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Martin Cooke

Can we all try a bit harder?

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I think it's a shame that this is the case, but I cannot help but feel that this forum is dying on its feet. Days go past when no new contributions appear and although lots of forumites clearly look in from time to time, they don't appear to want to contribute or start new topics - and I do feel that I have tried over the years. Perhaps everyone is just too busy. Instead of looking forward to reading new thoughts from fellow members each day, I now turn to the site with the expectation that there will be nothing new to read. I would just say "well done' to the young organist from Harrow who started a number of interesting and popular topics but, enthusiast though he doubtless is, he even seems to have dried up now. Perhaps we are just in a rut! I would love to feel that everyone might be stirred to think of something and I might have a go at starting a few new topics over the next few days. 

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OK, try this one ....

"Things I wish hadn't been removed from my/an organ."

On the morning of my dear late mother-in-law's funeral, several years ago, there was a power cut in the whole village, Witton Park in County Durham (a former Category D village for all you amateur historians). Naturally, the organ had no wind. Perhaps it was a cunning plan from a higher power to keep me away from playing it, we shall never know.

After an increasingly cold hour (it was January) of phoning around to see if anyone had any kind of keyboard with batteries, a flash of inspiration made me look around the back of the organ to see, given its age, if there might be a hand-blowing mechanism - and there was! Hooray, I could revive old traditions, and pay a child sixpence and a stale bun to pump the bellows - or at least get the various grandchildren to pump and keep them warm (it got colder). But alas! The mechanism, although present and complete, had been disconnected from the wind supply and I thought it unwise to have a go at some running repairs. Eventually, someone turned up with a small generator, which had just enough power for all the lights - thank heavens for low-energy light bulbs - start the heating pump, and start the electric blower for the organ, and everything eventually turned out all right.

If only someone hadn't disconnected the hand-blowing mechanism. I see that many recent restorations restore and reinstate them, even in parallel with electric blowers. You'll miss them when they've gone.

http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=N15085

The organ blower was recently replaced with the full and generous assistance of the Banks Group:

https://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/local/southdurham/bishopauckland/14922678.grant-saves-witton-park-church-organ/

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I have some fellow feeling for Martin's plea.  I believe there are, or were, well over 1000 members of the forum, many of whom joined up at the outset and are leading lights in the organ world. I gleaned this info some while back before its format changed recently, but now information on the membership seems to have been suppressed though maybe I'm no longer looking in the right place.  But even when you browse back over many years it seems to have been a case of the same few who have striven to keep things going, leavened by the odd one dropping out now and again and the odd new one replacing them.  Unfortunately, seldom do the afore-mentioned luminaries appear though, which strikes me as not only a pity but rather odd - why bother to sign up to an open forum if the only intention was to lurk?  I'm not sure I quite go along with Martin having singled out a particular contributor though, as if to put the burden squarely on her/his shoulders!

Like Martin and probably others, I've sometimes posted just to give people something to read, which is admittedly not the best motivation for bursting into print.  There are doubtless several reasons why people aren't attracted to the forum, and I suggest one might be that it's an excessively clunky piece of software by today's standards I'm afraid.  As just one example, having typed the first few sentences of this post I then looked briefly at some other pages, only to find when I got back here that everything had vanished without trace and I had to start again from scratch.  That sort of thing is highly irritating to put it mildly, and I just can't be doing with it in this day and age.  Other issues relate to the 'quote' facility, which often just seems to please itself as to what it actually does, and the silliness that you can't delete a message when you make a mess of it.  It all rather reminds me of MS-DOS days.  I also wonder whether the day of the traditional forum is drawing to a close anyway in today's social media era. 

I could suggest a topic or two - here's one for starters:  not long ago I was reading the highly entertaining posts about the RCO which appeared between 2006-2008 or so.  They were kicked off by a complaint about the annual subs and whether it represented value for money.  Now that it has almost doubled, have things changed for the better, folks?  I'll keep my powder dry for now on this one ...

CEP

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There are various reasons why the great and the good no longer post here. One got banned, another received some somewhat feral comments, while others I suspect are all too aware that anyone who posts regularly on the internet is unlikely to emerge from it well. Sadly there are people out there who regard this forum with contempt - for no very good reason that I can divine, but that's human nature. It is sometimes suggested that organists' worst enemies are the clergy. I've never believed this: organists' worst enemies are other organists.

I used to post here rather a lot - probably far too much - but do so less frequently these days. There are three reasons for this: 1) I've sent most of my hobby horses to the knacker's yard and haven't very much new to say; 2) a few years ago I gave up playing the organ in public (not by any means for the first time in my life) and barely even practise these days , to the extent that I now appear to be incapable of playing note perfectly - and I'd rather not play at all than play badly; and 3) I've never been an organ buff, my main interest lying elsewhere.

Yes, it would be good to see more new topics being posted for discussion - but might I humbly suggest that these would be much better raised in separate threads rather than here?

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I raised this very question a while ago..."is anyone here?". I have made a few contributions over the years, but alas I am a "non playing enthusiast", and as such, can only really give so much. I look at this forum, every day, as I am now retired due to health issues, and do not get out much, so  I use the PC, as a means of communicating with the outside world, so to speak. And have made a few friends with people, both here, and a certain "social media" website called Face Book

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10 hours ago, Colin Pykett said:

There are doubtless several reasons why people aren't attracted to the forum, and I suggest one might be that it's an excessively clunky piece of software by today's standards I'm afraid.  As just one example, having typed the first few sentences of this post I then looked briefly at some other pages, only to find when I got back here that everything had vanished without trace and I had to start again from scratch.

I have noticed such things on other web sites, so may I suggest a way around the problem?

I often type out a reply, particularly if it is to be fairly extensive, in Word.  Then I am at liberty to jump about all over the place (with regard to exploring other web sites, etc.), and the genesis of my future post remains intact!

It's just a simple matter of copying and pasting into the 'submit reply' box, or whatever.

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9 hours ago, Peter Allison said:

I raised this very question a while ago..."is anyone here?". I have made a few contributions over the years, but alas I am a "non playing enthusiast", and as such, can only really give so much. I look at this forum, every day, as I am now retired due to health issues, and do not get out much, so  I use the PC, as a means of communicating with the outside world, so to speak. And have made a few friends with people, both here, and a certain "social media" website called Face Book

Me too.  As I am neither an organist nor an organ builder (though I wish - too late now), I'm afraid I cannot speak with any authority on organ matters.  I can, of course, ask questions and seek advice from more knowledgeable people on this forum.

If it's of any help, I'll see what I can come up with!

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I'm aware that I have upset a few people here! Equally I should tell fellow members that I have also received some pretty nasty private messages from members of this board and have shared them with those members I trust. I wouldn't disagree with Vox to say that the worst enemies of organists are their fellow organists! (If you don't believe me try conducting a 'once a year, local organists association Service' and, afterwards sit back and watch and feel the flack!!!)!) 

Nowadays, when I do post, I try to read my replies very carefully, to make sure that they are not misinterpreted, misunderstood or give any cause for offence! I have said before that, I think, we are at our best when discussing musical topics and, I believe, at our worst when we huddle over bits of paper disagreeing over a proposed specification and whether a Mixture should have a 'whatever' in it - without due consideration for the person/people who have put the proposal together and who know what they want from the instrument - and who, possibly, also read this board!!

I look almost every day and some topics fire me with enthusiasm, others leave me cold - but that is the nature of this type of board. Sometimes I don't post because I have nothing to add to the knowledge on a particular subject. Like John Robinson I do not consider myself to be an organist (I can play to ARCO standard!) but I, mostly, enjoy the board and have learned a lot from members here - for which I thank them, sincerely!

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14 minutes ago, S_L said:

 I should tell fellow members that I have also received some pretty nasty private messages from members of this board and have shared them with those members I trust.

Glad to find that I'm not the only one!

CEP

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9 hours ago, John Robinson said:

I have noticed such things on other web sites, so may I suggest a way around the problem?

I often type out a reply, particularly if it is to be fairly extensive, in Word.  Then I am at liberty to jump about all over the place (with regard to exploring other web sites, etc.), and the genesis of my future post remains intact!

It's just a simple matter of copying and pasting into the 'submit reply' box, or whatever.

Yes, that's a good scheme John, and when I have the time I do it myself to overcome the pickiness of the forum itself.  However I prefer to use a very simple text editor such as Windows NotePad, as Word inserts such a lot of invisible garbage (formatting characters etc) inline with the text that sometimes it seems to cause more problems than it's worth (although you can get round this by saving the Word document as a TXT file first).  But I still maintain that we shouldn't have to do this in an ideal world, and it may well be one reason why people are put off posting.

CEP

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Hi

I agree the forum has been rather slow of late (except when I look this morning!).  I'm one of the moderators of another organ forum, and that's been even slower than here - I guess a lot of organists are busy with Christmas service preparations, etc.  At least I have an excuse for not posting much recently - I've rather ill, ended up in hospital for 11 weeks, including major surgery - the surgeon said it would take a long time to recover from, and he wasn't joking!  I've only got 2 carol services (one in another church that doesn't have a regular organist) and Christmas Day to worry about this year.

As to the retention of hand blowing, I was grateful for that feature when we had a power cut during a wedding that I was playing for.  I've also played a couple of organs that only have hand blowing - there's a quick demo of one of them (mobile phone recording) on my You Tube channel - 

.  The organ dates from 1851 and is probably the earliest example of John Laycock's work (before the Laycock & Bannister firm was established).  The organ has been in Cowling Hill Baptist since 1873, being originally built for Glusburn Baptist.

Every Blessing

Tony

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14 hours ago, S_L said:

Like John Robinson I do not consider myself to be an organist (I can play to ARCO standard!)

That's a damn sight more than I can do!  I'm good at listening, though. 😀

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On 06/12/2018 at 09:09, Martin Cooke said:

I think it's a shame that this is the case, but I cannot help but feel that this forum is dying on its feet. Days go past when no new contributions appear and although lots of forumites clearly look in from time to time, they don't appear to want to contribute or start new topics - and I do feel that I have tried over the years.

I suspect that the growth of Facebook and the increased use of its discussion groups is the reason.

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Best wishes, Tony. I was fortunate many years ago, when I was laid up in bed for almost two months, that this forum and a home building forum provided me with many hours of distraction and very useful educational material.

I've only followed three forums closely, and all three are no longer as active as they once were. I think that partly this is exhaustion of possible topics. I suspect that, particularly in the case of the technical (mainly computing) forum I followed, that this is a result in an increase in poor manners. Thankfully, I haven't seen the unbelievable venom exhibited in that forum (slashdot) here, although I am so disappointed to hear that private messages have been sent that have caused pain to members. This forum is free  (at least publicly) of death threats and vile sexual suggestions provided to people simply for holding a different view or political leaning.

I have from time to time searched the archives for something that I've read in times past. It continues to serve a useful purpose for that reason.

With my best Advent wishes.

Fiffaro (David)

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6 hours ago, Fiffaro said:

I've only followed three forums closely, and all three are no longer as active as they once were. I think that partly this is exhaustion of possible topics. I suspect that, particularly in the case of the technical (mainly computing) forum I followed, that this is a result in an increase in poor manners. Thankfully, I haven't seen the unbelievable venom exhibited in that forum (slashdot) here, although I am so disappointed to hear that private messages have been sent that have caused pain to members. This forum is free  (at least publicly) of death threats and vile sexual suggestions provided to people simply for holding a different view or political leaning.

 

I've certainly been the target of the sort of thing you mention.  The private messages in question received from certain forum members haven't quite reached death threat levels I'm glad to say, but on occasion I've felt it necessary to report it to our hosts since the originator was using the forum's messaging system.  Other examples have reached me via my personal email address, and some articles either on my website or those I've authored in journals such as Organists' Review have been discussed in similar terms on other musical fora whose 'tone' descends far lower than this one.  There's no doubt that there are some extremely unpleasant individuals out there, who usually masquerade under pseudonyms of course, though it's often not difficult to figure out who they are from their IP address if nothing else.  But I can't understand why this is.  After all, at the end of the day we're only discussing organs, not wishing to start world war 3!

But no matter - and as others have said, I wish everyone a happy Christmas and New Year.

CEP

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No death-threats or personal venom, but I have certainly been put down several times on three Anglican websites making what I thought were reasoned and reasonable comments.  Most surprising of all, to me, the brusqueness of a very senior churchman (I won’t say where - a Provost rather than a Dean) responding to my suggestion that Cardinal Newman’s hymn “Firmly I believe and truly” was a statement of faith consistent with the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds which Anglicans affirm.  “Well it won’t be sung here” were his final words.  

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Thanks to Fiffaro (David) for his encouragement.  Sadly, the hospital in  Coventry has a very poor wi-fi system, and an even more unreliable mobile signal.  I did try & keep up with various things in the first few weeks, but gave up just before my surgery was due - and I was feeling rather ill.  I'm eventually catching up - still some lingering discomfort from the surgery & I'm still getting rather tired - the surgeon told me that recovery would be a long process, and it seems he was right!

Every Blessing

Tony

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20 hours ago, Colin Pykett said:

I've certainly been the target of the sort of thing you mention.  The private messages in question received from certain forum members haven't quite reached death threat levels I'm glad to say, but on occasion I've felt it necessary to report it to our hosts ...

CEP

I am so sorry to hear that. Life can be challenging enough without having to experience such unnecessary nastiness. I hope our hosts were helpful in limiting the problem.

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Hello everybody!

After three years break, I am writing a contribution again.... I want to let you know that the provider of the second largest german-speaking forum (orgel-information) has announced to close down, as some work to be done regarding the need of https-encryption doesn't seem to him worth the effort anymore, as his forum has fallen into sort-of sleep, too. The dominant german forum (pfeifenorgelforum) is still busy, but also sees times of very little activity, and it is quite fascinating that one can't find any cause or pattern responsible for that. Facebook might be an issue, for shure.

I promise to have o more frequent look to Mander's! As mentioned above, many hundreds of readers do benefit from the knowledge beeing shared here. For me as an organist from abroad who is addicted to anglican church music, it was and still is an important source. So, thanks go to all who kept this alive through the past years!

Greetings from Karl-Bernhardin Kropf, DOM St. Mary's Church of Rostock, Germany

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8 hours ago, kropf said:

Hello everybody!

After three years break, I am writing a contribution again.... I want to let you know that the provider of the second largest german-speaking forum (orgel-information) has announced to close down, as some work to be done regarding the need of https-encryption doesn't seem to him worth the effort anymore, as his forum has fallen into sort-of sleep, too. The dominant german forum (pfeifenorgelforum) is still busy, but also sees times of very little activity, and it is quite fascinating that one can't find any cause or pattern responsible for that. Facebook might be an issue, for shure.

I promise to have o more frequent look to Mander's! As mentioned above, many hundreds of readers do benefit from the knowledge beeing shared here. For me as an organist from abroad who is addicted to anglican church music, it was and still is an important source. So, thanks go to all who kept this alive through the past years!

Greetings from Karl-Bernhardin Kropf, DOM St. Mary's Church of Rostock, Germany

I would certainly value more input from organ enthusiasts in Germany, and other countries, as my interest in organs extends beyond as well as within the UK.

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Here is some good news, which may encourage this forum, too: As announced yesterdy, it became possible for the manager of the named second german forum to migrate it to SSL encryption and to update the software. This was made possible by a donation. May all organ fora prosper in 2019!

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11 hours ago, kropf said:

Here is some good news, which may encourage this forum, too: As announced yesterdy, it became possible for the manager of the named second german forum to migrate it to SSL encryption and to update the software. This was made possible by a donation. May all organ fora prosper in 2019!

Good news.

I had a good look at that forum (orgel-information) and found it very interesting.  I have bookmarked it and intend to visit again.  It is fortunate for me, as my German is very basic indeed, that Google Translate works very well with that site and I find it really quite easy to understand.  I'd hesitate to post there, though, as if I tried to post in German (either by using Google Translate or stumbling along on my own!) I'd like as not be misunderstood.  For now, anyway, I shall just 'lurk'!

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I apologise for my hiatus. I have been working on my Grade 8 repertoire recently for my upcoming examination.... I promise my 'enthusiastic' and more creative posts will follow up in the coming year of 2019! I wish to fulfil my 'all-around-UK-church organ trips'!

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Welcome back! Are you going to tell us what you have chosen to play? I took Grade 8 in 1974 and played JSB, Prelude in G major, BWV 541, Flor Peeters' Aria, and Peter Hurford's Dialogue in G major. I don't think the Peeters was worthy of Grade 8 - more 6, I would have thought. Anyway, in those days there were no scales for organ Grade 8, but you did have to do a pedal exercise, sight reading and transposition of a hymn tune. I managed a low Distinction. The Aria was very popular and well-known at one time but it seems to pop up less frequently now. The Hurford Dialogues are both, in my view, excellent short pieces and I must work them up again. Not sure if Hurford's Suite Laudate Dominum is used by anyone now. There are some very good movements in that. 

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47 minutes ago, Martin Cooke said:

Welcome back! Are you going to tell us what you have chosen to play? I took Grade 8 in 1974 and played JSB, Prelude in G major, BWV 541, Flor Peeters' Aria, and Peter Hurford's Dialogue in G major. I don't think the Peeters was worthy of Grade 8 - more 6, I would have thought. Anyway, in those days there were no scales for organ Grade 8, but you did have to do a pedal exercise, sight reading and transposition of a hymn tune. I managed a low Distinction. The Aria was very popular and well-known at one time but it seems to pop up less frequently now. The Hurford Dialogues are both, in my view, excellent short pieces and I must work them up again. Not sure if Hurford's Suite Laudate Dominum is used by anyone now. There are some very good movements in that. 

I agree about Hurford's "Laudate Dominum" suite. I used to play it a lot but have lost my copy. I once played the "Meditation" (I think it's called that) immediately before an evensong in Canterbury Cathedral when I was playing for a visiting choir. There was a large congregation, and the talking beforehand was phenomenal during something loud that I played, but when I started the Hurford - with the melody on the Choir Stopped Diapason with Tremulant, they shut up instantly!

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