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Haskell bass pipes

Colin Pykett

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Something which is currently occupying my few remaining brain cells is Haskell bass pipes.  Nobody seems to know how they work, including Haskell himself, at least on the basis that he never ventured to say so as far as can see.  There's a mathematical paper in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America from 1937 by one A T Jones, but like so much in theoretical acoustics, it doesn't really explain much beyond coming up with an equation which sort of fits the facts.  One of those papers which seem to say 'see how clever I am' to my mind.
It seems to me that Haskell pipes are not much different in concept to ordinary, separate, bass helper pipes, which are cheap and can work well at least in small to medium sized organs.  The stoppered insert tube provides the fundamental in the same way that any stopped pipe does, and the open pipe surrounding it is in effect the helper, sounding an octave higher and providing the even numbered harmonics which the stopped pipe doesn't have.  The clever bit is that the two pipes share a common mouth instead of being physically separate.  So I think that's pretty much it really.  Or am I wrong?
I'm surprised it ever had much traction though, because the helper idea with only 12 small (4' pitch) separate Dulciana-type pipes in the bottom octave is surely much cheaper and more straightforward in other ways to give a good 8' Open Diapason sound together with a Stopped (8' pitch) rank?  Although you can apparently buy Haskelled pipes, they must cost a fortune.  On top of that they only give a stringy sound, and are difficult to voice, regulate and tune.  Not surprising when you consider that you are trying to voice and regulate at a single mouth optimally for two different pitches and timbres!  The same arguments must apply even more strongly to deriving 16 or 32 foot tone via Haskelling I should imagine.  But maybe separate helpers sometimes aren't man enough for the job in a large organ, meaning that Haskelling has to be considered?
There's a beautiful Tickell organ in West Sussex which I was recently invited to play through the courtesy of a member of this forum, and it only has a swell box 4 feet high.  But it uses helpers to derive an 8 foot Open tone from the Stopped rank which is entirely convincing - you simply can't detect the 'join' as you go below tenor C into the helper region.  It's also a wonderful piece of work in other ways, as you can couple everything up and the touch remains so good that you forget it's tracker action.  I think John Norman also had a hand in its design. A tragedy that its builder died so suddenly in his prime.
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  • 2 weeks later...

There is a brief, but very clear, image of a Haskelled bass pipe (presumably from the 32' Contra Spitzflote) at the Liverpool Met. Cathedral on one of the 'bonus tracks' on the Priory DVD Grand Organ series PRDVD10.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I think I've finally sussed how Haskell pipes work:


Hardly of earth-shattering importance considering that they've been in use for over a century without anyone really understanding them, including Haskell himself from what I can see.  But may be of interest to some.


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