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Divisional pistons query


Nathan
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Is it usual for divisional pistons to also include couplers such as Gt to Swell octave.

The organ I mostly play does, but I wonder if this is usual or not. It's frustrating that I may manually want Gt to Sw Octave, then press a divisional and it goes in, or out. It can probably be adjusted with the software. I don't want to ask the organ tuner to adjust it if it is the norm.

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I think you probably mean "Swell Octave to Great", don't you, Nathan? No, you wouldn't expect any couplers to be available on divisional pistons. Swell Octave, Swell Sub-Octave and Unison Off would be available on the swell pistons but things like Swell to Great, Swell Octave to Great, Swell to Pedal etc would not work with divisionals. Generals, of course, would be a different matter.

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5 hours ago, Nathan said:

Is it usual for divisional pistons to also include couplers such as Gt to Swell octave.

The organ I mostly play does, but I wonder if this is usual or not. It's frustrating that I may manually want Gt to Sw Octave, then press a divisional and it goes in, or out. It can probably be adjusted with the software. I don't want to ask the organ tuner to adjust it if it is the norm.

I believe this is more common on the continent but it's certainly unusual here in the UK.  If the piston capture system is by SSOS, it may have a 'Scope' function that allows the organ builder to define, quite literally, the scope of the piston i.e. which drawstops it affects.  Ask your organ tuner and they should be able to advise whether the change is possible.  

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5 hours ago, Martin Cooke said:

I think you probably mean "Swell Octave to Great", don't you, Nathan? 

Correct I do. I always say them the incorrect way round, even pedal to manual, which is manual to pedal.

16 minutes ago, caskie said:

I believe this is more common on the continent but it's certainly unusual here in the UK.  If the piston capture system is by SSOS, it may have a 'Scope' function that allows the organ builder to define, quite literally, the scope of the piston i.e. which drawstops it affects.  Ask your organ tuner and they should be able to advise whether the change is possible.  

I'm quite sure the system is by Solid State something, (I think Logic). Either way, if it's not usual, and as I don't like the fact it alters them, I will ask the organ tuner to change the scope.

Thank you both for your replies.

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Hi

One organ in a church where I played occasionally did have couplers on the divisional pistons - and I found them a real nuisance!  The organ started as a Hope-Jones, and after a few rebuilds, the current iteration (assuming it's still there) was down to Rushworth & Dreaper.  Piston setting was via a switchboard behind the music rest.  I didn't want to change anything as I only played it very occasionally, and I'd probably have forgotten to reset the changes at the end of the service.  I prefer to keep couplers and tremulants off divisional pistons (although having the trem can be useful on rare occasions)

Every Blessing

Tony

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You can have both options if the combination system allows for a 'neutral' (neither 'on' nor 'off') position for stops such as couplers and tremulants.  The simple switches in some early (c. 1930s) manual setter boards were often not spring-loaded with a mechanical detent action, so they could be left in a convenient intermediate neutral position.  This was not so for spring-loaded switches, or when electronic capture systems arrived c. 1970 which only offered an 'on' and an 'off' state for each stop.  I have designed several electronic systems, one of which incorporated a few small mechanical switches for designated stops which could selectively remove them from the control of divisional (but not general) pistons.  Since the number of such stops is relatively small it isn't particularly expensive to incorporated such a feature, and the switches can of course be easily set by the organist rather then needing the intervention of a tuner or organ builder - as might be the case for today's more sophisticated software-controlled systems as mentioned in previous posts. 

As one with a lifetime's involvement with hardware and software system design, I've always been a fan of the KISS principle in matters such as this - Keep It Simple, Stupid - though not all designers seem to agree ...

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I remember many years ago, well last century, Lucian Nethsingha demonstrating the piston-setting switchboard alongside the console at Exeter.  The switches were like tiny miniature stop knobs, quite possibly of ivory then, and there was a defined central ‘neutral’ between the on and off.  This would have been H&H 1930s, and beautifully made (the slightly later console and switchboard at Winchester were also almost identical to Exeter’s).  Lucian Nethsingha insisted on its retention and had no truck with solid-state systems which he insisted were not reliable!  Somewhat off-subject, he was also strongly dismissive of the addition of mutations and mixtures by his immediate predecessor at Exeter.  You leave a Father Willis masterpiece (or words to that effect) alone, he said.  Before anyone comments, H&H had, of course, taken over the organ and had added the nave trompette militaire by then - the rest of the nave division was installed later under his successor.  Unless I’m mistaken, did Lucian Nethsingha not have the trompette toned-down? It sounded very distant from the console even then, and had its own Yale-type key for the blower - and to isolate it! - in the stop jamb.  Somehow, I suspect it remained switched-off, with the key removed, for visiting organists.  (Martin Neary had a similar lock installed at Westminster Abbey to isolate the ‘full organ’ piston.)

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