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Diapasons

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I looked up the University of Aberdeen's Aubertin organ on their website and was surprised to read the following:

 

"... the French Montre stop – the original inspiration for the staple British organ sound called Diapason."

 

Comments?

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I do not understand, so widely different these stops are.

I can testify here the vast majority of the french do not

even know what a Diapason is; this sound does not exist

in a french organ.

The french Montre is not even a pure Principal; many are slotted,

others are flutey in character.

The first ancestor of the Open Diapason may have been the

renaissance italian "Principale", a cantabile, silvery stop.

After the Restoration it seems the Harrises, Dallams and Smith

rather adapted themselves to the Diapason than trying to impone

continental standards....The second really important influence

was indeed Schulze, but we are already in the 1860's there !

 

Rather than introducing the Montre in Britain, it might be preferable

to introduce the Diapason (both the classical one and the foundational

romantic types) on the continent.

 

Pierre

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Guest Andrew Butler
I do not understand, so widely different these stops are.

I can testify here the vast majority of the french do not

even know what a Diapason is; this sound does not exist

in a french organ.

 

Pierre

 

Err - are there not stops called "Diapason" on both the Grand Orgue and the Recit Exprssive at St Sulpice............... ? And, if my memory serves me correctly, at St Ouen, Rouen ? :D

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Err - are there not stops called "Diapason" on both the Grand Orgue and the Recit Exprssive at St Sulpice............... ?  And, if my memory serves me correctly, at St Ouen, Rouen ?  :D

 

The names are there, yes, for some stops that are in a Swellbox,or not in front.

But no one english would call them Diapasons. They are rather strong Salicionals

or Keraulophons, far too "horny" to be Diapasons.

 

Pierre

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The names are there, yes, for some stops that are in a Swellbox,or not in front.

But no one english would call them Diapasons. They are rather strong Salicionals

or Keraulophons, far too "horny" to be Diapasons.

 

Pierre

 

The variety of tone produced in England from something labelled "diapason" is no less wide, if not wider - from a claribel flute (Hill's "Open Diapason Wood") to the Bonavia Hunt Super Diapason and everything in between.

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The variety of tone produced in England from something labelled "diapason" is no less wide, if not wider - from a claribel flute (Hill's "Open Diapason Wood") to the Bonavia Hunt Super Diapason and everything in between.

 

Of course, but they are still Diapasons, that is, nor Flute nor Gamba tone, and

attack like Diapasons, that is, nor like a String, nor like a Flute or Gedackt.

 

Ah, if some examples existed on the Internet...

 

Pierre

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Of course, but they are still Diapasons, that is, nor Flute nor Gamba tone, and

attack like Diapasons, that is, nor like a String, nor like a Flute or Gedackt.

 

Ah, if some examples existed on the Internet...

 

Pierre

 

No - Hill did several "Open Diapason Wood" that were actually Claribel Flutes and sounded like one. Open Diapasons exist that are stringy, fluty, fat, thin, chiffy, smooth, edgy, loud, quiet, you name it.

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The Principal/Diapason/Montre certainly had its origins in the medieval Blockwerk. Some similarities have been drawn between medieval British organs and Italian instruments, but I am not aware that Britain owed anything to French models.

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I do not understand, so widely different these stops are.

I can testify here the vast majority of the french do not

even know what a Diapason is; this sound does not exist

in a french organ.

The french Montre is not even a pure Principal; many are slotted,

others are flutey in character.

 

Rather than introducing the Montre in Britain, it might be preferable

to introduce the Diapason (both the classical one and the foundational

romantic types) on the continent.

 

Pierre

 

I am not sure about this, Pierre - I have the Lade recording of the restored organ at Nôtre-Dame, on which all the families are demonstrated separately. I have also, on the way to work this morning, been listening to Cochereau's recording of Vierne's 3me Symphonie - the Montres there sound exactly like the ones on my own instrument. For the record, I have also heard them live (from upstairs and downstairs) on a number of occasions.

 

Those at S. Etienne, Caen, also sound similar!

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I am not sure about this, Pierre - I have the Lade recording of the restored organ at Nôtre-Dame, on which all the families are demonstrated separately. I have also, on the way to work this morning, been listening to Cochereau's recording of Vierne's 3me Symphonie - the Montres there sound exactly like the ones on my own instrument. For the record, I have also heard them live (from upstairs and downstairs) on a number of occasions.

 

Those at S. Etienne, Caen, also sound similar!

 

Any chance of details of the Lade recording please?

 

AJJ

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Pcnd, are the Diapasons in your organ slotted?

 

Pierre

 

No, they are not.

 

I know that Cavaillé-Coll did this in order to make them sound stringy.

 

On the other hand, I do not know if the Montres and Diapason at Nôtre-Dame are so treated.

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No, they are not.

 

I know that Cavaillé-Coll did this in order to make them sound stringy.

 

On the other hand, I do not know if the Montres and Diapason at Nôtre-Dame are so treated.

 

I ask on my french forum and come back with the answer.

 

Pierre

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I ask on my french forum and come back with the answer.

 

Pierre

 

Thank you, Pierre.

 

I suppose that it is possible that Cochereau had them revoiced in the '50s or '60s - or maybe they were never slotted in the first place.

 

Certainly, they sound pretty similar to a lot of English diapasons. Their construction is also virtually the same as a lot of diapason stops, here.

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Any chance of details of the Lade recording please?

 

AJJ

 

I can supply details when I get home, but do not hold your breath! In my view this recording was a wasted opportunity. The performer is the blind Titulaire Jean-Pierre Leguay. He just plays random notes and chords on each stop - and then plays a couple of weird improvisations at the end.

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The Principal/Diapason/Montre certainly had its origins in the medieval Blockwerk. Some similarities have been drawn between medieval British organs and Italian instruments, but I am not aware that Britain owed anything to French models.

 

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

 

Dallam?

 

MM

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Guest Roffensis
No - Hill did several "Open Diapason Wood" that were actually Claribel Flutes and sounded like one.  Open Diapasons exist that are stringy, fluty, fat, thin, chiffy, smooth, edgy, loud, quiet, you name it.

 

 

Yes, sometimes all within the same rank of pipes!! :D

R

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I just got the information from a french organ-builder.

 

Cavaillé-Coll did indeed slot his Principals at Notre-Dame, as he always did since

a dedicate point in his career (Not at St-Denis). But during the time of Cochereau,

the slots were filled-in.

During the last restoration the slottings were opened back!

 

This is certainly the reason for this similarity Pcnd noted.

The french Montre, in romantic organs, is never used nor alone nor

in a pure Diapason chorus. It is a backbone in the ensemble:

 

Montre 8'

Flûte harmonique 8'

Gambe 8' (or: Viole de gambe)

Bourdon 8'

 

The slotting reduces the fundamental tone while reinforcing the harmonics (partials).

This enhances the blend with the other families of stops.

 

This is the first difference I noted with british organs: the Diapasons are darker,

with few partials.

 

Second difference: french Principals are made with high tin percentages, and thin pipes.

British ones tend to go towards Spotted Metal (50-50 tin-lead), as indeed advocated by Lewis, and heavy, tick walls.

 

Of course this *might* not apply to Green's Diapasons. I would be interested to hear one!

Anyway, the weighty, "church rolling" Diapasons I often heard in England is something I absolutely never encountered anywhere else, while when belgian organists hear some of these LPs I came back with in the 70's and 80's here, they tend to say something like this:

 

1)-Never heard anything like that;

2)-Would be fantastic for the church service ("Messe").

 

Pierre

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I just got the information from a french organ-builder.

 

Cavaillé-Coll did indeed slot his Principals at Notre-Dame, as he always did since

a dedicate point in his career (Not at St-Denis). But during the time of Cochereau,

the slots were filled-in.

During the last restoration the slottings were opened back!

 

Interesting! I would like to talk to this person and learn more.

 

Just one thing, though - as I mentioned, the Lade recording was taken shortly after the 1990 - 92 restoration of the Nôtre-Dame organ - and they still sound almost identical to my own.

 

Since those on my own instrument speak on around 80 - 85mm, and are not leathered, or with a high lead content, (they are spotted metal, so I would estimate that they contain around 50% tin), I assume that this is partly why they sound similar.

 

 

This is certainly the reason for this similarity Pcnd noted.

The french Montre, in romantic organs, is never used nor alone nor

in a pure Diapason chorus. It is a backbone in the ensemble:

 

Montre 8'

Flûte harmonique 8'

Gambe 8' (or: Viole de gambe)

Bourdon 8'

 

The slotting reduces the fundamental tone while reinforcing the harmonics (partials).

This enhances the blend with the other families of stops.

 

This is the first difference I noted with british organs: the Diapasons are darker,

with few partials.

 

Second difference: french Principals are made with high tin percentages, and thin pipes.

British ones tend to go towards Spotted Metal (50-50 tin-lead), as indeed advocated by Lewis, and heavy, tick walls.

 

Sometimes the lead content is rather higher, Pierre. If you are really unlucky, you might have an Arthur Harrison diapason with leathered lips, speaking on a pressure of 150mm or more.

 

Having said that, the organ of Truro Cathedral has a pressure of 175mm for the GO Double Diapason, both diapasons and the Claribel Flute - and I am fairly certain that one would not be able to tell that the pressure was so high simply by listening.

 

Of course this *might* not apply to Green's Diapasons. I would be interested to hear one!

 

Well, we have FHW partly to thank for that! I, too, would be very interested to hear some diapasons by Samuel Green. There were some at Wells Cathedral - until Willis rebuilt it!

 

Anyway, the weighty, "church rolling" Diapasons I often heard in England is something I absolutely never encountered anywhere else, while when belgian organists hear some of these LPs I came back with in the 70's and 80's here, they tend to say something like this:

 

1)-Never heard anything like that;

2)-Would be fantastic for the church service ("Messe").

 

Pierre

 

Of course, many of us here listen to the fabulous, almost luminescent sound of the 'Cavaillé-Coll Four' and think "Wow! Fantastic - if only I had a sound like that for Mass!".

 

Well, I do, at any rate....

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The Romantic English Diapason is nothing like the Romantic Montre. The nearest equivalent among other Principal-type stops I have heard is earlier English Diapasons. So I think Romantic organs can be left out of the equation as being too late. We are looking for ealier influences - if any.

 

As for the Dallams, the English Civil War caused them to flee to France where they absorbed French ideas, but did they ever import these French influences back into England? And if so, how can we know whether they included the voicing of diapasons?

 

I have not heard many of the Dallam organs in Brittany, but my recollection is that the Montre of the Ploujean organ is typical. It is not the most gracious sound to my ears; coarse is how I'd describe it. I have no idea whether this tonal quality is more English than French since there is a dearth of English examples to compare it with (unless someone has made the Stanford-on-Avon pipes speak; the Knole House organ I have heard and I thought that rather ungracious too). All I can say is that the sound is nothing like the Thamar (?) Open Diapason at Framlingham or the very few other early English diapasons I have heard - though all of these are necessarily later than Dallam.

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"Interesting! I would like to talk to this person and learn more."

(Quote)

 

Nothing is easier: it is Mr Richaud on "Organographia", on which you are

registred. Suffice to go there, fetch a post from "Richaud", click on the name,

and then "message privé".

 

Pierre

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" the Montre of the Ploujean organ "

(Quote)

 

The titular of Ploujean is also on my french forum, "Bottesini".

The Montre there is from Beuchet-Debierre, and was simply revoiced

during the restoration of the organ!

 

Pierre

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk

The Renatus Harris Diapasons that I know (All Hallows' Twickenham and St.John's Wolverhampton) are all very well-finished, very slightly breathy Diapasons with a voice tending slightly towards Open Metal flutes - a tone not so different from 17/18th century French stops that I have met, this is not surprising since Renatus Harris learned his organ-building in France.

 

I like this sort of tone, it's easy on the ear and blends well. Hard Diapason tone can be very wearing... this usually comes IMHO from excessive pressures.

 

Some Snetzler stops, for instance, sound underscaled for the power required of them, but who can say how many times these have been messed with since his time? I still shudder when I recollect what Denys Thurlow once told me very proudly: viz. that he had revoiced the one-time Snetzler Great chorus at St.Lawrence's Ludlow 'as loud as it would go'. His exact words! Fortunately he did not revoice all the Choir organ ranks in similar fashion.

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