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You're right and my memory is wrong. I have located an article from 1934 in The Rotunda, and HW3 describes the console and the panels were originally ebonised. Mind you, in the same article the Pedal Mixture is given as 12.15.19.22 i.e no Tierce.

 

Coincidentally, we've been putting some archive photographs on our website (http://www.willis-organs.com/history.htm) over the past few weeks - last week we prepared some of the Salisbury job and I'll see if I can get Alexandre to upload them this week. One is particularly interesting regarding the present discussion and shows everything commented on, I think.

 

The "large, ugly black metal panel, which now disfigures the (right-hand) stop jamb" seems to be a feature of some firms' console 'refurbishments' these days.

 

David Wyld

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The photograph you remember may be the one also given in The Rotunda article which I found this morning. There is another reason why this photo looked 'staged' - that console wasn't remotely playable at the time. It is pictured on the floor of the South Aisle not up in the gallery where it should be! It appears that the famous photo we've all seen was taken for (Willis) publicity purposes immediately upon the console's arrival in the cathedral.

 

Absolutely. I wonder how it was hoisted into place?

P.S. Along with reporters who seem unable to avoid serious cliches every time they write stories about organs ('pulling out all the stops' etc.) photographers seem to go to enormous lengths to use consoles in totally unrealistic ways. I seem to remember a photograph of Carlo Curley (either at The Albert Hall or Blenheim Palace) where the photographer had to be standing inside the organ and shoving his lens through where the (missing) music desk should be. ...

 

I remember this one - I think that it ended up as the cover for one of his LP recordings.

 

Perhaps we could start a new thread to see who possesses the oddest record sleeve pictures.

 

I have one or two possible candidates, in order to start the ball rolling:

 

The organ of Chester Cathedral. I have several recordings of this instrument. On the front of one LP, there is a really good picture of the case, taken from the front of the South Transept. Then I have another, taken from above the case, and looking down into it; although, this probably qualifies as merely 'interesting', as opposed to 'odd'.

 

I have a CD of Marie-Clare Alain playing the first four symphonies of Vierne at S. Etienne, Caen. This is a Cavaillé-Coll organ in the usual west tribune, with an excellent case. However, on the front of the CD there is.... a photograph of the artiste with a somewhat severe expression, attired in a black skirt and a white lace blouse. Whilst intending no disrespect to Ms. Alain, she does look rather like the proprietress of an old French family restaurant and bar.

 

However, the CD cover which features Wolfgang Rubsam apparently resembling a gay circus ring-master who has recently begun to experiment with controlled substances, takes some beating....

 

I did once (when I was a teenager) purchase a recording of Jane Parker-Smith playing some music or other on an organ somewhere.... just for the cover picture.

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  • 1 year later...
Guest Echo Gamba
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

 

I've been looking at this following my recent topic regarding General Crescendo Pedal settings.

 

I would be interested to know where people prefer to have pedal 32's coming on in a scheme like the above.......?

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I tend to regard 32s, like Tubas and chamades, as belonging in the "special effects" category, to be used sparingly, so I would not set them on the divisional pistons at all. So I mostly expect to draw flue 32s by hand (my preference is for a soft sub-bourdon that can be used with the Swell celestes); In the general scheme of things, loud 32s are basically climactic stops and the only piston on which I would automatically include them is the last general piston, which I always set to give full organ.

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Guest Echo Gamba
I tend to regard 32s, like Tubas and chamades, as belonging in the "special effects" category, to be used sparingly, so I would not set them on the divisional pistons at all. So I mostly expect to draw flue 32s by hand (my preference is for a soft sub-bourdon that can be used with the Swell celestes); In the general scheme of things, loud 32s are basically climactic stops and the only piston on which I would automatically include them is the last general piston, which I always set to give full organ.

 

Thank you, VH. Loud 32s, especially reeds are indeed obviously climactic. I have been in two minds how to treat the soft 32' on the instrument I am currently playing most; I suspect I over-use it. Your comments have been most helpful. I would still be interested to hear more.

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... Generals are invaluable for sudden, large registration changes that would otherwise require you to out-gyrate an olympic gymnast. ...

 

Look on the bright side, Vox - at least you would not have to do it whilst wearing a leotard....

B)

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Guest Echo Gamba

Further to my "poser" in the "General Crescendo Pedal" topic, I would be very interested to know how people would set their own piston memory channel(s) on the same instrument, the spec of which I copy below

 

Great

 

Bourdon 16

Open Diapason 8

Stopt Diap 8

Principal 4

Harmonic Flute 4

Fifteenth 2

Sesquialtera II

Mixture IV

Clarinet 8

Trumpet 8

 

Swell

 

Open Diapason 8

Echo Gamba 8

Voix Celeste 8

Chimney Flute 8

Principal 4

Wald Flute 4

Flageolet 2

Mixture IV

Contra Fagotto 16

Cornopean 8

Oboe 8

 

Pedal

 

Sub Bass 32

Open Wood 16

Open Metal 16

Bourdon 16

Principal 8

Bass Flute 8

Choral Bass 4

Mixture IV

Trombone 16

Trumpet 8

 

3 usual Unison couplers

 

6 pistons each Gt/pd, Sw, General

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Further to my "poser" in the "General Crescendo Pedal" topic, I would be very interested to know how people would set their own piston memory channel(s) on the same instrument, the spec of which I copy below

 

That looks like a very useful specification, EG. :) But I just don't know how anybody could give a worthwhile answer to that (apart from just giving a chorus build up "on paper") without actually hearing the instrument.

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Guest Echo Gamba
That looks like a very useful specification, EG. :) But I just don't know how anybody could give a worthwhile answer to that (apart from just giving a chorus build up "on paper") without actually hearing the instrument.

 

That's all I'm expecting - a build-up "on paper". Going round playing different organs, I am always fascinated to see the range of ideas people have. Obviously, it depends on the instrument! In this case, everything "works". The flutes are nicely contrasted; the strings lovely; the mixtures complimentary, and "build" when coupled; the reeds are all good "blenders". So, what would YOU do? (PS by PM!)

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That's all I'm expecting - a build-up "on paper". Going round playing different organs, I am always fascinated to see the range of ideas people have. Obviously, it depends on the instrument! In this case, everything "works". The flutes are nicely contrasted; the strings lovely; the mixtures complimentary, and "build" when coupled; the reeds are all good "blenders". So, what would YOU do? (PS by PM!)

Oh, ok then! :) I'll just imagine I turned up at the last minute to play for something and found the pistons all blank and had to set up something in a hurry.

 

Sw 1: Echo Gamba, Voix Celeste

Sw 2: Flutes 8 & 4

Sw 3: Diapasons 8 & 4

Sw 4: Diapasons chorus to Mixture

Sw 5: As 4 plus Cornopean

Sw 6: Full Swell

 

Gt 1: Stopt Diapason

Gt 2: Open Diapason

Gt 3: Diapasons 8 & 4

Gt 4: Diapasons 8, 4, 2

Gt 5: Diapasons 8, 4, 2 plus Mixture and Double

Gt 6: As 5 plus Trumpet

 

As I tend to use "Gt and Pedal pistons combined" I would set the Pedal pistons to match the Great pistons. I would probably not put a crescendo on the General pistons, but reserve those for different "effects".

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Guest Echo Gamba

Good grief - you must have been already! ALMOST my scheme (I have 8 flute on sw 1 with the celestes, and I haven't got the great double on 5)

 

I do have a sort-of build up on the generals (on one channel anyway) as, being RC we do a lot of responsorial stuff, so I need to go from quiet, colourful cantored psalm verses to fairly full for the response)

 

Oh, ok then! :) I'll just imagine I turned up at the last minute to play for something and found the pistons all blank and had to set up something in a hurry.

 

Sw 1: Echo Gamba, Voix Celeste

Sw 2: Flutes 8 & 4

Sw 3: Diapasons 8 & 4

Sw 4: Diapasons chorus to Mixture

Sw 5: As 4 plus Cornopean

Sw 6: Full Swell

 

Gt 1: Stopt Diapason

Gt 2: Open Diapason

Gt 3: Diapasons 8 & 4

Gt 4: Diapasons 8, 4, 2

Gt 5: Diapasons 8, 4, 2 plus Mixture and Double

Gt 6: As 5 plus Trumpet

 

As I tend to use "Gt and Pedal pistons combined" I would set the Pedal pistons to match the Great pistons. I would probably not put a crescendo on the General pistons, but reserve those for different "effects".

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Given that I have no idea what it sounds like either (except that I suspect we are not dealing with pipes here), I would set the pistons much as in Holz's scheme above, except that I would reserve the double for Great 6 and would also consider including the Sesquialtera on that piston.

 

For the Swell I would choose:

1. Flute 8 + Echo Gamba

2. Open Diap

3. Diaps 8 + 4

4. Diap chorus to Mixture (+ Oboe)

5. Diap chorus to Mixture, Fagotto, Oboe (but only if Fagotto not too heavy, otherwise as Holz)

6. Full Swell

 

It's nice to have a piston for celestes, but more often than not they can be managed by hand (pressing Sw.1 first if you need to reduce quickly). Besides, not having them on a piston may help ensure that they are not over-used.

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For the Swell I would choose:

1. Flute 8 + Echo Gamba

2. Open Diap

3. Diaps 8 + 4

4. Diap chorus to Mixture (+ Oboe)

5. Diap chorus to Mixture, Fagotto, Oboe (but only if Fagotto not too heavy, otherwise as Holz)

6. Full Swell

 

'Dead spots' are an annoying feature of pistons, an effect which can often happen whist improvising or accompanying.

By this I mean the silent 'hiccup' which will occur in legato playing when you progress from piston 1 to 2 (or the reverse).

In order to avoid this you must 'overlap' some or all of the quieter stops, therefore piston 2 would be Open Diap + Flute with or without the Echo Gamba.

Ideally the Open Diap would be better on its own, but I always regard this sort of thing as an acceptable compromise.

From pistons 2 to 6 there is always the perfect overlap so no 'dead spots' occur.

 

DT

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Its impossbile to say without access to the instrument. I can never be sure, for example, whether Gt 2 should be a small open diapason or 8 & 4' flutes as this depends so much on the character of the individual instrument. Similarly the thorny issue as to whether one should combine flutes and principals must be judged by ear and not on paper. In terms of the swell much discussion revolves around whether the oboe should come on before or after the mixture, again I find it impossible to make a hard and fast rule, on my own instrument I am constantly resetting Sw4 depending upon the repertoire.

 

In terms of the specific quoted specification, I find the cluttonesque presence of the Flageolet 2' as the only 2' on the swell peculiar. Surely one would want to add a fifteenth after the principal.

 

I also agonise over the correct setting of Sw1. Personally I'm somewhat over fond of celestes and so tend towards 8' flute, +2 strings (tuned and undulating) on Sw1, but also can see the merits of 8' flute + 8' straight string, or 8' strings without the flute. Here again it comes down to judging the particular instrument in the building. Sw 2 is also an interesting setting, on some organs (particularly Willis) 8' Flute + 8' String (non-undulating) + 4' flute is a magical combination, on others substituting the 8' open diapason for the string works much better.

 

In terms of general pistons it depends entirely on how many channels are available and what you with to achieve. On my (digital) instrument I set channel 1 for service and hymn playing and this approximates to a general crescendo (though not to full organ which is for very rare occasions). All other channels are for specific purposes and would be of no generalised significance.

 

Having said all that, on paper, given your specification, I would predict in advance:-

 

Gt1: Stopt Diap 8

Gt2: Stopt Diap 8, Harm Fl 4

Gt3: Open Diap 8, Stopt Diap 8, Principal 4

Gt4: Open Diap 8, Stopt Diap 8, Principal 4, Fifteenth 2

Gt5: Open Diap 8, Stopt Diap 8, Principal 4, Fifteenth 2, Mixture IV

Gt6: Open Diap 8, Stopt Diap 8, Principal 4, Fifteenth 2, Mixture IV, Trumpet 8

 

Sw1: Chimney Flute 8, Echo Gamba 8

Sw2: Chimney Fulte 8, Echo Gamba 8, Wald Flute 4

Sw3: Open Diap 8, Principal 4

Sw4: Open Diap 8, Principal 4, Flageolet 2, Oboe 8

Sw5: Open Diap 8, Principal 4, Flageolet 2, Mixture IV, Cornopean 8

Sw6: Open Diap 8, Principal 4, Flageolet 2, Mixture IV, Contra Fagotto 16, Cornopean 8

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  • 1 month later...
Guest Echo Gamba
Further to my "poser" in the "General Crescendo Pedal" topic, I would be very interested to know how people would set their own piston memory channel(s) on the same instrument, the spec of which I copy below

 

Great

 

Bourdon 16

Open Diapason 8

Stopt Diap 8

Principal 4

Harmonic Flute 4

Fifteenth 2

Sesquialtera II

Mixture IV

Clarinet 8

Trumpet 8

 

Swell

 

Open Diapason 8

Echo Gamba 8

Voix Celeste 8

Chimney Flute 8

Principal 4

Wald Flute 4

Flageolet 2

Mixture IV

Contra Fagotto 16

Cornopean 8

Oboe 8

 

Pedal

 

Sub Bass 32

Open Wood 16

Open Metal 16

Bourdon 16

Principal 8

Bass Flute 8

Choral Bass 4

Mixture IV

Trombone 16

Trumpet 8

 

3 usual Unison couplers

 

6 pistons each Gt/pd, Sw, General

 

 

Further to previous replies to this question (see a few posts back) would anyone care to suggest a "French Symphonic" set and or an "English Edwardian" set? (I have the luxury of multiple memories!)

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