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Unda Maris

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Guest Andrew Butler

Pardon my ignorance again! I have been playing for 40 + years but have only once actually played an organ withan Unda Maris. As I was about 8 at the time and I am now 50, I have forgotten what it sounded like.

 

I know the difference between a Voix Celeste and a Vox Angelica, but part from it being an undulating rank, I am in the dark. Can anyone enlighten me please?

 

Incidentally, the organ concerned was in Wilmslow United Reformed Church (then Congregational). The pipe organ has gone in recent years - don't suppose anyone remembers it? (3 manual with fine casework as i remember - Unda maris was on the Choir)

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In principle, the difference between the Voix céleste and the Unda-Maris is, in belgian and french organs:

 

-The VC is tuned sharp, the Unda-Maris is tuned flat

 

-The VC is a small-scaled string, the Unda-Maris a Salicional, larger,

between string and Open Diapason in tone

 

-The Unda-Maris has slower beats than the VC.

 

The english Vox angelica is, stricto sensu, a.....Tuned sharp Unda-Maris!

(Salicional scale)

 

Now you can find in little belgian organs:

 

Salicional

Voix céleste

 

So actually a......Vox angelica!

 

The Unda-Maris exists since the beginning of the baroque period; it is the italian Voce umana, undulating with the Principale, which is nearly a Salicional.

It was introduced in Germany by Eugen Casparini in 1700, who called it "Ondamaris" in his "Sonnenorgel" in Görlitz (opened 1703).

Thereafter it was built by many 18th century german builders as a Prinzipal, and was used with a Prinzipal 8'.

 

Back to the romantic organ:

 

-In french and belgian organs, the Voix céleste goes on the Swell, the Unda-Maris

on the (enclosed) Positif expressif

 

-In english organs you have the Vox angelica on the Swell, and sometimes a french

Voix céleste on the.....Choir. Not always, but sometimes. So the other side of the road again...

A british peculiarity is of course the Viole(s) celeste(s) on the Solo, a thing we badly need on the continent.

 

Pierre

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Pardon my ignorance again!  I have been playing for 40 + years but have only once actually played an organ withan Unda Maris. As I was about 8 at the time and I am now 50, I have forgotten what it sounded like.

 

I know the difference between a Voix Celeste and a Vox Angelica, but part from it being an undulating rank, I am in the dark. Can anyone enlighten me please?

 

Incidentally, the organ concerned was in Wilmslow United Reformed Church (then Congregational).  The pipe organ has gone in recent years - don't suppose anyone remembers it?  (3 manual with fine casework as i remember - Unda maris was on the Choir)

 

Strictly an Unda Maris is supposed to be a flute céleste. However, many builders (even Cavaillé-Coll) treated it as a mild string. N.-D. de Paris has a superb example on the (unenclosed) Positif.

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The Flute celeste came many many years later; it was invented by E-M Skinner, upon a Spitzflöte peculiar moder he named "Flauto dolce".

The original Unda-Maris is a Principal since....the 16th century.

 

Pierre

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The Flute celeste came many many years later; it was invented by E-M Skinner, upon a Spitzflöte peculiar moder he named "Flauto dolce".

The original Unda-Maris is a Principal since....the 16th century.

 

Pierre

 

 

Not according to this dictionary of organ stops, Pierre!

 

"Properly a soft slow-beating flat celeste made from one or two open or stopped flute ranks, the name Unda Maris has been used for both sharp and flat celestes made from a variety of stops, both flutes and strings...."

 

http://www.organstops.org/u/UndaMaris.html

 

Also:

 

"Unda Maris 8', Oberwerk; Basilica, Weingarten, Würtemberg, Germany; Gablet [sic] 1737-50. Open cherry wood".

 

I think that we are both correct, in some ways. There is evidence of both wood and metal examples from the eighteenth century.

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"Not according to this dictionary of organ stops, Pierre!"

 

(Quote)

 

Mind you, I prefer mine -which I wrote myself-, due in commerce in December, 2005,

and still somewhere by the editor (maybe they do not know in which pile...)

 

Pierre

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....And of course, as with all organ-stops, there have been

many variations.

 

A Willis Salicional isn't a Van Bever Salicional isn't a Walcker Salizional; you can find

Unda-Maris made of Gedeckt pipes.....But what we need is a definition of the most

represented consensus.

If you write "Unda-Maris" on a contract today, you won't mean an ivory flute.

 

Best wishes,

Pierre

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Possibly not - but you would almost certainly need to specify what you did mean, Pierre.

 

In any case, the material of each rank should also form part of the tender specifiaction, together with a table of scales, wind pressures, etc.

 

I was not thinking of ivory, either - these days, to fashion a rank from ivory could probably get you into a lot of bother; unless, of course, you were the person who purchased the last consignment that appeared on the world market a few years ago.

 

I have heard that there is still a limited supply available legally from time to time - does anyone know if there is any substance to this rumour?

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In British organs, what I expect to hear is:

 

Voix Céleste: mildly stringy (Salicional or a bit keener)

Vox Angelica: an undulating Dulciana

Unda Maris: a flûte céleste

 

My expectations may not necessarily be met!

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I mean this: 90% of the Unda-Maris you will find today are made of Salicional pipes.

Then you will find some rather flutey, and the "best" exception: the 4' Unda-Maris by E-M Skinner, which is a 4' version of the Flute celeste.

So we have:

 

Flauto dolce 8'

Flute celeste 8'

Flauto dolce 4'

Unda-Maris 4'

 

This was the preffered registration of E-M Skinner.

 

It may be amusing to note the Willis III version of the Flauto dolce-Flute celeste as:

 

Sylvestrina

Vox Sylvestris

 

In this jungle we need to stick to definitions, or we will end up with 20 volumes.

 

Pierre

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So far, so good.

 

Here is a Link to one of the very best english dictionnary

of organ-stops.

It is available pager per page, in several formats. I do not know

how this happened, I found it while Googling for something else:

 

http://wean1.ulib.org/Books-Finished/Dicti...of_Organ_Stops/

 

Wedgwood may not please everyone because he liked H-J, but apologies,

he knows what he says!

I used largely this book for mine.

 

Pierre Lauwers.

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It may be amusing to note the Willis III version of the Flauto dolce-Flute celeste as:

 

Sylvestrina

 

Pierre

 

Pierre - I think that this is wrong. The Sylvestrina on the organ of Westminster Cathedral is constructed of salicional-type pipes. It is not a flute céleste, although this instrument does have such a rank on the Choir Organ, called Cor de Nuit Célestes. It beats with the Cor de Nuit, which is, as far as I know, a wood flute rank.

 

I do not know of what material the Unda Maris on the Solo Organ is constructed - it could well be metal.

 

Just to add to the confusion, FHW inserted a 4p Celestina (tuned true) on the Swell Organ of Exeter Cathedral. This now forms the TC Viole Céleste on the Solo Organ, having previously spent a goodly number of years as a Viole Octaviante on the same department.

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Pierre - I think that this is wrong. The Sylvestrina on the organ of Westminster Cathedral is constructed of salicional-type pipes. It is not a flute céleste, although I believe that this instrument does have one on the Solo Organ - called Unda Maris, for the record.

 

 

Isn't that complicated! :P

Once again the other side of the road.....This said, I

would never "correct" such things.

By the way, Wedgwood was wrong with the Unda-Maris too;

he attributes, among others, an Unda-Maris made with Quintatön pipes to Puget,

which made well laugh my french friends.

 

The Sesquialtera too is a chameleon, being understood differently in France,

Germany, Belgium (where it has breaks!) and England.

 

Interesting also is this Dulciana-pipes made Vox angelica. There are some

examples in the notes I still have from my journeys.

But it seems the most represented in UK is the Willis-type (salicional).

 

Pierre

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Isn't that complicated! :P

Once again the other side of the road.....This said, I

would never "correct" such things.

By the way, Wedgwood was wrong with the Unda-Maris too;

he attributes, among others, an Unda-Maris made with Quintatön pipes to Puget,

which made well laugh my french friends.

 

The Sesquialtera too is a chameleon, being understood differently in France,

Germany, Belgium (where it has breaks!) and England.

 

Interesting also is this Dulciana-pipes made Vox angelica. There are some

examples in the notes I still have from my journeys.

But it seems the most represented in UK is the Willis-type (salicional).

 

Pierre

 

Pierre, sorry to mess-up your quote - my previous post was written hastily, because the bell had sounded for the next lesson and I have only just had time to call-up the specification of the Westminster Cathedral organ and check the specification.

 

Talking of chameleons - I have often thought about placing one on a tartan rug - and then just sitting back and watching it go batshit as it tries to blend in with its surroundings....

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Guest Andrew Butler
In British organs, what I expect to hear is:

 

Voix Céleste: mildly stringy (Salicional of a bit keener)

Vox Angelica: an undulating Dulciana

Unda Maris: a flûte céleste

 

My expectations may not necessarily be met!

 

Interesting. My (probably mis-)conception was that A Voix Celeste rank is tuned sharp and a Vox Angelica tuned flat, but both being of salicional tone. I had also heard that an Unda Maris was of Dulciana pipes.

 

I play an organ once a month (All Saints Woodchurch, Kent - excuse lack of NPOR URL; I will lose this post if I go into NPOR now) that has a Voix Celeste and a Dulciana on the Swell, the VC sounds on a par with the Dulciana tonally, so is presumably of Dulciana construction.

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Yes, Andrew, I think you may be right that Voix Célestes are (normally) tuned sharp and Vox Angelicas flat. I've heard it said before, anyway. But I've also noticed a tendency towards the different tone colours too. The Vox Angelicas I have come across are mostly pretty anaemic, diapason-toned things (to my ears), whereas Voix Célestes have a bit more "bite". But this isn't invariably the case by any means. Perhaps the only certainty is that you can't trust what's on the stop label!

 

I've come across very few Unda Maris stops and certainly none for many, many years, but I was taught that they were normally flute toned and, when I was discussing this very thing with a local organist recently, he thought so too. We could both be wrong, though. From what Pierre says, Continental practice is different.

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And just to complicate matters further ...

 

Cavaillé-Coll's masterpiece at Saint-Ouen has an Unda Maris in the Positif, and both a Voix Céleste and a Voix Éolienne on the Récit Expressif. The former Récit stop is a "standard" Cavaillé-Coll Voix Céleste stop, while the Voix Éolienne is flute-toned, to undulate with the Cor de Nuit. (By the way, I don't remember coming across a "Voix Éolienne" anywhere else.)

 

As to the Unda Maris on the Positif, I can't now recall whether it is flute- or string-toned. Is anyone able to clarify?

 

Rgds,

MJF

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See here:

 

http://www.xs4all.nl/~twomusic/concerts/rouen/#Stoplist

 

The "Gambe" also.

 

The Voix éolienne exists but once, there are no known others examples.

The first Cavaillé-Coll's Voix célestes were....Flutes!

 

The consensus which goes as follows:

 

VC= String

UM= Salicional

VA= Salicional (english)

Violes celestes= Viole d'orchestre

Flute celeste= Skinner's Flauto Dolce of the Spitzflöte kind

 

Is actually a late and post-romantic one.

This is something that emerges if you compile historic data, after one century

of development (about 1830-1930); but there are infinite variations within individual

instruments.

Moreover, this consensus will vary from one Orgellandschaft to the next....So I may well be.....Alone with this "consensus", which is based on a deeply hybrid conception of the organ (the belgian viewpoint).

 

Pierre

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
Pardon my ignorance again!  I have been playing for 40 + years but have only once actually played an organ withan Unda Maris. As I was about 8 at the time and I am now 50, I have forgotten what it sounded like.

 

I know the difference between a Voix Celeste and a Vox Angelica, but part from it being an undulating rank, I am in the dark. Can anyone enlighten me please?

 

 

There are not many 'UK-style' Unda Maris stops about. They seemed to be a favourite with Alfred Hunter, once quite a big name but now largely forgotten. Several of the examples I remember are his. Comptons also used to use them - quite a good idea on an extension organ because they are often tuned flat enough to give a fair approximation to true Tierce pitch. In the case of both those builders, the rank was always a Dulciana, tuned flat - obviously intended to beat with a partner 'straight' Dulciana. I had one by Hunter on the Choir organ at St.Andrew's Catford, I'm sure there's still one at St.James' Spanish Place (what an organ, BTW!) and there was (if not still is) another at All Souls, Langham Place. There is a good example of a Compton Unda Maris at Downside and they appear on several of his specifications elsewhere. I wish I had one here, only our Tierces are straight ranks.

 

The Flute Celestes at Westminster Abbey and Westminster Cathedral are obviously just that - flute ranks. However, the Unda Maris on the Solo at W.C. is a Dulciana rank. Ditto the UM on the Lewis/Willis III Solo at Southwark. Bear in mind in both those cases that I've never seen the pipes so I am open to correction by someone even more anorak-minded than myself. Often these Dulciana UMs will still beat with a companion flute though not as well as with the intended (matched) partner.

 

I greatly favour celestes of every type, and believe that there should be more of these extremely characterful ranks. Of course, like so many good features on our romantic organs, they have often been criticised by 'experts' as debased, vulgar or foreign to the 'true' organ. Spherical objects to you all, gentlemen!

 

My all-time favourite Celestes have to be a pair on an execrable heap of a third-rate, fourth-hand sensibly-anonymous job at Awre in the Forest of Dean. The Swell has three 8' flues: Gedackt, Violin Diapason and Celeste. The Celeste is scaled to match the Violin Diapason and BOY what an amazing sound! When I cleaned the organ and put these pipes back in, I tuned them in the normal celeste manner - viz. nice gentle beat at TC, barely speeding up as it rises through the compass. When I tried it through from the console, however, it had lost its Accordeon-like tone, so I deliberately de-tuned it still further and we were immediately back by The Seine, drinking absinthe too. Favourite Pair no.2 would be the Choir Flute Celestes at Westminster Abbey.

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I fully agree with Paul's comment; the celeste is a genuine organ stop,

and cannot be dispensed with.

There are many kinds of celestes, from the original italian stop until

the late american types; besides Skinner's Flute celeste, we have the

Erzähler celeste, the Spitzflöte celeste, the Spitzgamba celeste....

 

My preffered ones are: the Wilhelm Sauer's version of the Cavaillé-Coll's

Voix céleste (which he introduced in Germany after having worked for

Cavaillé-Coll in Paris).

Sauer made it four pipes smaller in scale than ACC, after the Aeoline scale:

 

http://aeoline.de/Ronsd_MP3/Voixcoel8_II.mp3

 

My second preffered is the Viole(s) celeste(s), a stop originally developed by

William Thynne, but known to me only after H&H stops.

Halas we still do not have sound files on the Internet. Who will care for a

"Diapason.UK"?

 

A modern organ could be made with a different celeste on each division save the

Great (or I) and the Pedal, tough one could imagine a "Voce umana" on the Great, undulating with the smaller scaled Open Diapason (among several ones of course).

 

Best wishes,

Pierre

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Guest Andrew Butler
In British organs, what I expect to hear is:

 

Voix Céleste: mildly stringy (Salicional of a bit keener)

Vox Angelica: an undulating Dulciana

Unda Maris: a flûte céleste

 

My expectations may not necessarily be met!

 

 

Err - anyone know what happens when you get both? :blink: eg....

 

http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=D02045

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I think one can safely assume with this stoplist that the Vox Angelica would be the 'in pitch' rank.

 

Hi

 

The fact that the Vox Angelica has a rooved bass indicates that it's the pitch rank.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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Guest Andrew Butler

I posted the original question in a hurry, and didn't express my thoughts at all well. I know of at least 1 other example - afraid haven't got NPOR url to hand, but Peasmarsh church, East Sussex; either the Vox A or Voix C is the straight tuned rank - can't remember which. And I do understand the implications of a grooved bass (I sincerely hope they are all rooved, Tony, to avoid water ingress!!)

 

I wonder, rather, what the logic is of naming a "straight" rank after a known undulating stop - unless it was to impress simple villagers, all the examples quoted being in villages....? :blink:

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