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It’s been fascinating reading the various permutations of the dream specifications.  I have long been fascinated with small organ design and there have been many articles on this, the most recent in the BIOS annual book by Relf Clarke.  Here is a fascinating essay in small organ design by Fisk for a small chapel:

http://cbfisk.com/opus/opus-149/

My little Mutin-Cavaille Coll at Meursault has the following outrageous stoplist:

 

MANUAL

16 Bourdon

8 Montre

8 Flute Harmonique

8 Salicional

4 Prestant

III Plein Jeu

16 Tuba Magna

8 Trompette

4 Soprano

 

PEDAL

16 Soubasse

This organ is extremely versatile and in a very shallow case - only the width of the console, which swell shutters on front and back of the case.  To player this organ is very very loud, but in the church it is a marvellous sound.

 

So, within a 12 speaking stop maximum, who can come up with a versatile liturgical/house organ.  Tonal variety is top of the wish list - even undulating ranks are allowed.  The organ must have mechanical action.

 

Have fun.

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1 hour ago, Paul Isom said:

So, within a 12 speaking stop maximum, who can come up with a versatile liturgical/house organ.  Tonal variety is top of the wish list - even undulating ranks are allowed.  The organ must have mechanical action.

Why must it have mechanical action?  

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8 hours ago, Vox Humana said:

Because it develops the most precise touch.

In reply to my question about Paul Isom's requirement for the small organ to have mechanical action, Vox Humana quite correctly pointed out that it develops the most precise touch.  

I am aware of the advantages, but the reason for my question is to ask if that is the most economic solution?  However ideal the instrument, if no individuals, schools or churches can afford a pipe organ, what future is there for the instrument?  

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I have long coveted Paul Isom's organ in Mersault!  Paul, your lovely Gite in Mersault came up in a tripadvisor search when we were shopping for a holiday a few years ago; I did try to persuade my wife that we should stay there but we ended up in Normandie.  Another time...

For those who don't know this little organ, you must listen to the audio tracks at Paul's web-site; it sounds extraordinary!  I would never ever have guessed it was a 1-manual, 9-stop organ.  Is there progress on restoring it?  See http://www.meursaultorgue.com/audio.html  (@Paul again - the final track [IV Final - Toccata] doesn't seem to be 'clickable' in google chrome?)

Combining this remarkable achievement with the Bigelow either-or idea linked above seems likely to be productive. I have 'normalised' Mutin's somewhat idiosyncratic stop nomenclature.  I'm not sure the three-way borrowing for the pedal would be possible with mechanical action though.  I've leaked up to 13 stops in order to include a 4' flute - basically I've added a Cor de Nuit 8, a Voix Celeste 8, a 4' Flute and an Hautboy to the original 9 stops.  All enclosed as at Mersault. I am assuming a church acoustic rather than a house.

Available on Man I:

16 Bourdon
8 Montre
8 Flute Harmonique
8 Salicional
4 Prestant
4 Flute Octaviante
III Plein Jeu
16 Bombarde
8 Trompette
4 Clairon

Available on Man II:

8 Montre
8 Flute Harmonique
8 Cor de Nuit
8 Salicional
8 Voix Celeste
4 Prestant
4 Flute Octaviante
8 Trompette
8 Basson-Hautbois
 

Available on Pedal:

16 Bourdon
8 Montre
8 Flute Harmonique
4 Prestant
16 Bombarde
8 Trompette
 

I don't think it would sound very different from the Mersault organ. but it would be greatly more versatile.  Baroque music?  Not today!

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I’m very pleased to say that the Meursault organ is undergoing a complete restoration and is due to be finished by Pentecost 2020.  It originally started it’s life with Concerts Colonne in Paris.  For years the parish thought the organ had come from a circus and took some persuading on my part that it had come from a theatre/concert hall.  There is a big question mark over who built the organ, if Charles Mutin just installed the organ and added his name.  The pedalboard is 30 notes but the Soubasse only goes up for 25 notes.  It’s all a bit of a mystery!  The organ is quite extraordinary and reaches every corner of the building with a warm sound.  It doesn’t just do loud, and is a joy to play for a recital or service.  The recordings on the website are pretty poor  (at least the playing is) , and the organ was malfunctioning in a major way with the reed ventil turning itself off and the swell shutters randomly closing.  All are welcome to stay in our house where there is a key to the Meursault organ hanging next to the one for the boite de lettres!  PM me if you want further details about renting the house.

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Owning a real pipe organ is something I have dreamed of for many years. Unfortunately there isn't much I can do other than work on the design as a pipe organ is not something that is easy to get obtain or fit into a house. Some people that I mentioned this ambition to have also expressed such a desire but feel that it is unlikely to ever become a reality.

One idea that I am interested in utilising in my organ is bass pipes that can play two or even three notes. It's a rather unusual idea and their may be some difficulties in utilising such an idea as the components for it would have to be especially made. Plus there may also be a lot of teething problems as most Organ Builders and enthusiasts have probably never heard of such an idea. But I'm hoping that this could be a major benefit in helping reducing the size of the instrument as the bass end (particularly of principles and string ranks) can take up quite a bit of space. For example although a pipe that can play two or three notes may not seem like much but it can reduce the number of pipes in an octave from 12 to 6 or even 4.

I have come across a  French Romantic positive organ that utilises this idea. I can't find any details as to how these valves work but bellow is a video of one of these organs where you can see some sort of pneumatic valve attached to some of the pipes.

https://youtu.be/_svQQsBXGaQ

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I can’t remember the official name, maybe “cubus”, but a continental European builder used to advertise small organs with a single “pipe” that produced many chromatic notes for a 16' pedal stop. Compton had something similar for the 32' octave. I think they work on the principal of an ocarina.

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The Cubus was invented by Wolfgang Oberlinger of Oberlinger Orgelbau in Windesheim. They applied for a German patent on it in 1995, visible here, which can be inspected here (on Espacenet, a worldwide reference of patents provided for free by my employer, the EPO): 

https://worldwide.espacenet.com/publicationDetails/biblio?CC=DE&NR=19546312A1&KC=A1&FT=D&ND=3&date=19970619&DB=&locale=en_EP#

Google Patent translation here:

https://patents.google.com/patent/DE19546312A1/en

The application number is DE 195 46 312. There is only one drawing (look at Original Document for this). I've never quite worked it out, but it is made from a series of chambers, not interconnected, within a single body. You can also see references to patent applications for other resonant bodies cited during the examination process, all with the purpose of providing 16 or 32 foot subbass sounds for small instruments. Although the patent will have expired by now, the Cubus name is, I think, still a registered trade mark. So the brave may build and experiment with one, but not use the name.

These are indeed not just simple polyphone devices, which are bass pipes with a number of valves altering the speaking length of the pipe depending on which pedal is pressed, or indeed a simple ocarina-type resonating body with a number of valves at strategic places to alter pitch (Compton applied for a patent on such a device, but naturally I can't find it at the moment), but somewhere in between. I've never knowingly heard one, and opinion is divided as to how effective they are, particularly for their intended use in small-ish rooms.

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I expect someone more expert about John Compton (MM ?) will be able to fill in technical details, but the ‘Compton Cube’ - sometimes several of them - were a feature of Compton’s organs, and were made by them.  The technology would be familiar to most UK organ builders, (even if not something they have made or would ever consider being likely to make).  I’m sure Niccolo Morandi is right that that these would be both expensive and bulky.  I’m certain there are other more practical alternatives in a house organ.  

Southampton Guildhall possesses a Compton stop similar to the one described by Innate. - a single pipe producing different notes.  Again, too technical for me, but just to stress that this was a product of British technology.

(I hadn’t seen Damian Beasley-Suffolk’s post before making my contribution.)

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A little lesson in my day job :-)

To inspect about 30 of Compton's organ-related patent applications, look here:

https://worldwide.espacenet.com/searchResults?submitted=true&locale=en_EP&DB=EPODOC&ST=singleline&query=g10b+compton&Submit=Search

One particular Compton Cube, which really is a huge ocarina, is this:

https://worldwide.espacenet.com/publicationDetails/biblio?II=18&ND=3&adjacent=true&locale=en_EP&FT=D&date=19260805&CC=GB&NR=255988A&KC=A#

If you're interested, you can search for any number of pipe organ, harmonium or similar applications on Espacenet - again, this is free, it's not a commercial or revenue-generating service of my employer, which is essentially a civil service organisation, it's simply the public access to all patent applications which has always been available, and which is now online.

Patents have their own classification scheme, rather like the Dewey scheme for books. This is consistent worldwide.

The classification reference for "Organs, harmomiums, or similar wind musical instruments with associated blowing apparatus" which is G10B. You can look at the CPC in general here:

https://www.uspto.gov/web/patents/classification/cpc/html/cpc-G10B.html

On the front page of Espacenet, here:

https://worldwide.espacenet.com/?locale=en_EP

in the "Smart search" box, you can type in, for example:

G10B compton

which will give the set of results above. For those who are interested, a bit of experimentation/messing around can reveal some interesting patent applications in the field. Admittedly, there isn't that much, and you will see that patent applications, although fascinating, still leave a lot of work for the "skilled person" to do in order to make a particular idea actually work.

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I would have hesitated to suggest that pedal tones could be obtained using digital techniques were it not for the fact that the method has been resorted to by some of the best pipe organ builders in some of the most prestigious venues such as Southwell Minster.  Even if Niccolo might not like the idea as a permanent solution, he might try it as a stop gap while trying out various other options using pipes.  But beware that radiating the lowest frequencies is a quirky business at the best of times regardless of whether one uses pipes or electronics.  Quiet flue tones are often more difficult than reeds in terms of things like 'not-spots' within the room, and commercial subwoofers if using digital techniques can be disappointing considering their cost.  A successful quiet 16 (or even 32) reed can be obtained in a smallish room using free reeds, with or without resonators.  These can be obtained from old reed organs.  So there's a lot of scope for experiment for those with the inclination to try various options.

Also Damien's posts on patents were extremely useful - thank you for that guidance.

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29 minutes ago, Colin Pykett said:

 

I feel that one of the core aspects of this topic obviously relates to physical space. Certainly, in agreeing with Colin’s remarks, the digital reed voices on the Southwell Minster pedal division are most effective. Likewise, Compton’s solution for the 32ft Sub Bass pedal flue at Hull Minster lay in a very, very effective polyphone. At the bottom end it’s a stop you don’t so much experience by hearing but by feeling. Its vibrations seem to make the whole building gently shake. There’s no doubt the polyphone solution at Hull concerned the availability of space rather than cost.

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15 hours ago, innate said:

I can’t remember the official name, maybe “cubus”, but a continental European builder used to advertise small organs with a single “pipe” that produced many chromatic notes for a 16' pedal stop. Compton had something similar for the 32' octave. I think they work on the principal of an ocarina.

 

 

Ah yes the Cubus. I remember stumbling across this invention some time back on the Encyclopedia of Organ Stops webpage.

http://organstops.com/c/Cubus.html

 

 

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One thing I should say about my interest in using polyphonic pipes is that I would only incorporate them if it is necessary. As I have mentioned before I would only stick to anything big such as the bass octave of 8' string and principle ranks as well as 16' ranks, but I could on the other hand take a slightly more conservative approach and just remove the bass C# pipe on most or all of the ranks and instead play that note using polyphony pipes.

Another odd idea I have is dividing a single division across two keyboards. To do this with an electrical action I presume would be fairly simple and I know that a lot of the player organs from the early 20th often had a division shared across two manuals. But I'm curious about how this would work mechanical action as I have come across the odd tracker organ with a division split across two manuals but I am not sure as to how this works as it would require doubling the number of pallets and sliders in a wind chest.

One example I know of is a French Romantic style house organ that I stumbled across fairly recently which you can find listed under Aigle in the link below.

http://www.petermeierorgelbau.com/

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My 2 Euro cents' worth on having a 16' subbas rank in a house organ.

I have a Dutch house organ (de Koff, 1970) which was built with 2 manuals, 8, 4, II-III; 8,4,2, pedal pulldowns. It was subsequently revised to 8, 4, 3; 8, 4, 2, which was the spec when I bought it. Can you imagine a neo-baroque II-III mixture about 40 cm from your face!! All of the ranks are independent. The 8'ranks are stopped flutes up to middle C, each with a wooden bottom octave.

Because the opportunity presented itself, in the form of a rank of 30 English 16' bourdon pipes of modest scale with their own soundboard, advertised enticingly on a German organ website, I decided to "complete" my house organ with the Untersatz it so obviously missed. This proved to be an expensive error.

Firstly, the whole shebang cost rather more than I imagined. I shall spare my blushes with the details.

Secondly, even though it all works it has never been satisfactory. It's often been said on this forum that tones in the 16' range need a fair volume of space in order to develop. My experience is that to begin with, they need a fair volume of space around them to start speaking properly. Mine are quite closely packed in the corner of a room, and because of this I'm not sure that they speak especially well in the first place. I wonder whether this is one of the contributors to the effectiveness of softer bass notes even when they are at the back of an organ, but speak freely into space. Either way, sometimes the noise of the air is a greater proportion of the emerging sound than one would imagine.

Thirdly, even modestly-scaled 16' bourdon pipes take an enormous amount of air, and messing around to get the air supply right from what is a perfectly adequate blower has been even more of a faff, not least due to lack of space.

In retrospect, the time and money I spent would have been better directed towards solving a problem which I recognised but did not properly appreciate. The bottom octaves of the manual 8's are spread around inside the organ case, fed off the single chest with copex tubing. Some are at the sides, some in the roof, and the lowest four of each rank are underneath the chest. The real problem is that these are voiced too quietly, and then muffled. A better solution would be to relocate these pipes from their dark corners, put them where they can clearly be heard - perhaps by opening op the back of the case with their mouths speaking into it (as visible in the expressive Brustwerk at Clifton Cathedral, for example) and revoice them to make themselves heard.

I have played several quite small instruments here in the Netherlands which have no independent pedal ranks, but are still effective because their 8' ranks, either principle or flute, speak freely and are well-voiced all the way down to the bottom C. Because of this, assuming one's left foot is typically an octave lower than the left hand, the lack of a 16' is rarely noticeable. For a nice house instrument, this will not only be more than adequate, it will actually sound nice, clean, and distinct.

As in the foreseeable future we will be moving house, depending on funds I plan to see if I can realise this on my current organ, and see if it works. Then, of course, I may well have a spare, direct electric action, 30 note pedal board. I plan to put a nice 8' Trompette on it so I can play all that lovely French baroque music at last. What could possibly go wrong?

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I have mentioned this organ before. The 16' pedal stop here is entirely satisfactory, given the type of organ it is.  It would be a considerable understatement to say that I was surprised when I was told that the the bottom seven 16' notes, C - F#, are acoustic (8' + 5 1/3'), the whole stop being derived from the GG Stopt Diapason. I had no idea - and even when I knew I still had to listen carefully to hear it. Very clever voicing. But then, it is a Drake organ.

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One mistake I have noticed with some house organs is when someone wants a cathedral or concert size organ in their living room. Presumably this is often because a lot of organists prefer an instrument with a wide array of stops as larger organs are more comfortable to work with compared to most house organs which to confess are a bit to basic even for me. But I feel that one thing that is really important is not so much how many stops an organ has but the overall design of the instrument.

What I'm looking for in my dream organ (presuming that this dream will ever become a reality) is an instrument that is capable of handling a wide range of music as appose to just Baroque music. I think to achieve this is to include pistons, swell box and the addition of 8' string and Principle ranks as appose to just 8' flutes. It's not much but I think this can really help to enhance an organ.  

 

I'd also like to point out one interesting example of a rather excessive home installation which is an organ located in Birmingham Alabama that you could say is not so much in a house but is a house.

 

I've included a link to the OHS page on this organ but the information is a bit out of date as this organ has had a additions additions such as the console being enlarged from having three manuals to five. https://pipeorgandatabase.org/OrganDetails.php?OrganID=26112

 

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One aspect of installing a house organ of anything more than the smallest size are the problems involved when you (or your beneficiaries should you have moved onto higher things) want to sell the building.  The vast majority of prospective purchasers simply do not wish to see an organ of any sort when they view the place - ask any real estate agent.  I've even had to hide a digital organ in the garage in order to get rid of a property on the advice of the agent!

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