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Twelfth-century Pipe Organ Discovered


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6 hours ago, Vox Humana said:

Very interesting.  However, call me stupid, but in some of those pictures all the pipes seem to be of exactly the same length.  Have I misunderstood something?

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Reading Jeremy Montagu's article provides more valuable info: “The grouping of lengths that we have makes it very clear that the organ must have been a form of Blockwerk, something like the tenth-century organ at Winchester.” 

Also: “now thought about Winchester, it might have been a signal instrument, more important for its audibility outside in the town of Bethlehem, than for musical purposes within the church.” 

However, unlike Montagu, Catalunya has been allowed to demount the pipes from their display and should be able ascertain the exact pitches of each pipe. Many of the bells appear to be the same size, too. What is tantalising is that we hear one note from a bell, but none from a pipe. Will the pitches of the bells correspond with those of the bells ? 

Indeed, fascinating and ground-breaking – if not quite like Jericho !

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On 25/07/2021 at 22:57, John Robinson said:

….  in some of those pictures all the pipes seem to be of exactly the same length.  Have I misunderstood something?

John Furse has beaten me to it in comparing it with what we know about the 10th-century Winchester organ, which has been described as one enormous mixture stop.  Careful inspection of the pipes - see the video at 2.09-2.11 - shows them grouped by their different lengths, suggesting that there are eleven ‘ranks’ of flue pipes, and no signs of slotting or other apparent tuning at the tops of the pipes.  It is suggested that they are probably French.  I guess that what we know as French mouths were developed much later, but in other respects one of the pipes shown to us in this video, apart from being much narrower in scale, is little different in construction and appearance from one which I possess from an English chamber organ of about 200 years ago.  Interesting! 

The above written before reading Jeremy Montagu’s article.  He wasn’t allowed to remove pipes, but it is clear that neither my guesswork nor his professional analysis is the whole story.

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20 minutes ago, pwhodges said:

The Swiss organ dating from 1435 has stops.

Paul

Ah yes, of course. I should have remembered that. Thank you.

I did read something, somewhere, though mentioning a date of c.1500. Maybe it's just the word 'stop' that makes it's first appearance around then. Or maybe I'm just completely confused! 🙂

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The 1519 contract with Anthony Duddyngton for an organ at All Hallows by the Tower mentions 'stoppes'. Drawings of earlier organs (where the actual organ is no longer exists) also show stops (whether knobs or levers), but whether they were called stops or not is difficult to say.

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2 hours ago, Choir Man said:

The 1519 contract with Anthony Duddyngton for an organ at All Hallows by the Tower mentions 'stoppes'. Drawings of earlier organs (where the actual organ is no longer exists) also show stops (whether knobs or levers), but whether they were called stops or not is difficult to say.

I’m fairly sure that the old “blockwork” organs had no sliders; if there was wind and you put down a “note” all the pipes sounded. When they introduced the first slider it would, I imagine, have had the function of “stopping” some of the pipes (probably the highest ones) sounding so the lever was probably called a stop from the very beginning. Whenever that was.

 

Edited by innate
level changed to lever
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8 hours ago, innate said:

I’m fairly sure that the old “blockwork” organs had no sliders; if there was wind and you put down a “note” all the pipes sounded. When they introduced the first slider it would, I imagine, have had the function of “stopping” some of the pipes (probably the highest ones) sounding so the lever was probably called a stop from the very beginning. Whenever that was.

Absolutely correct. The stop was invented as a mechanism for stopping off individual ranks of the blockwerk. There is a very good book, recommended in the past here by JPM, a copy of which I have somewhere in the fathoms of my collection which describes these developments. Somewhere around 1400 I think.

 

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On 25/07/2021 at 16:23, Vox Humana said:

"The shapes of both bells, of early ‘beehive’ shape , and pipes leaves little doubt that both date
back to the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem of the eleventh and early twelfth centuries".

A lot more work needs to be done before such a sweeping statement can be made with any confidence.

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