it has a chorus at 8.4.2 plus a register labelled "Aeoline 4" which in fact plays at 3 1/5 and is the only off-unison stop. Surprisingly, it sounded quite good in chorus, adding a pleasant sort of growl to things. Tonally, I guess it was nearest to a dulciana, so it wouldn't be the same as a fluty French example.

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Mention of the quint being brought in for the lowest notes on the Great when the Double Diapason is drawn is interesting. I have often wondered how useful the (separate) Quint is on the Great at St Paul's Cathedral - does it get used, I wonder, and what is its purpose? I have experimented on our school organ by coupling the Choir Tierce through to the Great at the sub octave but it isn't an effect that I've been longing for all my life, I must admit, but presumably I need to have 16' tone in the combination too. Does anyone have ready access to a manual 5 1/3 stop, and if they do, what combination needs to be drawn to reap that stop's full value?

 

I used to have ready access to such a stop, but it rather mystifies me. In theory, of course, it produces resultant beats with an 8 foot stop whose beat frequencies are at 16 foot pitch. However there is no actual acoustic energy at the beat frequency (as with any resultant), so all one hears are the two generating tones together with a sort of growl which develops towards the lowest notes. It's an interesting sound, but that's about all I can say.

 

It was found in some late 17th and 18th century German organs, such as that at Arnstadt by Wender. There are some recordings of this instrument which (to my ears) bear out what I said above. In fact, the presence of this stop was one reason which caused me to simulate the Arnstadt organ digitally, though I won't say more here on a pipe organ forum other than to remark that it confirmed the impressions noted above.

 

CEP

 

(Subsequent edit: David's post (#8) appeared unbeknown to me whilst I was writing mine. It's mildly interesting that we both used the adjectival phrase "sort of growl" quite independently).

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Does anyone have ready access to a manual 5 1/3 stop, and if they do, what combination needs to be drawn to reap that stop's full value?

I don’t, but I know one when I hear one. More often than not, you find it in multirank mixtures in the upper half of the keyboard. If the mixture is drawn without a physical double present, you will hear that “sort of growl” mentioned in the two posts above. Depending on the quality of the voicing, this can sound either like a dirty smear under the unison line, or rather like an attractive colour to the chorus. By the way, this isolated effect tends to diminish if in the respective music the chorus is supported by a powerful bass line, preferably including a 16'-reed.

 

With these kind of off-unison ranks, much seems to depend on scaling. The late Stephen Bicknell kept insisting that it would do no good to emasculate chorus twelfths (or fifths) too much if the desired effect was blend and power. In his 1998/99 Choir and Organ series, quoting examples of his own experience, he held that uniform scaling of all ranks (the “straight-line chorus”) was indispensible for that. As for off-unison flutes, he stated that large scales did the trick rather than timid attempts at colour.

 

That said, if a large space houses a big organ, I quite like the complexity of a well-balanced 16'-chorus complete with fifths, twelfths and everything. It is a grand sound that goes well with a lot of music.

 

Best

Friedrich

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I think that's right - the right scaling is vital. Narrow tierces are generally not a success, unless they're made that way for a particular reason.

 

Nigel Church (I think) pointed out that, not only is the scale of the mutations important but also that of the supporting ranks. This is why the addition of mutations to older foundations doesn't always work (although a fairly bold nazard and tierce added to Father Willis flutes can sound perfect - St. Patrick's RC Church, Dundalk, for example).

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Thanks Friedrich - in your penultimate sentence... would you include 17ths??

I positively love those and the bite they produce, e. g. in Silbermann’s or Ladegast’s choruses (rather less so in E. F. Walcker’s). But I appreciate that many others find them over the top.

 

Best

Friedrich

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Harry Bramma spoke up for the Harrison Harmonics and had a new one made for All Saints, Margaret Street, where it had been displaced by a quint mixture many years before. He also recorded that he found the example at Worcester to be a useful alternative to the quint mixture and not just as a bridge to the reeds. Nevertheless, it's surely true to say that when Harmonics were in vogue, the mixtures normally came on only after at least some of the reeds were out.

 

I liked the Harmonics at Redcliffe, and even used it as a solo cornet on occasion, but I remember a particularly nasty (IMHO) example at St. Mark's, Portadown in Northern Ireland. This was a Rushworth rebuild of a Walker. I once remarked to Rushworth's tuner that it was unusual. 'Yes', he said, 'and it's a b***** to tune!'

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Unusual stop-list. With regard to chorus-work, it appears to have regressed to the era of E.M. Skinner.

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Unusual stop-list. With regard to chorus-work, it appears to have regressed to the era of E.M. Skinner.

Is that necessarily a regression though? In some ways it could be said to be but in others perhaps not.

 

A

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Schoenstein's tonal director, Jack Bethards, wrote a long and detailed article ("A Brief for the Symphonic Organ") about this type of instrument, and devoted attention to "enclosure" and "dynamic control" which described the Schoenstein system of double expression at some length. The article was in BIOS Journal volume 26, 2002.

 

There is also a condensed description of the system on the firm's website at:

 

http://www.schoenstein.com/double-expression.html

 

CEP

Ah, I understand how it works now and would be very interested to hear the effect. Does anyone know of a UK example of the double expression box?

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I can't think of a current example, although there may be the odd Vox lurking in its own enclosure within the main box, but there's nothing new under the sun and Samuel Green built at least one instrument which was totally enclosed, with the Swell separately enclosed within the main chamber (St. George's Chapel, Windsor).

 

One can get some degree of extra crescendo from the Swell at St. Mary Redcliffe, which has west and south facing shutters, separately controlled, but this was done for the purpose of directing the sound into either the nave or the quire.

 

A big, enclosed solo reed can provide a "Super Full Swell". Harry Gabb used to use the Solo Posaunes at St. Paul's in this way, and I imagine that the addition of mixture-work to that department in one of the later Willis reshuffles was intended with that in mind. The effect was lost when the aforesaid reeds went up into the Dome and lost their box. In North America, it's quite usual to enclose the Tuba(s), with no ill effect that I can discern. I can use mine for things like the final surge at the end of pieces by Howells (e.g. Psalm Prelude, Set 2, No.3), etc.

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Is that necessarily a regression though? In some ways it could be said to be but in others perhaps not.

 

A

 

With regard to chorus-work, I think, yes.

 

This type of scheme is all very well, but even symphonic music needs some brightness at times - and not simply by the addition of very bright reeds.

 

The Swell is to have no compound stop at all (but will have three undulating ranks, and two others on the Choir Organ), the Choir, something fairly pointless - there is already a separate 2ft. and Tierce. Whilst the scale is likely to be different, with the presence of the separate Tierce, the compound stop should be a quint Mixture. The G.O. Mixture is worse - three quint ranks, and nothing above 1ft. pitch.

 

Cavaillé-Coll (who can surely be regarded as a master at building symphonic organs) included more upper-work than this, even allowing for the twelve or so years he spent experimenting with 'progressive' compound stops.

The double enclosure of the Swell, I think is probably an unnecessary gimmick. The example at Llandaff was, apparently, fairly pointless; true, it did not include any chorus reeds. However, if a box is well-proportioned, well-designed, with a good shutter area and a responsive pedal, I can see no need for the reeds to be in a secondary enclosure. In any case, it would probably be necessary to voice the pipes more loudly and brightly, in order to counteract the attenuating effect of the double enclosure; in which case, why bother? The builders' rationale states: 'With all shades fully open, the chorus reeds and mixture are slightly louder than those of the Great.' To my mind, this balance is wrong - the G.O. reeds should provide the final climax. In addition - apparently, there is not going to be a Mixture in this Swell Organ either, so it can hardly dominate anything. With the complete lack of a chorus on the Swell Organ, I cannot see how this instrument is going to be anything other than a collection of foundation stops, with some very loud, enclosed reeds. It appears almost to be attempting to engender some kind of Hope-Jones revival, in so far as the Swell Organ is concerned. The Pedal Organ appears rather 'woody', too.

 

The Swell expression box on my own church instrument is extremely responsive and with an excellent dynamic range. I certainly could see any point in attempting something similar here.

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With regard to chorus-work, I think, yes.......

 

I tend to empathise with much of this - as far as one can make an opinion on the spec. of a yet to be built instrument that is. However, a company with the reputation that Fisk undoubtedly has seems to me unlikely to build to a design destined to result in musical failure or something so quirky as to be no more that a generator of liturgical atmospherics. It would be interesting to hear the rationale behind what is being proposed.

 

A

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AJJ: It wouldn't be the first time that Fisk proposed something which looked startling but, in the end, worked out. I guess we shall have to wait and see.

 

pcnd: You mentioned the old organ at Llandaff. I thought the Secondary Swell was in the same box as the rest of the Swell, not separately enclosed within it. The stops were only separated so that they could be transferred to the bottom manual as a small Choir Organ. I'd be interested to know if that was the case.

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AJJ: It wouldn't be the first time that Fisk proposed something which looked startling but, in the end, worked out. I guess we shall have to wait and see.

 

pcnd: You mentioned the old organ at Llandaff. I thought the Secondary Swell was in the same box as the rest of the Swell, not separately enclosed within it. The stops were only separated so that they could be transferred to the bottom manual as a small Choir Organ. I'd be interested to know if that was the case.

 

As far as I know, there was a secondary enclosure - but I will check (I shall ask Guy Russell, he would know).

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I was going by the blurb on the back of the "Great Cathedral Organs" lp, which said something along the lines of the Secondary Swell being "enclosed in the main swell-box", also by the description of there being balanced pedals to Swell, Solo and General Crescendo and a picture of the console showing three pedals.

 

Clutton wrote the organ up in "The Organ" - he liked most of it. Although he described the Secondary Swell as "useless", he didn't mention double enclosure.

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