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Most pointless stops?

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To reply to Dave the Pipe: the words "glass houses" and "casting stones" spring to mind! I too have been involved in keeping a Swell double reed on a Pedal Organ and also introducing a Pedal Bourdon as a manual double... as I think you're trying to make out, there are no hard and fast rules and every instance needs careful thought on its own considerations and merits. :)

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Twelfths - I'm in broad agreement that a Twelfth is not much use in a well-balanced Great, but there are exceptions. One is the Kenneth Jones at Compton, Surrey (http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=D02907), where the Great has Nazard and Tierce but no Mixture. I was asked, in a totally unofficial capacity, about this scheme before it was built and reckoned that Mixture and Sesquialtera was a better bet, but Kenneth was not to be moved and he was right. In this fairly small church, Great to Fifteenth with Nazard is exactly right and sounds as if there is a mixture present. The diapasons are broad and warm and the instrument is altogether a gem. As is always the case, employment of the highest talent yields the best results. A similar scheme at Rochford, Essex, (http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=H00616) is a much more workaday job and, while decent enough, fails to thrill. I experienced a Gallic twist on the same theme at Notre Dame de Boulogne sur Seine on the outskirts of Paris, by Gutschenritter (1968):

 

Grand: Montre, Bourdon, Prestant, Nasard, Doublette, Tierce, Recit/Grand 16/8/4

Recit: Flute, Gambe, Celeste, Flute 4, Fourniture IV, Trompette, Basson-Hautbois, Clairon, Recit 16/Muet/4

Pedale: Soubasse, Bourdon 8, Principal 4, Basson (enclosed) 16, Grand/P, Recit/P 8,4

 

It stands in the south corner of the west gallery, from whence the effect in the church is thrilling, but at the console almost devastating. The sound is painted in bold colours, the combinational potential is extraordinary and the effect is of a very much larger instrument.

 

A final, and unusual example of an effective Twelfth is in Philip Prosser's rebuild of the Compton Miniatura at Comber, Co. Down (http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=D08245). This was a good organ to start with - these little jobs usually were - but the parish had the money and the inclination to expand its potential. The 1956 action was, by 2000, beginning to get a little tired. My advice was to add another rank and, released from the constraints of the original Compton action (a simplified system which only allowed a certain number of registers) to broaden the scope of the existing two ranks, especially on the upper manual. I was glad the job went to Philip Prosser who, apart from being a fine all-round organ builder, is also a top voicer. As carried out, it largely followed what I had envisaged (it doesn't take rocket science to work out what to do with three ranks), but Philip (at no extra cost) decided to add an independent Twelfth to tenor C, borrowing the bass from the new Gemshorn, and to use it also to supply the quint rank in a three-rank mixture. The result is tremendously successful. If you look at the scheme on NPOR, you will notice a peculiarity in that there are three 2' stops on the Swell! The reason for this is that we thought that it would be most useful to have the Diapason and Gemshorn available at that pitch but the Piccolo was part of the original scheme and we didn't think it was right to discard it. One reason for the success of this organ is that the Gemshorn is reasonably substantial (as it would have been if Compton had provided a Miniatura III rather than a Miniatura II) and is therefore able to provide effective upperwork - in contrast to the many (oh! so many!) small extension organs where the third rank is a Salicional and nearly useless in its upper derivations.

 

Great Tierces - Those who read Sam Clutton's articles will know that he was subject to various enthusiasms at different times in his life. In one of his essays - I think it was on St. Michael's, Tenbury - he waxed long and eloquently about the virtues of a "diapason tierce" as being much more valuable than the 5 1/3 Quint which was provided. At Tenbury, the Great 4' Flute later fell victim to a second Principal and, later still, a 4' Flute was returned, this time ousting the Quint, but the Tierce never materialised on the Great (in which, incidentally, the mixtures don't contain tierces). At St. Magnus Cathedral, a Seventeenth of principal tone appeared on the Great at the 1971 rebuild. Since the mutations introduced on the 'Positif' at the same time were not particularly full-bodied, the best cornet effect was on the Great, but overall I didn't much care for the Seventeenth and felt that some players spoiled their registration by using it too much. It did not, in my opinion, sound felicitous as a top to the chorus before the Mixture came on, neither did it sound good with the mixture except in certain specialist registrations.

 

So - in most circumstances a Sesquialtera is more use than a Twelfth and a Seventeenth is rarely as useful as it might promise, but there are, as always, exceptions to the hypothesis!

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...A good question. I'm always open to correction from those who know better, but I consider it wasteful. In my view there's little justification for a mixture to start at the bottom of the compass by duplicating pitches which exist elsewhere. If there is a 12th and a 15th as separate stops, I would start a quint mixture at 19, 22 and so on. This gives more scope for it to break sensibly across the compass before coming to rest at the top few notes with, say, an 8.12.15 composition (which any mixture more or less has to do to prevent the pipes getting too small and to prevent it going beyond the range of audibility of many listeners).

 

CEP

 

 

Absolutely. By the same rule, there are a few larger G.O. divisions, with both a separate Twelfth and Fifteenth, which also have a four-rank Mixture commencing at 12-15-19-22. Beginning this an octave higher would be far more useful and be likely to add more brightness to the chorus, and, as Colin states, allow for a more flexible scheme of breaks.

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...The duplexing of manual stops onto the pedals needs to be treated with care. The voicing/regulation of manual doubles is different to pedal stops. Manual doubles will typically be shaded off in the bottom octave, or the effect becomes too heavy, whereas the power of pedal stops may well grow as one descends the bass octave. This is typically why many manual stops are of questionable value on the pedal organ - personally, I'm no fan as they're a compromise at best and if one really needs to use one, why not just couple it down from the manual with no pedal stops? To duplex it will involve some kind of clamp or unit chest in any case. ...

 

Moving on to manual 16ft reeds, one of my pet hates is when the original Swell Oboe has been transplanted into a 16 stop, usually with a cheap and nasty bottom octave. Why do people do this? It makes the Oboe useless for solos, French fonds d'orgue and the "small swell" effects so typical of the make-up of the British romantic organ sound - so the stop no longer really has any of its intended functions any longer. It's quite possible to get the 16ft swell effect very easily with a sub-octave coupler (best with electric or pneumatic action) and transplanting the Oboe to 16ft limits its usefulness to a stop you only ever add after you've added the main 8ft swell reed. It always feels more like vanity than practical purpose.

 

Personally, I'm not a great fan of manual Clarions/Clairons. Reeds loose power in the treble and are harder to keep in tune, so what's the point most of the time? To keep the power up, they need to be pushed and I find many of them can make the organ sound hard and unpleasant to listen to, especially in the treble. I prefer 16.8 chorus reeds to 8.4 reeds, which is a much grander and richer effect - interestingly 16.8 reeds require less wind than 8.4! ...

 

 

With regard to the duplexing of clavier sub unison ranks on the the Pedal Organ - this can be effective. The trouble with coupling a rank down is that it ties up that clavier for the one effect. Whilst, arguably, Arthur Harrison went too far with this (for example, at Ely Cathedral, where the only independent Pedal ranks were the Open Wood and the Ophicleide, everything else being either extended or duplexed), if not over-used, the resulting flexibility can be most useful.

 

In fact, this does not need to involve either a clamp or a unit chest. The instrument at Saint Aldhelm's Church, Branksome has a Swell 16ft. Bass Trumpet which is also available on the Pedal Organ. The entire rank stands on the Swell reed chest and is made available on the Pedal Organ by means of a dual action.

 

I would agree with you regarding the conversion of Oboe ranks to 16ft. pitch. This is rarely anything other than pointless. The resulting sound is generally too quiet and lacking in tonal 'weight' to support the full Swell adequately and, as you state, the stop is then rendered useless as a unison effect. I also agree that this stop is far more useful with the foundation ranks and as an integral part of the French 'fonds d'orgue'.

 

Clarion stops- I have three (one on the Pedal Organ), and I would not part with any of them. In fact, our swell Clarion is a vital ingredient in French 'tutti Récit' effects, adding the necessary brightness to the reed chorus. It is also very useful in accompaniment - occasionally without the 8ft. Cornopean (or with the Hautbois instead), for example, at the end of the Gloria to Stanford's Nunc Dimittis, in B-flat, where I use the Swell 16ft. and 4ft. reeds, with the Hautbois; the addition of the Swell Cornopean is often too much at this point. In addition, when playing French Classical music, the G.O. Clarion is invaluable, helping to simulate the 'crash' of the attack of good French low-pressure reeds. 16ft. and 8ft. reeds are simply not the right type of sound for this.

 

I was interested to read your statement regarding the use of wind. I should have thought that it depended on the scale and pressure of the 16ft. rank. Ours is quite wide-scaled and I would be interested to know more of this.

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Thinking on from the above, some of the most useless stops must be those which aren't up to doing the job for which they are intended. I can think of at least two independent 4' Pedal reeds (the Krummhorn at Bristol University and the Schalmei at Belfast Cathedral) which are too quiet to be accompanied by anything suitable on the manuals. The 4' Horn at St. Magnus Cathedral is similarly disappointing, being an extension of the Swell 16' Waldhorn.

 

In general, Swell Fagottos (Fagotti?) borrowed to make the Pedal reeds are pretty useless, being too quiet to have any effect. An exception is the aforementioned Christ Church, Swindon. Percy Daniel often used a unit Swell reed, calling the 16' Fagotto and the 8' Cornopean or Horn (St. George's, Brandon Hill, Bristol was another example - I don't know why NPOR queries this organ as it certainly existed with the given stop-list until the church closed), and these could be decent Pedal reeds. So, a Fagotto which is in effect a Double Trumpet is worth borrowing to the Pedal, but one which is more of a Contra Oboe (or a Waldhorn)isn't.

 

I rarely find that borrowing the Swell Bourdon to give a quiet bass is worth the trouble. I suppose it gives another stop on the console at small cost and therefore looks impressive. About the only exception I can think of is here (St. John's Cathedral, Newfoundland), where the Swell 16' is not only useful in its own right but fills out the Pedal Bourdon to a small but perceptible degree (incidentally, it's spelled "Lieblick Gedeckt" on both draw-stops!).

 

There's not much use in the 4' extension of the pedal Bourdon, although the 8' is often handy in giving body to the 16'. I can think of several rebuilds where the expense and trouble of providing an extra octave of pipes and their soundboard has not been worth it. One still has to couple nearly all the time and the 4' is rarely loud enough to use as a solo.

 

There is, however, a lot of fun to be had with Pedal upperwork and I feel that a lot of modern organs are missing a trick. A straight scheme of 16.16.8.8.4.16 is all very well and laudable, but St. Botolph's, Colchester is much more versatile:

 

Open Bass 16A, Sub Bass 16B, Principal 8A, Bass Flute 8B, Fifteenth 4A, Chimney Flute 2B, Mixture (19.22) IIA with separate quints, Bass Trumpet 16C, Trumpet 8C, Clarion 4C. (Variants on the same are at Southwold, Walsingham and Sawbridgeworth).

 

G. Donald Harrison reckoned he could fit a proper, straight Pedal Organ in the space of an old, extended one, but he was talking in terms of scrapping a lot of mightily-scaled basses.

 

I'd love to try the Compenius organ at Frederiksborg Castle in Denmark, with its pedal fluework up to 1' pitch, including mutations.

 

A shame, also, that we so seldom these days get a 4' Pedal reed, even by extension. It's not always handy (or even possible) to couple. The new Harrison at St. Edmundsbury Cathedral has pedal reeds 32.16.16.16. No 8' and no 4' - it seems a little odd in such an otherwise faultless job.

 

David, I agree with your observations, here.

 

Having said that, there are occasions (as you also state) where duplexing the Swell sub-unison rank to the Pedal Organ is worth the trouble. One such example is the interesting two-clavier instrument near here, at Holt: http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=K00571 . This organ, aside from having an unusual Swell stop-list, has the quiet Lieblich Bourdon available separately on the Pedal Organ - which is most useful, the actual Bourdon stop being fairly foundational and a little too large for quieter combinations. apart from the G.O. Gamba (which is 'scratchy' and slightly unpleasant), the whole organ is musical and interesting.

 

At Exeter Cathedral, the recent alterations in the scheme have produced some confusion in nomenclature. There is a 16ft. Lieblich Bourdon on the Choir Organ (which borrows the lowest twelve notes from the Pedal Bourdon, due to lack of space), there is also a Bourdon on the Swell organ (which is an unhappy revoicing of the former Quintadena - a most useful stop). At the same time, the Quintadena was available separately on the Pedal Organ (as was its predecessor, a Double Stopped Diapason, which was labelled 'Stopped Diapason 16' on the Pedal draw-stop). Now, since the revoicing, Harrisons have chosen to call the revoiced stop 'Lieblich Bourdon' - so the natural assumption of visiting organists, is that this stop is borrowed from the Choir Organ rank - which is not the case. Other alterations to this once fine instrument suggest that, once again, upper-work is being whittled-down to undesirable levels. This instrument never 'screamed', but rather glittered (without wishing to be too fanciful). Now it sounds dull - and slightly tubby. There appears to be a further 'addition': the Pedal Organ Violone 16ft', which formerly borrowed eight pipes from the G.O. Double Open Diapason, now only borrows four pipes - it looks as if the cathedral went to the (slightly pointless) expense of adding four new pipes and cramming them into the new internal layout. Since the Violone still borrows four pipes, I should have thought that the money could either have been saved, or spent on a more worthwhile change.

 

I have often wondered why HW III provided 4ft. extensions of the Pedal Bourdon in many of his instruments; it is generally too quiet to be of much use. On the same thought, I also regard the scheme of the Pedal reeds at Saint Edmundsbury Cathedral to be a little odd. Surely at least an 8ft. extension could have been provided. In addition, the G.O. is a little small, at twelve stops - yes, I know that the 'Little Giant' at Truro has the same number of speaking stops for its own G.O., but I suspect that the effect there is rather different, due largely to the voicing of the FHW chorus reeds.

 

With regard to pointless stops, I nominate the Pedal derivation of the Choir Cor Anglais (16ft.), at Saint Peter's Civic Church, Bournemouth. Aside from the fact that it was shorn of its extra octave of pipes in the treble range, by Rushworth's - who stated that they could not get this to work on electric action (Harry Harrison could, in 1914), this stop is almost inaudible. Its availability on the Pedal Organ is entirely pointless. Unless one is playing with only the Swell strings and the box tightly closed (and no other Pedal stops), the Cor Anglais remains stubbornly inaudible.

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It looks like I'm out-voted regarding derivations of quiet bourdons to the Pedal. I will surrender to the extent of maintaining that there are some organs where such derivations appear pointless to me!

 

Borrowing an open double from the Great, on the other hand, I find rather useful. It means the Open Wood needn't be too loud and adds a bit of point to the Pedal line where an independent metal open might be too much. The 16' Great Geigen at Belfast Cathedral is a particularly good one and also very handy in its incarnation as the Pedal Violone.

 

Clarions can be a nuisance to keep in tune, but I don't think that on that account we should shun them. I think initial design and regulation is of vital importance and environment equally so - dust is a mortal enemy of small reed pipes (hooding is a good idea!). Like pcnd, I find mine very useful. It's on the Great (the Swell has Double Trumpet, Cornopean, Oboe and Vox, but it also has an octave coupler and a 73 note soundboard) and I often use it before drawing the 8' reed (called "Tromba" but in fact more like a trompette). I even use it with Great to Fifteenth (sometimes with the Great octave coupler) and certainly with Great to Mixture. I regard it as "the Clarion", rather than as "the Great Clarion". I sometimes use it with the Great sub, so it becomes an 8' reed of less wallop than the Tromba. One needs to live with a full set of couplers to appreciate the scope they give to registration - some Willis III organs come close, but I think that many North American organs were designed with the octave couplers considered as part of the ensemble, rather than as special effects. Like pcnd, I appreciate the role of the Clarion in delivering the smack required in French music, and also the trick which many of us must have picked up in choral accompaniment of drawing the Swell 16' and 4' reeds without the 8'. Norman Cocker gave a recipe for French sorties which involved drawing 16' and upperwork, omitting any 8' stops except for a final climax, but making free use of octave couplers.

 

pcnd is our resident expert on Exeter Cathedral organ. I don't know it very well, but a few impressions stand out in my mind. One is that, in general, it sings at you in an effortless way, lacking the intimidation which some other organs can give. It seems like a first-rate accompanimental instrument. But over 40 years ago (!) when I was about 15, I was travelling down to Bude and was supposed to transfer from train to bus in Exeter (it was a Bank Holiday, the bus wasn't running and I had to hitch - my only experience of hitch-hiking, which I found interesting but put the wind up my mother quite considerably). I went into the cathedral and the choir was rehearsing an office hymn to one of those triple-time French tunes (like Deus tuorum militum, St. Venantius or Lucis Creator) and there was a lot of organ and much Tuba. I suppose it was Paul Morgan playing, and it was very good - there was certainly no impression that the organ was lacking in decibels to do the job. It made a profound impression that is still with me. Subsequently, I came to appreciate the details of the scheme, in particular that the revised upperwork seemed to top things just right. I'd be sorry if it had been tamed too much.

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... I went into the cathedral and the choir was rehearsing an office hymn to one of those triple-time French tunes (like Deus tuorum militum, St. Venantius or Lucis Creator) and there was a lot of organ and much Tuba. I suppose it was Paul Morgan playing, and it was very good - there was certainly no impression that the organ was lacking in decibels to do the job. It made a profound impression that is still with me. Subsequently, I came to appreciate the details of the scheme, in particular that the revised upperwork seemed to top things just right. I'd be sorry if it had been tamed too much.

 

It did indeed - before 2000. Now that the Choir Organ stops at a Larigot, the Swell Mixture has been re-pitched a fourth lower, the G.O. Sharp Mixture a fifth lower and the G.O. IV-rank Mixture revoiced (or at least re-balanced), so that any brightness it once possessed is now little more than a memory, this instrument, whilst still being fairly good with regard to choral accompaniment, is now rather less exciting - and somewhat more dull and tubby than formerly - which is perhaps a great shame.

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pcnd is our resident expert on Exeter Cathedral organ. I don't know it very well, but a few impressions stand out in my mind. One is that, in general, it sings at you in an effortless way, lacking the intimidation which some other organs can give. It seems like a first-rate accompanimental instrument.

 

It certainly is (or at least was, as I have not yet heard it since the recent renovation). It was barely adequate to fill the cathedral (hence the Minstrel Gallery section), but the the glory of this was that you could use anything up to full organ minus the Great reeds in fortissimo passages without swamping the choir - and I wouldn't even have discounted the possibility of throwing those in too on odd occasions. This helped make it one of my favourite accompanimental instruments and I very much wish that I had had more chance of practising the art on it than I have had. I gather that the latest work has left it a bit louder than before, although the opinions I have heard seem undecided on this. Once well-known and long-standing member of the choir certainly thought this was the case. I would not suppose that this materially affects its accompanimental versatility though.

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Somewhat odd, now I come to think about it, that the Exeter organ should have been changed so soon before the incumbent organist retired. Wouldn't it have been better to have let the new man get a couple of years' experience with it before altering it?

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Somewhat odd, now I come to think about it, that the Exeter organ should have been changed so soon before the incumbent organist retired. Wouldn't it have been better to have let the new man get a couple of years' experience with it before altering it?

I can't pretend that hadn't occurred to me as well...

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I can't pretend that hadn't occurred to me as well...

 

 

I had the same thought - particularly when considering what has been done to it.

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Getting back to the point somewhat - how about this for a useless collection of stops:

 

Manual: Open Diapason 8, Dulciana 8, Flute 4

Pedal: Bourdon

 

Twillingate Anglican Church, Newfoundland. Norman & Beard, so a classy piece of work, compared to the worthy but workaday Bevingtons, Cassons and Forster & Andrewses which were ordered from catalogues and are more usually found in small communities here (although most don't have pipe organs at all). However, the Open is too big for the Flute to have much of an effect apart from thickening it slightly, and the Dulciana is too quiet to support the Flute.

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Manual: Open Diapason 8, Dulciana 8, Flute 4

Pedal: Bourdon

 

Twillingate Anglican Church, Newfoundland. Norman & Beard, so a classy piece of work, compared to the worthy but workaday Bevingtons, Cassons and Forster & Andrewses which were ordered from catalogues and are more usually found in small communities here (although most don't have pipe organs at all). However, the Open is too big for the Flute to have much of an effect apart from thickening it slightly, and the Dulciana is too quiet to support the Flute.

Completely agree. I grew up with an N&B organ dated 1912 with exactly this spec. There was a swell too: Lieblich Gedeckt, Gamba (that could be used for industrial cleaning), Salicet 4' (that matched the Gt Dulciana), Oboe. A Sw 8ve to Great had long been disabled due to its malfunctioning. But the Great was *exactly* as you describe, David. After I moved away it was revamped with a 4' Principal instead of the Flute. I don’t think I’ve encountered a Bevington from that “catalogue” era but one from the 1860s is one of my favourite instruments.

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Getting back to the point somewhat - how about this for a useless collection of stops:

 

Manual: Open Diapason 8, Dulciana 8, Flute 4

Pedal: Bourdon

 

Twillingate Anglican Church, Newfoundland. Norman & Beard, so a classy piece of work, compared to the worthy but workaday Bevingtons, Cassons and Forster & Andrewses which were ordered from catalogues and are more usually found in small communities here (although most don't have pipe organs at all). However, the Open is too big for the Flute to have much of an effect apart from thickening it slightly, and the Dulciana is too quiet to support the Flute.

 

There is a similar problem on a slightly larger instrument near here. It does have a Swell Organ, but several years ago, a local organ builder removed a perfectly good Stopped Diapason (as far as I can recall) on the G.O., leaving it with either a large-ish Open Diapason or a weedy Dulciana - which was utterly impractical and somewhat irritating.

 

I have never understood some organ builders' love affair with the Dulciana - they are often very quiet and fairly useless - particularly on a small to moderate sized two-clavier instrument.

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My single manual organ has the following...

 

Open Diapason 8'

Stopt Diapason 8'

Principal 4'

Flute 4'

Piccolo 2'

Larigot 1 1/3'

 

Pedal Bourdon 16'

 

Everything except the Bourdon.is under expression.

 

Both of the 2 mini-choruses are quite effectively topped-off with the Piccolo but the Larigot doesn't add much other than a fairly unpleasant shreek. If used to play a solo with the just the Stopt Diapason it sounds quite pleasant but having just the one manual makes its use in this way limited. The Larigot, therefore, is close to pointless. The sound produced by using the Principal, Piccolo and Larigot played down an octave is much more attractive. I am therefore tempted to go inside and put the pipes down an octave producing a Twelth; I could live without the bottom octave. Ignoring the fact that I would probably need a faculty to alter the organ and my excuse for ignoring it would be that no-one except me would ever notice, is there anything I would need to be aware of? I have never mucked about with the innards of an organ but know not to wear a loose and heavy coat etc! Would a tuner be prepared to do the work "on the quiet" does anyone know?

 

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My single manual organ has the following...

 

Open Diapason 8'

Stopt Diapason 8'

Principal 4'

Flute 4'

Piccolo 2'

Larigot 1 1/3'

 

Pedal Bourdon 16'

 

 

 

Everything except the Bourdon.is under expression.

 

Both of the 2 mini-choruses are quite effectively topped-off with the Piccolo but the Larigot doesn't add much other than a fairly unpleasant shreek. If used to play a solo with the just the Stopt Diapason it sounds quite pleasant but having just the one manual makes its use in this way limited. The Larigot, therefore, is close to pointless. The sound produced by using the Principal, Piccolo and Larigot played down an octave is much more attractive. I am therefore tempted to go inside and put the pipes down an octave producing a Twelth; I could live without the bottom octave. Ignoring the fact that I would probably need a faculty to alter the organ and my excuse for ignoring it would be that no-one except me would ever notice, is there anything I would need to be aware of? I have never mucked about with the innards of an organ but know not to wear a loose and heavy coat etc! Would a tuner be prepared to do the work "on the quiet" does anyone know?

 

Just a thought......what about a 1' ? Not as much moving around of pipes - you wouldn't get your 2-2/3 but maybe some glitter if it were quietened down a bit. Depends on the scale though.

 

As a matter of interest was it always a 1-1/3 or was this an alteration at some point?

 

A

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Mmm, that's a thought that hadn't ocurred to me. It's not a loud stop so I think that it would work well as as 1'.

 

As far as I know it was always a 1 1/3 but the organ is a real hotch-potch of bits from several redundant organs in the Birmingham area. This does make establishing a provenance a bit tricky!

 

Thanks very much for the suggestion; that is certainly well worth investigating.

 

P

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Just a thought......what about a 1' ? Not as much moving around of pipes - you wouldn't get your 2-2/3 but maybe some glitter if it were quietened down a bit. Depends on the scale though.

 

As a matter of interest was it always a 1-1/3 or was this an alteration at some point?

 

A

 

A splendid idea, Alastair. As you say, a little less colour - but more sparkle (if the voicing and scaling - and metal - are right). The Larigot (on the Positive), is one of our six mutations which is rarely used, here.

 

We also have a fairly pointless stop on the Minster organ: the G.O. Sesquialtera II (12-17). If it had been scaled and voiced in the North German manner, it would be a useful solo voice (in combination, naturally), and a piquant voice for special effects. However, it is far too quiet and slightly flute-like in intonation - which is, apparently, exactly what David Blott wanted - though goodness knows why. The wide-scaled Positive mutations do this job far better - and it is fairly pointless as an echo Sesquialtera.

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1 foots - now I happen to think they can be quite special when used judiciously. On a three manual instrument I don't know if they are better off on the Swell or Choir, but maybe an interesting idea would be to have a great diapason chorus of 16 8 (5/1/3?) 4, 2\2\3, 2, 1/3/5, 1/1/3, (1/1/7?), 1. Would there be any need for a mixture too if that lot of mutations were available? Or how about having a mixture stop in addition, that when drawn would activate all the mutations whether already drawn or not?

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1 foots - now I happen to think they can be quite special when used judiciously. On a three manual instrument I don't know if they are better off on the Swell or Choir, but maybe an interesting idea would be to have a great diapason chorus of 16 8 (5/1/3?) 4, 2\2\3, 2, 1/3/5, 1/1/3, (1/1/7?), 1. Would there be any need for a mixture too if that lot of mutations were available? Or how about having a mixture stop in addition, that when drawn would activate all the mutations whether already drawn or not?

As to this kind of chorus, I believe the one on the Methuen Great is pretty much what you think of, if the chorus is topped by the Cornet GD Harrison put together from Walcker pipes (it starts 2 2/3 + 2 + 1 3/5 + 1 1/3 and gains 4 and 8-foot ranks at TC and TG respectively; there also are a 5 1/3' and 1 1/7' ranks available separately).

 

Would there be any need for a mixture? Yes, definitely. Scaling, voicing and breaks make the mixture what it is supposed to be. Not just a series of harmonics, but a source of brightness, intensity and complexity over the whole compass. With non-breaking, single ranks the sound of the higher ranks would be forced to trail off as it approaches the treble, and the Twelfth and Fifth lose their colour as they blend in the high-pitched glitter. There is nothing that could replace a real, well-scaled and well laid-out mixture. It makes or breaks an organ. (Sorry, Aristide.)

 

Best wishes

Friedrich

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Some of Ken Tickell's smaller instruments have a 12-17 Cornet as the only Swell mixture. I wonder if these are intended for chorus use?

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Some of Ken Tickell's smaller instruments have a 12-17 Cornet as the only Swell mixture. I wonder if these are intended for chorus use?

Not sure about this but a 12-17 Sesquialtera as a lone Swell mixture can work nicely as a solo stop with flutes and also provide an exciting tang to full to reeds etc. The smaller Mander at St Giles Cripplegate in London proves this point admirably.

 

A

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Cecil Clutton, during one of his enthusiasms, wrote that the Willis III Cornet could do virtually anything except make the tea - it was a good solo stop, it could give the impression of a chorus reed and it could act as a chorus mixture. I believe that there are a few Sesquialteras and Cornets around which work as chorus mixtures, but they generally need the octave coupler to bring off the act. The Swell mixture here is a Cornet IV 8.12.15.17 from bottom C right up 73 notes to give the extra octave for the coupler. Without the octave, it is more of a colour stop, with the octave it works nicely in chorus.

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