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The Time Lag


Frank Fowler
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THE TIME LAG

 

Once upon a time a detached console was often placed away from the pipes so that the organist could hear what he or she was doing. Provide the console was less than 30’ away there was not enough acoustic delay to cause any great worry – over 30’ and you began to notice it. (This excludes action delays!)

 

It was said that with a mechanical action things were perfect. On a small instrument this is usually so but the moment you get onto a large mechanical instrument (such as the lofty continental ones) the old acoustic time lag starts to rear its head. If you are playing one division that is sky high against the division behind your back then the laws of Physics ensure that you will not hear the two together.

 

I have asked several well know recitalists how they get over this problem. The most honest said “With difficulty, I try not to choose music that will not necessitate registrations to be set up this way”. Another told me that he tries to couple the far away division to a very soft nearby stop and listens to that. (I believe this is normal practice for using a West End battery of reeds). The most interesting was “In these circumstances I always play from the music that I hear in my head and allow it to control my fingers – I never listen to what I am playing”.

 

I can appreciate the logic behind this last line of thought. I remember years ago hearing Flor Peters playing at the Albert Hall. He played a trio – one hand using the pipes immediately above his head and the other using the Swell section that was way over towards the old Royal College of Organists building. All went well for about a minute and then suddenly he listened to what he was playing at the console. The rest of the piece was a fascinating example of a great musician trying to get himself out of trouble.

 

If you come up against `time lag’ problems, how do you solve them?

 

Frank Fowler

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THE TIME LAG

 

Once upon a time a detached console was often placed away from the pipes so that the organist could hear what he or she was doing. Provide the console was less than 30’ away there was not enough acoustic delay to cause any great worry – over 30’ and you began to notice it. (This excludes action delays!)

 

It was said that with a mechanical action things were perfect. On a small instrument this is usually so but the moment you get onto a large mechanical instrument (such as the lofty continental ones) the old acoustic time lag starts to rear its head. If you are playing one division that is sky high against the division behind your back then the laws of Physics ensure that you will not hear the two together.

 

I have asked several well know recitalists how they get over this problem. The most honest said “With difficulty, I try not to choose music that will not necessitate registrations to be set up this way”. Another told me that he tries to couple the far away division to a very soft nearby stop and listens to that. (I believe this is normal practice for using a West End battery of reeds). The most interesting was “In these circumstances I always play from the music that I hear in my head and allow it to control my fingers – I never listen to what I am playing”.

 

I can appreciate the logic behind this last line of thought. I remember years ago hearing Flor Peters playing at the Albert Hall. He played a trio – one hand using the pipes immediately above his head and the other using the Swell section that was way over towards the old Royal College of Organists building. All went well for about a minute and then suddenly he listened to what he was playing at the console. The rest of the piece was a fascinating example of a great musician trying to get himself out of trouble.

 

If you come up against `time lag’ problems, how do you solve them?

 

Frank Fowler

 

I've never regularly played such an instrument, but I remember being taught to feel the pulse in my fingertips, rather than waiting for the sound of the organ. It's certainly helped when deputizing on such instruments. Otherwise, even when playing on one manual, one can find oneself getting slower and slower. :o

 

It all rather contradicts our attempts to listen to our own performances, and perhaps explains why organists are often accused of not doing so...

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THE TIME LAG

 

Once upon a time a detached console was often placed away from the pipes so that the organist could hear what he or she was doing. Provide the console was less than 30’ away there was not enough acoustic delay to cause any great worry – over 30’ and you began to notice it. (This excludes action delays!)

 

(snip)

 

 

If you come up against `time lag’ problems, how do you solve them?

 

Frank Fowler

 

=========================

 

 

Well, there's nothing like a challenging question....I've had to think about this!

 

I think anyone who has "performed" in any situation is familiar with the perils of time lags and confused aural feed-back. It is very easy to admire anyone who can cope with the more extreme examples, but in reality, everyone can perform the same miracle in everyday life. (I just know this is going to be a long post!)

 

The blind or the severely partially-sighted, often have a remarkable grasp on spatial awareness, to the extent that they will direct their unseeing eyes towards the voices of people they recognise in a crowded-room; especially if they have lost their sight after having normal vision. If we blindfold ourselves and get someone to make noises, we know EXACTLY where the source of the sound is and we can point to it with pin-point accuracy; even in a very resonant acoustic. We can also do this when the source of the noise is from behind us, and we can even tell how near or far the source of the sound is, as well as how high or low (spatially) and whether to left or right.

 

The even more remarkabl phenomenon is that of being able to actually recognise a familiar voice in a noisy, crowded room. Our cognitive hearing can be highly selective, to the point that even fairly softly uttered, but familiar patterns of speech, can be heard quite clearly above less familiar cacophony.

 

We also seem to be especially sensitive to middle-frequencies, rather than the lows and highs of aural perception, which may have something to do with survival instincts.

 

Put this altogether, and it soon becomes obvious that we are not mere machines, but far more sophisticated than even the best state-of-the-art digital recording-studios. Nevertheless, there is a mjor drawback in all this, insomuch as the cognitive factors are built on a complex learning-process over a considerable period of time.

 

Remarkably, if we look at the dynamics of sound, even a 10 metre distance (approx 33ft) delays the sound not more than 29 X 1000ths of a second....let's keep it simple and suggest 3 X 100ths. (We'll also conveniently forget about the effects of altitude and relative gas density, and assume 60 deg.F at sea-level on a dry day).

 

A sound source 3 metres away (about 10ft or so) results in sound reaching us in 9 X 1000ths of a second, or in round figures, approximately 1 X 100th of a second.

 

So to consider Frank's proposal on an organ such as the Albert Hall, we may be looking at a net difference of around 2 X100ths of a second between the arrival of the direct sound from the more distant windchests, and that from the windchest

closest to the organist.

 

Even those impressive West End Trumpets at St.Paul's Cathedral, or St.John-the-Divine, New York, are heard not more than a 3rd of a second later than the main ensemble, BUT AT ALMOST EXACTLY THE SAME TIME IN THE NAVE.

 

Dismissing the more extreme examples of party-horns in far flung places, it is immediately obvious that we are talking in terms of very slight delays indeed, and of course, as Frank rightly points out, the mathematics apply just as much in a vertical disposition as they do on a horizontal plane. We've discussed tracker-action runs before to-day, and I think someone mentioned the actual distances involved, but to re-iterate, I referred to the superlative Bavo-orgel at Haarlem, where the Oberwerk chest is possibly 30ft or more above the console, each Pedal chest approximately 15ft to each side, and the Positive right behind the players head....and this is "werkprinzip" layout with mechanical-action throughout.

 

The interesting thing about this is, that a detached console at somewhere like Haarlem (God forbid!), if positioned 30ft above the nave and 30ft away from the organ-case, would be just as easy to hear as the current layout, and would probably sound better to the organist!!

 

Indeed, purely from a positional point of view, this would be the perfect place for the organ-console, with the sound from all divisions of the instrument arriving at more or less the exact same time.

 

This implies that, in a large concert-hall with a very large organ, the best layout for the pipework would be in a wide radial-arc around a detached centre-stage console position. As an aside, it is interesting to note that the magnificent new Mander organ at Peachtree Road, Methodist Church, (to be found elsewhere on this website) has a detached console with mechanical-action.

 

What does all the foregoing tell us?

 

Well, one thing it does tell us, is that the prejudice against a detached console position is completely unfounded musically, even though I would be first to recognise that mechanical-action provides the feeling of being connected to the music and the instrument like no other.

 

Why then, do organists run into difficulties if the time delays are so small?

 

I would suggest that we have to turn full circle, and instead of blaming the layout of an instrument, we put the blame where it should properly be; with the organist. Some people may adapt quicker than others, but I usually find that I often cannot play ANYTHING right after sliding onto an organ I have never played before. After playing with stops and experimenting with sounds, it gets better. After half-an-hour, things start to fall into place and I feel that I am starting to make music. Usually, (unless it is a very big console or strange in some way or other) after an hour, I start to feel confident and comfortable, YET NOTHING HAS CHANGED and bits of the organ haven't suddenly re-positioned themselves.

 

In other words, there is a cognitive learning curve which takes x amount of time, like the newly blind person who has to learn how to "see" and perceive by way of listening.

 

Nevertheless, there is, I would suggest, a notable exception to this.

 

In 1985, when the organ was on its last legs, I gace a recital at St.Bart's, Armley; perhaps unwisely choosing a difficult and demanding programme which included Bach, Mozart and Reger....all of them big works. The action was in a dire state at the time, and indeed, I think I was the last recitalist ever to use the Echo organ before it finally became unplayable, which I feel sure is not the case now!

 

Interestingly, I still have a recording of that performance, and I whince when I listen to it. The pneumatic-action was not only slow, it was working at different speeds. To make matters worse, it wasn't simply that each windchest was functioning differently, but the fact that there were considerable differences in action response even on the same keyboard, with the result that the sound which came to me was, by definition, totally confusing. I flogged away for a full three hours practising, but never once felt comfortable or relaxed enough to make proper music. The net result was "near" but, unfortunately, "not near enough," and anxiety ruled the end-result.

 

To sum up, we are amazing animals with extraordinary cognitive abilities, but when we are placed in the position of replicating music-making on a strange instrument in a different acoustic, we not only have to allow time for the cognitive learning-curve, we also have to allow time for cognitive "unlearning" of that which we have learned by rote.

 

The miracle is, we give a recital or accompany in a nightmare situation, catch the bus home, go to church, as we can play perfectly.

 

Isn't re-cognitive memory a wonderful, miraculous thing....and we've all got it!

 

MM

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Guest Andrew Butler

:o When preparing for a Deanery Evensong for which I was playing in Canterbury Cathedral a few years back I had to abandon including an 18th c Cornet Voluntary pre-service, as the only cornet combo available is on the Choir which is furthest east in the triforium away from the console on the screen. There was only a very slight delay, but I didn't have the practice time available needed to come to terms with it.

 

:o Incidentally, at the service I had the added problem of playing "blind" as the video link with the conductor had been put out by a lightning strike the previous night!

 

There has been mention elsewhere of the Canterbury organ. Personally, I like it - ok, it's a bit lacking for accompaniment compared with other cathedrals, but what there is now speaks out of the triforium more clearly now there's less of it.

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When I used to play regularly at the cathedral we don't mention (for any newcomers, just off the M5 between Gloucester and Birmingham) playing on the solo organ (located in the south transept, console in the north quire aisle) certainly took some getting used to. I remember, at first, having a tendency to get slower through waiting to hear the sounds.

 

You have to be bloody minded about it and just keep playing ignoring the evidence of your ears. Not easy to do. In some ways its not unlike the situation that occurs when accompanying a choir at some remove when, again, its very difficult to keep everything together.

 

It can make life easier to couple through to a nearer division, I used to couple solo-choir sometimes at the place in question, but at the end of the day you still have to ignore the time lag from the distant pipework.

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Guest Barry Oakley

I know that when Peter Goodman was City Organist at Hull he much preferred the moveable console because it could be sited at the front of the City Hall stage and he was able to hear the organ accurately. Now the console is in a fixed position almost underneath the organ case which makes it more difficult. I understand it was not his idea to resite the console but that of Hull Corporation who overruled him on the matter.

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You have to be bloody minded about it and just keep playing ignoring the evidence of your ears. Not easy to do. In some ways its not unlike the situation that occurs when accompanying a choir at some remove when, again, its very difficult to keep everything together.

 

 

 

==================

 

This is interesting!

 

Take an organ like Blackburn Cathedral, where the console in positioned on the floor of the nave (close to the chancel of course). I would guess that the distance to the choir-members is maybe 20ft - 35ft, depending on what they sing and where they are. The organ pipes are a whole bus-stop away, situated high up on east-most walls either side of the lantern-area.

 

Accompanying a choir there is not very difficult, and playing slightly ahead of the beat soon becomes second-nature; at which point everything comes together as it should.

 

It's far worse in situations where the organ is placed differently, and one must assume that the nightmare scenario is a chancel-choir and a west-end organ, where the organist sits with the pipework. I know of once church where the choir and organ are thus disposed, but the console is on the floor of the nave close to the chancel, and from this detached position, co-ordination is not a major problem.

 

It does suggest that the blanket disapproval of detached-consoles in certain circles, can indeed by counter-productive when it comes to choral church services, whilst the benefit to organ-music is possibly marginal, once an organist has learned to cope with the time delay.

 

These problems really are no different to those experienced by an orchestral-conductor dealing with a Mahler or Richard Strauss sized symphony orchestra. If those kettle drums seem an awful long way away, that's as nothing compared to the basses in the choir or the organist at the console, at a venue like the Royal Albert Hall.

 

I had to smile when Simon Preston played at the Proms last year. The conductor gave him a distant wave and Mr Preston waved back from afar, but somehow, they made wonderful music.

 

MM

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When I used to play regularly at the cathedral we don't mention (for any newcomers, just off the M5 between Gloucester and Birmingham) playing on the solo organ (located in the south transept, console in the north quire aisle) certainly took some getting used to. I remember, at first, having a tendency to get slower through waiting to hear the sounds.

 

 

This is interesting - I wonder if Nicholsons were able to effect any improvements on the action when they re-commissioned this division - though I confess that I cannot see how this would have been possible. Certainly when I played it, I was not aware of any particular delay - even when coupling it to the GO in order to compensate for the only serious omission on the chancel organ (the lack of a GO 16p reed - something I dislike on large organs, particularly when there is a 32p reed present).

 

I do remember a chap called John Bowden telling me about a recitalist (quite a well-known one) who gave a concert on a large four-clavier R&D instrument in a city in the South West of England. This organ is divided on either side of the nave, clothed in identical cases and with a console that was (at the time) fixed in the South Transept (or sort-of transept) with the player facing north.

 

Apparently, the recitalist finished his programme with the Ch-M W. Toccata. However, he was evidently still not used to the differences in delay because, according to John Bowden, he consistently added an extra quaver in virtually every bar.

 

God, I would love to have heard that....

 

:)

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Apparently, the recitalist finished his programme with the Ch-M W. Toccata. However, he was evidently still not used to the differences in delay because, according to John Bowden, he consistently added an extra quaver in virtually every bar.

 

God, I would love to have heard that....

 

:)

 

=============

 

Hey! Don't laugh!

 

When I played the Mozart K608 at Armley in 1985, I managed to squeeze extra notes into the middle section, like a sort of demented Bruebeck-inspired jazz-version of the work. (Remember "Take Five?")

 

As for the trills, they just didn't happen at all.

 

I put up an impressive fight....the organ won with a last round knock-out!

 

;)

 

MM

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one must assume that the nightmare scenario is a chancel-choir and a west-end organ, where the organist sits with the pipework.
I've occasionally played in such situations. It's OK when the church is small, but I remember one German catholic church in which we sang an Anglican Evensong (!) and concert and where the distance between choir and organ was vast - 100ft plus. Fortunately we were carrying a portable PA system, so I could hear the choir immediately, but I still had to play ahead of them. That wasn't a problem. The real difficulty was with balance, which was unsolvable. If you played loud enough for the choir to hear the organ, there was no way anyone sitting at the back of the church could hear the choir. The only solution was to ask the congregation to move up to the front.
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This is interesting - I wonder if Nicholsons were able to effect any improvements on the action when they re-commissioned this division - though I confess that I cannot see how this would have been possible. Certainly when I played it, I was not aware of any particular delay - even when coupling it to the GO in order to compensate for the only serious omission on the chancel organ (the lack of a GO 16p reed - something I dislike on large organs, particularly when there is a 32p reed present).

Well of course there was a 16' reed on the great when I first played it. The great reeds were tromba's 16 + 8. The present (or perhaps now past) posaune and clarion date from the Woods-Wordsworth rebuild c1976.

 

The delay on the solo was not too noticable unless playing antiphonally for example, ie. with solo organ alone not accompanied by anything nearer. Certainly if you stood (or sat) in the crossing to listen to the organ all sections spoke together.

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Apparently, the recitalist finished his programme with the Ch-M W. Toccata. However, he was evidently still not used to the differences in delay because, according to John Bowden, he consistently added an extra quaver in virtually every bar.
I know the organ to which you refer and suspect that this happened before the rebuild several years ago (I believe the instrument did get into a bit of a a state). One cathedral organist apparently made a comment about playing with the Tuba in one ear and the rest of the organ in the next village - which is perfectly true from where the console usually sits. But for recitals here they usually wheel it out into the middle of the church where you are only about 20ft from each of the dual cases. Even here the organ does feel "spongy", but (in my not very extensive experience) I strongly suspect that it's more to do with the (electro-pneumatic) action, which is, shall we say, less than crisp. Being an uncompromisingly Romantic instrument it's also possible that the pipes are not so very quick to speak either; I'm not really sure where to point the blame. Suffice it to say that playing nicely articulated, crisp Bach is not an option.
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  • 4 weeks later...
THE TIME LAG

 

Once upon a time a detached console was often placed away from the pipes so that the organist could hear what he or she was doing. Provide the console was less than 30’ away there was not enough acoustic delay to cause any great worry – over 30’ and you began to notice it. (This excludes action delays!)

Frank Fowler

 

The organist at St. Jame's Cathedral, Torono, once said that playing that organ is like flying a plane (him being also a licenced pilot). The organ there has the console in the chancel, swell on the left and great and choir on the right. However, the antiphonal manual and pedal are a city block away at the other end of the church. So he just has to trust the instrument. Like when flying a plane, even if you feel upside down, when your instruments say you are right side up, you are right side up. Do not rely on your senses.

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Well of course there was a 16' reed on the great when I first played it. The great reeds were tromba's 16 + 8. The present (or perhaps now past) posaune and clarion date from the Woods-Wordsworth rebuild c1976.

 

 

Indeed! Whilst I did not play it when it had GO reeds at 16p and 8p pitch, I was aware of this. I cannot decide if that would have been preferable. Personally, if possible, I always prefer reeds at three pitches on the GO of a large instrument in a large building.

 

I must say that I do like the sound of the GO reeds from the W&W 1978 rebuild - they do have a thrilling éclat - or did, until a few weeks ago.

 

I wonder if they will find a home in this new instrument....

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The new great reeds were said to have a (slightly) french character and were certainly quite exciting. As I've said before, to experience the posaune coming through the texture in Howell's St. Paul's Service, for example, was quite an experience.

 

However, the old 8' tromba was a fine stop too, not excessively fat & heavy. An lp of music for boys voices, with Donald Hunt conducting and Harry Bramma (I think) accompanying, was issued not long before the WW rebuild and the tromba can be heard to good effect in "Let the bright seraphim".

 

I understand from my inside contact that Adrian Lucus played the H&H organ on the national news this week, in connection with the EEC RoHS issue, so its obviously still not entirely unplayable. (Did anyone see this?)

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk

To return to the original topic:

I reckon to have been lucky (so far as being able to cope with time-lags is concerned) to have spent my formative years rehearsing on a large romantic organ where the console was at least 30 yards away from the pipes. The lag was quite a pain at first.

 

On balance, I think most large organs would be better with a console detatched some small distance away. I can think of so many places where the fact that one cannot hear the instrument properly makes for difficult registering. In the case of my recital work, I invariably take someone I trust with me to help decide balances. In the case of one CD (Karg-Elert from Norwich Cathedral) I know that virtually every one of the registrations that work so well on disc sounded nothing like the same from the console. My wife was responsible for settling what did and what did not 'work' downstairs. A classic case of 'Two heads are better than one!'

 

It's nice to play large organs that are still on tracker, and one or two of the newer tracker organs are fairly straightforward for registering effectively - for instance at St.Chad's in Birmingham once one allows for the fact that the Choir manual's output is a further 20% on top of what you hear from the console, then setting balances are no problem. Southwell Minster behaves the same. Many large old organs in France and Germany can be treated similarly - but this is not the rule in my opinion with new tracker jobs. More often than not, the balances are quite different. Pedal registrations can be the worst to assess from the console. In the end you have to ask yourself, does the sound have to be right for the player or for the audience? In a public performance, surely the target has to be pleasing the listener(s).

 

As to how to cope with a delay - I'm currently living with a fair one now! I find that once I have 'got into it' which usually takes a page or two, I can cope with most delays, but don't ask me to hold a conversation at the same time (which I used to be able to do OK), so I think extra work is created for the subconscious!

 

The pieces that really give trouble are those with busy pedal parts - Bach G minor etc. The only advice that I can think of for anyone who has trouble with a delay - make your muscles do the work very firmly, try to keep strictly to the pulse you have chosen from the outset.

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To return to the original topic:

 

"I can think of so many places where the fact that one cannot hear the instrument properly makes for difficult registering. In the case of my recital work, I invariably take someone I trust with me to help decide balances."

 

Thank you Paul for coming back to base! I find it wonderful to see the extent that people manage to drift away from the original line of thought. To be doing the same thing - it found it amazing to have come across so many organists who had never heard how their instruments sound at the back of the church.

 

I have always felt that every organist should attempt to at least once to get someone else to play a service for them and listen to what their congregation hear (or in some cases have to put up with). For a visiting recitalist a `listener' is essential but it takes guts to go up to a visiting eminent recitalist, coming alone, and point out that what they are doing does not work for the audience.

 

FF

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Guest Roffensis
:( When preparing for a Deanery Evensong for which I was playing in Canterbury Cathedral a few years back I had to abandon including an 18th c Cornet Voluntary pre-service, as the only cornet combo available is on the Choir which is furthest east in the triforium away from the console on the screen. There was only a very slight delay, but I didn't have the practice time available needed to come to terms with it.

 

:) Incidentally, at the service I had the added problem of playing "blind" as the video link with the conductor had been put out by a lightning strike the previous night!

 

There has been mention elsewhere of the Canterbury organ. Personally, I like it - ok, it's a bit lacking for accompaniment compared with other cathedrals, but what there is now speaks out of the triforium more clearly now there's less of it.

 

I was playing this organ a few days ago, and know it well, both before and after the 1979 work. I agree it is a good organ, the Willis work is beyond criticism and has a boldness and vigour that set it apart from other Willis jobs. I find the said pipework far exceeds Salisbury for example, which is much more brittle and thin than Canterbury. The organ speaks much better into the building than it ever did in its old layout, and the reduction of 1979 did not sacrifice any of the 1886 pipework, indeed Manders were very sympathetic and retained most of the jobs character. More recent choir and solo stops did however disappear, not to advantage I feel. Bringing the pipework forward has made the organ shattering in full organ in the choir, and it is more present in the nave than before, but no organ will ever reach the nave from the choir triforium adequately. I doubt it will ever be allowed to leave its current "nest", and I for one would hate to see such a incredible building marred by any organ, whether in the nave or choir. Far better to concentrate on a adequate nave organ, and use the existing choir organ as the basis for a more complete spec, using ALL of the existing Willis stops. Enclosing the current choir would also help enormously. Interestingly, Willis's highlighted the position problem in the 1949 rebuild, suggesting then a nave organ, rather than compromise the choir organ. It would be tragic to see for example a divided organ in the nave now, even if it structurally could take it, which, given the strainer arches, I would doubt.....bell harry might not like the vibration and weight!!! The small nave organ has proved how valuable such a organ is, it needs now a better nave organ, but not one that will compromise the glorious architecture. The Willis always was, and remains, magnificent.

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Talking of Canterbury, does anyone know about an old B&W feature film, set in WWII, in which Canterbury featured heavily, including shots of the old Willis III console. I saw it years ago but can't remember the title.

 

I'd be grateful for any positive leads.

 

H

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Talking of Canterbury,  does anyone know about an old B&W feature film, set in WWII, in which Canterbury featured heavily, including shots of the old Willis III console.  I saw it years ago but can't remember the title. 

 

I'd be grateful for any positive leads.

 

H

headcase - it's Michael Powell 'A Canterbury Tale' - a really wonderful film and a very moving experience. Powell is a genius. Available on DVD - I've just been watching it! - and it crops up on TV from time to time. You should have no trouble tracking it down.

S

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Guest Roffensis
headcase - it's Michael Powell 'A Canterbury Tale' - a really wonderful film and a very moving experience. Powell is a genius. Available on DVD - I've just been watching it! - and it crops up on TV from time to time.  You should have no trouble tracking it down.

S

 

 

The organ heard is actually St Albans though.........pre the 1954 work!

R

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To return to the original topic:

 

"I can think of so many places where the fact that one cannot hear the instrument properly makes for difficult registering. In the case of my recital work, I invariably take someone I trust with me to help decide balances."

 

Thank you Paul for coming back to base! I find it wonderful to see the extent that people manage to drift away from the original line of thought. To be doing the same thing - it found it amazing to have come across so many organists who had never heard how their instruments sound at the back of the church.

 

I have always felt that every organist should attempt to at least once to get someone else to play a service for them and listen to what their congregation hear (or in some cases have to put up with). For a visiting recitalist a `listener' is essential but it takes guts to go up to a visiting eminent recitalist, coming alone, and point out that what they are doing does not work for the audience.

 

FF

 

Some years ago I assisted my former teacher when he did a series of recitals in Denmark. One was in the chapel at Fredericksborg Castle - not on the Compenius but on the 3man 1970s tracker by P.G.Andersen in the upper (I think) of two west galleries. The gallery is very low so the older and ellaborate organ case takes up its whole height - rather like a giant 'Chair' case. The console is attached to the rear and the stoplist rather as one would expect except that the Swell and Positive are both enclosed in the same box. The whole thing of course speaks east into the chapel and in consequence the console might as well be in a different building. The only way that any balance etc. could be worked out was via headphones and a microphone suspended in front of the case (which were needed whenever anyone played anything there) and/or by sending someone downstairs to listen - my job. One wonders quite whether this was an inevitable fact that had to be kept in mind during the planning of the instrument, whether they discovered the problem later or what!!

 

AJJ

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Talking of Canterbury,  does anyone know about an old B&W feature film, set in WWII, in which Canterbury featured heavily, including shots of the old Willis III console.  I saw it years ago but can't remember the title. 

 

I'd be grateful for any positive leads.

 

H

 

The film was the Canterbury Tale - it showed the console in its original position, in its own loft over the S choir stalls, underneath the organ pipes. You see a fleeting shot of the real choir too - an old friend was a lay clerk then and was in the film!

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