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New Neo-classical Organ Spec Thoughts


Colin Harvey
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In another post, I think we were all agreed that the organ at the Immaculate Conception Church in Southampton was really nasty but that the idea of it was a refreshing change from the average church organ.

 

http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=N11626

 

I was just thinking what I would replace it with and thought that a neo-classical organ was just right for the the rather austere 1950s (?) building with a West Gallery and I thought up a spec for what sort of new organ I would put in this church, given the chance. Sad, I know, but let me know what you think, esp if you know the church.

 

The organ would be mechanical and strictly Werk-prinzip, with a modern movement case, with front, sides, back and roof, with simple geometric pipe shades, as loved in the 60s and 70s, probably in natural oiled oak.

 

Position: West gallery (choir would also move to the gallery)

 

Great Organ (or Hauptwerk)

 

Prinzipal 8

Gedackt 8

Octav 4

Coppel Flote 4

Quint 2 2/3

Super Octav 2

Terz 1 3/5

Mixtur IV 1 1/3

Trompet 8

 

Oberwerk (poss. enclosed)

 

Lieblich Gedackt 8

Gambe 8 (4' helper bass with Lieb. Gedact)

Prinzipal 4

Klein Gedackt 4

Spitz Octav 2

Larigot 1 1/3

Hobo 8 (a gentle, warm, smooth 1/2 length reed)

 

Pedalwerk

 

Subbass 16

Octav 8 (by transmission from Gt Prinzipal)

Super Octav 4 (by transmission from Gt Octav)

Fagot 16 (wood, full length)

Schamei 4

 

usual couplers

Tremulant to each manual.

 

The Oberwerk could possibly have swell box shutters (possibly.... how much do we want deface our pure organ aesthetic with romantic excesses...)

 

wind-blown zimbelstern.

 

w.p. about 3 inches.

 

I would go for large wedge bellows in the room off the gallery.

The scales would be moderate but I would go for much smoother voicing than was usually the case in the 60s and 70s - more like a Flentrop from the 80s. The choruses would be straight, so a 2' principal would be about the same scale as an 8'. The scales would be toepfer scales.

 

Mechanical action.

 

BTW, I've modified this post - on reflection, I think an oberwerk would be better than a brustwerk - the church is quite lofty and voluminous and I think an Oberwerk would fit the character of the church better.

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I quite like the design. If voiced properly, you should be able to make some vivid music on an organ like that.

 

Only one remark: The Oboe I would rather not have too far on the smooth side. First, there are Gedackt and Gamba for soft and smooth effects; and then, you might want to use the Oboe as a duo or trio partner for the Great Sesquialtera (8, 4, Twelfth, Seventeenth). In that case, a more spicy version of the reed might be in order, more like an elegant Schalmei. Would mix better with the 4'-flute and/or Larigot as well, I assume.

 

Best,

Friedrich

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I quite like the design. If voiced properly, you should be able to make some vivid music on an organ like that.

 

Only one remark: The Oboe I would rather not have too far on the smooth side. First, there are Gedackt and Gamba for soft and smooth effects; and then, you might want to use the Oboe as a duo or trio partner for the Great Sesquialtera (8, 4, Twelfth, Seventeenth). In that case, a more spicy version of the reed might be in order, more like an elegant Schalmei. Would mix better with the 4'-flute and/or Larigot as well, I assume.

 

Best,

Friedrich

I can hear the hobo in my mind's ear quite clearly. A little like the bassoon at Adlington hall but a bit less "woody".... so yes, like an elegant Schalmei...

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The organ would be mechanical and strictly Werk-prinzip, with a modern movement case, with front, sides, back and roof, with simple geometric pipe shades, as loved in the 60s and 70s, probably in natural oiled oak.

 

Great Organ (or Hauptwerk)

 

Prinzipal 8

Gedackt 8

Octav 4

Coppel Flote 4

Quint 2 2/3

Super Octav 2

Terz 1 3/5

Mixtur IV 1 1/3

Trompet 8

 

Brustwerk (poss. enclosed)

 

Lieblich Gedackt 8

Gambe 8 (4' helper bass with Lieb. Gedact)

Prinzipal 4

Klein Gedackt 4

Spitz Octav 2

Larigot 1 1/3

Hobo 8 (a gentle, warm, smooth 1/2 length reed)

 

Pedalwerk

 

Subbass 16

Octav 8 (by transmission from Gt Prinzipal)

Super Octav 4 (by transmission from Gt Octav)

Fagot 16 (wood, full length)

Schamei 4

 

usual couplers

Tremulant to each manual/

 

The brustwerk could possibly have swell box shutters (possibly.... how much do we want defact our pure organ with romantic excesses)

 

wind-blown zimbelstern.

 

w.p. about 3 inches.

 

I would go for large wedge bellows in the room off the gallery.

The scales would be moderate but I would go for much smoother voicing than was usually the case in the 60s and 70s - more like a Flentrop from the 80s. The choruses would be straight, so a 2' principal would be about the same scale as an 8'. The scales would be toepfer scales.

 

Mechanical action.

 

 

-----------------------------------

 

The organ I play is not dissimilar to this; though a tad smaller. Even the voicing is very-much in the Dutch Flentrop style of tradition.....warm yet bold.

 

Get rid of that absurd Lieblich, swap the Gedeckt for a big-scaled Rohrflute, and you might have a ghost of chance of creating a proper Cornet.

 

After playing the organ I play the better part of 31 years, there is one stop, and only one stop, which I have always craved for. Manual reeds would be nice, but then, so would a Ferrari outsiude the church. However, a 2ft Flute is the ONE thing I miss more than anything else, because without it, I have just the option of two rather powerful choruses. In fact, with just Flutes at 8ft and 4ft, a 2ft Principal and a 1.1/3ft Quint, I would happily dispense with the Quint and replace it with a 2ft Blockflute. The 2ft Principal, being made from almost pure tin, has more than enough brightness without an added mutation on top.

 

Of course, one does need the right acoustic for this sort of thing.

 

MM

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Yes - I rather thought the organ could do with a 2' flute. I was hoping the 2' spitz principal would do double duty, unlike your bright example...

 

I thought about a rohr flute - would give some contrast against the gedackt on the other dpt. Yes, I would go with this.... I was envisaging the quint and terz being quite small scale and bright - so more a sesquialtera, in line with the rather austere and starchy nature of this organ, rather than a wide-scale, voluptous cornet in the french classical style.

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Why not...

 

Just for the sake of it, in France they begin to scrap

Danion-Gonzalez organs which fit this definition.

Why not import these in exchange for british redundant

organs?

And maybe there are Holtkamps in the U.S. that need

a new home. These would be better than Danions.

 

Pierre

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BTW, I've modified this post - on reflection, I think an oberwerk would be better than a brustwerk - the church is quite lofty and voluminous and I think an Oberwerk would fit the character of the church better.

 

I was under the impression that a single manual installation, with sustain pedal and amp outputs, and couplers "Guitar to Keyboard", "Vocals to keyboard", etc, was more appropriate for this church. Am I wrong then?

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Don't quite think they can do the guitar/vocals thing with any panache yet. The music was all Dom Gregory Murray/ Paul Inwood stuff when I was there. It's not entirely my cup of tea - I found it all a little joyless. I think if a good organist were appointed there, he could pretty much do as he liked and the congregation would appreciate it - if they dared let themselves enjoy the music. I think they rather felt that having competently performed, good quality music was rather a naughty treat they didn't quite deserve...

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I was just thinking what I would replace it with and thought that a neo-classical organ was just right for the the rather austere 1950s (?) building with a West Gallery and I thought up a spec for what sort of new organ I would put in this church, given the chance. Sad, I know, but let me know what you think, esp if you know the church.

I'm afraid this type of instrument leaves me cold. I would much rather go with something altogether more English such as the new Harrison & Harrison organ for St George's Church, Isle of Man: http://www.harrison-organs.co.uk/douglas.html The west end position would be ideal, of course, rather than buried in the chancel, and housed in a case made of wood from a sustainable source to a contemporary but not brutalist design.

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I'm afraid this type of instrument leaves me cold. I would much rather go with something altogether more English such as the new Harrison & Harrison organ for St George's Church, Isle of Man: http://www.harrison-organs.co.uk/douglas.html  The west end position would be ideal, of course, rather than buried in the chancel, and housed in a case made of wood from a sustainable source to a contemporary but not brutalist design.

 

Or even this -

 

http://www.harrison-organs.co.uk/glenalmondspec.html

 

AJJ

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I'm afraid this type of instrument leaves me cold. I would much rather go with something altogether more English such as the new Harrison & Harrison organ for St George's Church, Isle of Man: http://www.harrison-organs.co.uk/douglas.html  The west end position would be ideal, of course, rather than buried in the chancel, and housed in a case made of wood from a sustainable source to a contemporary but not brutalist design.

 

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

 

If we are allowed to double the size of a proposed scheme at every post, why not just settle for Liverpool Cathedral?

 

 

:rolleyes:

 

MM

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

 

If we are allowed to double the size of a proposed scheme at every post, why not just settle for Liverpool Cathedral?

:rolleyes:

 

MM

 

 

Fair enough then - what about this? - plus a Tierce on the Great perhaps - not Liverpool but well known to at least one on this discussion board!!

 

http://www.harrison-organs.co.uk/twyfordspec.html

 

I'd quite happily have something like this rather than 'neo' anything. Except perhaps neo Father Willis. Below is nice too.

 

http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=N11170

 

Though again perhaps with a Sesqualtera somewhere along the way - Tierce Mixture maybe.

 

 

AJJ

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If we are allowed to double the size of a proposed scheme at every post, why not just settle for Liverpool Cathedral?

:rolleyes:

 

MM

I was never very good at maths at school, but the neo-classical spec that started this off had 21 stops

and the Douglas instrument, which apparently is double the size, has 22! :P

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I was never very good at maths at school, but the neo-classical spec that started this off had 21 stops

and the Douglas instrument, which apparently is double the size, has 22!  :rolleyes:

 

Probably the visual effects of double spacing on the spec.!!

 

AJJ

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Re: The Glenalmond spec.

 

A modest instrument of 26 stops. Eight generals? Eight divisionals each? 64 memory levels? Wow! Is this overkill or just a reflection of the fact if you're gonna have a few generals, you might as well go completely over the top?

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I was never very good at maths at school, but the neo-classical spec that started this off had 21 stops

and the Douglas instrument, which apparently is double the size, has 22!  :P

 

 

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

 

Creative accounting to the rescue here!

 

The original spec written out showed 21 ranks, and the 2nd H & H spec works out at 32 ranks.

 

This makes the second H & H almost 43% larger than the proposal originally drafted.

 

Another three posts, and we would have exceeded the number of stops at Liverpool by approximately 30%

 

By the following week, Wanamaker would have become a mere minnow!

 

:rolleyes:

 

MM

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A Néo-classical Spec on a Wanamaker's scale?

Would be quite interesting!

 

A Quizz: how many Scharffs and Zymbels (without foundations)

and Regals?

(Ear protecting Helmet mandatory)

This could be the thing I need in my garden to get rid

of the deers.

 

Pierre

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A Néo-classical Spec on a Wanamaker's scale?

Would be quite interesting!

 

A Quizz: how many Scharffs and Zymbels (without foundations)

and Regals?

(Ear protecting Helmet mandatory)

This could be the thing I need in my garden to get rid

of the deers.

 

Pierre

 

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

 

 

Well, I think that simply replacing the String-section with one big mixture would do the trick, but it would have to be called "Furniture".

 

The Regals would have a special place on the "Kronwerk" alongside the chamade Trompeta Reals.

 

There would be a romantic concession in the form of a single enclosed register, sponsored by Coca-Cola and named "Fizz-harmonika"

 

As for getting rid of Deer in the garden, I would constantly assault them with the music of Herbert Howells, but if live organ-music is the preferred option, then the instrument would have to be built by Wolff.

 

MM

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Howells they already have at night (the neighbours are far away enough for that), but it is too good a music by far to spoil anything of the quietness here; it harmonizes

with the environment of the biggest Forest in Western Europe.

If you want a hint about it:

http://www.pbase.com/emmiegray/image/45126926

 

No, what I need is something like this Kronwerk with Chamades, Regals and Scharffs.

Might be better than the "ultra-sounds" devices from commerce.

And I'd add some Gin to this Fizz ! :rolleyes:

 

Best wishes,

Pierre

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Howells they already have at night (the neighbours are far away enough for that), but it is too good a music by far to spoil anything of the quietness here; it harmonizes

with the environment of the biggest Forest in Western Europe.

If you want a hint about it:

http://www.pbase.com/emmiegray/image/45126926

 

No, what I need is something like this Kronwerk with Chamades, Regals and Scharffs.

Might be better than the "ultra-sounds" devices from commerce.

And I'd add some Gin to this Fizz ! :P

 

Best wishes,

Pierre

 

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

 

 

I've got the answer Pierre.

 

 

In 1985, there was someone called Lauwers who got murdered in America, :P inspiring a documentary-film called "Hell's Bells - the dangers of Rock & Roll"

 

You could play the deer heavy-rock music.

 

Dare I suggest "Guns & Roses?"

 

:rolleyes:

 

MM

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"Dare I suggest "Guns & Roses?""

 

(Quote)

 

Like in Bulgaria I suppose?

 

The rose they grow there is "Kazanlik", from the Damasks family.

I grow some, but without guns.

Rock and Roll? Well, that's even more frightfull than Chamades and Scharffs.

You cannot like Dulcianas and tolerate such abominations at the same time,

isn't it?

If even a Neo-baroque job is too sharp...

 

Best wishes,

Pierre

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In another post, I think we were all agreed that the organ at the Immaculate Conception Church in Southampton was really nasty but that the idea of it was a refreshing change from the average church organ.

 

http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=N11626

 

I was just thinking what I would replace it with and thought that a neo-classical organ was just right for the the rather austere 1950s (?) building with a West Gallery and I thought up a spec for what sort of new organ I would put in this church, given the chance. Sad, I know, but let me know what you think, esp if you know the church.

 

The organ would be mechanical and strictly Werk-prinzip, with a modern movement case, with front, sides, back and roof, with simple geometric pipe shades, as loved in the 60s and 70s, probably in natural oiled oak.

 

Position: West gallery (choir would also move to the gallery)

 

Great Organ (or Hauptwerk)

 

Prinzipal 8

Gedackt 8

Octav 4

Coppel Flote 4

Quint 2 2/3

Super Octav 2

Terz 1 3/5

Mixtur IV 1 1/3

Trompet 8

 

Oberwerk (poss. enclosed)

 

Lieblich Gedackt 8

Gambe 8 (4' helper bass with Lieb. Gedact)

Prinzipal 4

Klein Gedackt 4

Spitz Octav 2

Larigot 1 1/3

Hobo 8 (a gentle, warm, smooth 1/2 length reed)

 

Pedalwerk

 

Subbass 16

Octav 8 (by transmission from Gt Prinzipal)

Super Octav 4 (by transmission from Gt Octav)

Fagot 16 (wood, full length)

Schamei 4

 

usual couplers

Tremulant to each manual.

 

The Oberwerk could possibly have swell box shutters (possibly.... how much do we want deface our pure organ aesthetic with romantic excesses...)

 

wind-blown zimbelstern.

 

w.p. about 3 inches.

 

I would go for large wedge bellows in the room off the gallery.

The scales would be moderate but I would go for much smoother voicing than was usually the case in the 60s and 70s - more like a Flentrop from the 80s. The choruses would be straight, so a 2' principal would be about the same scale as an 8'. The scales would be toepfer scales.

 

Mechanical action.

 

BTW, I've modified this post - on reflection, I think an oberwerk would be better than a brustwerk - the church is quite lofty and voluminous and I think an Oberwerk would fit the character of the church better.

 

 

A non-organist friend, currently working on a doctorate at the RCM, has a good theory about high-pitches/mutations etc. It's simply that we lose the top end of our hearing as we get older, so experience low to mid-range sound as dull and indistinct. This would explain why I found that the headphones my new boss claimed were such an improvement on his old ones, sounded unbelievably tinny to me (being thirty years his junior). And also why Pierre Boulez has revised his 'Pli selon Pli' twice, each time producing a version with higher and brighter (and frankly more annoying), percussion.

 

So my point is this: to get young people to listen to the organ, ditch your neo-classical paint-stripping device, and buy an H&H. Or better still a Hope-Jones. :rolleyes:

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'Reminds me of some years back when a friend was playing for a visiting choir at St Albans Cathedral - we could never quite work out what to do with the (very high pitched) Ralph Downes inspired Cimbel III originally on the Swell there - the only enclosed division and therefore one worked quite hard liturgically. It just did not seem to work (to us at least) in the way desired in psalms or the sort of music on parade that day. Since then it seems to have descended little by little (possibly by trial and error, dropping a high tierce rank in the process) to a respectable level as a Mixture III which by all accounts now tops the chorus quite nicely. One wonders quite what it was doing tinkling away in the firmament in the first place so far from it's parent chorus especially as the only mixture on that division. Maybe that is what the 'powers that be' thought neo baroque (or whatever one calls them) organs 'did' in the late 50s/early 60s. The rest of the organ I hasten to say was and is still marvellous in my opinion and will be even better when the planned modifications have taken place.

 

AJJ

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The Mixture as a chorus binder, intended not to be heard, but to emphazise the foundation, is a quite new idea.

From as early as Dom Bédos, the "Plein-jeu" was already conceived as a colour "sui generis".

During the romantic period it was the backbone upon which the tutti was built, so as a bridge between the families of stops.

 

From Henry Willis III, Donald Harrison, and even E-M Skinner himself, the Mixtures were there for brillance, sparkle.

It was a colour among others, even when considered the most important one.

They were not really a part of the chorus, but the "spices upon it".

 

During the "Reform" period, this post-romantic conception actually continued for a long time, and you had things like this:

 

POSITIV

 

Quintadena 8'

Flöte 4'

Nassat 2 2/3' ( so not a Principal!)

Gemshorn 2'

Terz 1 3/5' (A Flute)

Larigot 1 1/3' (a Flute too)

Zymbel 4 ranks

Krummhorn 8'

 

With what did you draw the Zymbel?

With the Quintadena 8' alone, for instance, or the 4' and 2' Flutes, or 8-2- Zymbel.

This Zymbel was actually nearly a.....Solo stop, like Messiaen used them.

 

We are far, very far from the baroque organ, this is a modern, 20th century design.

While convinced they rediscovered the baroque organ, the "Reformers" were actually

inventing something else.

Now we are in danger to fall into the very same trap as our own parents!

Neo-classic/ Baroque organs too have their place in the History of the organ, and we must keep a fair amount of them intact for the following generations.

Our Fathers condemned the romantic organ, with Hope-Jones in the role of the "naughtiest boy".

Now we could well condemn neo-baroque design as the "worst". But we are too close to them to be able to judge them objectively; we'd better leave that task to our grand-children.

In the meantime, I cannot do better than to quote John Foss: "just remove the dust", and please leave them alone. We can still build other organs after whatever style we want, but alongside them, not "in place" of them.

 

Pierre

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