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Enclosed Or Partially Enclosed Great Organ


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Skinner etc. enclosed (to a lesser or greater extent) pipework from the Great division on a number of instruments in the US but it never really seemed to have been done much over here. In the situation where a small to medium sized 2 man has to stand on the one hand in a space where a reasonable sized congregation needs to be supported yet on the other hand a choir very close to the instrument (and congregation) also needs consideration could this be an answer? Repertoire wise would enclosure of some of the more prominent/soloistic and/or softer stops confuse or assist things generally? Perhaps also - could this be a situation where strings and celestes might migrate more effectively from Swell to Great?

(Another alternative is to enclose two divisions in a common box with the exception of the 8' Diapason and perhaps the 4' Octave rather like an expanded village 1 man scheme or to just enclose some of the Great with the Swell. Kenneth Tickell has done the former on a fairly small scale a couple of times and within a monastic musical context on both occasions.)

 

http://www.tickell-organs.co.uk/specInfo/opus39.htm

 

Enclosing Great stops has actually been mooted in a possible scheme so any views would be appreciated.

 

AJJ

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...

(Another alternative is to enclose two divisions in a common box with the exception of the 8' Diapason and perhaps the 4' Octave rather like an expanded village 1 man scheme or to just enclose some of the Great with the Swell. Kenneth Tickell has done the former on a fairly small scale a couple of times and within a monastic musical context on both occasions.)

...

AJJ

 

In Germany back in the 1950ies, Herbert Schulze had the idea of enclosing most of the manual divisions except the principal choruses and, strangely, reeds.

 

If I caught your idea correctly, you ask for enclosure rather of the stronger stops, such as reeds or a Cornet. But then, how much is really gained in a two-manual organ that has an enclosed division anyway? I would rather suggest to put the stronger reeds on the Swell then, along with the Cornet décomposé and a rudimentary chorus; the Great then could take the main chorus and a Cromorne.

 

There is another possibility: to build a basically one-manual organ with "Wechselschleifen" (sorry, I don't know the proper English term). This means that you have two groves for each note, grove one being played from Man. I, and grove II from Man. II. The sliders can be pushed into three positions: off / Man. I / Man. II. On such a chest, each stop can be played either on I or on II. With all stops enclosed, and maybe a set-off Diapason in the open, an organ like the following one could be quite versatile as an accompaniment instrument:

 

Manuals I or II

8' Diapason (unenclosed)

8' Gamba

8' Bourdon

8' Open Flute (1-12 from Bourdon)

4' Principal

4' Rohr Flute

Nazard

2' Gemshorn

17th

Larigot

Mixture IV

8' Trumpet

8' Cromorne

 

Pedal (unenclosed)

16' Bourdon

8' Open wood

4' Flute

16' Basson

 

II/P, II/P, II/I

 

Best,

Friedrich

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Guest Barry Oakley
Skinner etc. enclosed (to a lesser or greater extent) pipework from the Great division on a number of instruments in the US but it never really seemed to have been done much over here. In the situation where a small to medium sized 2 man has to stand on the one hand in a space where a reasonable sized congregation needs to be supported yet on the other hand a choir very close to the instrument (and congregation) also needs consideration could this be an answer? Repertoire wise would enclosure of some of the more prominent/soloistic and/or softer stops confuse or assist things generally? Perhaps also - could this be a situation where strings and celestes might migrate more effectively from Swell to Great?

(Another alternative is to enclose two divisions in a common box with the exception of the 8' Diapason and perhaps the 4' Octave rather like an expanded village 1 man scheme or to just enclose some of the Great with the Swell. Kenneth Tickell has done the former on a fairly small scale a couple of times and within a monastic musical context on both occasions.)

 

http://www.tickell-organs.co.uk/specInfo/opus39.htm

 

Enclosing Great stops has actually been mooted in a possible scheme so any views would be appreciated.

 

AJJ

 

John Compton was known for enclosing the Great division on a couple of organs I know of - Downside Abbey where I think everything is enclosed, and at Derby Cathedral where much of the organ is enclosed and under expression, too. Just a few years ago I was involved in the rebuilding and rehousing of a Compton 5-rank, 2-manual/pedal extension organ on which everything was enclosed. Unfortunately, the organ chamber was of such dimensions that it prevented the 8ft Open Diapason being placed effectively outside the box, otherwise that would have been the intention. Someone is probably going to argue the opposite and possibly raise pitfalls, but certainly on a small organ enclosure of the Great does provide for more tonal opportunities.

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John Compton was known for enclosing the Great division on a couple of organs I know of  - Downside Abbey where I think everything is enclosed, and at Derby Cathedral where much of the organ is enclosed and under expression, too. Just a few years ago I was involved in the rebuilding and rehousing of a Compton 5-rank, 2-manual/pedal extension organ on which everything was enclosed. Unfortunately, the organ chamber was of such dimensions that it prevented the 8ft Open Diapason being placed effectively outside the box, otherwise that would have been the intention. Someone is probably going to argue the opposite and possibly raise pitfalls, but certainly on a small organ enclosure of the Great does provide for more tonal opportunities.

 

Hi

 

I think it imprtant here to differentiate between fully enclosed organs (i.e. all in one swell box/chamber) and 2 seperate enclosures.

 

The former is fairly common on small organs from the late 1800's onwards, and includes many small Comptons and the Walker Positives (and some smaller theatre organs - not to mention many electronics). I find little advantage with this - basically, all it is is a volume control - there's no way of adjusting the relative levels of different stops.

 

Having the great (or part of it) enclosed seperately is a different matter, and is common on many electronics right from the early Comptons - but with the problem that the pedal is usually controlled by the same swell pedal - and taht's another issue that needs thinking through!. This does give the advantage of being able to adjust the relative balances - and adds a great deral of flexibility to smaller organs.

 

Personally, I woyuld prefer the Great Diapason chorus (or at least the main part of it) to be unenclosed - but enclosed reeds, etc. I would think would be very useful.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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"The former is fairly common on small organs from the late 1800's onwards"

 

(Quote)

 

It may be possible Samuel Green was the first.

Abt. Vogler introduced full enclosure in Germany

"after having encountered that in Britain" (G.Walcker).

This was a bit before 1800, so it could have been a Green.

 

Best wishes,

Pierre

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I'm not personally aware of partly enclosed Greats in smaller instruments, although I can see that there might be some advantages if the specification was well thought out.

 

Nevertheless, I'd find it difficult to imagine a Great without at least 8' and 4' diapasons (and preferably the upperwork), and an 8' flute (and preferably a 4' one as well) on an open soundboard. But if we're looking at strings in the enclosed section of the Great, wouldn't we also be looking for light 8' and perhaps 4' flutes as well? Suddenly our organ isn't looking so small anymore, with a synoptic specification including 8.8.enc8.enc8.enc.8.4.4.enc4 on the Great (before we get to a sub-unison, any upperworks, and perhaps a reed. So the total synoptic Great might then be something like 16.8.8.enc8.enc8.enc8.4.4.enc4.22/3.2.IV.8 (13 stops) when we might originally have been looking at an unenclosed synoptic specification like 16.8.8.4.4.22/3.2.IV.8 (a rather more compact 9 stops). And of course there's the room taken up by the box to consider.

 

Large organs are a different matter entirely. (Well, perhaps ...)

 

The Great on the Melbourne Town Hall organ - originally Hill Norman & Beard (1929) and rebuilt by Schantz (2001) - has always been partly enclosed. Typically, as far as I'm aware, the enclosed section is in the Choir box. What I find interesting in this aspect of the Schantz rebuild is that the open soundboard diapason chorus has been completed with an Octave Quint, Super Octave and 4 rank mixture, so that both sections now have complete choruses from 16' to mixtures. Previously, all of the upperwork had been in the enclosed section.

 

Hilborne Roosevelt's scheme for the Sydney Town Hall - much praised by Audsley to the detriment of Hill's magnum opus (which I personally consider the absolute #1, despite its relative lack of flexibility) - was to have included a partly enclosed Great. I confess that I don't know much about Roosevelt's work, but I do wonder in what repute it might now be held, had the scheme come to reality.

 

Rgds,

MJF

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  • 2 months later...

I restored an 1895 Farrand and Votey 3/39 in 1993 which has the bulk of the Great division (save the 16' Double and 8' Open) enclosed with Choir division and it's *quite* effective... before you think the balance of the Great is of no consequence consider that the division includes two additional 8' stops (a Doppelflöte and a Block Tin Gamba), a 4' Principal and Hohlflöte, Twelfth, Fifteenth, a four-rank Mixture AND a Trumpet (with modified Hook-style shallots that adds real fire to the full Great) and it's sort of like having a Tiger in a cage... capable of some really thrilling accompaniment for big Choral Anthems not to mention lusty congregational singing... the original mechanical shade traces were restored at the same time and balanced so the fronts don't slam shut... in fact, the pedals stay wherever they might be when you take your foot off the shoe... in spite of what you might think... the organ plays the hell out of Bach and Buxtehude... not to mention Howells and Bairstow!

 

All my best,

Kirk

 

Kirk A. Wilson and Associates

Meticulous Care for Electropneumatic Pipe Organs

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
abomination.....

ie. horrible, unspeakable, unnatural, don't even want to think about...

 

 

 

Neil, you're entitled to your opinion. Although an enclosed Great remains a peculiar arrangement, it has been successfully done.

In particular, when the Great is a substantial department, derived from extended, fairly high-pressure ranks, then I think enclosure can be not only very effective but (frankly) a good idea. Clearly this tactic would be expected to upset the purists, but should they always have the last word on everything?

 

Thinking logically, enclosure gives a much wider range of tone - your 'Forte' or 'Farmhouse Fruitcake' Diapason on an average unenclosed Great can be a pretty blunt instrument - hence the common need for H&H, Hill and others to supply handfulls of 8' Diapasons at different volume levels. If you're lucky and each one on your big romantic job has real character and charm, please remember that quite often they are each by different builders! One loudish Diapason rank under expression can serve many functions - you should hear some beautiful Swell Diapason pipes when they have been removed from their boxes!

 

The four cases I know well where an enclosed Great is a real success are all Comptons. The best of these is at Downside Abbey where a decent number of ranks are shared between Great, Choir and Bombarde. They are clevely swapped around at the various pitches so the traditional missing octave bogey is not apparent. There are also plenty of mixture pitches/ranks to choose from. To be able to shut the Great down in the same way one would a traditional Swell is a most unusual experience. The artistry of John Compton and his staff is/was such that when the Great box is open one is simply not aware of them being enclosed. Certain bits of repertoire go awfully well, I have to say!

 

I know some who post on this site favour St.Bride's Fleet Street over other famous Comptons. I'm afraid I don't, for me this would be the exception to the rule above (this may have something to do with the fact that John Compton's early demise prevented him from carrying out any part of this work). At Fleet Street, IMHO the tone can be a both heavy and curiously wearying - the relatively few flue ranks on the Great are extremely heavily blown* - a treatment which is bound to make flutes (for example) pretty characterless. *This was necessitated by the whole instrument (bar the rather 'extreme' unenclosed Positif) having to speak though what amounts to stone portholes roughly 6' in diameter! It is amazing that a majestic 'full organ' sound could ever emerge through such ridiculously small openings.

 

For once, this probem is not down to negligence on a 20th-century architect's part; apparently when the church was rebuilt after its destruction in WW2, Christopher Wren's original plans were reused. As is well documented, he hated organs and had left no obvious space for one - let alone (of course) a romantic four-manual of over 70 stops.

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This is a most interesting subject. Thank you, Paul, for your informative post.

 

I must confess that I am currently undecided regarding this matter. This is largely because I have not yet played the organs of Downside Abbey, St. Bride's, Fleet Street or Derby Cathedral. Therefore I would not presume to denigrate such methods of design and construction.

 

All I can say is that in some ways my instinct speaks against such a course of action. However, I have played St. Luke's, Chelsea and one or two other large Compton organs and I was deeply impressed by that which I found. The organs as I experienced them were genuinely musical instruments, with a wide tonal palette, from quiet effects of etherial beauty to the richest grandeur of the tutti.

 

I confess to my surprise, I also discovered that it was quite difficult to believe that the instruments in question were, to various degrees, built on the extension principle - one did not have to resort to convoluted registrations in order to avoid 'missing' notes.

 

There is a certain old Compton of my acquaintance, somewhat worse for wear; apart from tuning little has been done to it for many years. The building in which it stands is rather inefectually heated during the winter months. Notwithstanding, I had occasion to play this organ a couple of months ago and I was immediately struck by the beauty of the tone. The regulation was still remarkably good. Certain stops (such as quiet solo reeds) were in need of restoration, but the diapason choruses and the chorus reeds themselves were excellent.

 

Whilst my preference is for clavier stops to be straight and without duplexing, I am also aware that Comptons managed to create some real masterpieces by the judicious - even inspired - use of extension and duplexing.

 

Therefore, whilst I have reservations, I am only too well aware of the moving effect which some larger examples of the work of John Compton have had on some professional musicians - not all of them organists, for the record.

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  • 2 months later...

Greetings,

 

I believe for a 2m instrument a fully enclosed Great is necessary to multiply the utility of all stops. There's really nothing like a seamless crescendo/decresdendo being effected by a fully enclosed instrument.

 

Once the 3m tier is achieved I am must less strict about it; that being said there are many wonderful Richard Whitelegg Moller instruments which enclose the Great and Choir together here in the states with impressive results.

 

Best,

 

Nathan

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Guest Andrew Butler
I must confess that I am currently undecided regarding this matter. This is largely because I have not yet played the organs of Downside Abbey, St. Bride's, Fleet Street or Derby Cathedral. Therefore I would not presume to denigrate such methods of design and construction.

 

Or my 2 man Viscount, eh, pcnd?!! :o:huh::D;):huh:B):D

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Greetings,

 

    I believe for a 2m instrument a fully enclosed Great is necessary to multiply the utility of all stops.  There's really nothing like a seamless crescendo/decresdendo being effected by a fully enclosed instrument.

 

    Once the 3m tier is achieved I am must less strict about it; that being said there are many wonderful Richard Whitelegg Moller instruments which enclose the Great and Choir together here in the states with impressive results.

 

    Best,

 

            Nathan

 

Likewise more recent instruments by Quimby, Schoenstein etc. in the US

 

AJJ

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I find it easier if the Great organ is not enclosed. I tend to use the stops of the Great organ as a reference point for dynamic levels. If I want it louder, I pull out more stops and if I want it quieter, I push some back in. Against the relatively predictable and fixed output of the Great Organ, I can use the enclosed departments swell boxes to get balences and crescendos and diminuendos as needed.

 

I find I can cover addition and removal of stops on the Great organ quite seamlessly by covering them with the swell box and adding them at suitable breaths in the music. I actually don't think a smooth crescendo from pp to fff is really needed on the organ - surely, part of its nature is that you add and subtract stops and this is part of the way it realises music. We must all secretly smile a bit when we hear our favourite pedal reeds or Great trumpets are finally added - having them just slide in from nowhere would rather dampen their arrival.

 

I find being able to adjust the output of the great organ with a swell box and stops is really too complex for my rather basic organ management skills and I rapidly end up coming hopelessly unstuck.

 

So the left swell pedal of my Viscount toaster is left permanently open and leaves me feeling having an enclosed Great is a complexity that gets in the way of making music - well, at least for this organist!

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So the left swell pedal of my Viscount toaster is left permanently open and leaves me feeling having an enclosed Great is a complexity that gets in the way of making music - well, at least for this organist!

 

I don't think I've ever found a situation where having an enclosed great was helpful - the toaster I played for 5 years was enclosed gt/pedal, and I never used it.

 

However, I enjoy having my 32' pedal reed enclosed on my current instrument - with the box shut it's quite usable underneath a small choir, with the box open, it destroys everything in its path.

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However, I enjoy having my 32' pedal reed enclosed on my current instrument - with the box shut it's quite usable underneath a small choir, with the box open, it destroys everything in its path.

 

I presume that it's an electronic 32' reed - is there an enclosed 32' acoustic stop anywhere in the world?

 

Michael

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I presume that it's an electronic 32' reed - is there an enclosed 32' acoustic stop anywhere in the world?

 

Michael

Oh no - a full lenth, 32' reed, on 15'' of wind (well, certainly so in the treble). Metal, I think.

 

Quite mad, really. I know why Adrian likes it.

 

You can get them quite small if you mitre them heroically.

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Oh no - a full lenth, 32' reed, on 15'' of wind (well, certainly so in the treble). Metal, I think.

 

Quite mad, really. I know why Adrian likes it.

 

You can get them quite small if you mitre them heroically.

The smaller of the two 32' reeds at St Mary Redcliffe is in the Swell box.
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This could be done, tough, after the model I relatively often found in 1920-30 organs with full-lenght 16' reeds: only the upper part of the longest resonators are in the Swellbox, with the feets in the basement of the organ.

So the stop deals as a Swell 16' and as an enclosed Pedal reed by borrowing.

Quite effective.

 

Pierre

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Then I suppose the beauty of the enclosed Great is that it can be left open if desired.  (C:  I rather like the sound of a reed chorus coming out from nowhere - very nice for text painting it is.

Absolutely - but I will f*** it up at some stage...

I like the sound of a reed chorus coming from nowhere, too - that's what swell organs are for.

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I presume that it's an electronic 32' reed - is there an enclosed 32' acoustic stop anywhere in the world?

 

Michael

 

More than one, I'm certain.

 

Mine is an extension of the choir 8' tuba. The bottom of the pipes run out of the bottom of the box, but the dampening effect of closing the box is very impressive.

 

See:

http://www.laudachoir.org/organ/gallery/large-20.html

http://www.laudachoir.org/organ/gallery/large-21.html

http://www.laudachoir.org/organ/gallery/large-22.html

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