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Repertoire requiring a 32-note pedal board??


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I'm on the last lap of a 30-year project to first restore, and then complete, a 1921 Hunter, using redundant material which is known to have been produced by Hunter.  Having finally hunted down and acquired the most elusive missing ranks - a Swell Contra Fagotto and a pedal Trombone (arguably Hunter's most prepared-for stop!) - I noticed that the excellent trombone I've got has 30 pipes, and the organ it's going into has 32.  I was considering getting two additional pipes made  but then I thought  - would they ever be used?   I can't think of any pieces that require them.   My knowledge is limited - and I wonder if there is anyone out there who can say what problems I'd be creating if I (quietly) left them out.  The other five pedal stops all have 32 pipes, so the question only relates to fff situations!

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An interesting suggestion, but the action is pressure pneumatic, so it would be quite a simple job to add a two-note chest with two new pipes.  Hunter's "preparation" was complete at the console, but he didn't supply chest - that came with the trombone that I've found. I'm just fascinated to know whether those pipes would ever get used!

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Probably the best-known of the very few pieces needing a top F# is the Duruflé Veni Creator Variations, one of which has a Pedal 4ft Flute solo.
I don't know the compass required for the Thalben-Ball Pedal Variations, but I'm quite sure somebody else will.

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I wouldn't miss the notes from a playing point of view.  Is the chest by Hunter as well?  If the chest had been 32 notes I'd have said get two new top notes made (it wouldn't be that expensive) but if the chest is 30 notes, keep the compass 30.  Adding a two note chest or borrowing from somewhere else would spoilt the integrity of the instrument IMHO.

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I had lessons on an organ where the pedal board ended at F from a teacher who had had a lot of pupils over the years which he took to diploma level. Nothing I played over-ran and he didn't remember ever missing it. What sort of players and repertoire will come to this organ? Top flight recitalists or best endeavour amateurs?

I've also encountered slightly reduced manuals and I can only remember one instance of a player being caught short when I page turned (I think in some Jackson). Short compass mounted cornets were more likely to create melodic gaps to the uninformed.

Unlikely I'd even be in a position of influence, but if money was short when commisssioning a new organ I'd seriously consider robbing a couple of notes of top end to fund another rank.

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Pretty sure the Thalben ball variations does.

Dupre Cortege et litanie requires top G for the arpeggios near the end (i have no idea what you do on a 30 note setup).

Jeremy Cull's fine transcription of Hamish MacCunn's Land of the mountain and the flood uses top F# and G but can be worked around.

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On 16/03/2021 at 20:26, DHM said:

Probably the best-known of the very few pieces needing a top F# is the Duruflé Veni Creator Variations, one of which has a Pedal 4ft Flute solo.
I don't know the compass required for the Thalben-Ball Pedal Variations, but I'm quite sure somebody else will.

Thank you DHM. I think we'd be ok for the Durufle and the Thalben-Ball because the pedal board and all the other pedal ranks go up to g, and to get anything other than 16 or 8 ft one would have to couple a manual.  

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On 16/03/2021 at 20:27, Classic car man said:

I wouldn't miss the notes from a playing point of view.  Is the chest by Hunter as well?  If the chest had been 32 notes I'd have said get two new top notes made (it wouldn't be that expensive) but if the chest is 30 notes, keep the compass 30.  Adding a two note chest or borrowing from somewhere else would spoilt the integrity of the instrument IMHO.

Thank you, Classic car man.  The chest is indeed by Hunter, and the organ it came from is contemporary with the one I'm dealing with.  I think I'll go with your suggestion, though I do have part of a Hunter Cornopean with the relevant pipes, which could be modified to match the scale of the trombone, and a Hunter mini - chest from somewhere which was originally designed to extend a 56 note manual to 61 notes that could be adapted....  "Integrity" has been a key principle behind all the work.  That's not just because I appreciate the need for it (my day job is in the engineering aspects of conserving historic buildings) but because  it was also a condition of the Heritage Lottery Fund.   We were fortunate enough to secure one of the first HLF grants for organs almost 25 years ago, and all the leatherwork was renewed.  Key factors were that, although incomplete at that time, the instrument had escaped the classical revival. Also the organ chamber is of such generous proportions that the components had been laid out so that access for  "maintenance" (i.e. getting to that piece of lead tubing the has fallen out of its hole) is a doddle if you are reasonably agile.  It's more like a box from Amazon than a sardine tin.  A condition of the HLF grant was that any future modifications should be approved by them, or they would want their money back.  Fair enough.  I asked the HLF if there might be a further grant for completing the instrument, but they said "no".  They explained that's because their remit was for the support of "existing" heritage" not the acquisition of "new" heritage (an interesting term!!). However, they said they would not object provided that any alterations or additions were in line with the original intention, and that they were made using second hand material know to be by Hunter, or new material copied exactly from known Hunter material.  The latter approach would have been prohibitively expensive, since Hunter never used a 1" piece of wood when 2" would do, and didn't use zinc resonators when spotted metal would do, so I set out into the world of redundant instruments or parts.    The "original intention" condition was easily met, because we have a copy of the original contract, signed by the Vicar and Robert Hunter over a penny postage stamp!   This set out the whole scheme in detail, and then listed the parts that would be installed initially.   Eventually we have managed to find everything, with full documentation to prove the pedigree of everything.  We also avoided using material from instruments that had not already lost their integrity (in other ranks).  As a result every addition (including the woodscrews!) has originated in Hunter's workshop, apart from a few basic members in the supporting structures.  So I think we have complied with the integrity requirement!

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On 16/03/2021 at 21:08, OwenTurner said:

I had lessons on an organ where the pedal board ended at F from a teacher who had had a lot of pupils over the years which he took to diploma level. Nothing I played over-ran and he didn't remember ever missing it. What sort of players and repertoire will come to this organ? Top flight recitalists or best endeavour amateurs?

I've also encountered slightly reduced manuals and I can only remember one instance of a player being caught short when I page turned (I think in some Jackson). Short compass mounted cornets were more likely to create melodic gaps to the uninformed.

Unlikely I'd even be in a position of influence, but if money was short when commisssioning a new organ I'd seriously consider robbing a couple of notes of top end to fund another rank.

Thank you, Owen.  Because it was incomplete, the instrument is not widely known about, and we haven't tried to "market" it, but that may change soon.  The current organist/ DoM is an ex-Oxbridge Organ scholar, there is a competent choir, and the congregation appreciate the music which those resources can provide, along with the contribution from the 3-second reverberation period provided by the building.  We were fortunate to persuade the late John Scott to give a re-opening recital  when the re-leathering was complete (but not the instrument) 20 years ago.  His programme was fairly straightforward, but he told me afterwards that if he'd known what the instrument was like in advance, he'd have been more adventurous...That was encouraging..      

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On 16/03/2021 at 22:37, Contrabombarde said:

Pretty sure the Thalben ball variations does.

Dupre Cortege et litanie requires top G for the arpeggios near the end (i have no idea what you do on a 30 note setup).

Jeremy Cull's fine transcription of Hamish MacCunn's Land of the mountain and the flood uses top F# and G but can be worked around.

Thanks, Contrabombarde.  I reckon all that can be worked around, given that the pedal board itself, and everything else, has 32 notes.

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My day job is in business software. In that, tracking use by feature is a key measure of success and relevance of the various functionality. I doubt it has been done before but it ought to be possible to design either electronic or sophisticated electrical action instruments to record usage by key, stop and pipe; perhaps by iteration and note sustain length. I think that could be fascinating data to digest.

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It would certainly reveal how rarely some pipes are used!

But the benefit of a 32-note pedal board for practice is not just from using the extra two notes - finding the top E and F feels totally different and can suddenly become difficult if moving from practising on 30 notes to 32 notes.

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I learned both Dupre Cortege et Litanie, and  Duruflé Veni Creator Variations on a 30 note pedalboard, in the Dupre I take the top g down an octave. I've never had regular access to an organ with a 32 note pedal, but the organ in the church were I've now been organist for several years does have a 32 note pedal. However, I still take the top g down an octave, as it's quite a tricky passage and having thoroughly learned the music one way my brain won't cope with doing it another way. In the Duruflé it's much easier to play the top f#s thus avoiding the awkward thumbing down in the 30 note version.

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On 23/03/2021 at 10:33, OwenTurner said:

My day job is in business software. In that, tracking use by feature is a key measure of success and relevance of the various functionality. I doubt it has been done before but it ought to be possible to design either electronic or sophisticated electrical action instruments to record usage by key, stop and pipe; perhaps by iteration and note sustain length. I think that could be fascinating data to digest.

Thank you Owen. What a fascinating idea.  And it offers the prospect of an entirely new and fully auditable  basis for calculating organists' fees - by the note....?

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15 hours ago, Robert Bowles said:

Thank you Owen. What a fascinating idea.  And it offers the prospect of an entirely new and fully auditable  basis for calculating organists' fees - by the note....?

I used to play orchestral piano and celeste occasionally for the English Chamber Orchestra. I viewed the owner/manager’s attempts to belittle my contribution by claiming I was being paid so much “per note” as demeaning.

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