Jump to content
Mander Organs
Sign in to follow this  
Colin Pykett

Etymology of "Chrysoglott"

Recommended Posts

Does anyone know why Wurlitzer used the word Chrysoglott for their percussion stop which was in fact a Celesta?  They used an actual Celesta mechanism or something close to it.  What on earth does it mean?  I've asked this of my theatre organ friends and nobody seems to know (or care).  I also once asked a linguist, who couldn't think of any roots in the old languages she knew.  It's probably just me, but these things niggle me until I find the answer ...

CEP

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Colin Pykett said:

Does anyone know why Wurlitzer used the word Chrysoglott for their percussion stop which was in fact a Celesta?  They used an actual Celesta mechanism or something close to it.  What on earth does it mean?  I've asked this of my theatre organ friends and nobody seems to know (or care).  I also once asked a linguist, who couldn't think of any roots in the old languages she knew.  It's probably just me, but these things niggle me until I find the answer ...

CEP

Well, glotta (or glossa) is Greek for tongue. Don’t know about the first half of the word, but there are several words in English that begin chryso-, all with Greek origins and seemingly related to gems or precious metals. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's definitely the best lead I've had to date.  So, maybe it means "silver-tongued" or similar?  Makes sense in a vague sort of way.

Thanks David.

CEP

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This from the Piporg-L archive of Tuesday 6 May 1997:

 

Tom in Feenix wrote:
 
>>I have been told the word Chrysoglott is taken from old Greek and means
silver tongue.
 
--Actually, Gold!  Likewise, Chrysostom means Gold Mouth.  Greek word for
silver is Argurion, like Latin Argentum.
 
--Jonathan the pedantic
Chicago

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi

I wonder if Mustel - the Harmonium builder who also invented the Celeste - h ad trademarked the term or something similar.  Or possibly Wurlitzer didn't want any confusion between pipe Celeste stops & Celesta?  Just musing - no proof of either idea!

Every Blessing

Tony

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So Quentin's post confirms that "silver tongue" might not be too wide of the mark, and Tony's introduces an interesting idea about trademarks which hadn't occurred to me.  His suggestion of a possible confusion between Celeste and Celesta is also quite plausible.  It seems that Robert Hope-Jones rather than Wurlitzer themselves probably came up with it.  He was using it in some of his instruments in the few years before he died after he had joined Wurlitzer and was running its pipe organ division under his own name.  This being so, I would put money on it that the name was actually invented by his brother, the Revd Kenyon Hope-Jones.  He had had the benefit of a classical education and was the source (or maybe one should say the importer) of many other then-novel stop names such as Tibia, Phoneuma, Kinura, Diapason Phonon, etc.  But what an ugly word Chrysoglott is to my mind, suggesting little of the intended ethereal beauty of something meant to be celestial!  Surely whoever it was could have come up with something more appropriate?

Many thanks to all for helping to dispel my ignorance.

CEP

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

 

Does that help at all - or does it just confuse the issue?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

And from http://organstops.org/c/Celesta.html

A percussion stop consisting of a set of metal plates struck by hammers actuated by a pneumatic or electric mechanism. According to Sumner, it is usually of 4' pitch, and may utilize “tuning forks” instead of plates. According to Audsley, the plates are placed over tuned resonators. This stop is most often found in theatre organs.

Skinner describes the Celesta as “an orchestral reproduction developed by the author”, of 4' pitch and full 61 note compass, and considers it synonymous with the Glockenspiel, and with the Harp at 8' pitch. He reports that when the stop was originally developed, the bars and their resonators were arranged chromatically, and some notes in the lower register were nearly silent. When the bars and their resonators were rearranged so that adjacent notes of the scale were no longer physically adjacent, the problem disappeared.

Maclean lists Chrysoglott as a Wurlitzer synonym for Celesta; it is found only in theatre organs. Irwin, the only other source to mention Chrysoglott, lists it separately from Celesta but gives them identical descriptions.

Examples

Osiris contains dozens of examples of Celesta. The earliest known examples date from the 1910's but the earliest known Skinner examples date from the 1920's. Osiris contains ten examples of Chrysoglott, all but one by Wurlitzer.

………………………. but, of course, you have read this before!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I imagine they would be prohibitively expensive but would bars made of silver or, indeed, gold, produce good tone?

Share this post


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

I imagine they would be prohibitively expensive but would bars made of silver or, indeed, gold, produce good tone?

No, they are too soft.  If you hit them with a hammer they deform permanently rather than springing back and throwing the hammer off, as does steel, bellmetal (bronze), etc.  Therefore they don't 'ring' when struck either, at least to the same extent and in the same way.  It's to do with the Q-factor of a mechanical oscillator, but let's not go there unless you really wanted to ...

CEP

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I recently stumbled upon this thread and thought I might throw in a comment, even if a little late in the day.

Glottis (Greek) is used to refer to voice, and (as someone else pointed out) Chrysos is the term for gold, so Chrysoglott was concocted to imply 'golden voice'. The term spread amongst theatre organ builders; it provided a distinction to the celeste stops as well (one can imagine) as strengthening the all-important Hope-Jones mystique by using a term no-one had ever heard of before. Had H-J lived today, he would very likely have been a keen protagonist of the buzz-word generator 🙂

In the later 20s/early 30s, theatre organ chrysoglotts became equipped with rotating vanes to provide an often very effective vibraphone effect, switchable from the console.

Wurlitzer chrysoglott bars were nickel plated steel; other builders also used bronze or aluminium. I forget exactly which they were, but I seem to recall that a very few Wurlitzers had separate vibraphones; none in the UK however.

/J.

wpb3cb930b_0f.jpg

Edited by John Abson
Link to photo added

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Pedant alert: as mentioned by David above, γλῶττα really means 'tongue', hence polyglot. φωνή means 'voice', and its use as a suffix in many words can easily be recognised. Chrysoglott transliterated means 'golden tongue'.

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
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...