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John Compton

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Thank you for those details about the elctricity supply, much of which I knew, but by no means all. I would hasten to add that some organ-builders used gas engines and low voltage dynamos to secure a steady (presumably) DC supply.

I've mentioned this previously, many moons ago, but an horrific memory was entering the blower plant.....yes plant is the right word.....at a Methodist church in Rochdale. This consisted of a huge crank mechanism and feeders; all of which needed to be lubricated periodically. Driving all this was a large DC motor, and in the corner of the room was a mercury arc rectifier, which flashed and spat as the needle bounced over the surface of the conductive mercury bath enclosed in a flask. It was like something out of the movie Frakenstein, and to a 15 year old, quite intimidating.

I'm not sure when this contraption was installed, because the organ was a 19th century Binns, but it was proof enough that the lecky supply had changed after the installation of the blower mecahnism; possibly converted from a previous water-engine or something.

Now if you want to know something rather amusing and, at the same time, definitive, you need to know something about Compton's right hand man, Jimmy Taylor (the inventor of the electric combination capture system). "Jimmy" Taylor enjoyed a very close working relationship with A H Midgley of C A Vanderwell; presumably after he had resigned his directorship with CAV when it became CAV-Lucas.

In a recorded interview, ex-Compton employee, Roy Skinner, mentioned that "they got on very well together" and refers to "a meeting of minds".

Well, if you pour through all the patents relating to A H Midgley as inventor, you will discover an awful lot; most concerned with auto-electrical parts and control systems, quite a few to do with pipe organs, and some concerned with electronic instruments. He probably pre-dated Hammond in the quest for sine-wave synthesis, using tone-wheel generators inspired by Cahill in America. He even had the tone-generators spinning at different speeds through a similar gear-train to that formulated by Hammond. For whatever reason, Hammond managed to get his patent accepted first, but there may well have been some skulduggery involved, because Midgley was ahead of him.

However, he was clearly an auto-electrical man, and probably fascinated by automobiles. So too was Jimmy Taylor,(your local Nottinghamshire genius) judging by an interesting patent in his name, which reveals a design for an automatic gearbox. I just get the impression that the Compton people just delighted in ideas, inventions and whatever crazy thing they could dream up next.

It's amazing to think that one was the son of a draper (as was John Compton), and the other was the son of a humble church caretaker.

Whatever happened to PROPER education?

MM

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some organ-builders used gas engines and low voltage dynamos to secure a steady (presumably) DC supply.

 

Indeed, and Hope-Jones did in his first prototype instrument at St John's, Birkenhead. It's possible if not probable that the dynamo was made by Henry Royce. But town gas was little different to mains electricity in those days in the sense that both were seldom available outside large towns. It's still much the same today with gas.

 

 

Well, if you pour through all the patents relating to A H Midgley as inventor, you will discover an awful lot; most concerned with auto-electrical parts and control systems, quite a few to do with pipe organs, and some concerned with electronic instruments. He probably pre-dated Hammond in the quest for sine-wave synthesis, using tone-wheel generators inspired by Cahill in America.

 

Hope-Jones pre-dated the lot of them though, because he described the principle of additive synthesis in a lecture to the College of Organists in 1891 (they were not 'Royal' then). Unusually for him though, he never seemed to have patented it.

 

 

It's amazing to think that one was the son of a draper (as was John Compton), and the other was the son of a humble church caretaker.

 

 

I don't know about church caretakers necessarily being humble - I've come across some pretty aggressive ones in my time who almost frog-marched me out of the building having previously switched off the organ blower. Mind you, the way I play sometimes could have given them the excuse ...

 

CEP

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I hope he will not mind me saying so, but forum member Lucien Nunes is the world's greatest living expert on this aspect, having recently restored the 80 year old systems at Southampton Guildhall on both the classical and theatre consoles. And when I say 'restored' I actually mean restored in the sense of getting it all to work again at the level of individual magnets and contacts - not just by chucking it all out and fitting a solid state capture system.

CEP

 

Actually, you may find that there are one or two 'others' who know at least as much and that this statement may be just a little sweeping!

 

I am not aware of how old Mr. Nunes might be but I am fairly confident that he is considerably younger than I and while he has an impressive interest in all things electrical (and indeed organ-wise) I and another employee of Moss Empires Ltd. in 1975 completely 'restored' the Compton relay and capture system in the Strand Light Console at The Palace Theatre in Manchester. This system - which I know that Lucien Nunes is also well aware of - was installed there in 1949 and had not had any major work carried out up to 1975 so, during the summer when the theatre was 'dark' we set to the task. I had worked at The Palace Theatre first during school and college holidays but then decided that it would be fun to do it for a while on a more professional basis - that experience was invaluable in all sorts of ways.

 

Instead of controlling the mechanism of an organ, the Light Console, through a huge Compton Relay controlled several banks of dimmers (at The Palace, 108 in 3 banks of 36) operated by electromagnetic 'Moss Mansell' clutches and several sets of rather heavy-duty, mains contactors - all of this equipment was also thoroughly overhauled at the time. I left The Palace in 1978 or 79 and I believe that the Light console continued in regular use for a while after - though I was also informed that after I left they were unable to find anyone else who could actually operate the system - being an Organist it all seemed quite logical to me.

 

A fascinating insight for those who were otherwise unaware of this strand of organ-related technology put to other uses can be seen at http://www.magmouse.co.uk/research/light-console/palace-theatre-manchester/

 

So Colin, perhaps not the only (or even World's Greatest) living authority - I do so dislike the term 'expert'.

 

By the way, Fred Royce didn't make magnets and other items only for Hope-Jones!

 

David Wyld

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"Properly understood" - So you say.

 

Experts 'soi-disant' abound in the organ world - in fact careers have been founded on "experts" declaring themselves to be so.

 

For what it's worth I do like the decryption of the word given me by a (much respected) colleague: "'X' is an unknown quantity and a Spurt is a drip under pressure" - it has fitted the case in so many instances!

 

Those of us with any experience at all and who know what we don't know, prefer to be thought of as being knowledgeable. I've only ever met one expert, in the person of Professor Peter Plesch, now gone, unfortunately.

 

DW

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I should perhaps also have mentioned - sticking to the Compton thread here - that we have the machines that are seen in the Compton Works film which many will no doubt have seen. These machines had passed to Rushworth & Dreaper when they took over the remains of Compton in (I think) 1963 and were included in the contents of the sale when we (Henry Willis & Sons) acquired the buildings and contents here in Liverpool some years ago.

 

There is nothing particularly clever or innovative about any of the items but they do allow the rewinding of coils etc. and the jigs for the setting up of some of the rather fiddly components make it all incredibly easy.

 

DW

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I'm still digging at the coal face ie: the John Compton story. I thought I'd just let people know.

A few interesting facts and thoughts; some of which have emerged very recently.

The first new fact concerns fires. Lawrence Elvin wrote about the Selby Abbey fire which destroyed the newly re-built and enlarged Binns organ, which Compton completed.
He also mentioned the stray rocket which set fire to the woodyard and organ works in 1907; resulting in the move the work premises of Harry Smith Mills at Measham.

What no-one seems to know, is that there was yet another fire, after Compton had set up on his own, in a converted "tin tabernacle", on the Castle Boulevard at Lenton, Nottingham. This was around 1919; after which he packed his bags and set off to London.

For years (quite literally) I've had on file the Grace's Guide reference to John Compton, and it states that there was a partnership between Midgley, Compton and the Walker family, with a view to building his (Midgley's) design of organ.

I've always dismissed this as being the time when Compton refused to pursue Midgley's electronic organ design, which resulted in a bit of a spat, and Midgley walking away from the Compton company.

Not so, it would seem!

I was reading a resume of Midgley's life and work, which is lodged with the Institute of Electrical Engineers (Midgley had the MIEE qualification) and was archived there by his great grandson, a barrister in Bristol.

Here is the relevant extract:-

Midgley had installed in his home an organ, which he designed and had built by the firm of John Compton Ltd. Now he turned his attention to designing an organ for the firm suitable for use in cinemas and theatres, establishing a new company called John Compton Organ Company in partnership with John Compton and Reginald and Pickering Walker, directors of J W Walker and Sons Ltd another organ building firm. Sales of the new organ boomed and the company prospered. Midgley was associated with this company as technical director until 1937. He also developed an electric organ which was patented in June 1931, and manufactured by Midgley Leighton Ltd until taken over by a new company formed by the Walker brothers and Albert called the Electrophonic Organ Company Ltd. This in turn was taken over by Midgley Electrical Instruments in 1939 when the Walker brothers pulled out of the company. However, the company closed at the onset of the Second World War.

My obvious mistake was to assume anything!

From what I've read over the years, Midgley was the dominant partner; not surprising, since he would be, in this day and age, a multi-millionaire, having been a founding partner in CAV, which became CAV-Lucas. His list of invetions and achievements is absolutely staggering, and not just in organ-building.

My considered view is, that with Compton tonal genius and voicing skills, "Jimmy" Taylor's electrical and mechanical genius (as well as musical ability) and Midgley's record as a manufacturing industrialist and designer, it was the "dream team" in organ-building at the time....well funded, innovative and commerically very savvy.

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The following might be a complete red herring, and it relies on the current contents of my memory which might not be entirely correct, but I'm fairly certain there was a post-WW2 electronic organ firm with 'Electrophonic' in its title and located somewhere in or around Southampton.  So maybe it was resurrected after hostilities ceased and could therefore have been the same firm as you mentioned.  Either then or shortly afterwards I seem to recall someone called Colin Washtell got involved with it - he was a senior BBC audio engineer at the time and had designed a fully electronic (not electromechanical) system which he called the 'Electrophonic Organ'.  Somewhere I have an article about it, written by him and published by the IEE (as they were then called) IIRC.  Not many instruments were made and I think the firm faded away many years ago.

On a different tack I am sure you will know about the connection between JC and Lloyd's of Nottingham.  I think JC did an apprenticeship with them.  A minor point of passing interest is that Ernest Wragg, the founder of the once very prolific organ builders E Wragg & Son in and around Nottingham, also did his apprenticeship with Lloyd.  His firm passed to his son, Fenton Wragg, and when he died in the late 1960s the firm's interests were acquired by Henry Groves.

I should be interested to learn more about the connection, if there actually was one, between Compton and Hope-Jones in those early days.  I have come across anecdotal information several (if not many) times over the years suggesting that they met and discussed electric actions, with JC taking a decision quite early on that direct electric rather than electropneumatic (H-J's preferred option) was a better way to go, at least for parts of the action such as coupler relays if not for doing the heavier job of opening the pipe valves.  However the time window during which any interaction could have occurred seems to be quite narrow, with Compton not really getting going on his own until c.1898 and H-J emigrating to the USA in 1903.  However perhaps JC's ideas started to crystallise while he was still tied to Lloyd?  This would widen the window somewhat.  I doubt Lloyd himself would have had much interest in such new-fangled ideas as electrical control, as the organs of his I met as a youngster were on the whole singularly unenterprising in almost every respect.  However there might be others who will disagree about that.

CEP

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Colin Washtell built an organ which used to stand in Reach Church, Cambridgeshire, where he was churchwarden.  It was an extension job with three ranks (http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=D00202) and was replaced by another instrument installed by Peter Collins a little over twenty years ago. He also rebuilt the organ at Burwell and may have worked on other instruments in the area.  At Swaffham Prior, next to Reach , there are two churches next to each other in the same churchyard.  St. Mary's has a one-manual by Miller of Cambridge, but for some years an electronic organ designed and built by Colin Washtell was also in the church.  I played it once and it was pretty good for its time - about the same sort of tone quality as a Compton Electrone. It may still be there.  The Reach organ was interesting, with a somewhat neo-classical stop-list and an unusual console in which the stops were push-buttons which lit up.

There was indeed a firm called Electrophonic Organs.  They advertised in "The Organ".

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Hi

As David said, Electrophonic Organs (the post-war firm) did advertise in "The Organ" for a short while.  As Colin said, they didn't seem to last very long.  I came across a 2m example of their work in Shipley Baptist Church.  It was non-working, not least because the rather large speaker array had been disconnected!  It went to Canon Quentintin Bellamy, but I don;t think he was able to keep it for long, and where it went after that I don't know.  I've heard of another example in a house in Worthing, but aside from a mention on a web site that is no longer available, I don't know any more and never got to see it.  A short-lived episode in the world of electronic organs.  Shipley Baptist, like many Baptist & other free churches in the Bradford area, had demolished their large church building, which had contained a 4m pipe organ no less - it went to form the basis of the organ in Guildford Cathedral - a better fate than a Harrison, a Conacher & a Laycock & Bannister from other churches that I know about which, as far as I know, were all scrapped.

Every Blessing

Tony

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I hope I'm not wasting MM's time by continuing to harp on about the Electrophonic organ firm and its products, nor that our hosts will mind me talking briefly about a pipeless organ.   The possible excuse in both cases is that it might just turn out to have some connection with the Compton story, however tenuous.  So to expand Tony's list of Electrophonic installations, I think there might have been one in the delightful church (St Mary's) in the grounds of Portchester Castle situated on the waterside at Portsmouth Harbour.  Like the one mentioned by Tony, it too had enormous speaker cabinets, sitting either side of the west balcony.  It was still there until a few years ago, but when I was last in the church it seemed to have been replaced by another electronic.

CEP

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On 2/15/2018 at 14:44, Colin Pykett said:

The following might be a complete red herring, and it relies on the current contents of my memory which might not be entirely correct, but I'm fairly certain there was a post-WW2 electronic organ firm with 'Electrophonic' in its title and located somewhere in or around Southampton.  So maybe it was resurrected after hostilities ceased and could therefore have been the same firm as you mentioned.  Either then or shortly afterwards I seem to recall someone called Colin Washtell got involved with it - he was a senior BBC audio engineer at the time and had designed a fully electronic (not electromechanical) system which he called the 'Electrophonic Organ'.  Somewhere I have an article about it, written by him and published by the IEE (as they were then called) IIRC.  Not many instruments were made and I think the firm faded away many years ago.

On a different tack I am sure you will know about the connection between JC and C S Lloyd of Nottingham.  I think JC did an apprenticeship with them.  A minor point of passing interest is that Ernest Wragg, the founder of the once very prolific organ builders E Wragg & Son in and around Nottingham, also did his apprenticeship with Lloyd's.  His firm passed to his son, Fenton Wragg, and when he died in the late 1960s the firm's interests were acquired by Henry Groves.

I should be interested to learn more about the connection, if there actually was one, between Compton and Hope-Jones in those early days.  I have come across anecdotal information several (if not many) times over the years suggesting that they met and discussed electric actions, with JC taking a decision quite early on that direct electric rather than electropneumatic (H-J's preferred option) was a better way to go, at least for parts of the action such as coupler relays if not for doing the heavier job of opening the pipe valves.  However the time window during which any interaction could have occurred seems to be quite narrow, with Compton not really getting going on his own until c.1898 and H-J emigrating to the USA in 1903.  However perhaps JC's ideas started to crystallise while he was still tied to Lloyd?  This would widen the window somewhat.  I doubt Lloyd himself would have had much interest in such new-fangled ideas as electrical control, as the organs of his I met as a youngster were on the whole singularly unenterprising in almost every respect.  However there might be others who will disagree about that.

CEP

One of the great problems about piecing together all things Compton, is that (a) all the records went up in flames (b) no-one thought it very interesting except Lawrence Elvin and (c) there was quite a lot of misinformation floating around.

To give you an example, the time that Compton spent at Lloyds was quite brief, yet one "historian" claims that he completed his apprenticeship there AFTER working at Brindley's, which would have meant a 9 year apprenticeship!   Elvin doesn't actually give dates, but at least he got the batting order right.....Halmshaw's, Lloyd's and THEN Brindley's (at a quite critical time it would seem). He certainly completed his apprenticeship at Lloyd's, and quickly moved on.

Then comes the problem of when he entered into partnership with Musson, because the official date comes out as 1902, but they had already contracted to build a new organ in 1901, the year before. (This is given as the reason why Compton didn't work for Hope-Jones). Elvin suggests that Hope-Jones "went to see" Compton, and that is perfectly possible, because the rail network made that quite easy. (He worked out of Harry Mills' workshop after the fire of 1907, which was situated in the station yard at Measham).

Interestingly, I've been researching what happened after that, and it seems that prior to his move to London, there was yet another fire at the Compton premises, situated in an old "tin tabernacle" on Castle Boulevard, Lenton. By this time, he not only had Mr J Martin White (major industrialist and Liberal politician) on board, but had also befriended A H Midgley from 1914 onwards. 

I'm no expert in electronic things, but I have a very forensic mind, and if I were wanting to know anything about a company, I would go right back to any patents filed. In the case of the Midgley-Walker organ, which became The Electrophonic Organ Co., and/or Midgley-Leighton (etc), I think you will find that many of the relevant patents also include the name of A H Midgley's son, Albert Morrel Midgley. That's therefore another possible line of pursuit for anyone interested in the history of electronic organs. There was also the Compton/Arthur Lord/Walter Burge connection, not to mention the Compton electrostatic system used by Makin in the early days.

Anyway, here is a rather poor quality picture of the organ-works on Castle Boulevard, Lenton, Nottingham, which after being roasted, was taken over by a piano manufacturer.

image.png.6c7ffe612b709586c6855a56efaea8c7.png
 

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Continuing on the Compton research theme, and aimed at Colin Pykett especially, I wonder if a recent experiment I performed has any relevance to Compton's use of derived mutations?

When Compton was starting to use nothing but extension, there was quite a lively discourse in the musical press about Quint mutations derived from tempered scale ranks. As we know, when it comes to tuning, they will always sound out of tune compared with dedicated Quint ranks....or do they?

In a complicated and convulated path, involving a discussion about radio telescopes, the organist/physicist Sir Bernard Lovell and interferometry, (which Lovell introduced me to personally during a school visit to Jodrell Bank when I was all of 14) I demonstrated how out of tune beats, suitablly triangulated at ground level, can be used as a means of positioning things in space.

Now this experiment had all the sophistication of medieval plumbing, but it resulted in something quite unexpected.

The technique:  Take two different sine-wave generators, switch them on (in this case two computers) and wind up the volume a bit. Then slowly adjust the pitch so that you get a strong out of tune beat....let's call this Le Grande Celeste effect.

Quite by accident, while turning down the volume of one source, the beat disappeared completely, yet when I switched off the other sound source, the other, out of tune one, was still quite audible, and certainly not as quiet as, say, a Vox Angelica.

Could it be, I wonder, that this is how Compton was able to use derived Quint mutations successfully, using "hearing thresholds" to mask the out of tune pitch? 

Perhaps it is no co-incidence that many of his derived Mixtures and mutations came from Salicionals, Dulciana ranks and even flute ranks. Even the chorus quints were almost always drawn from third Diapasons or Geigen ranks.

                                                                            
 

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Charlie Smethurst, the Manchester organ-builder, used to tune his mixtures and mutations to the tempered scale on the grounds that they would then not fight with the other stops (he also stopped off some upper notes of the mixtures at Belfast Cathedral to save having to tune them).  Smethurst did a lot of work in Northern Ireland, especially during the Troubles when a lot of firms were chary of going there. He liked the place and, in fact, retired to Dunmurry (a suburb of Belfast), where the parish church not only has one of his organs but a stained glass window in memoriam.

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Thank you MM for the info concerning H-J and Compton.  It does suggest that at least some others thought that they must have interacted in some way even if the evidence is, as you implied, slender.

As to your 'beats' experiment, I'm not sure I fully understand exactly what you did from your brief description, but three thoughts spring to mind: (a) the brain can in some circumstances continue to 'hear' sounds for a short time even if they have been completely switched off.  The classic example quoted in what are now old fashioned textbooks or papers is the mechanical clock which suddenly ceases to tick because it has run down - it's old fashioned of course because such clocks are now rare.  While the clock ticks you aren't usually aware of it, but if it stops you metaphorically  jump to attention and can sometimes continue to 'hear' it for a short time when in fact it is silent.  I recall experiencing this as a child when my bedside alarm clock, which ticked quite loudly, did once stop while I was reading.  Quite eerie.  And (b) objective frequency is not exactly the same as subjective pitch, which is measured in mels for the very purpose of distinguishing it from frequency in Hz.  Finally (c): subjective pitch depends to some extent on volume level.  I have a recording of the Saint-Saens organ symphony in which the final chord seems to go flat as the volume level dies away relatively slowly owing to the prolonged reverberation of the auditorium (the instrumentalists have already just ceased making sound during this period of course).   I once used it to demonstrate the effect to a professor of audiology who was dismissive of me maintaining that the effect was real (at least to my ears).  When I played it to him his face showed he was astonished and it was clear he had not come across the phenomenon before, despite his specialisation.

But for quint pitches picked off a la Compton from an equally-tempered rank, I think the reason it works reasonably well (at least in terms of tuning - there are other issues such as regulation and scaling difficulties which I won't enter into here) is quite simple and nothing to do with (a), (b) and (c) above.  It relies on the fact that the differences between pure tuning (i.e. tuning twelfths to exactly three times the fundamental frequency - the 3rd harmonic of the note played) and the tempered tuning is in fact pretty small.  Take middle C (261.63 Hz for an equally-tempered rank tuned to A440).  Its 3rd harmonic is three times this figure (784.89 Hz) and this is what you 'should' tune a twelfth to in an ideal world, either as a stand-alone mutation or as a rank in a mixture.  But the frequency of the tempered twelfth above middle C, treble G, is 783.99 Hz.  This is what you will get if you pick it off from an equally-tempered rank.  But the difference is only 0.9 Hz, less than one beat per second.  This is pretty slow, and the point is that beats of this order occur anyway all over an organ as the pipes drift around slightly in their tuning, regardless of how the quints are derived.  So it's at least arguable that you can get away with it quite easily.  It's not the same for tierces though, where the arithmetical differences are far greater and thus the beats are much faster.

CEP

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The cognitive thing is interesting, and I've long maintained that the human brain is particularly sensitive to frequencies in the mid frequencies: possibly something to do the wider animal kingdom as a hunter gatherer.

I don't think I described what I did very well, so I'll try and clarify.

I used two separate computers and went into two on-line sound generator sources, using sine waves; aware of various possible harmonic distortions etc.

I then fed one input to the left ear and the other to the right....in effect binaural, through headphones.

I then pitched one source at middle 4ft C, and the other I set at G as 2.2/3 pitch  and adjusted it until it was in perfect tune.

Then, adjusting just the pitch of the G, I brought it out of tune, until there was a distinct beat.

By adjusting the amplitude only of the G, I discovered that the out of tune beat began to fade and then disappear as the volume reduced, yet killing the unison note, the G was still clearly audible, though obviously much quieter than it had been set previously.

The thought occurred to me, that Compton (and others) often nicked quite heavily; reducing the upper partials, and I wonder whether that, and the difference in amplitude between a strong unison and a weaker quint, don't combine in such a way as to eliminate the out of tune beats.

After all, adding an Unda Maris to full swell would go unnoticed!
 

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I'm even more confused now!  The beat between a unison and a 12th arises between the 3rd harmonic of the unison and the 1st harmonic (the fundamental) of the 12th.  So if the waveforms are sine waves as they were in your experiment, there is no 3rd harmonic in the unison to generate a beat to start with.  And yet a further issue is that you were listening to binaural beats which are generated (if at all) in the brain, whereas the beats one actually hears in a real life situation from an organ are objective phase-interference phenomena which exist in the atmosphere before they reach the ears to start with.  However the ear/brain combination can generate weak beats if the sounds are loud enough, which complicates the matter somewhat.  Maybe you were hearing these, but if so they are quite a different animal to those a tuner hears and uses, for the reasons just outlined

But as you said, beats are affected by the strengths of the harmonics in the sounds (which is another way of saying what I just said about sine waves, in which all harmonics except the first are of zero amplitude).  This is relevant to temperament studies, where beat rates and their strengths are of prime importance.  If one uses stops with few harmonics such as flutes, the beats are less pronounced, and therefore less objectionable, than if using principal-type tones.  So the relative subjective attributes of temperaments depend on the registration used.  This makes the organ unique among all other keyboard instruments when it comes to pontificating on temperaments.  I have never seen this mentioned in the literature, thus the organ is often lumped in with other instruments such as the harpsichord and clavichord as though the choice of temperament affects all of them in the same way.  For the reasoning just given, this is quite wrong.

Going back to Hope-Jones and Compton and whether they met, you quoted Elvin who said that H-J 'went to see' Compton.  Well, of course, anything is possible, but would it not have been the other way round?  By c.1900 H-J was at the height of his fame in Britain and desperately busy trying to fulfil orders, keep his business(es) afloat and debug the increasingly complex mechanisms he was introducing into his instruments (such as 'suitable bass').  I wonder, therefore, why he would have taken time off to go and see a virtually unknown young organ builder with consequently zero reputation and not yet 25 years old?  On the other hand, H-J did have a reputation for hosting almost anyone who knocked on his door (much to the annoyance of Thomas Threlfall, the canny brewer-businessman who was the chairman of his first company and a major stockholder, and who was aware of the need to guard the intellectual property H-J was generating).  Just a thought ...

CEP

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As Colin points out, the pitch difference between an ET quint & one tuned true is very small, hance Quints, Twelfths etc. on extension organs work reasonably well.  Tierce ranks are a problem - some Theatre organs have a Tierce and it's really only usable as a solo stop IMHO.  One solution that I have come across - although I don't know if Compton did it this way - is to derive the Tierce from a beating rank that doubles as a Celeste.  Again, it needs a compromise, as the optimum tuning for a celeste isn't the same as a true Tierce, but again, it can work acceptably well.  The small Compton in South Harrow Baptist Church (NPOR E01335) dating from 1947 had, among other things, a Celeste/Tierce rank added by Keith Bance in 1997.

Every Blessing

Tony

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Roger Fisher's house organ (a remarkable iinstrument http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=D08060 )  has a derived tierce, partly in order to give students an idea of how tierce combinations should sound.  It works pretty well in solo combinations, particularly (as observed earlier) with the Tremulant.

As an example of a really vile extended tierce in a chorus mixture, this one takes some beating http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=D01379.

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The problems of deriving mixture and mutation ranks via extension are not limited to tuning issues.  In a rank which has to do duty for several stops It is difficult if not impossible to regulate the power of each pipe so that each stop sounds right within itself (e.g. doesn't scream in the treble, gets too thin in the bass, or sounds too fat in the middle so that aural transparency is degraded).  The same applies to scaling (choosing the length-to-diameter ratio) of each pipe in the extended rank, because non-optimum pipe scales bring their own set of problems.  These things are difficult enough to get right in a 'straight' organ which does not use extension.   The problems are not limited to derived mutation ranks of course - they affect derived stops at any pitch in a similar way.  I have found it difficult to find out enough detail of how Compton and the other better builders of extension organs addressed these issues in practice by doing R&D, though the larger firms did appear to at least have a go at it by experimenting with extended ranks having different scaling progressions across the compass, and applying different voicing and regulation treatments (no doubt largely funded by a succession of customers!).  How successful the outcomes were depends partly on personal preferences I think, so it's probably best viewed as a 'horses for courses' matter at the end of the day.

Nevertheless, for his larger extended instruments as opposed to the tiny ones such as the Miniatura, Compton certainly believed in providing enough basic material in terms of numbers of pipes so that there was a reasonably wide pool of differing tonalities and pitches to draw on when developing his derivation schemes.  I say "certainly" because he said so quite often, and he was also honest enough not to hide the problems outlined above.  A good example of his thinking is in Sumner's book 'The Organ' (p. 434, 3rd edition).  Here he (Compton himself, not Sumner) analyses one of his own 9-rank extension organs having 826 pipes.  This complement would only provide for a small straight instrument with roughly 13 stops, yet he manages to derive 42 speaking stops from them including three mixtures and various mutations (but, mercifully, no tierces!).  Unfortunately, yet further problems emerge when you study this scheme in detail, such as the impossibility (in the scheme as described) of providing an independent swell organ because so many of the ranks service the two manual divisions and the pedals.  Thus he had to label the divisions as 'Great' and 'Positif'.  This does not necessarily mean that no ranks at all could be enclosed, though if they were it could produce some rather strange effects.  Another issue is the lack of couplers, not mentioned and not included in his example stop list, because when there is so little actual material in terms of pipes and so many stops on all divisions drawing on it, the concept of coupling starts to lose meaning and just serves to muddy the waters further.

CEP

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The specification in Sumner is odd - I cannot recall a Compton organ actually being built to a scheme like that.

Ian Bell's fascinating Compton article a few years back in the BIOS Reporter diminishes, even perhaps demolishes the commonly-accepted idea that extended ranks need a lot of special treatment.  He maintained that, provided the voicer was careful about the upper and lower octaves, nothing particularly out-of-the-ordinary was required.  As he, and others point out, what lets down extension so often is the fact that it could be used by less-skilled practitioners to provide cheap, instruments using any old pipe-work that might be available and a standard of workmanship which might not stand the test of time.  Compton's organs were well-made and the voicing (particularly, I've always thought, of the reeds) of high quality regardless of the use or otherwise of extension.

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19 hours ago, David Drinkell said:

The specification in Sumner is odd - I cannot recall a Compton organ actually being built to a scheme like that.

Ian Bell's fascinating Compton article a few years back in the BIOS Reporter diminishes, even perhaps demolishes the commonly-accepted idea that extended ranks need a lot of special treatment.  He maintained that, provided the voicer was careful about the upper and lower octaves, nothing particularly out-of-the-ordinary was required.  As he, and others point out, what lets down extension so often is the fact that it could be used by less-skilled practitioners to provide cheap, instruments using any old pipe-work that might be available and a standard of workmanship which might not stand the test of time.  Compton's organs were well-made and the voicing (particularly, I've always thought, of the reeds) of high quality regardless of the use or otherwise of extension.

Indeed. Having had the pleasure of playing and maintaining a couple of Comptons over the years, they are very cleverly and solidly manufactured. We should remember that in some of Compton's advertising literature the firm were proud to announce that Comptons were not cheap organs. The skill of those men has I think been tarnished by poor practitioners using the same principle but without an ounce of the ability.

As a by the by, I recall reading that some of Compton's reeds were voiced by Billy Jones, and I agree that there are very fine. Having heard many of their instruments, I am yet to find a duff HP reed even if some of the Tubas are a bit close toned for my own liking.

Playing one introduced me to some of the most ravishing soft combinations I have ever used. One favourite was Dulciana 8 Std Flute 4 Nazard (ind) 2 2/3 and Tremulant.

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The Forster & Andrews/John Compton 1938-1939 rebuild and enlargement at Hull Minster is a wonderful example of Billy Jones voicing even though the organ is in desperate need of thorough restoration. C S Lang thought the Tubas magnificent when he visited during the 1950's and played his well-known composition.

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