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Niccolo Morandi

How popular are house organs?

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This is probably going to be the same as a previous thread regarding small organs but one thing that I have been curious about is the popularity of house organs.

One particular instrument I am curious about is a four stop practice organ by Skrabl as I wonder how many of these organs Scrabl have managed to sell.

 

 

Below is a link to an article on the Skrabl website regarding this organ.

https://www.skrabl.co.uk/news-item.asp?NID=37

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Hi

I've heard of one person who has a Scrabl practice organ, but not played one (yet).  I have played around half a dozen other pipe home organs, ranging from a small 1 manual to a 3 manual theatre organ.

Every Blessing

Tony

 

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A house pipe organ is my dream. As the years pass the dream becomes less likely to be realised. I played the Peter Collins organ at Addington Palace quite a lot in the mid-late 1970s and many years later spent a day with Theo Saunders and his Collins house organ. I’d definitely prefer a small, mechanical action 2 man and pedal pipe organ at home to the most extravagant simulation either at home or in a church.

At this time of lock-down who here would not relish the chance to play for a couple of hours a day on an instrument by our hosts or any number of similarly classy pipe organ builders from the UK, continental Europe or North America?

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Yeah the feeling that as you get old you become less optimistic about achieving the dream of owning a real pipe organ is something I have heard before.

I sometimes wonder if I will ever realizes my own ambition of owning a pipe organ. As a child it seemed understandable that it wouldn't be until I was older when I could finally start work on fulfilling my ambition (as you wouldn't leave a 12 year old alone with power tools) but as I have gotten older I still don't feel that I have a better chance of fulfilling the dream.   

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I don’t suppose anyone knows the installed price for the Skrabl 4 stop instruments. Apologies to our hosts if that is not a suitable topic.

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A few years ago I had a go on the Skrabl practice organ then in a house adjacent to Saffron Walden parish church and it was very nice to play - comfortable and with a beautiful touch.  I believe it is now in the Royal Hospital School at Holbrook.

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Still quite a number of people with cinema organs in their homes. The grand daddy of them all, for me, was Len Rawles Ex Empire Leicester Square Wurlitzer, which at 25 ranks, took up a space half as big as the house again. Lots of people build small extensions onto their detached or semi detached homes to make chamber space for smaller instruments.

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7 hours ago, carrick said:

 Lots of people build small extensions onto their detached or semi detached homes to make chamber space for smaller instruments.

Talking of which, I remember this organ being quite fun, despite all the 'prepared for' stops.  Both organ and owner are long gone, alas. The console is now at Kingsteignton in Devon and so, I believe, is the Positive pipework.

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I have heard about an old church converted into a private that housed two pipe organs. One was a tracker organ built by Alfred Fuller and the other was a theater organ by Wurlitzer. Both instruments have now moved on as the Finch is now at St Philip's Catholic church in Blackburn North while the Wurlitzer went to a museum in China.

https://ohta.org.au/organs/organs/Heathcote.html

 

 

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One thing I have been wanting to discuss for a while regarding the Skrabl organ is the style of music it's designed for. To me I feel these organs are fine for baroque music but probably not so good for say music from the romantic era.

There is one organ I stumbled across that I kind the design of which is a small 8 rank organ that I'm curious as to what some of you think of compared to the Skrabl organ. https://pipeorgandatabase.org/organ/10179

I suspect this would probably be due to the fact that in a more romantic leaning organ you would need 8' principle and string stops which wouldn't be as easy to fit into a tight space compared to something like a stopped 8' flute.

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Sure, you might not want to perform romantic repertoire on such an instrument, but there’s a lot to be said for the discipline of practicing with simple flute registrations, and that is surely the primary purpose of these small instruments. Yes it’s nice to be able to hold concerts in your living room, and there’s still plenty of repertoire you could use for that. The only downside I can see in terms of practice is the lack of a swell pedal. 

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On 24/04/2020 at 09:40, Niccolo Morandi said:

There is one organ I stumbled across that I kind the design of which is a small 8 rank organ that I'm curious as to what some of you think of compared to the Skrabl organ. https://pipeorgandatabase.org/organ/10179

I suspect this would probably be due to the fact that in a more romantic leaning organ you would need 8' principle and string stops which wouldn't be as easy to fit into a tight space compared to something like a stopped 8' flute.

That has always seemed a lovely instrument to me. If you look carefully, there’s quite a lot of borrowing at the bottom end and it still has quite a large footprint. I bet it sounds gorgeous though; as gorgeous as it looks.

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Yes I think it is quite an attractive little instrument. I'm really not a fan of the idea of notes on the swell coming from pipes that are outside of the swell box, but I guess what else can you do if there is no room inside the organ. I think it is still possible to accompany the swell division quite comfortably on this organ using the 8' bass stop with the pedals uncoupled.

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A friend has a two-manual and pedal Skrabl organ of four stops in a small room his home. I think the delivered price was £38,000.

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I just remembered a company called Orgue de Plaisance-du-Gers had a while ago released a series of extension organs called the Modulorgue B2. The instruments consist of two ranks of pipes but the case designs can verie depending on the space the instrument is intended for.

I find these organs two be quite attractive but I wonder if an organ like this would appeal to people as even for an extension organ having just two ranks of pipes feels like a hard sell.

http://www.modulorgue.com/modulb2.html

 

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Hi

There have been plenty of 2 rank extension organs built over the years.  The Compton Miniatura range started with a 2 rank, as did Walkers "Positive" range, and I came across a single manual 2 rank organ by Osmonds a few years back.  No doubt there were several by other builders too.  I remember seeing adverts in the music magazine many years ago (probably 1970's or '80's) for a 2 rank theatre - style organ for home installation (1 rank a flute & the other a string IIRC) - I wonder if they ever sold any?

Obviously, I can't comment on the instruments mentioned by Niccolo, but it's not too different in concept to the older examples - except possibly for the action.

Every Blessing

Tony

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The original and quite popular Compton Miniatura was later sold in two versions: an 'A' model and a 'B'.   According to one advertisement the synoptic stop list of the 'A' was Ped 16.8; Great 16.8.8.4.2; Swell 8.8.4.2.  That of the 'B' was Ped 16.8.4; Great 8.8.4.2 2/3.2; Solo 16.8.8.4.4.2 2/3.2.  According to the makers,   'A' was intended for leading the worship of '150 voices', and 'B' for the 'practice and performance of polyphonic organ music'.  The ads also said that it was 'more quietly voiced than Miniatura A and is therefore more suitable for practice rooms and private residences'.  'A' had 2 ranks: stopped flute and principal.  'B' also had 2 ranks but stopped flute and mild string.  However it is likely the latter became more principal-like towards the top of its range in some instances, or an additional principal rank might have been added in others.  This is because clients were invited to customise the stop list to their requirements within certain limits. (The Compton Electrone model 348 of 1948 was more or less an electronic version of the 'A' model.  Its fully-preformed complex waveforms were engraved directly on the rotating electrostatic generators rather than as the sine waves used in other Electrones (from which the desired tone colours were derived by additive synthesis - mixing the various sine waves as desired).  I once owned a 348 and in my opinion this feature gave its sounds a considerable freshness which I never thought the additive synthesis models achieved, which sounded rather cloying in comparison to my ears).

There was also the 'Augmentum' available as a 'first stage' with one manual and pedals and again 2 tone colours - stopped flute and principal, though it seems this was a straight (not extended) instrument of 4 manual stops, but with all 3 pedal stops derived from the great 8 foot flute.  It could be converted into a 'second stage' which had a second manual and 6 stops.  Again, this did not seem to use extension since the 3-rank mixture had its own 183 pipes, and there was even a celeste.

The 'Cecilian' on the other hand was smaller than the Miniatura, having only one 49-note manual with a 16 foot automatic pedal bass operating over the lowest 1 1/2 octaves.  Its stop list was almost identical with the swell organ of the Miniatura 'B'.

When you consider this against the similar ranges of small pipe organs available from other contemporaneous builders as mentioned by Tony, the prospective customer was pretty much spoilt for choice in the mid-20th century when it came to house organs.

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20 hours ago, Colin Pykett said:

 

When you consider this against the similar ranges of small pipe organs available from other contemporaneous builders as mentioned by Tony, the prospective customer was pretty much spoilt for choice in the mid-20th century when it came to house organs.

If anyone wants to investigate the 1960's small pipe organ scene, then I can recommend Alan Kitley's book "The Big Problem of Small Organs" (Colchester, 1966, self published) provides a pretty good overview of what was around up until that time.

Every Blessing

Tony 

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