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The 1992 H & H Revisions At King's Cambridge.


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  • 1 month later...

I haven't heard the Kings organ since the 1992 revisions, so I'm not in a position to comment on your assessment of H&H's changes to the Quint Mixture. However, what I would note is that, effective as the pre-1992 chorus was, when the Quint Mixture was drawn, it certainly didn't sound - to my ears, at any rate - like that of a 1934-era organ. As it stood then, it was very much part of the "ebbs and flows of what's 'in' and what's 'out'". Considered in that light, I think H&H were probably, as they say, "caught between a rock and a hard place": leaving the Quint Mixture as it was, so that it didn't come across as part of a 1934-era chorus; "dumbing [it] down", so that it did; or removing it altogether.


There's no doubt that small changes can have relatively large effects. Another example that I would give is from the restoration of the Sydney Town Hall organ. Apart from very practical matters (such as retaining the 1930s pitch change), it was very largely - and, I would add, very well - restored to its state at the end of Auguste Wiegand's tenure as first city organist (1891-1900). However, one of the very first changes that Wiegand made was to swap the Swell Trumpet and the Choir Vox Humana. This change has been reversed (so taking the instrument, as regards the disposition of these stops, back to what it was when first installed), and in my view there's a good argument that the Choir is quite a bit less flexible without it. Others may of course disagree ...



Malcolm F

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I must admit to not having heard the King's organ live since the 1992 change. However, I do own a number of CD recordings of the instrument and certainly noticed a change in the sound of the organ on one of the most recent recordings made there, namely John Butt's splendid recording of music by Elgar.


I was never a great fan of the glittering King's full organ, essentially Great to Mixtures coupled with full Swell, as the enclosed Great Trombas could never be said to be chorus reeds. The post-1992 sound, whilst perhaps not so distinctive, is probably a more musical one.


But then, as Mark Wimpress says, the real glories of this instrument are the quieter registers, pungent strings, solo reeds bags full of character, and unlike the rest of the instrument, a Choir organ that speaks directly into the Quire. Perfect for a work such as Percy Whitlock's Folk Tune.


Jeremy Jones


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  • 1 month later...

No, you are not the only one! I think that it is a shame that it was altered in 1992. Since it was not in any case, a part of the 1934 scheme, surely it could have been left as it was.


On a similar note, am I correct in thinking that Harry Bramma had H&H alter the GO and Swell mixtures at All Saints', Margaret Street? In particular, has the GO mixture (19, 22, 26, 29) been replaced by a new IV rank copy of an Arthur Harrison 'Harmonics' (17, 19, flat 21, 22)? If so, has the Swell mixture (19, 22, 26) been altered, too? I have not played this organ for several years, but when I did, I always enjoyed it.

To my ears, the H&H quint mixtures were a welcome substitution, giving the organ some brightness and vitality which the choruses would otherwise have lacked. The 'Harmonics' does provide a brilliance of sorts, but it is an extremely anti-social brilliance.


I personally cannot see any musical use for the old 'Harmonics' mixtures. Whilst it may be said that they serve to 'bind' the reeds to the flues, if the reeds are well-vioced, they should not need this.


I must agree with the sentiments re- the Choir Organ at King's College. It is a joy. The sound is so clear, yet unforced. In addition, the combination of 8p, 2 2/3p and 1p flutes is delightful.

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personally cannot see any musical use for the old 'Harmonics' mixtures. Whilst it may be said that they serve to 'bind' the reeds to the flues, if the reeds are well-vioced, they should not need this



Actually all romantic organs have that: "strange" mixtures.Cavaillé-Coll was an exception, tough his separate ranks with tierce and septièmes at Notre Dame Paris might well have been Harrison's model.

Maybe we could have both "strange" and "gentle" mixture on the same manual.


Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

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Well, insofar as a Harmonics (17, 19 flat-21, 22) is concerned, the only British builders I know of who used them were H&H (often) H, N&B (occasionally) and possibly R&D (not sure, but I think they did once or twice).


Apart from that, Willis usually used 17, 19, 22 (or 15, 17, 19, 22 on larger instruments). Hill often used 19, 22, 26, 29 or 15, 19, 22 with a Sharp Mixture of 26, 29. (His Swell mixtures sometimes commenced at CC as 17, 19, 22, with the tierce rank giving way to a 15th in the second octave.) Lewis used 19, 22, 26, 29 (Southwark and Ripon); Walkers 15, 19, 22, generally. The tierce was not that common in chorus mixtures. The flat-21st was even less common!


I think that it is unlikely that Arthur Harrison knew much about N-D, Paris! Having said this, I am not certain from where he did get that particular 'inspiration'. Perhaps Col. Dixon had visited Vierne! :)

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Maybe...That said, I would be surprised A.H. not having known Cavaillé-Coll's work.


Walcker organs had all tierce ranks in Mixtures, of the Spitzflöte kind; Link, ditto. Weigle of Stuttgart used tierce and septièmes, very close to A.H.


Only the french and the french-speaking belgians rejected the tierce from the Mixtures in the romantic period, as well as during the 18th century. So the tutti relied heavily on the reeds, often with a wide-scaled Cornet (only place where a Tierce was permitted). It seems Lewis was very much influenced by Schulze, whose Diapason choruses might have something of a Silbermann accent -without tierce-. If we go a little further: Gottfried learned something by Andreas in France (the land of the tierceless Mixtures)...

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This is most interesting.


At N-D, Paris on the present instrument there is the option of having the GO Cymbale (II-V) with, or without the tierce rank. (I think I may have mentioned this before.) I think that it is useful to have the choice. I really do not like the tierce mixtures at Truro, for example. I find the reedy tang wearisome after a short time.


Presumably the cornet was included in order to assist in keeping up power in the treble, where French reeds tend to taper off? I know that C-C to some extent alleviated this problem by the expedient of placing the trebles on a separate chest at higher pressure. (Or was it the same chest, but with separately-winded trebles?)

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Maybe...That said, I would be surprised A.H. not having known

Cavaillé-Coll's work.


Walcker organs had all tierce ranks in Mixtures, of the Spitzflöte

kind; Link, ditto.

Weigle of Stuttgart used tierce and septièmes, very close to A.H.


True - contemporary German practice is interesting. Wilhelm Sauer, for example, studied for a time with Cavaillé-Coll. On the enormous instrument (IVP/113) for the Berliner Dom (1905), he provided a Großcymbel 3fach with the composition 3 1/5, 2 2/7, 2 (i.e. 16ft series) for Manual I, where it runs right through without breaks - clearly French-influenced.


The full mixure scheme (in English notation) is as follows:-


Manual I

Rauschquinte 2fach 12-15

Großcymbel 3fach 10-14b-15

Scharf 3-5fach 15-19-22 (with 5 1/3 in treble)

Kornett 3-4fach 12-15-17


Manual II

Mixtur 4fach 15-19-22-26

Cymbel 3fach 15-22-29 (all unisons)

Kornett 3-fach 12-15-17 (no breaks)


Manual III

Mixtur 3fach 15-19-22


Manual IV

Harmonia aetheria 3fach 15-19-22


The Pedal has independent 5 1/3, 3 1/5, 2 2/3, 2 2/7 & 2 ranks. A Mixtur 4fach was added in 1932


I hope this is of interest



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Yes the tierce can be tiring....If the Mixture is used as a classical

Diapason chorus crowning.

In the ancient german organs there was always the choice to have the

Tierce or not in the chorus; it could have a seperate stop-knob, or it could be

included in a Terzian, a Hörnlein (Holzay, souhthern Germany), next to a quint mixture.

The romantic organ choosed the tierce mixture because the Diapason chorus was not intended to be used alone. It became the backbone of the tutti; so the tierce was usefull because it corroborates the partials of the reed and string stops.

It was a bridge between the different families of stops.

So far for the german romantic organ.


In England the mix Diapason chorus-reeds was already done in the 18th century.

Later the typical romantic english organ sound is the combination of a Diapason chorus with reed choruses, so without Flutes and strings, but still with tierces.


In France, the tierce isn't allowed in the Diapason chorus. They are only to be found within the Flute family: "Jeu de tierce" (Bourdon, Flute 4 Nazard 2 2/3', Quarte de Nazard 2', Tierce 1 3/5'), the Cornet, or Carillon (Nazard 2 2/3', Tierce 1 3/5', Piccolo 1').

So we have a "Plein-jeu" (Diapason chorus) and a "Grand jeu" (reeds+ Cornets) that do not mix.

Cavaillé-Coll solved the problem by having the reeds (and the Cornets intended to re-inforce their trebles, effectively) dominating heavily the rest.


I tend to conclude from this the mixtures in a romantic organs are a synthesis of

a classic stop and a Cornet.

They aren't intended to be used in a classic context such as 8-4-2-Mixture, but rather, for instance, in a Full-Swell, or in the tutti.

One could imagine, of course, to build new romantic-inspired new organs in which

we would have both tutti and chorus-mixtures. This would be an interesting

experience, and this is the reason I'm interested with the english Dulciana Mixture.

This one was certainly not intended for loud effects. The german Harmonia aetherea is a german equivalent, build after the Geigenprinzipal scale. But usually it countained a tierce rank.


Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

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I concur heartily - the wonderful achievements of C-C in this respect are stunning. I recommend a good recording of S. Etienne, Caen - C-C's last big instrument. If it is not now deleted Marie-Claire Alain, doing Vierne 1 - 4 is very good. Listen closely to the organ. There is real fire and brilliance, even in the Récit, which has no chorus mixture.


I have had the privilege of playing this instrument on three occasions. Each time I have been struck by the completeness of the scheme. The tutti is majestic, yet clear. The reeds are not harsh - just totally alive. They are, incidentally, usually in good intonation, too! The only odd sound, for which I was not quite prepared, was the Positif Carillon (12, 17, 22), which sounded strident and bizarre. The fact that it was placed with the fonds and not with the jeux de combinaisons also took me somewhat by surprise.


However, (to quote Laurence Elvin) the quiet effects of etherial beauty are almsot endless. (I know he was referring to the magnificent H&H at Coventry, but the description applies here, too.)

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