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Vanity Or Practicality?


ajt

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A friend of mine runs a church that has a late 80's, disgusting sounding, over large, 3 manual Copeman Hart in it, with the most ugly speaker installation I've ever seen.

 

The church probably seats about 150, maybe even 200.

 

It's a peculiar shape building in that it's not really got any transepts - it has a very very narrow sanctuary/choir (8ft or so), and an aisle on the North side which is as wide as the nave.

 

The old pipe organ used to be in a vaulted chamber underneath the tower (arches into the choir and into the south side of the nave), but this space is now in use.

 

There isn't really any usable space in the church to put a pipe organ.

 

My question is, what would you do?

 

As I see it, the options are:

1. Build a small pipe organ, say Bourdon plus 8/9 manual stops over 2 manuals, and try to shoehorn it in somewhere.

2. Get the existing toaster modernised

3. Get a new toaster, with a small spec to suit the church, as if speccing a pipe organ for the building

4. Get a new toaster, with a larger spec.

 

Working on the basis that money's no object, I still can't decide what the "right" thing to do would be.

 

Installing a pipe organ would be a shoehorn job - I can't think of anywhere obvious to install anything more than a box/chamber organ.

 

I also can't decide whether going with a smaller spec organ, as befits the size of the building, is the right thing to do, or to go with a larger spec (digital, of course) for vanity's sake... Would the church attract the kind of Director of Music it wants (position vacant from Christmas) if the organ is "small" ?

 

Quandary...

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
A friend of mine runs a church that has a late 80's, disgusting sounding, over large, 3 manual Copeman Hart in it, with the most ugly speaker installation I've ever seen.

 

The church probably seats about 150, maybe even 200.

 

It's a peculiar shape building in that it's not really got any transepts - it has a very very narrow sanctuary/choir (8ft or so), and an aisle on the North side which is as wide as the nave.

 

The old pipe organ used to be in a vaulted chamber underneath the tower (arches into the choir and into the south side of the nave), but this space is now in use.

 

There isn't really any usable space in the church to put a pipe organ.

 

My question is, what would you do?

 

As I see it, the options are:

1. Build a small pipe organ, say Bourdon plus 8/9 manual stops over 2 manuals, and try to shoehorn it in somewhere.

2. Get the existing toaster modernised

3. Get a new toaster, with a small spec to suit the church, as if speccing a pipe organ for the building

4. Get a new toaster, with a larger spec.

 

Working on the basis that money's no object, I still can't decide what the "right" thing to do would be.

 

Installing a pipe organ would be a shoehorn job - I can't think of anywhere obvious to install anything more than a box/chamber organ.

 

I also can't decide whether going with a smaller spec organ, as befits the size of the building, is the right thing to do, or to go with a larger spec (digital, of course) for vanity's sake... Would the church attract the kind of Director of Music it wants (position vacant from Christmas) if the organ is "small" ?

 

Quandary...

 

 

Since you're asking for opinions/advice: I'd go for a well-made extension organ. You could do an awful lot with the right eight ranks, not all of them need to go right down by any means - it is actually variety from the 4' pipe and upwards that you really want (these are the less bulky pipes too). Even a three rank extension organ is better than any toaster - (sorry I've joined in with you all in calling them these. I rather hoped that my favourite term 'organ-substitute'- might have caught on).

 

These days the switching is very cheap and easy (this used to be a major amount of effort) - consoles are no more expensive for a pipe job than the equivalent electronic.

 

If you hadn't seriously considered this option, I suggest you go round and try a few extension organs critically. The little Walker three-rank jobs (50s 60s 70s) weren't bad at all - particularly those with the repeating Mixture. I know at least one quite stunningly effective four-rank Compton and there are still several of his littler jobs around. Osmunds used to do some respectable extension jobs even if anything much bigger seemed to tax them rather. Just to name one current firm, George Sixsmith has built some splendid ones recently, just because some of the big firms don't want to build extension organs, doesn't mean they aren't a good deal for your average church! Obviously you want it well-voiced, not all mass-produced organs of yesteryear bear close musical scrutiny, but this isn't necessarily the fact of extension per se, but of the execution of these schemes by the 'second teams' when the main voicing staff were busy on prestigious contracts.

 

Only one word of warning: make sure you allow decent access to everything in the organ chamber. It would be worth having fewer ranks and making the job easier to maintain.

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Only one word of warning: make sure you allow decent access to everything in the organ chamber. It would be worth having fewer ranks and making the job easier to maintain.

 

Thanks for the thoughts - extension is certainly a consideration, but I'm still wondering where the hell to put it, and worrying about whether such an instrument would entice the kind of DoM that they want...

 

The bit I didn't mention, having waffled enough already, was that the roof is basically barrel shaped, starting at about 8ft, and there is very very little available wall space to hang an organ off, and no floor space, except where the current console is, to stand one...

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I'm almost inclined to suggest a harmonium.

 

That too is a practical suggestion, as I suppose might also be a really decent piano & some occasional (home-made) arrangements if you've got any decent violinists or woodwind players around. These things don't have to be cheap and tacky. Despairing of the (dreadful) organ at college, we frequently used to lead hymns with solid four-part singing from the choir and tasteful harpsichord/string accompaniment.

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Hang on. Are you saying that the chancel is only 8 ft wide and the walls are only 8 ft high, supporting a barrel-shaped roof? Or have I completely misunderstood? How wide is it? I'm almost inclined to suggest a harmonium.

 

Having looked at some pics, my 8ft high estimate is rather on the "low" side. Looks like nearer 12, which makes life a bit easier. My memory is clearly faulty...

 

Here's a floor plan of the church:

 

img10.gif

 

and a pic of the nave

 

img29.gif

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There is the possibility of installing a small one-manual organ or one with a duplexed manual in the "either-or" way.

 

For example, something along these lines:

 

http://www.stpetridom.de/dom/bauwerk/wegschneid.php

 

for a space-saving, but still beautiful and versatile organ, that fits under any arch or just sits flat to one wall. The floor space, admittedly, would equal perhaps the one taken up by two toasters. The organ is 3m wide, 0,86m deep and 5m high.

 

The stoplist:

 

Manual, C–f'''

Bordun 16'

Principal 8'

Viola di Gamba 8'

Gedackt 8'

Octave 4'

Rohrflöte 4'

Nasat 3'

Superoctave 2'

Mixtur III 1 1/3'

 

Pedal, C–d'

Bordun 16' "either-or" stop, borrowed from the manual

 

(This organ is tuned to a 1/6 comma temperament.)

 

Instead of having only the Bourdon borrowed, the entire manual chest could be "either-ored", maybe with the exception of the 8' Principal. The Pedal then would only have the couplers II/P and I/P.

 

Best,

Friedrich

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There is the possibility of installing a small one-manual organ or one with a duplexed manual in the "either-or" way.

 

For example, something along these lines:

 

http://www.stpetridom.de/dom/bauwerk/wegschneid.php

 

for a space-saving, but still beautiful and versatile organ, that fits under any arch or just sits flat to one wall. The floor space, admittedly, would equal perhaps the one taken up by two toasters. The organ is 3m wide, 0,86m deep and 5m high.

 

The stoplist:

 

Manual, C–f'''

Bordun 16'

Principal 8'

Viola di Gamba 8'

Gedackt 8'

Octave 4'

Rohrflöte 4'

Nasat 3'

Superoctave 2'

Mixtur III 1 1/3'

 

Pedal, C–d'

Bordun 16' "either-or" stop, borrowed from the manual

 

(This organ is tuned to a 1/6 comma temperament.)

 

Instead of having only the Bourdon borrowed, the entire manual chest could be "either-ored", maybe with the exception of the 8' Principal. The Pedal then would only have the couplers II/P and I/P.

 

Best,

Friedrich

 

I like this one - there is much good music which it would be capable of performing* and I would imagine that it would be quite suitable to lead congregational singing. The photograph shows a pleasant case, too.

 

My only change would be to tune it to 'equal' temperament. In addition, I might start the Mixture at 22-26-29, in order to have the unison on top.

 

 

 

*With, naturally, the assistance of an organist....

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I like this one - there is much good music which it would be capable of performing* and I would imagine that it would be quite suitable to lead congregational singing. The photograph shows a pleasant case, too.

 

My only change would be to tune it to 'equal' temperament. In addition, I might start the Mixture at 22-26-29, in order to have the unison on top.

*With, naturally, the assistance of an organist....

 

I know you love your sharp mixtures but I probably wouldn't do that, not with all those 8's...

 

... and I'd keep to a more interesting temperament than equal as well!

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I know you love your sharp mixtures but I probably wouldn't do that, not with all those 8's...

 

... and I'd keep to a more interesting temperament than equal as well!

 

I might concede the mixture intervals* - but the temperament? It will probably just sound out of tune to anyone who actually notices anything. Besides, what would happen if they wished to sing All my hope....?!

 

:)

 

* In which case (and in this comparatively small building), it is probably better to stick to 15-19-22 at CC.

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I might concede the mixture intervals - but the temperament? It will probably just sound out of tune to anyone who actually notices anything. Besides, what would happen if they wished to sing All my hope....?!

 

:)

 

A good temperament can cope perfectly well. All my hope is probably the least problematic of the lot - first prize is shared between Slane and Repton.

 

I've left lots of smaller organs in Young or Neidhardt or Valotti (none quite as extreme as any of the meantone ones) - all keys are perfectly useable and most are a damn sight nicer than equal. You can afford to have much brighter upperwork for a start. I'll have to take you to see one...

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A good temperament can cope perfectly well.  All my hope is probably the least problematic of the lot - first prize is shared between Slane and Repton.

 

I've left lots of smaller organs in Young or Neidhardt or Valotti (none quite as extreme as any of the meantone ones) - all keys are perfectly useable and most are a damn sight nicer than equal.  You can afford to have much brighter upperwork for a start.  I'll have to take you to see one...

 

Well, I do not mind looking at one - but remind me never to let you tune my instrument....

 

:)

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A good temperament can cope perfectly well.  All my hope is probably the least problematic of the lot - first prize is shared between Slane and Repton.

 

I've left lots of smaller organs in Young or Neidhardt or Valotti (none quite as extreme as any of the meantone ones) - all keys are perfectly useable and most are a damn sight nicer than equal.  You can afford to have much brighter upperwork for a start.  I'll have to take you to see one...

 

hmmm - this is interesting. Would this also apply to larger instruments? What about instruments (small or large) with a romantic bias? Has equal temperament had its day?

 

JJK

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hmmm - this is interesting. Would this also apply to larger instruments? What about instruments (small or large) with a romantic bias? Has equal temperament had its day?

 

JJK

 

well, you just have to look at what it's being used for... personally I wouldn't tune a large instrument in an unequal temperament unless there was a good historic reason.

 

Take the Metzler in St Mary the Virgin Oxford, for example - you can very easily play in any key, and they are differently flavoured rather than any being noticeably unpleasant.

 

I recently helped with the restoration of a 5 stop chamber organ, which was moved to the west end. Initially I set it to equal temperament - and it sounded absolutely foul. Really horrible. So I changed it to something more interesting and now it sounds wonderful (for everything except Slane and Repton, where according to my tuning meter it isn't actually any worse than equal temperament...)

 

If you've got a good tuning it needn't prohibit anything being played on it, not even Anglican choral repertoire. Accidentals are there to create an effect and if the tuning accentuates that slightly, all the better.

 

There are some good demos at http://www.xs4all.nl/~huygensf/english/temperament.html - the harpsichord ones are better to actually hear the temperaments at work, but hearing (on the organ) the difference between Neidhardt I (a very chromatic chorale prelude from the Orgelbuchlein) in comparison with the Buxtehude in equal temperament - well, it sounds dull, flat, lifeless and dreary by comparison. And the Bach isn't even "out of tune" - just livelier. Good tuning, that... If you want extreme, listen to 3rd comma on the harpsichord... if you want a poor tuning, Werckmeister III - never understood the appeal of that one...

 

anyway, sorry Adrian... have your subject back now!!!

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There are some good demos at http://www.xs4all.nl/~huygensf/english/temperament.html - the harpsichord ones are better to actually hear the temperaments at work, but hearing (on the organ) the difference between Neidhardt I (a very chromatic chorale prelude from the Orgelbuchlein) in comparison with the Buxtehude in equal temperament - well, it sounds dull, flat, lifeless and dreary by comparison.  And the Bach isn't even "out of tune" - just livelier.  Good tuning, that...  If you want extreme, listen to 3rd comma on the harpsichord... if you want a poor tuning, Werckmeister III - never understood the appeal of that one...

 

 

These are interesting, David.

 

Personally, I liked several - although I hated Neidhardt I - give me the Buxtehude in equal temperament any day!

 

Actually, I did not think that Werckmeister III was that bad. I would also have preferred to hear the same two extracts on each example - I would find this easier to compare more closely. Perhaps a chromatic piece, followed by a diatonic extract.

 

On this basis, my choices are:

 

PREFERRED:

 

Neidhardt III, (Werckmeister III), equal (Buxtehude), 1/6 Pythagorean comma (well-tempered), Silbermann, 1/6 comma (meantone; variant).

 

DISLIKED:

 

Neidhardt I (strongly disliked), 1/5 comma (meantone), 1/5 comma (meantone; variant), 1/4 comma (meantone).

 

I am still quite happy with the present tuning of my own instrument, though! Particularly since it has a random-variable unequal temperament, depending on how well the concussions are working that day....

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...

anyway, sorry Adrian... have your subject back now!!!

Yes, please -- there has been one hell of a battle going on on PIPORG-L for days now about meantone, temperament an "out-of-tune thirds". Let's not open that same battlefield again here.

 

About the organ at Bremen: It was built by Kristian Wegscheider of Dresden, who designed it along the lines of Gottfried Silbermann's one-manual organs. Since the three-rank mixture and the temperament, that infact is designed to help the sound. Silbermann is said to have preferred, at least before his major Dresden instruments, a harsh near-meantone temperament, which unfortunately did not survive in any of his organs.

 

But I digress again.

 

In the forst volume of "The Classical Organ in Britain", there is one instrument by J. W. Walker (photograph on p. 97, stoplist on p. 27), that apparently was designed for very limited floor space. Actually, it is a three-rank positive on a high steel frame and with the keyboard underneath. Not that many people would find its design appealing today, but maybe this is another way to go in this particular situation.

 

Best,

Friedrich

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In the forst volume of "The Classical Organ in Britain", there is one instrument by J. W. Walker (photograph on p. 97, stoplist on p. 27), that apparently was designed for very limited floor space. Actually, it is a three-rank positive on a high steel frame and with the keyboard underneath. Not that many people would find its design appealing today, but maybe this is another way to go in this particular situation.

 

Best,

Friedrich

 

Is that the instrument in the small church (Saint Martin's?) in the City of York? (I have mislaid my copy of this book.)

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These are interesting, David.

 

Personally, I liked several - although I hated Neidhardt I - give me the Buxtehude in equal temperament any day!

 

Actually, I did not think that Werckmeister III was that bad. I would also have preferred to hear the same two extracts on each example - I would find this easier to compare more closely. Perhaps a chromatic piece, followed by a diatonic extract.

 

On this basis, my choices are:

 

PREFERRED:

 

Neidhardt III, (Werckmeister III), equal (Buxtehude), 1/6 Pythagorean comma (well-tempered), Silbermann, 1/6 comma (meantone; variant).

 

DISLIKED:

 

Neidhardt I (strongly disliked), 1/5 comma (meantone), 1/5 comma (meantone; variant), 1/4 comma (meantone).

 

I am still quite happy with the present tuning of my own instrument, though! particularly since it has a random-variable unequal temperament, depending on how well the concussions are working that day....

 

True about the examples - one day I shall set up a voicing machine and do exactly that exercise...

 

Bach is known to have played on Silbermann organs and would have experienced his tuning, according to Padgham.

 

Bill Drake used Neidhardt I at Stogursey and Dean Prior. I don't think the example given is a terribly good one but I can vouch that it's a fantastic tuning, with only E major being "dodgy" - and that's only three cents worse than equal.

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Bach is known to have played on Silbermann organs and would have experienced his tuning, according to Padgham.

But apparently he didn't much approve of it. The story is that Bach would say to Silbermann, "You tune the organ your way; I'll play it in mine." Whereupon Bach would launch into something in some remote key and Silbermann would retire rapidly to avoid his own "wolf" fifth. Or something like that.
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