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What's In A Name?


Malcolm Farr
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I was going through some paperwork last night, and came across some notes that I made on an organ ramble some years ago. My comments on one instrument made me wonder about conventions (or lack thereof) in stop nomenclature.

 

The seven-stop Swell was disposed as follows: Lieblich Gedact 8', Salicional 8', Flute 4', Octave Gamba 4', Mixture 2 ranks, Contra-Oboe 16' and Horn 8'.

 

The Contra-Oboe began at tenor C and included an extra octave of pipes for use with the Swell Octave coupler. The stop disc was engraved differently from others in the department, and I assumed that the rank was originally an Oboe 8' that had been shifted an octave so as to do double duty. (Okay, that's a pretty shocking pun ...) Using a disc that says "Contra-Oboe" rather than, say, "Fagotto" or "Bassoon" was probably quite reasonable in the circumstances.

 

However, I wondered about the Octave Gamba. The disc was clearly original, but the stop itself was a true octave to the Salicional. Why not simply call it "Salicet"? On the one hand, there was no Gamba 8' to which it stood as octave. On the other, there was no need to call it Octave anything, qua pitch indicator, as the designation 4' on the disc clearly took care of this.

 

Do others find themselves intrigued or even miffed by such inconsistencies?

 

Rgds

MJF

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Then there would be no logic behind "Oktav 4' " and Superokav 2' ", because of the

4 and the 2.

"Octave Gamba" means "Octave of the stop behind that belongs to the Gamba family".

Of course the classic british nomenclature do not use numbers, only names

Double Diapason (16)

Diapason (8)

Principal (4)

Twelfth (2 2/3)

Fifteenth (2)

Twenty-second (1)....

 

That automatically imply a dedicate pitch.

This you find only in England and Italy.

The "Octave of this or that" nomenclature is of german origin.

 

Pierre

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Seriously, something which irks me is the habit in which some organ builders and designers seem to indulge - that of using more than one language on the same draw-stop (or simply getting it incorrectly spelled).

 

My own instrument is not flawless in this regard, rejoicing as it does in a Blockflute, a Sifflute, a Quintaton (without a dieresis) and a Koppel Flute (but not for long....).

 

Anyone else have any thoughts on this matter.

 

 

 

Or should I go and brush off my anorak?

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You will rarely find an ancient organ without strange stop-names, especially

in frontier areas like Belgium, Luxembourg, Alsace, Switzerland... Let them be,

these " Gross Flute", "Trompette Mirabilis".....And even these "Octave Geigen",

"Flûte pyramidale", etc.

This is multicultural since it is "in the flesh".

In which of my five languages should I write a spec?

If I think of a Principal as something I heard in England, I'll write Open Diapason.

If I think of a splendid german Flute, i'll write: Flöte.

If I imagine something like a Flute I heard in England, but modified to be -even- louder,

I'll write Flute (not "Flûte"!) Mirabilis.

 

That's simply a sincere multiple identity, not an intellectual fancy.

By the way, the british builders did exactly that with for instance

the Lieblich Gedackt. They fell in love with it, they built it, and kept

its name without attempting something like " subdued Stopped Diapason".

 

Pierre

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Or should I go and brush off my anorak?
Probably - but can I borrow it when you've done? One that irritates me more than most is the ubiquitous "Gedackt". I assume this is a legitimate antiquated spelling since Silbermann used it - along with "Sufflet", "Rohr-Flöthe" and a few others, but I don't see that that's any reason to perpetuate the tradition. Would you build an organ with a "Pryncipall"?
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That was the point I was making, Pierre. British builders today don't use antiquated spellings for British stops (though no doubt someone will immediately come up with an example!) so why use them for foreign ones?

 

If we want to pay more attention to the styles of every period and areas,

then we must accept that french reeds sound crude, Greens sound subdued,

flemish trumpets to be village fanfares, some late-romantic organs sound

dull to our ears.....(etc, etc...)....And that the nomenclatures were more

creative than orthographically correct.

Do we really want bland academic correctness everywhere? Let me stick

to the ancient organs, "the real thing" then.

 

In ancient times the flemish Principal pipes that ornated the facades were called "Den Hoof", "The head" so. Later it became D'Hoof, then Doeff.

Today it is named "Praestant", but Doeff sounds well, tough.

 

Pierre

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That was the point I was making, Pierre. British builders today don't use antiquated spellings for British stops (though no doubt someone will immediately come up with an example!) so why use them for foreign ones?

 

Briefly donning the anorak VH - there is a Stopt Diapason 8' on the Great at St Paul's Cathedral (a Mander addition I think), and there are two or three Stopt Diapasons on the new Drake organ at St Paul's Deptford.

 

Does this count as antiquated spelling, or is it a quaint abbreviation which has been adopted. Or should that be "adoppeted?"

 

:rolleyes:

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Yes.

 

I take the view that a language (or jargon, as organ stop names should be considered) contains the words (and spellings, for that matter) that people use and understand.

 

Paul

 

But this is partly my point.

 

Arguably, a French organist (for example) will only half-understand 'Trompette Mirabilis'. What is wrong with 'Tuba Mirabilis'? After all, Cavaillé-Coll used the name 'Tubamagna' for one of the reed stops on the Grand Choeur of the organ at Nôtre-Dame de Paris.

 

The point I was making was that often languages are mixed on the same draw-stop - this is not the common tongue or even colloquialism, it is just plain wrong.

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If we want to pay more attention to the styles of every period and areas,

then we must accept that french reeds sound crude, Greens sound subdued,

flemish trumpets to be village fanfares, some late-romantic organs sound

dull to our ears.....(etc, etc...)....And that the nomenclatures were more

creative than orthographically correct.

Do we really want bland academic correctness everywhere? Let me stick

to the ancient organs, "the real thing" then.

 

In ancient times the flemish Principal pipes that ornated the facades were called "Den Hoof", "The head" so. Later it became D'Hoof, then Doeff.

Today it is named "Praestant", but Doeff sounds well, tough.

 

Pierre

 

But I have no problem with this, Pierre - I simply do not see the point of mixing languages on the same draw-stop! I know that it is but a small point in the great scheme of things - but it was getting rather dull, here!

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Guest Andrew Butler

The "Eminent Cathedral" Toaster at Hastings Crematorium has a Rohr Flute 4 and a Chimney Flute 8 on the same manual!

 

(Yes - Crematorium; Chimney, I know. Ha ha! The joke is the stop nomenclature)

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That was the point I was making, Pierre. British builders today don't use antiquated spellings for British stops (though no doubt someone will immediately come up with an example!) so why use them for foreign ones?

 

Yes they do - Bill Drake and his Stopt Diapason amongst many others... I believe our host has done one or two with Stop'd Diapafons.

 

The bit that irks ME is when people get things just plain wrong. At Sutton Veny there is what was once a glorious 1850's Gray & Davison in a Pearson case in a Pearson church - a prospect to melt the heart - a certain gentleman visited it in 1985, and among other desecrations (such as a new tracker action, made in part from garden canes and shelf brackets) glued new plastic curly font stop labels over the top of the old gothic ones (you can see them, beneath the glue that has oozed around the edges) which contains numerous mistakes, including something called a "Sesquiltra", a previously unknown spelling. Of greater offence is the "Mixture III" which has but two ranks. A pointless Gemshorn 4 is an unwelcome replacement of the most exquisite Bell Gamba (actually, it's still the Gamba with the top cut off). Of far greater offence still is the Quintadena 4 on the Swell, which mercifully has been very recently turned into a Vox Angelica. The Sw Oboe was put down an octave (but given no bass) and called "Basoon" (sic). The Great Dulciana was renamed "Open Diapason No 2" and the Open Diapason renamed Open Diapason No 1.

 

That sort of needlessly dicking around and destruction of a near-perfect organ is what gets to me. Anyone interested will not be able to find out the name of the builder responsible from NPOR, which still thinks it was Peter Hutchings in 1970; the Robin Winn rebuild of 1985 appears to have eluded them. Thankfully it is now in the safe hands of John Budgen.

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The bit that irks ME is when people get things just plain wrong.  At Sutton Veny there is what was once a glorious 1850's Gray & Davison in a Pearson case in a Pearson church - a prospect to melt the heart - a certain gentleman visited it in 1985, and among other desecrations (such as a new tracker action, made in part from garden canes and shelf brackets) glued new plastic curly font stop labels over the top of the old gothic ones (you can see them, beneath the glue that has oozed around the edges) which contains numerous mistakes, including something called a "Sesquiltra", a previously unknown spelling.  Of greater offence is the "Mixture III" which has but two ranks.  A pointless Gemshorn 4 is an unwelcome replacement of the most exquisite Bell Gamba (actually, it's still the Gamba with the top cut off).  Of far greater offence still is the Quintadena 4 on the Swell, which mercifully has been very recently turned into a Vox Angelica.  The Sw Oboe was put down an octave (but given no bass) and called "Basoon" (sic).  The Great Dulciana was renamed "Open Diapason No 2" and the Open Diapason renamed Open Diapason No 1.

 

BLEAH!

 

Incidentally, if a former 'Quintadena' has been re-made as a Vox Angelica, can I safely assume that it was not a Quintadena in the first place?

 

Gaah! It looks such a nice organ - well, at any rate, the case looks nice. Why was that person let loose on this instrument?

 

Presumably because he was cheap?

 

Evening, gents, by the way....

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BLEAH!

 

Incidentally, if a former 'Quintadena' has been re-made as a Vox Angelica, can I safely assume that it was not a Quintadena in the first place?

 

Gaah!  It looks such a nice organ - well, at any rate, the case looks nice. Why was this person let loose on this instrument?

 

 

Quite...

 

Quintadena - no, it was taken outside, exorcised and destroyed. It was a terrible noise. It has now been replaced with organ pipes.

 

It's hard to know what to say about Robin Winn. He is/was an absolutely charming chap and a delight to deal with. I don't know if he's still going but I believe he was banned in many diocese. The NPOR doesn't show many of his new organs, mainly built to a price, utilising a secondhand console and fitting extension ranks to suit whatever stops he found there. I know several of them have been removed.

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there are two or three Stopt Diapasons on the new Drake organ at St Paul's Deptford.
Ah... yes. Memo to self: Engage brain before posting. Having recently spent an interesting day out with Bill Drake, I should have anticipated this. But Bill is very much into building organs "in the style of" as authentically as possible in all respects.

 

Goetze and Gwynn are another firm who do this.

 

But historical replicas are slightly special cases, I think.

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They did indeed. It's a nice instrument, though I wouldn't say it stunned the socks off me. That's just my taste though; others might rave fulsomely. I found the action a bit heavier than I was expecting - I assume that was because it's authentic!

 

I agree, Vox. Having said that, I originally played it not long after it was finished in the church and there were still a few problems with various things.

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