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Adding Digital Stops To Existing Instrument..

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This is interesting even without the novelty element - I remember somewhere an article by William McVicar about the scales of pipework at his instrument in Dulwich (Tickell - 3m but with much input from McVicar on scaling etc.) being designed to exploit these sort of effects resulting from the harmonies in the music being performed. So LH and P quints etc. gave a fullness to the sound - absent 32s etc. In the same way some of the small 2m Willis 1s sound much larger than they actually are and I suppose also some of the C-C choir organs. The article could have been in 'The Organbuilder' - this relationship between acoustics, scale of pipework and the actual music itself was fascinating.

Nothing to do with electronics where this line of discussion should be - sorry!

 

AJJ

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This is interesting even without the novelty element - I remember somewhere an article by William McVicar about the scales of pipework at his instrument in Dulwich (Tickell - 3m but with much input from McVicar on scaling etc.) being designed to exploit these sort of effects resulting from the harmonies in the music being performed. So LH and P quints etc. gave a fullness to the sound - absent 32s etc. In the same way some of the small 2m Willis 1s sound much larger than they actually are and I suppose also some of the C-C choir organs. The article could have been in 'The Organbuilder' - this relationship between acoustics, scale of pipework and the actual music itself was fascinating.

Nothing to do with electronics where this line of discussion should be - sorry!

 

AJJ

 

Of course the great Mr Compton achieved much with this sort of device also. We would be denigrated and cast down for bolting on an extension rank capable of providing true "pedal harmonics" - that would naturally be "vandalism" - but apparently not so much for fitting loudspeakers?

 

There was an instrument near me where the late organist had chosen in the 1970's to add a 10 or so stop pedal organ made of electronics (to a fairly modest 2 manual Hele). Behind the music desk was a mass of valves & several of the Open Wood pipes had to be discarded (dreadful old fashioned things, organ pipes) to make room for the speakers. When you tried to use any of it, there was a mass of crackles and the console lights dimmed. At the time, it was probably at the very cutting edge of technology.

 

I wonder how shocking and dated some of our current activites will seem 40 years from now? I think we should stop; as several have said, there's nobody needs a 32' reed so badly that they can't raise the money for a real one, so it only ever really comes down to having new toys.

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Absolutely - quite the best 32' Contra Violone I have ever heard, and it was on a 15 stop Gray & Davison with a lone Bourdon on the pedal.  Player was Geoffrey Morgan who demonstrated numerous other "tricks".  Try Gt fonds possibly to 4' and Pedal bourdon coupled, play chord of G major with right hand & pedal, then on Sw 8' flute go for bottom D, B, tenor F, A if you can manage it.  Might need to close the box a little.  Shuffling into different keys gives you some better notes than others.  I know it sounds naff but it really was incredibly effective when the balance was right.  We all howled with laughter when we heard these sounds coming out of these little instruments.

 

Cornet trick on a really tiny instrument was 4' flute alone, tenor G mid G then DGB, 8' Principal alone coupled to pedal in two parts.  If you can shuffle your hands around accurately enough and keep the right foot doing something interesting you can make a very passable sound.  Whatever happened to ingenuity!  Any other tricks like these people know?

 

I have also heard him demonstrate similar tricks on certain instruments - including a small but effective two-clavier H&H in a Comper church.

 

On my own instrument, I have often used the idea of a tonic ninth chord (Geoffrey insists on calling it a dominant ninth) played on a Gedeckt with a fairly loud chord on GO to mixture with 16p flue, full swell coupled (minus the mixture) and all the pedal 16p and 8p fonds, with both 16p reeds. The Swell sub octave can also help to fill-out the chord.

 

However, the true full-length 32p Contra Violone at Exeter Cathedral is naturally better than any subterfuge - however cleverly-contrived. It is, in my opinion, the best 32p flue I have ever heard - one or two notes at the bottom are slightly-less distinct. Other than this, it is a beautiful, regular soft purr, ideal for use with the strings but also adding majesty to much louder combinations - which are then underpinned by the superb new H&H 32p reed. This Contra Violone speaks on something like 1 1/2" w.g., I believe. However, I think that it is greatly superior to the 32p open wood rank at Truro. Low A, for example, booms horribly - as do some of the other notes in the 32p octave; whilst some lower notes are well-nigh inaudible.

 

On my own instrument, a variety of soft 32p effects are available, often by playing the most unlikely notes together.

 

On another instrument (Kilkhampton Church, North Cornwall) is the most successful stopped/quinted rank I have ever heard. To GGGG it is a downwards extension of the Subbass, composed of fairly wide-scaled pipes. Below this it is quinted on itself - but in fourths below the fundamental. Contrary to a colleague's assertion that this will result in a clearly-audible second-inversion effect, the result is excellent. (I was unable to ascertain that he had physically heard the instrument in the building - only there is it possible accurately to judge the sound.)

 

I had a similar situation when entertaining an organists' association at my own church and had a gentle disagreement with one of their number - himself an excellent player. He, too, was sceptical of using unconventional intervals to form 32p effects, until I suggested that he tried an A major chord (for example) on swell strings with sub and octave couplers and the pedal Bourdon played with low A and the C# below. The result was, and was acknowleged to be, a very effective 32p.

 

I would be interested to hear of other tricks known to users of this board.

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A couple of things I would add:

 

Using the 8' gedact trick I was shown the other day, I, too have discovered that adding the 9th above the 3th and 7b can also re-inforce the 32 resultant - especially in the bottom notes. It works something like this:

 

Gt & Pd: full

Pd - bottom d

sw - 8' flute: bottom f#, c, e

 

creates a very successful 32 effect.

 

Also try (same registration):

 

Ped - A

Sw: from the bottom: e, c#, g(natural)

 

Sub-quinting - in the 21 1/3 region. Does work. I think it's a 64' resultant. Alkmaar's 22 praestant in the pedal adds a wonderful gravitas to the pedal line, making the 16 sound like a rock and it just hints at a sound so huge and cavernous, it is beyond our comprehension. It has to be heard in the flesh. Simply a totally wonderful instrument - and on another subject - it has a mechanical action to the oberwerk 40 above the player which really works beautifully.

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Sounds fun!

 

I also discovered a rather good Céleste effect on the organ of Romsey Abbey - Swell Open Diapason and Tremulant (quite the best I have heard) coupled to Choir Gamba, swell-box open about one quarter. GO Double Open Diapason coupled to Pedals, played in fifths (above the fundamental); playing in C, D, E-flat, E (etc.) is extremely effective and results in a quite beautiful sound in the sensitive acoustics of the Abbey.

 

Mind you, this organ is so good, almost any combination sounds wonderful.

 

God, I wish we had a freaking echo....

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Guest Barry Williams
I'm sorry, but I find your view of music groups downright insulting.  What right have you got to say that your Latin music is any more sacred than anything else - or the BCP or anything else come to that!  It's your sort of intolerance that has upset many contemporary Christian musicians. 

 

Tony

 

 

Spring Harvest and other music of that type is often regarded as 'contemporary'. It may or may not be valuable in worship, but it is certainly neither modern nor contemporary in style, being largely Spinners and Seekers in ecclesiatical garb. This is similar to the attempt by the Twentieth Century Light Music Group to use the Salad Days style in the late 1950s and 1960s. It was old hat then and remains so now.

 

There IS genuine contemporary church music and much of it is very good, often involving guitars and similar instruments. Regrettably, it is rarely heard, probably because it requires the players to have reasonably well-developed technique on their instruments.

 

It is unfortunate that in the last fifty or so years so-called 'modern' church music has been at least thirty years behind real contemporary music.

 

Whilst all efforts in music are always acceptable as the worship of Almighty God, we need not make the less skilled performances public. Private performances are still worship.

 

Barry Williams

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While I've never played it, I gather that there is a dial on the console to make fine adjustments to the pitch of the digital section in order to ensure that it's in tune with the pipes, and not causing a giant celeste effect. Perhaps such a facility is needed more for upperwork than for 32' pedal stops.

The organ at Tavistock Parish Church has just been renovated and amongst one or two additions is a digital 32' Sub Bourdon on the Pedal. However no provision was made, either by way of software or a dial, to adjust the pitch. Apparently the thing is now perpetually out of tune!

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Guest Barry Williams
The organ at Tavistock Parish Church has just been renovated and amongst one or two additions is a digital 32' Sub Bourdon on the Pedal. However no provision was made, either by way of software or a dial, to adjust the pitch. Apparently the thing is now perpetually out of tune!

 

 

The failings of synthetic organs are mainly attributable to the shortcomings of those who install them. Pipe organ voicers spend many years learning their skills. Electronic instrument suppliers entrust this delicate work to untrained salesmen. The results are unsurprisingly bad.

 

Barry Williams

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The failings of synthetic organs are mainly attributable to the shortcomings of those who install them.  Pipe organ voicers spend many years learning their skills.  Electronic instrument suppliers entrust this delicate work to untrained salesmen.  The results are unsurprisingly bad.

 

Barry Williams

I'm not sure that the 32' was added by a toaster salesman. Certainly the new pipework wasn't. B)

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I'm not sure that the 32' was added by a toaster salesman. Certainly the new pipework wasn't.  B)

 

Having added a couple of electronic pedal stops on instruments in my time it is simply up to the organ builder to stipulate (hopefully if he knows his job) a pitch and a volume control, but keep the volume control out of the way of the organist!

 

FF

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The organ at Tavistock Parish Church has just been renovated and amongst one or two additions is a digital 32' Sub Bourdon on the Pedal. However no provision was made, either by way of software or a dial, to adjust the pitch. Apparently the thing is now perpetually out of tune!

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



Interesting - could you please inform me who carried-out this work, Vox?

I would be interested to know of any other additions or alterations - particularly if they relate to pipes rather that electronic gadgets.

Do you happen to know if the console electrics were also upgraded? This organ seemed to go through phases (years ago) of having Ray Greaves turn up one day to drill a couple of extra holes in the GO key-slip for extra pistons. Then there was a new reversible added for the Pedal Trombone. Then, a few years later, I believe that Lance Foy added some more pistons and possibly a new capture system. It would be interesting to learn if this facet of the instrument has been further improved.

Incidentally, has the Pedal Organ still got its Octave Coupler, with the extra octave of pipes at the treble end of each stop (or was it just each 16ft. stop)?

Thank you in advance, Vox.

B)

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The failings of synthetic organs are mainly attributable to the shortcomings of those who install them.  Pipe organ voicers spend many years learning their skills.  Electronic instrument suppliers entrust this delicate work to untrained salesmen.  The results are unsurprisingly bad.

 

Barry Williams

Goodness me what a sweeping, and in my experience, unjust remark. Copeman-Hart, Wyvern and even Makin put tremendous effort and skill into voicing their instruments. Its just not fair to group and compare the viscounts and eminents ("cathedral organs") in the same breath.

 

On the original subject, regular readers will know that, whilst I accept the supremacy of a good pipe organ, I believe a top class digital instrument is preferable to a poor pipe instrument. However, I struggle to see the merits of the hybrid. I could imagine it would be possible to add a sympathetic double open wood, but the temptation in the sticks is to add upper work and reeds. My experience of a very nice 2-manual pipe organ locally, in Bredon parish church, digitally "enhanced" by a leading UK practictioner, would suggest that this is not a positive way forward.

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Interesting - could you please inform me who carried-out this work, Vox?

Lance Foy.

 

In addition to the digital 32' he added some stops to the Choir: an Open Diap (duplexed from the Gt OD II), a Chimney Flute 4', a Gambette 4' (replacing the Prestant) and a Tierce. The Ch. Clarinet was also moved further back into the case as it was a bit too assertive at the front.

 

I didn't notice a Pedal Octave coupler when I had a brief go the other day and it's not on the revised spec I was given, so I guess it's gone. I don't remember ever having seen one, so maybe it disappeared some time ago. It did used to have a Great to Choir coupler, but that also seems to have disappeared (unless I wasn't looking hard enough, which is quite possible).

 

Yes, the pistons have been upgraded. There are now 7 thumb pistons to each division, 8 generals and a 30-channel capture system.

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However, I struggle to see the merits of the hybrid.

When I was in the states last year I played this organ. It's roughly half digital, half pipes - and supremely effective it is too (in a revealingly dry acoustic). If I hadn't been told I would never have guessed. Once I knew, I could just about tell that the reeds were digital. Among the flues I think the flutes were digital and the rest pipes, but I'm not entirely sure. DHM could no doubt clarify. The builder, Bob Faucher, specialises in these hybrid instruments, I believe.

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There's an account here of the use of Hauptwerk to extend an existing pipe organ. It's written by the man that did the work, and is agent for some of the equipment used. But it looks interesting; I like the simple idea of putting the swell speakers inside the existing swell box.

 

Paul

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I’d forgotten that the organ at Hampton court (when last rebuilt) had some electronic stops added to it. I’ve only heard it live the once and wasn’t overly impressed with what I heard, but then was that due to the addition of the electronic stops?

 

There's an account here of the use of Hauptwerk to extend an existing pipe organ. It's written by the man that did the work, and is agent for some of the equipment used. But it looks interesting; I like the simple idea of putting the swell speakers inside the existing swell box.

 

Paul

 

Interesting article, thanks Paul. I was glad that the chap who did it was sympathetic to the original instrument, adding his own work but not destroying what went before.

 

:blink:

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Guest Paul Isom

In my days in the toaster trade, we did a few digital additions for various organs. One that sticks in the mind was a job at Paignton Parish Church where we added:

 

PEDAL

Sub Bourdon 32

Open Wood 16

Dulciana 16

Contra Bombarde 32

 

SWELL

Lieblich Bourdon 16 (bottom 12 notes)

 

In a somewhat drastic revision, the organ had the Open Wood 16 removed some years ago and the interior re-planned. The Swell Lieblich graft is really quite good, with the speakers in the box. It was a difficult job, as the acoustics are pretty dry, and everything goes like the clappers in order to make itself heard and felt in the church. As you can imagine the situation at the console is interesting! I think that this is as far as I would want to go with additions. Let's face it, if I can' be accommodated in the building, it really shouldn't be there in the first place. John Mander wrote a superb article highlighting the problems of trying to mix digital pedal additions on a job he did in the states, and every word is true. Th electronics need a collosal number of speakers in order for them to really move air - as opposed to create noise (although there are other problems of a more technical amd mathematical nature as well).

 

To my eternal shame, we also added stops to a really quite unusual instrument in a private chapel in the grounds of Windlesham Arboretum. The case was part of the fantastic case at the Brunswick Chapel in Leeds - in fact the Chair case. The organ was a single manual mechanical job - not bad, but the owner and organist wanted a little more variety. We added:

 

MANUAL

Dulciana 8

Flute 4

Mixture IV

Trumpet 8

 

PEDAL

Flute 8

Bassoon 16

 

Needless to say the problems in getting the mechanics working at the same speed as the electronics was interesting. Tuning problems were collossal as the chapel was damp, and the temperature was also up and down. We put on a tuning knob which worked reasonably well.

 

For each of the above instruments it could be argued that the people and the instruments have benefitted by the inclusion of the additional stops. Paignton was improved and regained it Open Wood (plus the obligatory 32' reed) - and Windlesham got a little more variety with the soft Dulciana etc. BUT - each of the installations still ended up with an oil and water situation, where it was very difficult to match the electronics to the pipes, and to get the same effect of a rank of 30 pipes of an Open Wood.

 

I think self-control (or a complete lack of it) is often a driving factor. From a personal view, and from experience in such installations, I would never want to try this again, even with technological advances. Why can't organists be happy with what they have got?

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To my eternal shame, we also added stops to a really quite unusual instrument in a private chapel in the grounds of Windlesham Arboretum. The case was part of the fantastic case at the Brunswick Chapel in Leeds - in fact the Chair case. The organ was a single manual mechanical job - not bad, but the owner and organist wanted a little more variety. We added:

 

MANUAL

Dulciana 8

Flute 4

Mixture IV

Trumpet 8

 

PEDAL

Flute 8

Bassoon 16

 

Needless to say the problems in getting the mechanics working at the same speed as the electronics was interesting. Tuning problems were collossal as the chapel was damp, and the temperature was also up and down. We put on a tuning knob which worked reasonably well.

 

Hi

 

The Windlsham organ has had even more extensions - real pipes this time, see http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=E01090

 

A very strange beast indeed (and I gather a somewhat eccentric owner - to say the least).

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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Hi

 

The Windlsham organ has had even more extensions - real pipes this time, see http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=E01090

 

A very strange beast indeed (and I gather a somewhat eccentric owner - to say the least).

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

 

Oh, brother... I don't know about anyone else but personally I am far more offended by the pipe additions than by the electronics. Are we still in the 1970's?

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Oh, brother... I don't know about anyone else but personally I am far more offended by the pipe additions than by the electronics. Are we still in the 1970's?

 

 

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

 

Laregly irrelevant to actual examples of combination organs, but I was amazed to discover that the earliest ones now date back about 70 years, and Compton were right up there leading the way.

 

Revsiting the part about the digital additions at Blackburn, and the comments made by John Mander, I can't help but think that the Compton Polyphone was as "electronic" as it possible for a real organ-pipe to get....almost pure fundamental.

 

I always think that the best use of electronic registers would be those restricted to String, Flute or Reed tones, and in certain cases, where space/funds limit the number of pipes, a lot could be achieved with such registers. However, there is no substitute for good basic pipe-choruses....not yet anyway.

 

Oddly enough, the best registers even in the old analogue days, were often strings and reeds especially, and on my now decrepit electronic, the 16ft Salicional is rather lovely and the 8ft Trumpet quite imposing.

 

The choruses are absolute rubbish!

 

MM

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Guest Paul Isom
Hi

 

The Windlsham organ has had even more extensions - real pipes this time, see http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=E01090

 

A very strange beast indeed (and I gather a somewhat eccentric owner - to say the least).

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

 

I seem to remember that the owner wanted the electronic additions made to drown out the noise of the females when they sang!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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I seem to remember that the owner wanted the electronic additions made to drown out the noise of the females when they sang!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Hi

 

That sounds about right in the light of various comments made to me whilst I was finding information for the NPOR update!

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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I accompanied choral evensong in Brecon Cathedral on Saturday. Since my previous visit several new, digital stops have been added by Phoenix Organs. I believe the only addition to the manual divisions is a 4' flute on the Positive. Several new pedal voices have been provided, I think including Violone 16', Open Wood 16', Double Open Wood 32' and a 32' reed.

 

The 4' flute is stunningly good. I don't think anyone would realise this was a digital voice. The Violone is also quite wonderful - and very useful. The other pedal stops are a bit heavy and bring with them a lot of rattle. This may be partly due to vibrations from the furniture around them. They may also not be in correct balance at the moment because the speakers for the pedal stops are behind the high altar (as there was no room for them in the case) and the rest of the organ is currently wrapped up in thick plastic sheeting.

 

All in all, despite my previous doubts about the values of hybrids, this has been very well done.

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