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Tony Newnham

Dutch organ consoles

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Hi

I've been watching streamed organ & organ plus concerts by a couple of Dutch performers.  I notice that it seems to be common for some of the stops to be positioned above the console - just wondering about the logic of such a design.  

Every Blessing

Tony

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This is indeed common here. Many organs in the Netherlands have their consoles at the side, and these often have rows of stops above the console for the great, or hoofdorgel. The couple that I know well have the stops in the order, front to back, of the ranks on the soundboard, and are directly connected to their respective sliders. I have always assumed, without knowing for certain, that this is simply practical, presenting the most direct and reliable connection from stop knob to slider, especially if they're a bit heavy. Obviously the key action has to take a right-turn somewhere, but it has to anyway.

For example, the 1720 Zeemans organ in the Dorpskerk (village church) in Voorschoten, which I have been fortunate to play several times, has its hoofdorgel stops laid out left to right, front to back of the chest, as follows;

Prestant 8, Roerfluit 8, Sesquialter II, Octaaf 4, Nasard 3, Fluit 4, Mixtuur VI, Octaaf 2, Trompette 8.

This is not conclusive. For example, the Basilica of St Servaas in Maastricht has normal en fenetre console position, with two rows of stop knobs above the console. They're just as practical in use as any other arrangement, even if you do have to pay a bit more attention when reaching for a stop during a quick change.

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Thanks Damian.

I'd assumed it might be for ease of laying out the stop control mechanisms.  Still seems a little strange.

Every Blessing

Tony

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On 03/06/2020 at 15:53, Damian Beasley-Suffolk said:

This is indeed common here. Many organs in the Netherlands have their consoles at the side, and these often have rows of stops above the console for the great, or hoofdorgel. The couple that I know well have the stops in the order, front to back, of the ranks on the soundboard, and are directly connected to their respective sliders. I have always assumed, without knowing for certain, that this is simply practical, presenting the most direct and reliable connection from stop knob to slider, especially if they're a bit heavy. Obviously the key action has to take a right-turn somewhere, but it has to anyway.

For example, the 1720 Zeemans organ in the Dorpskerk (village church) in Voorschoten, which I have been fortunate to play several times, has its hoofdorgel stops laid out left to right, front to back of the chest, as follows;

Prestant 8, Roerfluit 8, Sesquialter II, Octaaf 4, Nasard 3, Fluit 4, Mixtuur VI, Octaaf 2, Trompette 8.

This is not conclusive. For example, the Basilica of St Servaas in Maastricht has normal en fenetre console position, with two rows of stop knobs above the console. They're just as practical in use as any other arrangement, even if you do have to pay a bit more attention when reaching for a stop during a quick change.

Zeemans was obviously a busy person: he was also organist of the Grote Kerk in Breda for a time.

Dave

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Here is a photo of the organ at the Reformed church in Middelstum which I play on a fairly regular basis.  It's a fine organ with the console on the side and the stops above the head.  Logic suggests that the layout of the stops is purely for simplicity of construction.  There are two stops which shut off the wind to each manual which enables the player, or rather the assistant to make changes at an appropriate moment.  I have to confess that I hate having a page turner or console assistant even on an organ like this.  The last occasion I had to play this organ, I seem to remember that I had to play Stanford in G, Parry - I was glad and numerous other typically English pieces, together with a slow movement from WIdor 2.  Playing an organ like this really teaches you economy in registration.  The stops draw out a long way too which is a real pain.  The Pedalboard was a swine too - toes only, no heels at all.  Another stop on our most recent sojurn was to Anloo where I had the opposite problem.  Everything widely spaced, pixie pedalboard and manuals, sharp pitch as well.  The pitch was interesting with Stanford in G (we sang an Anglican choral evensong at their request) being played a semitone sharp.  Curiously the Prestant stopknob on the Hoofdwerk was almost bent sideways towards the organist!   The most comfortable organ on the trip was the Marcussen at the Doopsgezinde kerk  in Groningen with a superb layout and one of the most comfortable pedalboards I have ever played.  The slightly daunting prospect was sharing the stool with one of the organists from the Martinikerk.  It was ok as her voluntary came from a Mahew organ album, so there's hope for us all!

 

 

 

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With all respect to our generous hosts, here is a link to the web site of van den Heuvel, of their restoration of the Leeflang organ at the Maranatha Church in DInteloord in the Netherlands. Scroll through the pictures of the works (click on the small picture) and there are several shots of the interior, where the stop and key actions can be seen.

http://vandenheuvel-orgelbouw.nl/en/component/k2/item/661-maranathakerk-dinteloord-en.html#prettyPhoto

Paul Isom is right about Dutch pedal boards, they are a pain in the small of the back, especially as they are made for long-legged Dutch organists, a tribe to which I, as a rather compact and sturdy Englishman, would never be admitted. In fact, recently I bought a lightweight portable organ bench with adjustable length legs to deal with this. The main problem of course is not getting enough practice time to get used to it, especially if you insist on playing dynamic romantic organ music which, if you don't like registrants or, as is often the case with these side-saddle consoles, there is no space for one, demand that you play with one hand and both feet while yanking stops with the other hand!

 

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On 03/06/2020 at 15:53, Damian Beasley-Suffolk said:

Obviously the key action has to take a right-turn somewhere, but it has to anyway.

Are there any diagrams in the public domain that would clarify how this works please?

Why did the idea of a console at the side never become common in Britain, I wonder?

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Hi

I don't know how the Dutch builder deal with the action, but I used to play a nearly all tracker organ which had a separate Nave division on (very heavy) tracker action.  The horizontal right hand change of direction to get the action out of the side of the case was simply a set of squares on a rail at 45 degrees over the top of the reservoir.  The rest of the action had squares set at 90 degrees to change direction (3 sets of those).  It ran from conventional coupler backfall beams on Choir & Great manuals, and terminated on a rollerboard below the Nave division chest.

Every Blessing

Tony

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The only thing I can find after a short search is this:

https://tijdschriftraster.nl/de-kunst-van-het-machinelezen/viii-het-lezen/

See the picture under paragraph 103 Taal. It's short enough to copy and paste into Google translate. It's not detailed, but I think you'll get the general idea. As for why it never caught on in England, I don't really know. English ones are (usually) on the floor and close to the front of the church. Most of these side-saddle Dutch organs are bolted half way up the back walls of churches. Putting the console on the side makes it easier for the organist to see the action, and also requires less floor space and therefore is cheaper to build, an attractive consideration for the locals, ever keen to save a guilder or two 😉

I have no idea about background of the link above, but it is quite eclectic and fascinating. Scroll down to paragraph 107 Tekening, and it shows a couple of drawings with a tantalising reference to how the knowledge of organs spread from Ancient Greece via Arabic and Early-Islamic scholarship - a well-trodden intellectual path - to our age, and books in the British Museum.

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Looking at the diagram referenced above makes me think that with a side console you wouldn't need a roller board to spread the action from the width of the keyboard to the width of the chest, you just have different length track rods to reach from side to side of the chest. Combined with stop knobs above your head acting directly on the sliders, this would give a much simpler action.

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