Jump to content
Mander Organs
Henry Willis

Norman & Beard Question

Recommended Posts

I wonder if any member of the forum is able to provide details of any organ built by the Norman & Beard firm, during any period of its existence, in which an independent Tierce (17th) appears on the Great, or which was supposed to have had one listed in the original specification but subsequently not included?

 

I ask as I have just seen advertising material announcing that the grand old 1909 N&B Ashton Hall organ of Lancaster Town Hall has had a 17th added to the Great (apparently on a direct-electric chest high above the other Great pipework and rather haughtily referred to as "a mounted 17th"!) and which was supposed to have been originally intended but subsequently omitted.

 

DW

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not quite sure whether you meant to include Hill, Norman & Beard, but if so:

 

Guard's Chapel, Wellington Barracks, 1920 & 1971

Wymondham Abbey, 1954

Exeter College Chapel, Oxford, 1967

St Asaph Cathedral, 1966

Llandaff Cathedral, 1958

 

Almost certainly not a complete list though.

 

CEP

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No, just pure N&B 1909.

 

The organ has always been said to be being "Restored" and if this is the case I'm a little puzzled at the suggestion that any N&B organ of that particular period would have had an independent 17th on the Great. Personally I think that it's nonsense but am willing to be proved wrong.

 

Thanks for the list above Colin, but H.N&B was a totally different animal I think (especially from the 1950 onwards).

 

DW

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I expect you have already tried an NPOR search as I did without success. [i used the name of the builder, set the in-between dates (so as not to get HN&B ) and then the Tierce stop and then searched]. It actually shows that the recording of specifications could be improved. When there is only one record which gives the latest spec it is often difficult to work out what the original spec was. However, as a resource based on voluntary effort I think we would all miss it if it was not there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's nothing on the AHORP website which I find surprising. I'd have thought something of this importance would have been made public through that, never mind word of mouth. Lancaster may be a city but word gets around pretty quickly! Maybe I've just not been paying attention lately!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was desperately trying to remember where this one was and by chance came across it just now! It's not on the great division - to answer the original question - but unusual non-the-less. I think the instrument was listed as redundant a little while ago: I don't know what, if anything, has happened to it.

http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=N01505

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Although this is listed as H, N & B 1928 at which time quite a few organ builders were experimenting with individual mutatation ranks, even my Tschannun of 1924 here in Lausanne had separate Nasard and Tierce in the Swell.

In 1909 we know that Dixon was influencing Norman's work, but if separate tierces were being considered, I would expect them to have been in the largest instruments they were building at the time such as Johannesburg and Wellington and the only tierce ranks these organs originally had were as part of the Harmonics mixture. I might speculate that the historic records being quoted may have referred to 'Harmonics -Tierce' meaning a mixture with 17ths in it, and this was misinterpreted as a separate rank.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 hours ago, Lausanne said:

Although this is listed as H, N & B 1928 at which time quite a few organ builders were experimenting with individual mutatation ranks, even my Tschannun of 1924 here in Lausanne had separate Nasard and Tierce in the Swell.

In 1909 we know that Dixon was influencing Norman's work, but if separate tierces were being considered, I would expect them to have been in the largest instruments they were building at the time such as Johannesburg and Wellington and the only tierce ranks these organs originally had were as part of the Harmonics mixture. I might speculate that the historic records being quoted may have referred to 'Harmonics -Tierce' meaning a mixture with 17ths in it, and this was misinterpreted as a separate rank.

Granted, the specification cited is unusual but it might just have been a 'one-off'. Also, to be noted is that the NPOR cannot, unfortunately, be totally relied upon; there are many errors and a good deal of it is not up-to-date.

I understand what you say about the 'Harmonics' and the designation 'Tierce' but I have never seen a even a note made in this way. If it was a 17,19,22 or 17,19,b21,22 mixture then the usual nomenclature is merely 'Harmonics' or if on the pedal and by Compton, 'Harmonics of 32'. The use of 'Harmonic Piccolo 2' is quite a usual label so the noting of stops would be inconsistent - but not impossible!

Does anyone know this instrument?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not so unusual for a Methodist "Central Hall" type complex - several had organs with a rather orchestral/theatre slant to them, a number being by Spurden Rutt.  Southfields Central hall in Surrey was an example: http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=N05504

Or, at the other end of the candle (liturgically speaking) Rutt's organ at St. Cyprian, Clarence Gate, London (aptly described as "ripe"): http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=N17044

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, David Drinkell said:

Not so unusual for a Methodist "Central Hall" type complex - several had organs with a rather orchestral/theatre slant to them, a number being by Spurden Rutt.  Southfields Central hall in Surrey was an example: http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=N05504

I was organist there as a student many moons ago! 

CEP

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

But again, just so we don't lose sight of the original question, let's stick to N&B organs of 1909, or at least pre WWI, as our examples.

It is more likely that the team carrying out the restoration are being fluid with the definition, as even if a 17th was planned but not put in, you cannot restore something that was never there in the first place. Perhaps they're just having fun 'enhancing' the organ. This was of course what DW was hinting at.

Another question which might form a separate thread is just when independent Tierce and Nasard were first reintroduced into new Organs, so far the earliest I've heard of is 1924.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
45 minutes ago, Lausanne said:

Another question which might form a separate thread is just when independent Tierce and Nasard were first reintroduced into new Organs, so far the earliest I've heard of is 1924.

Not sure if this counts as late Baroque or early Organ Reform Movement:

 

http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=K00981

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Quite fascinating, Sir Fred obviously had ordered absolutely everything on the 'menu' of all possible organ stops at the time, but when it actually arrived found it didn't work as well in practice as he'd thought. The Tierce rank survived the next rebuilt by Harrison of Rochdale, but even he got into trouble over something. Finally Willis was asked to rebuild and then the independent Tierce was removed. The npor really is a wealth of information!

I suppose we must class this as before the great octopod invasion when Mixtures were hounded out of existance in almost all new organs around the turn of the century. So perhaps we should limit our Tierce hunt to new organs built from 1900 onwards.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, innate said:

Not sure if this counts as late Baroque or early Organ Reform Movement:

 

http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=K00981

Then there's this: http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=N03908

the veracity of which I seriously doubt!  Who would include four Open Diapasons on the Great along with no less than TEN Principals?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I refer the honourable gentleman to my previous post re finding a Tierce on a N&B of 1909. Although I agree the 1859 Hill specification for York has to be one of the oddest I've seen.

And the general Tierce hunt has got its own thread now, but the game has some restrictions: A new organ built between 1895 and 1925.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, John Robinson said:

Then there's this: http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=N03908

the veracity of which I seriously doubt!  Who would include four Open Diapasons on the Great along with no less than TEN Principals?

But compare S. George's Hall, Liverpool, for a less extreme instance at the same period:

http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=R01924

I think the underlying (erroneous) idea was that you got more volume by duplicating ranks. The problem in York which they were trying to address was how to fill such a vast space with sound. Weren't some of the duplicated ranks east-facing and others west-facing?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
28 minutes ago, Dafydd y Garreg Wen said:

But compare S. George's Hall, Liverpool, for a less extreme instance at the same period:

http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=R01924

I think the underlying (erroneous) idea was that you got more volume by duplicating ranks. The problem in York which they were trying to address was how to fill such a vast space with sound. Weren't some of the duplicated ranks east-facing and others west-facing?

Doubling ranks was an English organ-building tradition in the 16th-17th centuries I think. And Renatus Harris had that idea (was it actually built) of 7 identical stops being added gradually by a pedal to effect a crescendo.

But, yes, these multiple doubled ranks at York and Liverpool must have been problematic to tune and of limited success in the presumed intention of increasing volume.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Dafydd y Garreg Wen said:

I think the underlying (erroneous) idea was that you got more volume by duplicating ranks. The problem in York which they were trying to address was how to fill such a vast space with sound. Weren't some of the duplicated ranks east-facing and others west-facing?

Yes, indeed.  Duplication of ranks to increase power was certainly not uncommon in those days, but ten 4' Principals above four 8' diapasons?  This is why I suggested a possible mistake.

And, yes, at York there was an East Great and a West Great at that time (Elliott and Hill) which was said to be ineffective, so that could account for the number of duplicated stops although the disparity between 8' and 4' principal-toned stops is still very strange.

As it happened, Hill later made improvements:

http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=N03909

which led to a much more logical specification.

However, the problem of producing adequate sound in both chancel and nave still remained, which is why Hill built a separate nave organ.  This has now gone, of course, and I think the building is still crying out for another nave organ.  It has been talked about for some time but nothing has materialised.  Money, I suppose!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Dafydd y Garreg Wen said:

Dr Pykett can probably give us chapter and verse on the history of the doubling idea - and a complete explanation of why it doesn't work.

Yes, I'm sure he could.

However, it can be looked at very simply. 

Pull out an 8' Diapason, then add another (if your have one!) and see how little difference it makes to volume.

Start with the 8' Diapason again, then add a 4' Principal.  Adding the octave makes far more difference.

That, of course, is the whole thing about organs based on Baroque principles, where power is obtained by adding different pitches.

As for the history, I suspect that it may have started, as already intimated, by having 8' Diapasons in both east and west fronts of organs positioned in the traditional place, on the screen.  Or perhaps not?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Doubling of ranks in the higher octaves is very common here in the Netherlands, and has been for centuries.

I think most interested people know the theory, that it barely increases perceived power, let alone double it,  but that doesn't seem to be the point. In the new organ at Sidney Sussex College, Flentrop doubled the principal chorus ranks in the treble, and explain why here - http://www.flentrop.nl/downloads/Artikel_sidneysussex.pdf , an article from Choir and Organ. It's more about perceived tone quality, and perhaps taking the sharpness off higher pitches.

My organ has two 8' ranks which are essentially identical, although one is noticeably softer than the other but not greatly so. Provided they're in tune, playing them together does provide the warmth or breadth that one might describe a choir singing in unison as having. I get the same if I play the 4' and 2' principles, on different manuals, against each other at the same pitch.

Subjectively, perhaps the physical separation of unison pipes provided two independent sources which can be directed away from each other to "broaden" the sound, reducing their perceived shrillness, if any.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You're looking at the principles of doubled unison ranks the wrong way around. The organ chorus in Europe developed originally from the so-called "Blockwerk" which contained multiple ranks of Principals, Octaves, Quints, Tierces of various pitches, combined with Mixtures and Cimbels which gradually became "stopped off". The early organs from the Baroque period, especially in the Netherlands and Northern Germany re-introduced this arrangement for the higher ranks in order to boost the treble power somewhat of the instrument to enable it to perform the new task it had now been given: namely to adequately accompany the community in the singing of hymns within church services which, especially in the Netherlands before 1640 it had been completely forbidden to do since many of the strict Calvinist clergy regarded organs as "Playthings of the Devil" or other "Popish naughtiness" and should therefore be removed from churches altogether, although this is really a separate subject for another time.

The organs in England, however, developed slowly, not being so far removed from the progress of other keyboard Instruments such as the harpsichord. Therefore, it wasn't until the 19th century had gotten well under way that the need for a large all-encompassing organ for a major building or a church had become desirable. English organ builders then obviously had little or no knowledge of how to tonally design a large organ since there had been no reason to think that it would ever be needed. Consequently, when William Hill was asked to submit a tender for the contract to build a large new organ in Birmingham Town Hall it represented for him a great challenge. Apart from the technical problems with a mechanical action for an organ of that size,  he had no knowledge of how to design a tonal specification which would adequately fill such a large space. Therefore, his design he followed was the only one he could think of, by employing numerous doubled unison ranks of 16', 8' and 4' pitch, thinking that more pipes of the same type would mean a much bigger sound which of course was completely wrong. If only he would have taken the opportunity to have a quick paddle across the North Sea to do some research into large organs already built in the Netherlands, such as at Alkmaar or in Haarlem, he would have quickly learnt that the proper way to design a large organ tonally was to provide a build-up of the different choruses throughout the compass rather than to just duplicate pipes of the same pitch ad infinitum. It wasn't until the Great Exhibition in 1851 when organ builders from the continent were invited to build organs for that enterprise could the English organ builders see just how it was supposed to be done which, by accounts of that time seem to find great favour amongst them which would ultimately drive the desire to provide not only the large towns and cities with organs, but for every large or small village as well. That, coupled with the introduction in 1840 of the first pedal organ with Independent pipes, again from William Hill, the English organ finally managed to mature into a fully fledged, independent instrument, somewhat 200 years later than its nearest European cousins.  

With best wishes,

Ian.

 

    

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In what sense were the organs of, say, Father Smith and Renatus Harris not "fully fledged, independent" instruments?  Sure, they were smaller than the largest organs of the mainland continent, and suited to a somewhat different repertoire, but those are hardly the defining factors, I'd say.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, pwhodges said:

In what sense were the organs of, say, Father Smith and Renatus Harris not "fully fledged, independent" instruments?  Sure, they were smaller than the largest organs of the mainland continent, and suited to a somewhat different repertoire, but those are hardly the defining factors, I'd say.

No pedals, perhaps?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have always believed the extraordinary 1832/1859 ten Principals at York Minster to have been authentic, but that they were later considered a failed experiment.  

The Great Exhibition of 1851 was, indeed, a turning point.  The Father Willis organ of 70 speaking stops has been variously described as ‘wasteful’ and having ‘unnecessary duplication’ (no certainty about the precise words or sources, but I think W L Sumner and, possibly, Stephen Bicknell).  I will leave to others, more expert than I, to judge the explanation given by Father Willis in 1851:

”The stops in the Great organ require no comment, further than to explain that whenever two stops of the same name occur, as 3 and 4; 6 and 7; 10 and 11; they are voiced to different qualities of tone”.  (The stops referred to are two of, in each case, Open Diapason 8’, Principal 4’ and Fifteenth 2’.)  Nothing earth-shattering about this now, although, less usually, all of the same stops were also duplicated in his 22-stops Swell, the second Principal and Fifteenth both being specifically labelled “(soft quality)”. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...