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For some time I have been trying to dig up information regarding a proposal made by Jean Guillou for a modular pipe organ called L'Orgue a Structure Variable. Which if I'm correct had originated from a book he had written back in the 70's called L'Orgue, souvenir et avenir (The Organ, Remembrance and Future). Bellow I've included a video of an interview with Jean Guillou where he mentions this proposal and the reasons for this organ.

Their isn't a great deal of information available regarding the design of this proposal such as the specification. But from what I know the organ would be made up of fifteen units electronically connected to a console with four manuals and pedals. Each unit would contain one or three ranks of pipes, an independent wind supply and keyboard.

Their uses to be website dedicated to this project long gone but I have managed to successfully gain access to the site through an internet archive called the Way Back Machine which I have included a link to bellow. although their still isn't a great deal of information regarding the design of the organ.

https://web.archive.org/web/20121115093815/http://osvguillou.pagesperso-orange.fr/index.htm

As to where this project stands in development I think it is safe to say that it is pretty much at a stand still but I can't say for sure if it has been completely abandoned. But regardless of whether this organ will become a reality their has however been some development with organs like this. For example the organist Paolo Oreni has his own mobile pipe organ called Organo Wanderer, and Jean Baptiste Monnot for years has been working on a small but versatile organ called L'Orgue du Voyage.

 

 

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  • 1 month later...

This is probably not important but I just thought it would be worth mentioning that the organist Jean Baptiste Monnot had recently set up and performed on his portable organ at the Louvre. There's a few pictures of the event on his Facebook and Instagram page but not much in the way of videos and recordings (or at least at the time I am posting this comment).

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  • 1 month later...

How, I wonder, does a modular organ differ from the idea of a unit extension organ?

Crawl around any purpose-built Compton organ (not the Muggle variety, where old organs have been re-built) and you would find separate pipe units of almost identical construction, placed in neat rows, side by side. It doesn't take much imagination to see how such separate units could be placed on wheels, and rolled around to create almost anything you want.  I think I would call such an instrument "L'Orgue de Lego".  Let's see if I can find a photograph.......

Each of the units has its own wind-supply or one shared with  another unit. Often, the only difference between one unit and the next, is restricted to the top-boards, which are drilled to accept particular types of pipes.

The same idea doesn't need to be restricted to extension organs. It could be used in perfectly straight situations.

 

WINDCHESTS IDENTICAL.jpg

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Yes I see what in that the idea of a modular design could work. I think it could also certainly help in reducing the set up as pipe organs are kind of like 3D jigsaw puzzles that can take weeks or months to set up.

I hope more information about the Organ of Variable Structure (particularly a specification) surfaces one day as I would love to dive into the nuts and bolts of this proposal. I have thought about getting a copy of Jean Guillou's book L'Orgue, Souvenir et Avenir but I don't want to go to the trouble of buying a book that is not in English and may not have any further information on this organ.

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8 hours ago, Niccolo Morandi said:

 I think it could also certainly help in reducing the set up as pipe organs are kind of like 3D jigsaw puzzles that can take weeks or months to set up.

 

Compton's were so organised, they could install a 10 ranks cinema organ in just two weeks!
Standardised "modules" were at the heart of their success, and made organ-building a VERY profitable undertaking.

Unless the aim is to build a neo-classical, bespoke tracker-action instrument, there's much to be learned from "modular" methods of manufacture and construction.

MM

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I just remembered some videos I stumbled across years ago of a positive organ that was built by the organist Giorgio Questa.

Personally I think the instrument has quite a nice sound but I'm not a fan of how it is designed to be transported as I would design the organ to break apart into several pieces rather than have something reminiscent of a jigsaw puzzle. Another thing I'm not sure about with this organ is the spacing of the pipes on the wind chest as I think it look a little tight.  

 

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  • 4 months later...

Recently I've come up with the idea to put together a list documenting various touring or portable pipe organs. Besides Reginald Foort's touring organ it's difficult to find information on any other portable pipes organs, as many of the organs I'm aware of I have discovered purely by accident.

So anyway here is a list I've put together documenting both pipe and electronic portable organs, along with the names of the artist or builders.

Pipe Organs

 

  • Orchestrion – Georg Joseph Vogler 1746 – 1814

  • Portable Pipe Organ – W. W. Kimball Organ Company

  • Link Unit Organ – Charles Sharpe Minor 1885 – 1957

  • Touring Organ by Harrison & Harrison – George Thomas Pattman 1875 – 1961

  • Moller Opus 6690 – Reginald Foort 1893 – 1980

  • Organo Portativo – Giorgio Questa 1929 – 2010

  • Portable Organ – Pierre Cochereau 1924 – 1984

  • Open air konzert Orgel – Hoffmann & Schindler Organ Builders

  • Mobile Orgue – Plaisance du Gers Organ Builders

  • Anywhere Organ – Mathew Borgatti

  • The Flavour Conductor – Mander Organ Builders

  • Orgue du Voyage – Jean Baptiste Monnot 1984 –

  • Organo Wanderer – Paolo Oreni 1979 –

 

Electronic Organs

 

  • Black Beauty – Virgil Fox 1912 – 1980

  • Allen Touring Organ – Carlo Curley 1952 – 2012

  • Allen Touring Organ – Virgil Fox 1912 – 1980

  • Rogers Touring Organ – Felix Hell 1985 –

  • Touring Organ – Raul Prieto Ramirez

  • International Touring Organ – Cameron Carpenter 1981 –

 

There is probably still other organs out there but I'm impressed with what I have done so far considering this kind of feels like trying to document steam powered airplanes or 21st century steam locomotives.

 

 

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Hi

I can add one more - a small (2 rank IIRC) 2 manual organ built by our hosts here for Rick Wakeman.  I understand that he still has the instrument but that it's currently out of use.

I'd be interested in links to the info on the various instruments you list, Niccolo. Compact at church - 2mp, and Viscount also sell a 2m with optional stand & pedals in their Cantorum range (not to mention the single manual keyboard style organs by Viscount & others)

In the realm of electronic "organs" a couple of firms are building portable versions of some of their small organs.  I have a Content 224

Every Blessing

Tony

1002781482_WakemanPortable2lo.jpg.b59287df0d343090e51d7812018f18ab.jpg

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On 23/06/2020 at 18:31, Tony Newnham said:

Hi

I can add one more - a small (2 rank IIRC) 2 manual organ built by our hosts here for Rick Wakeman.  I understand that he still has the instrument but that it's currently out of use.

I'd be interested in links to the info on the various instruments you list, Niccolo. Compact at church - 2mp, and Viscount also sell a 2m with optional stand & pedals in their Cantorum range (not to mention the single manual keyboard style organs by Viscount & others)

In the realm of electronic "organs" a couple of firms are building portable versions of some of their small organs.  I have a Content 224

Every Blessing

Tony

Sorry for the late reply, but anyway yes I see what you mean about adding links. My original intention was to just list both the name of the instrument and the artist or builder as I felt like that would be enough for anyone to track down the instruments, but thinking about it now it probably would help to include a link to a page or article.

I've also decided to included a section for pipe organs that are not designed to be moved to different venues but are designed to be moved around within the space they are installed in. 

Pipe Organs

Electronic Organs

Semi Portable Pipe Organs

Portable Pipe Organ proposals

  • Orgue à Structure Variable – Jean Guillou 1930 – 2019

            https://web.archive.org/web/20121115093815/http://osvguillou.pagesperso-orange.fr/index.htm

  • The Grand Positive – Niccolo Morandi, available whenever

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UN_rAx8lWxY

A couple of the organs I have removed as I found little to no information on. One was a portable organ built by the Kimball organ company and the other was a touring organ used by the organist Pierre Cochereau. The portable organ built by kimball I had only heard about from another forum and the touring organ of Pierre Cochereau I have seen photographs online. Looking back I feel like I probably should have left some of the instruments off the list until I had some information to back them up.

I had also heard that Edward George Power Biggs also had a small touring organ but I never include it on the list as I couldn't find a single mention of this organ anywhere.

 

 

 

 

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  • 1 year later...

I was just thinking that it may be worth adding to the list, as I have come across several portable pipe organs that I think are worth including.

I've also been wondering about what information I should be providing, as I included the name of the organist or organ builder along with the dates they were alive. But I'm starting think that the dates are not that important, as I included them because it's not often mentioned when these pipe organs were built, and at the time I felt that it would help narrow down the era the instruments are from.

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  • Niccolo changed the title to Anywhere Pipe Organ

I tried to find out something about this instrument and was, largely unsuccessful. There was some information and it is covered on another thread, posted reasonably recently, somewhere on here. But I can't remember in which thread!!

From what I remember it was a four manual with one of the manuals being a piano. Apart from that I can't help.

Pattman, who held the FRCO, was an interesting character. Born in 1875, he studied at Peterborough under Haydn Keeton,  was organist at Hessle Parish church in the East Riding of Yorkshire in 1900 and quickly moved from there to Bridlington Priory where he held the post from 1901 to 1904. He then went to St. Mary's Cathedral in Glasgow for 12 years and then to London. The touring organ was ordered from Harrison & Harrison but no records seem to be available which surprises me. Pattman died in 1961.

My maternal grandmother, who, herself, eventually held the FRCO was born at Etton and had organ lessons at Beverley Minster with J.H.N. Camidge but, before that, for a year, had lessons with Pattman at Bridlington. It appears that travel to Bridlington was an all day job! She went with the carrier, by horse and cart, the twelve miles to Driffield and then got the train to Bridlington returning in the evening. I don't know why she stopped lessons with Pattman. Perhaps the journey to Beverley was easier!

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3 hours ago, S_L said:

I tried to find out something about this instrument and was, largely unsuccessful. There was some information and it is covered on another thread, posted reasonably recently, somewhere on here. But I can't remember in which thread!!

The other thread was “Nosferatu 1922” and on that we were given the NPOR reference N04178 for this organ by none other than your goodself!  The organ, minus piano, is now in the chapel of Durham School.  NPOR discreetly states ‘Builders Unknown’ but there are clues to its Pattman provenance, which is actually stated, with the ‘drum roll’ percussion and ‘dulcitone (enclosed)’, not to mention the plethora of tubas!  An interesting and unusual organ in a school chapel!  If H&H archives are silent about it, surely its present location in Durham is significant.  I seem to remember that Laurence Elvin referred to it in his book ‘The Harrison Story’, naming it as one of theirs.

NPOR adds ‘Further information, The Organ, 1950’.  Also more details in your post dated 20th July on the other thread: rebuilds by H&H and, most recently, Willis.

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1 hour ago, Rowland Wateridge said:

The other thread was “Nosferatu 1922” and on that we were given the NPOR reference N04178 for this organ by none other than your goodself!  The organ, minus piano, is now in the chapel of Durham School.  NPOR discreetly states ‘Builders Unknown’ but there are clues to its Pattman provenance, which is actually stated, with the ‘drum roll’ percussion and ‘dulcitone (enclosed)’, not to mention the plethora of tubas!  An interesting and unusual organ in a school chapel!  If H&H archives are silent about it, surely its present location in Durham is significant.  I seem to remember that Laurence Elvin referred to it in his book ‘The Harrison Story’, naming it as one of theirs.

NPOR adds ‘Further information, The Organ, 1950’.  Also more details in your post dated 20th July on the other thread: rebuilds by H&H and, most recently, Willis.

Oh dear!! I must be losing it!! Yes, I remember now!! Thank you Rowland.

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I don’t know about losing it, but we both have advancing age on our side (or at least that is true in my case, now octogenarian).  I experimented with other online searches but failed, and would not have tracked this down without the NPOR number which, somehow, you must have found. Anyway, these details should be helpful for Niccolo.

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18 hours ago, Niccolo said:

I was wondering if their is any information available about the design of the touring organ that was built by Harrison & Harrison for George Thomas Pattman?

You may know this already, but the National Pipe Organ Register is an invaluable source for locating organ specifications, locations, dates and details of builders in England, Wales and Scotland.  Having said that, without further information I was not able to locate Pattman’s organ.  I have read about it in odd places from time to time, but it had not ‘registered’ that it was still around, in the chapel of Durham School and listed under NPOR N04178.

An invaluable tip for making searches on NPOR is to insert just a single word or place name, or the index number if known.  That was how I located the Pattman organ.  Obviously several hundreds of listings turn up for ‘London’ and you could be specific with a more local name like Southwark or Westminster.  Or you can search for a church name if it is an unusual one - omit ‘Saint’ just the name like ‘Swithun’ or ‘Boniface’ as two examples.  That will produce a limited number of results, and it is easy to select the right one.  There are more tips on the NPOR home page, particularly for searches about organ builders.  

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A brief history of Pattman's organ by H&H is indeed described in Elvin's book, together with specification and photographs. 
 

As the book is decades out of print, hopefully it's allowable to attach a couple of scans here - if not, please let me know.

 

 

pattman-min.jpg

pattman2-min.jpg

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  • 2 weeks later...
1 hour ago, Martin Cooke said:

Whether it qualifies for inclusion in this thread or not, I am not sure, but a famous instrument that was designed to be moved around within a single building is the 'Willis on Wheels' at St Paul's Cathedral. 

Am sure there is a recording, made by Christopher Dearnley, playing the various organs in St Pauls  ( Michael Woodwards St Pauls LP/CD's) https://www.prioryrecords.co.uk/index.php?route=product/product&path=59_74&product_id=2095

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On 26/09/2021 at 08:40, Peter Allison said:

Am sure there is a recording, made by Christopher Dearnley, playing the various organs in St Pauls  ( Michael Woodward's St Paul's LP/CD's) https://www.prioryrecords.co.uk/index.php?route=product/product&path=59_74&product_id=2095

Yes, that's the one. The Lloyd Webber Trio and the Howells' Epilogue are played on this instrument. (NPOR) This is a very interesting recording, made in 1983 (so, after the 72/77 Mander rebuild, but before the new dome tubas were installed in 2008, and other minor changes in the specification, eg to the Choir and Great, the addition of a pedal Sub Bass on the West Chorus, and some changes to the mixtures in the dome).

It's the only recording I know that features any St Paul's instrument other than the grand organ, though much more recently the new Drake organ in the crypt has been recorded. (The crypt organ in this recording is the Willis III - an instrument that Dr Dearnley disliked.)

This was a beautifully produced recording project in its original vinyl format with a splendid jacket and commentary. It illustrated Dr Dearnley's wonderfully original and idiosyncratic registration schemes, never more so than in the Lefébure-Wély Sortie in E flat which he opens with a single 8ft dome diapason, building up and moving on from there. 

Sorry to drone on... just wanted to add that in featuring all the St Paul's organs of CHD's day, we hear a little instrument which was known, by some of us, at any rate,  as "Gabb's organ.' I can remember exploring some of the areas above the cathedral floor, and above the Minor Canons' vestry in the North Choir Aisle there was this old instrument. This was 'done up' by Noel Mander and, like the Willis on Wheels, it was put in a smart case. The record sleeve referred to above describes this organ as the Rycroft Chamber organ. I have just turned to my copy of the Plumley and Niland book on the St Paul's organs and this instrument "was found in pieces by Harry Gabb." It was subsequently sold to All Saints', Farnborough, Berkshire. See NPOR

I think I am correct in saying that there have been three new organs at St Paul's since this recording: The Drake in the Crypt, a Jennings practice organ and a Tickell chamber organ - these in addition to the grand organ and the Willis on wheels. 

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On 13/09/2021 at 19:22, Paul_H said:

A brief history of Pattman's organ by H&H is indeed described in Elvin's book, together with specification and photographs.

pattman-min.jpg

What in the world is a "Bombarde (one pipe only, common to lowest 12 keys of pedal board, 15 inches wind) 32 foot" stop?

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4 hours ago, Contrabombarde said:

What in the world is a "Bombarde (one pipe only, common to lowest 12 keys of pedal board, 15 inches wind) 32 foot" stop?

Perhaps one of those pipes with stoppers covering holes (as on a flute) to permit several notes from one pipe.  Sorry, I forget the word I'm looking for right now.  I'm losing my memory!

Mind you, I think they were always flues.

EDIT:  Ah, yes.  Polyphones.  My memory came back.

Edited by John Robinson
My memory came back.
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  • Niccolo changed the title to Anywhere Pipe Organs

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