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======================

 

 

If it turns out to be, this would be the very last working 32ft Diaphone in a classical instrument in the UK, surely?

 

MM

 

 

I seem to remember the McEwan Hall specimen in Edinburgh was still working, albeit rather irregularly, when I heard the instrument a couple of years ago.

 

JS

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Guest Barry Oakley
Are you sure?  I only ask because I have played this job, heard it many times and this is not the impression I have.

 

Paul, you are absolutely correct. The 32ft Contra Trombone is a reed and not a diaphone. I speak from a position of having been in the chamber on numerous occasions.

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======================

 

If it turns out to be, this would be the very last working 32ft Diaphone in a classical instrument in the UK, surely?

 

MM

 

32' Compton Diaphones are still in existence at Downside (32' Great Bass - seemingly just the bottom octave is a Diaphone, the rest is an Open Wood) and Southapton Guildhall (32' Contra Bass) Both of these also have a Polyphonic 32', which seems to have been Compton's preferred 32' flue solution. I played the Southampton instrument a couple of years ago but didn't specifically look into the state of the 32' octave of the Diaphone. Most of the loud stops on the organ were working then, so I guess it is probably still functioning.

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Paul, you are absolutely correct. The 32ft Contra Trombone is a reed and not a diaphone. I speak from a position of having been in the chamber on numerous occasions.

My recollection is that the current 32' reed at Hull City Hall is indeed just that - a true reed.

 

While I don't have a truly intimate knowledge of this organ, such as Barry and others in this thread, I wonder if the solution to this question is something along the following lines: When in 1950 Comptons substituted a Contra-Bombarde 32', extended from the Solo rank, for the original 1911 Forster & Andrews Contra-Trombone, the bottom octave or so was diaphonic. I don't think this would have been entirely unusual for Comptons (see also the preceding post). The diaphonic Contra-Bombarde was then removed during the Rushworth & Dreaper work of 1985-91, when the true reed Contra-Trombone was re-constituted.

 

Rgds,

MJF

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Guest Barry Oakley
My recollection is that the current 32' reed at Hull City Hall is indeed just that - a true reed.

 

While I don't have a truly intimate knowledge of this organ, such as Barry and others in this thread, I wonder if the solution to this question is something along the following lines:  When in 1950 Comptons substituted a Contra-Bombarde 32', extended from the Solo rank, for the original 1911 Forster & Andrews Contra-Trombone, the bottom octave or so was diaphonic.  I don't think this would have been entirely unusual for Comptons (see also the preceding post).  The diaphonic Contra-Bombarde was then removed during the Rushworth & Dreaper work of 1985-91, when the true reed Contra-Trombone was re-constituted.

 

Rgds,

MJF

 

I telephoned Peter Goodman yesterday evening who confirmed the fact that the 32ft Contra Trombone is, indeed, a true reed. As far as I am aware, R&D did not undertake any alterations you suggest during their 1980's refurbishment of the organ. The original 32ft Contra Bombarde was part of the 1911 Forster & Andrews (F&A) creation and I'm not aware that they produced any diaphonic pipework, although I stand to be corrected. The original 1911 F&A organ came in for some criticism concerning its overall voicing which was deemed too delicate for the hall, a hallmark of many F&A organs. Compton did a massive amount of revoicing to correct this during his 1950's rebuild.

 

At the nearby Holy Trinity Parish Church, John Compton installed a polyphonic 32ft Sub Bass on his 1930's rebuild and enlargement of the F&A organ which has a wonderful effect, particularly with Swell strings.

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... As far as I am aware, R&D did not undertake any alterations you suggest during their 1980's refurbishment of the organ. The original 32ft Contra Bombarde was part of the 1911 Forster & Andrews (F&A) creation ...

Well, now I'm truly perplexed. My surmise tried to make sense of comments in the thread above, and at the same time fit with my father's diaries for 1952-3. About the Pedal reed, he wrote "old bombarde was trombone, new extends solo". Maybe he got it wrong, or I've misinterpreted him.

 

I've just been looking at NPOR, seeing if it provides the answer, but unfortunately I'm not sure that it does. First, the 1911 Forster & Andrews organ F&A 1911 gives the Pedal reeds as Contra-Bombarde 32', Trombone 16' and Trumpet 8'. It appears from this record as if the Contra-Bombarde is independent, while the Trumpet is extended from the Trombone. So maybe my father's diary is wrong on that score, as it seems to indicate that the Contra-Bombarde was an extension of the Trombone. Or perhaps this was an unwarranted assumption on my part.

 

Second, the record for the 1950 Compton organ Compton 1950 doesn't show extensions or derivations, but does show both a Bombarde 16' and a Trombone 16' in the Pedal. At the same time, there is now a Bombarde 8' in the Solo. It was my understanding that the Pedal Bombarde was an extension from the Solo stop, but maybe that isn't correct. The Pedal also includes a Contra-Bombarde 32', which I had expected from my father's notes to be a further downward extension from the Solo reed, but perhaps it's the original Contra-Bombarde, possibly given a bit more oomph by Comptons?

 

Third, the record for the 1985-1991 Rushworth & Dreaper organ Rushworth 1985-91 shows the 32' reed under the name Contra-Trombone. It is not indicated as being extended from another stop. And at 16', we still have the Bombarde and the Trombone, although - ah-ha! - the Bombarde is noted as "Solo".

 

So is the Contra-Trombone merely the old stop re-named, perhaps because it is part of the (original) Pedal reed chorus with the Trombone, and also so as to distinguish it from the real Bombarde, to which it is unrelated?

 

All this to ascertain the provenance of one stop ... :P

 

Rgds,

MJF

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Well, now I'm truly perplexed.  My surmise tried to make sense of comments in the thread above, and at the same time fit with my father's diaries for 1952-3.  About the Pedal reed, he wrote "old bombarde was trombone, new extends solo".  Maybe he got it wrong, or I've misinterpreted him.

 

I've just been looking at NPOR, seeing if it provides the answer, but unfortunately I'm not sure that it does.

 

==================

 

Mmmmmm!

 

Somewhere, I have an original Compton specification-sheet for this organ, but quite where, I am not sure.

 

All this for a 32ft reed which isn't very good!

 

In fact, many of the northern 32ft reeds are a bit odd in some way.

 

There's York and its Sackbut, Blackburn and its brass Serpent, Leeds town-hall with its reclaimed, half-length Annesens, the massively scaled reed by the same builder at Bridlington, the 32ft free-reed at Doncaster which appears to be wrongly scaled, a digital one at Harrogate PC, and one that could be mistaken for a shop-display of "Salamander" heaters at Worksop (Remember THOSE?)

 

Oh! Musn't forget the extended Trombone at Ampleforth INSIDE THE SWELL BOX!

 

There are other, rather better examples, at Ripon, Leeds PC, Huddersfield TH and Uni concert-hall, Hull PC, Beverley (2 of them in one small town), Lincoln, Manchester, Liverpool and a few others dotted around elsewhere.

 

However, back to Hull City Hall, which must be the only organ in the world where the synthetic 32ft reed (Grand Cornet) sounds better than the real one!

 

MM

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
==================

 

Mmmmmm!

 

Somewhere, I have an original Compton specification-sheet for this organ, but quite where, I am not sure.

 

All this for a 32ft reed which isn't very good!

 

In fact, many of the northern 32ft reeds are a bit odd in some way.

 

There's York and its Sackbut, Blackburn and its brass Serpent, Leeds town-hall with its reclaimed, half-length Annesens,  the massively scaled reed by the same builder at Bridlington, the 32ft free-reed at Doncaster which appears to be wrongly scaled, a digital one at Harrogate PC, and one that could be mistaken for a shop-display of "Salamander" heaters at Worksop (Remember THOSE?)

 

Oh! Musn't forget the extended Trombone at Ampleforth INSIDE THE SWELL BOX!

 

There are other, rather better examples, at Ripon, Leeds PC, Huddersfield TH and Uni concert-hall, Hull PC, Beverley (2 of them in one small town), Lincoln, Manchester, Liverpool and a few others dotted around elsewhere.

 

However, back to Hull City Hall, which must be the only organ in the world where the synthetic 32ft reed (Grand Cornet) sounds better than the real one!

 

MM

 

 

I suppose it depends on what you want from a 32' reed. Some folks want them to give 'crack of doom' noises - like a posse of Hell's Angels overtaking. I know some of those stops - Westminster Cathedral and Notre Dame de France, Leicester Place must be among the loudest. Given the choice, I would rather have most of the power in a choice of 16' reeds and be able to use the 32' without giving anyone heart failure. Very few organs are similarly blessed to St.Mary Redcliffe, Bristol which boasts an fff stop unenclosed and an ff enclosed - and therefore available for use with mp combinations as well!

 

I reckon MM needs another play at Hull City Hall in the hope that he may review /revise his opinion. I know I have not been disappointed with what is there now. Whichever firm was responsible for it, this is a decent 32' reed in my book. I don't doubt for a minute that the physical construction will date back to the F&A specification - I have a full length (wooden, unmitred) 32' Contra Trombone by them less than half a mile away at Holy Trinity*.

 

*When I was appointed, only one note of the 32' octave would play - bottom F sharp. Not a terribly useful note - but it was worth hearing. A little poking and prying with the action has resulted in about half the bottom octave now being operative, though the regulation leaves a lot to be desired. I'm sure I would have been able to get more notes to work if only I had been able to lift one or two of the resonators off their boots, but they are of considerable weight and it's a truly perilous task. Unfortunately, these pipes have been under an occasionally leaking roof for some years. I am delighted to report that the restoration of the church building is now complete and the restoration of the organ (hopefully) is not not too far off. I live in hopes! Meanwhile, it is still an instrument to be reckoned with - the tone is fabulous!

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*When I was appointed, only one note of the 32' octave would play - bottom F sharp.  Not a terribly useful note - but it was worth hearing. A little poking and prying with the action has resulted in about half the bottom octave now being operative, though the regulation leaves a lot to be desired.  I'm sure I would have been able to get more notes to work if only I had been able to lift one or two of the resonators off their boots, but they are of considerable weight and it's a truly perilous task.

 

This got me thinking. How DO you get to a 32' reed/shallot without lifting the resonator? Perhaps the boots should have little doors!

 

John

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This got me thinking.  How DO you get to a 32' reed/shallot without lifting the resonator?  Perhaps the boots should have little doors!

 

John

 

One of the great hazards for an organ tuner was that when reed pipe basses were stayed on metal pins the pins never semed long enough to be able to raise the bass `tubes' of the pipes high enough to be able to get the boot out with out said tube coming off its pin immediately it was lifted just clear of its boot socket.

 

This meant to put the tube back you had to line the tube up on two reference points at the same time, i.e. the pin at the top and the and socket at the bottom. On bottom 8' C of the inside rank of three Swell reeds, life could be difficult.

 

It was not much better if the pipes were tied up with tape, as opposed to pinning, as with advancing years the tapes would become brittle and snap which meant renewing with new tape - if you could reach it!

 

FF

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
Laukhuff builds their Bombarde 32's with small doors in the boots to enable access to the reeds.

 

Image1.jpg

 

 

That looks very clever but... is it just me, or is the door on the wrong face? The commonest problems with reeds are particles of trapped dirt between the shallot and the tongue. With the door on the front face as seen in the picture, you still couldn't either see or conviently reach a foreign object. Trying to fish anything out from behind the tongue in this example would risk twisting or snagging!

 

Mind you, this reminds me forcibly of the organ builders' maxim I was told when I first joined an organ-building firm in the 60's:

'You can either see it or you can reach it!'

 

This rule which may seem worthy of the fabled Murphy, S**, or C.Northcote Parkinson is more often true than not in my experience.

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Guest Barry Oakley
I am delighted to report that the restoration of the church building is now complete and the restoration of the organ (hopefully) is not not too far off. I live in hopes!  Meanwhile, it is still an instrument to be reckoned with - the tone is fabulous!

 

This organ is a masterpiece of work by John Compton which, from a recording perspective, remains undiscovered. It is, as Paul states, tonally "fabulous." I was fortunate to first hear it within 10 years of its dedication and its richness of colour was absolutely spine-tingling. Along with Paul I await the day it can be sympathetically restored without any tonal alterations. May that day soon arrive!

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Well, now I'm truly perplexed.  My surmise tried to make sense of comments in the thread above, and at the same time fit with my father's diaries for 1952-3.  About the Pedal reed, he wrote "old bombarde was trombone, new extends solo".  Maybe he got it wrong, or I've misinterpreted him.

 

I've just been looking at NPOR, seeing if it provides the answer, but unfortunately I'm not sure that it does.  First, the 1911 Forster & Andrews organ F&A 1911 gives the Pedal reeds as Contra-Bombarde 32', Trombone 16' and Trumpet 8'.  It appears from this record as if the Contra-Bombarde is independent, while the Trumpet is extended from the Trombone.  So maybe my father's diary is wrong on that score, as it seems to indicate that the Contra-Bombarde was an extension of the Trombone.  Or perhaps this was an unwarranted assumption on my part.

 

Second, the record for the 1950 Compton organ Compton 1950 doesn't show extensions or derivations, but does show both a Bombarde 16' and a Trombone 16' in the Pedal.  At the same time, there is now a Bombarde 8' in the Solo.  It was my understanding that the Pedal Bombarde was an extension from the Solo stop, but maybe that isn't correct.  The Pedal also includes a Contra-Bombarde 32', which I had expected from my father's notes to be a further downward extension from the Solo reed, but perhaps it's the original Contra-Bombarde, possibly given a bit more oomph by Comptons?

 

Third, the record for the 1985-1991 Rushworth & Dreaper organ Rushworth 1985-91 shows the 32' reed under the name Contra-Trombone.  It is not indicated as being extended from another stop.  And at 16', we still have the Bombarde and the Trombone, although - ah-ha! - the Bombarde is noted as "Solo".

 

So is the Contra-Trombone merely the old stop re-named, perhaps because it is part of the (original) Pedal reed chorus with the Trombone, and also so as to distinguish it from the real Bombarde, to which it is unrelated?

 

All this to ascertain the provenance of one stop ...  :P

 

Rgds,

MJF

 

Hi

 

Don't read too much into the lack of recorded derivations on the NPOR surveys - especially 1950 - it's likely that the source of the survey didn't show them. As with all NPOR material, it's only as good as the source material - and even some organ-builder's stop lists vary from wha is actualy in the organ, let alone secondary sources!

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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This organ is a masterpiece of work by John Compton which, from a recording perspective, remains undiscovered. It is, as Paul states, tonally "fabulous." I was fortunate to first hear it within 10 years of its dedication and its richness of colour was absolutely spine-tingling. Along with Paul I await the day it can be sympathetically restored without any tonal alterations. May that day soon arrive!

 

======================

 

I agree, having played this instrument a few times and accompanied on it twice.

 

The the thing that strikes me about the Hull Trinity organ, is its extraordinary competence as a CHURCH organ. In both choral and congregational accompaniment, it lacks absolutely nothing.

 

It is also one of the straightest of the big Compton jobs; being based on the old Forster & Andrews instrument (with older bits).

 

Let's hope that the funds can be found in the not too distant future, and restore something of the strong tradition that this particular place of worship enjoyed in times past. Starting from a rock-bottom position is a daunting task, but it isn't long ago that the the music was systematically torn apart and discarded.

 

It really is a magnificent building; well worthy of a visit and very much the jewel in Hull's crown.

 

MM

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That looks very clever but... is it just me, or is the door on the wrong face? 

 

================

 

 

I've been watching too many Black & White war films obviously, but I suddenly got this mental picture of a 32ft metal reed-boot resembling an unexploded bomb, with perspiring organ technicians using non-magnetic screwdrivers and listening for internal noises with stethoscopes, before carefully removing the "trembler" device inside.

 

"I can hear your heart-beating Ginge"

 

MM

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Guest Andrew Butler

I am sure we all have our own preferred piston settings - I know I do - on our regular instruments, and if playing a service on a strange organ, if there is the luxury of a free channel available, I have a "starting point" in my head, which I adapt to local circumstances. Obviously, a lot depends on what you are going to play, who and what you will be accompanying, and the specification.

 

I would be interested to know how other people go about this.

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Yes - this certainly makes sense on many instruments - particularly when time is at a premium.

 

I remember attempting to set an enitire channel of pistons (divisionals and generals) at Winchester Cathedral about five minutes prior to a rehearsal, whilst fielding a bunch of non sequitur questions from Harrisons' tuner.

 

Then there are times when any system will let you down - occasionally through no fault of its own - such as the time when, due to an electrical storm, all pistons on all channels temporarily forgot their settings on my own church instrument during Evensong. Fortunately, it was only Noble in A minor, so hand registration was not particularly problematical.

 

Or the time when I was due to play a reasonably well-known large toaster which had suffered a mishap the previous night. Whilst making some adjustments, the technician (well, I cannot call him a 'tuner') had dropped a screw in the console, which had managed to fuse the entire piston system. The following day, I had to contend with a 107-stop four-clavier console with no aids to registration. On this occasion, the music was rather more demanding and Britten's Jubilate Deo, in C was more busy than usual - particularly since Britten clearly had little idea about writing for the instrument, especially with regard to registration. However, fortunately everything went smoothly.

 

On my own church instrument, I use at least three channels during almost every service - even then, some general pistons on certain channels I regard as 'free' and set them as required. I find that it is a good discipline to try to remember on what piston (and which channel) I have set a particular combination. So far, I have not been surprised very often....

:lol:

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I would be interested to know how other people go about this.
I have a set pattern for the Great and Swell pistons that I like to follow as closely as possible on strange instruments. Given a typical cathedral type instrument with 8 pistons on each department, it goes as follows:

 

Great

1. 8' flute

2. Small Open 8'

3. Small Open + Principal

4. Small Open, Principal, 15th

5. Large Open, small Open, Octave (if present), Principal, 12th, 15th

6. add Mixture

7. add 8' reed

8. add 16' flue and remaining reeds.

 

Sometimes the diap chorus is too big for the Open to be used so soon. #2 may have to be flutes 8' + 4', adding the open at #3. Or whatever.

 

Swell

1. Célestes

2. Flute 8' + Salicional

3. Diapason 8' (maybe keeping the flute too)

4. Diaps 8' + 4'

5. add 15th

6. add Oboe

7. add Fagotto + Mixture (or, if the 16' reed is too big, use the 8' reed instead)

8. Full Swell

 

Pedal combinations balance the Great.

 

Choir combinations vary depending on what stops are available. Usually the chorus build up won't need all 8 pistons, so the remainder are given over to solo combinations.

 

Solo again depends, but is likely to go something like:

1. Célestes

2. 8' string

3. flute 8'

4. flute 4'

5. flutes 8' + 4'

6. Clarinet

7. Orchestral Oboe

8. Tuba

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Guest Andrew Butler
I have a set pattern for the Great and Swell pistons that I like to follow as closely as possible on strange instruments. Given a typical cathedral type instrument with 8 pistons on each department, it goes as follows:

 

Great

1. 8' flute

2. Small Open 8'

3. Small Open + Principal

4. Small Open, Principal, 15th

5. Large Open, small Open, Octave (if present), Principal, 12th, 15th

6. add Mixture

7. add 8' reed

8. add 16' flue and remaining reeds.

 

Sometimes the diap chorus is too big for the Open to be used so soon. #2 may have to be flutes 8' + 4', adding the open at #3. Or whatever.

 

Swell

1. Célestes

2. Flute 8' + Salicional

3. Diapason 8' (maybe keeping the flute too)

4. Diaps 8' + 4'

5. add 15th

6. add Oboe

7. add Fagotto + Mixture (or, if the 16' reed is too big, use the 8' reed instead)

8. Full Swell

 

Pedal combinations balance the Great.

 

Choir combinations vary depending on what stops are available. Usually the chorus build up won't need all 8 pistons, so the remainder are given over to solo combinations.

 

Solo again depends, but is likely to go something like:

1. Célestes

2. 8' string

3. flute 8'

4. flute 4'

5. flutes 8' + 4'

6. Clarinet

7. Orchestral Oboe

8. Tuba

 

Thanks - my Great scheme is identical to yours, although on 5 I might omit the small diap and principal, depending on what it sounds like obviously. I am interested that you do not allow for Swell-to-mixture without reeds........ ?

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Talking of "illusions" perhaps someone can answer another long-standing query of mine: in John Norman's "Organs Of Britain", the spec of St Lawrence Jewry, Coty of London, has a "Musette 8 (synthesized)".  Can anyone enlighten me please?

 

Incidentally, I can remember as a boy in Bristol playing a 2 manual Daniel extension organ in Oakfield Rd Unitarian Church, that had on the swell among other thiongs a Salicional and a nazard. The resident organist showed me that combining the two gave a reasonable illusion of an Orchestral oboe.

 

I used to play the Mander Lawrence Jewry organ once a month for seven years or so, when a student. The choir 'reeds' were derived from the upperwork. By this stage in that late instrument's life, I found them to be unusable (never properly in tune). Piston 6 (tuba) on the choir also had a nasty habit of sticking...

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Thanks - my Great scheme is identical to yours, although on 5 I might omit the small diap and principal, depending on what it sounds like obviously.  I am interested that you do not allow for Swell-to-mixture without reeds........ ?
I entirely agree with you about Gt 5; I often do drop the small Diaps.

 

Sometimes I add the Mixture on Sw.5 - it depends on what produces the most natural build-up - but, no, I wouldn't set just Sw. Diaps to Mixture on a piston (unless perhaps it's a very small 2- or 3-rank one). I set my pistons as much for accompanimental use as for solo pieces and I find mixtures undesirable in an accompaniment until the choir is singing fairly loudly - and by that time I'm looking for more richness, hence the Oboe gets priority.

 

To my mind, a good example of how careful you need to be about mixtures and upperwork generally is the last recording that David Willcocks made at King's - a disc of favourite warhorses from the English anthem repertory. The singing is wonderful, but the accompaniment, skilful though it is, is all brightness and sparkle with the reeds seemingly used almost as a last resort. To my ears this almost Baroque approach is quite inappropriate for this repertoire. I longed for some Romantic warmth. After all, the composers concerned would have been thinking predominantly in terms of colour at 8' and 4' pitches. The recording has recently been re-released on CD and, my reservation notwithstanding, should be in everyone's library. It's definitely one of my desert island discs.

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Guest Andrew Butler
I entirely agree with you about Gt 5; I often do drop the small Diaps.

 

Sometimes I add the Mixture on Sw.5 - it depends on what produces the most natural build-up - but, no, I wouldn't set just Sw. Diaps to Mixture on a piston (unless perhaps it's a very small 2- or 3-rank one). I set my pistons as much for accompanimental use as for solo pieces and I find mixtures undesirable in an accompaniment until the choir is singing fairly loudly - and by that time I'm looking for more richness, hence the Oboe gets priority.

 

To my mind, a good example of how careful you need to be about mixtures and upperwork generally is the last recording that David Willcocks made at King's - a disc of favourite warhorses from the English anthem repertory. The singing is wonderful, but the accompaniment, skilful though it is, is all brightness and sparkle with the reeds seemingly used almost as a last resort. To my ears this almost Baroque approach is quite inappropriate for this repertoire. I longed for some Romantic warmth. After all, the composers concerned would have been thinking predominantly in terms of colour at 8' and 4' pitches. The recording has recently been re-released on CD and, my reservation notwithstanding, should be in everyone's library. It's definitely one of my desert island discs.

 

 

 

Thanks - I'll rethink my use of swell to mixture! I agree about the "richness", and like the effect of swell to 15th + oboe. It just goes to show how you have to adapt to circumstances though - on the digital job I play most often, the swell mixture is almost vital to give a congregational lead. Even great to 2' doesn't do much. Before anyonr says it's the toaster at fault, I play an almost identically voiced one by the same manufacturer at the crem, and it sounds quite different in that

acoustic. I can happily drop the swell mixture there a,d in fact on "my" channel I have the swell *' reed on before the mixture.

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Ah yes. I was thinking specifically of choir-only pieces. Congregations are an entirely different matter. For them, mixtures are pretty much essential. More so than a pedal reed, I reckon, even though that should in theory carry better to the back of a long nave.

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