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Old Cathedral Organs


DaveHarries
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Hi all,

 

It is unfortunate that almost nothing is known of the organs of Hereford Cathedral before the end of the 18th Century. However, we do know that in the late 1520s - mid 1530s one John Hichons (Hychons) was making and repairing organs of the day. He appears at Hereford Cathedral on a few occasions.

 

The records are written in English that is by no means perfect thus among the entries regarding Hychons' work at Hereford comes this gem:

 

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

 

10 October 1532. John Hychons suspended for "incontinence" (surely that should be "incompetance"??!! - LOL) and compelled to sign a bond for 100 marks (£66 13s 4d), pledging himself to completeby 2 February 1532/3 an organ which he had begun to build.

 

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

 

(Source for above information: "The Organs & Organists of Hereford Cathedral", page 28)

 

Does anyone know if there are any similar errors like that in records elsewhere? I would be suprised if there isn't at least one other somewhere.

 

Dave

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Wells Cathedral, 1662:

 

The Forme of the new organs

 

The organs are to have two fronts, the one towards the quire, the other towards the body.

 

The hight of the organ

 

The Hight of the organ must be Thirty foot

The breadth of the same must be fifteene foot.

 

The Names of the stopps

 

Two open diapasons of metall, the longest pipe of each Twelve foot and a halfe.

 

One stopp Diapason of tymber unison with the open diapason.

 

One twelfe of mettall

 

Two principalls of metall, six foot longe the longest pipe.

 

One Recorder of metall.

 

One two and twentieth of mettall.

 

In the Chaire organ

 

One stopp diapason of tymber.

 

One Flute of tymber

 

One principall of mettall six foot long

 

Two fifteenths one of mettall, the other of tymber.

One two and twentieth of mettall.

 

And also the guilding of both the organs, both pipes and cases.

 

Is this english "wrong", "faulty"?

Never!

It is a form of the english language in use during the seventeenth Century, exactly like the german, the flemish, the dutch and the french were not the same then as they are today.

The languages evolve constantly, and whenever we want to learn from past authors and sources, we must be prepared to encounter different versions of the language.

In german it is even more difficult since all ancient sources are written in gothic!

Just like we do no more "judge" ancient organs today, we must accept older versions of our languages to be different -not "incorrect".

 

Pierre

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John Hychons suspended for "incontinence" (surely that should be "incompetance"??!! - LOL)

Here's a definition:

incontinence

noun

A complete surrender of inhibitions: abandon, abandonment, unrestraint, wantonness, wildness.

So he was suspended for bad behaviour, one supposes drunkenness or immorality.

 

Paul

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So he was suspended for bad behaviour, one supposes drunkenness or immorality.

In all the examples I have seen from the Tudor and Jacobean periods the word seems to imply fornication. For example, at Chichester Thomas Weelkes was accused of incontinence with Joan Teight (I think that was the lady's name, but it's about 20 years since I read that!)

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Wells Cathedral, 1662:

 

The Forme of the new organs

 

The organs are to have two fronts, the one towards the quire, the other towards the body.

 

The hight of the organ

 

The Hight of the organ must be Thirty foot

The breadth of the same must be fifteene foot.

 

The Names of the stopps

 

Two open diapasons of metall, the longest pipe of each Twelve foot and a halfe.

One stopp Diapason of tymber unison with the open diapason.

One twelfe of mettall

Two principalls of metall, six foot longe the longest pipe.

One Recorder of metall.

One two and twentieth of mettall.

 

In the Chaire organ

 

One stopp diapason of tymber.

One Flute of tymber

One principall of mettall six foot long

Two fifteenths one of mettall, the other of tymber.

One two and twentieth of mettall.

 

And also the guilding of both the organs, both pipes and cases.

 

In this supposed age of historical reconstructions has anyone made a Restoration organ with a similar specification to that above? I suppose the addition of a Pedal department would be desirable in a church or teaching location but that could probably be done without affecting the integrity of the instrument. Is a height of 30ft commensurate with a largest Great pipe of 12' 6" and a largest Chaire pipe of 6'? And are the two Open Diapasons on the Great for the two fronts?

 

And if we are to suppose a compass starting at F or G for the 12 & 6 ft pipes, would it be possible to view the stops as equivalent to a short compass 16ft organ as much as a long compass 8ft one?

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Why should we put a Pedal in a design that possessed none?

The compasses, the scales, the halving rates take that into

account, so should we reconstitute one -A thing I would strongly

advocate- let us avoid to try to "do it better".

Bach is best played elsewhere. Better to have three or four

little organs with a strong character in one town than one

big "for all Repertoire" (read: for no repertoire at all!).

 

Pierre

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In all the examples I have seen from the Tudor and Jacobean periods the word seems to imply fornication. For example, at Chichester Thomas Weelkes was accused of incontinence with Joan Teight (I think that was the lady's name, but it's about 20 years since I read that!)

I'm losing it. This is completely wrong. My apologies to Master Weelkes who, for once, is completely blameless (though it may be noted that his first son was born just 4 months after his marriage).

 

As it happens I did remember the lady's name correctly, but she lived in Wells.

 

In 1593 Thomas Everett, a vicar choral, was convicted of getting his maidservant, Joan Teight, with child.

 

In 1594 George Huishe, verger and bellringer, was also convicted of "incontinence" with Joan Teight.

 

Then In 1600 another of the vicars choral, William Taweswell, was accused of incontinence with the wife of one of his colleagues (though the case was not proved) and in 1601 the vicar choral Richard Marwood was convicted of "incontinence".

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Why should we put a Pedal in a design that possessed none?

The compasses, the scales, the halving rates take that into

account, so should we reconstitute one -A thing I would strongly

advocate- let us avoid to try to "do it better".

Bach is best played elsewhere. Better to have three or four

little organs with a strong character in one town than one

big "for all Repertoire" (read: for no repertoire at all!).

 

Pierre

 

Repertoire's only half the story. Organs have a PURPOSE - to accompany worship.

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Repertoire's only half the story.  Organs have a PURPOSE - to accompany worship.

 

Of course, but.....

An organ is not an utilitarian device, like say a fridge.

And just like the church service is not a commercial one,

but something special -to say the least- an organ is a piece

of art, with a right to belong to a dedicate style.

There are more than enough written pieces one can play on

a british baroque organ for the services, while accompanying

can be done with simple means, or even a second organ.

After all, many churches have ancient pieces of furniture that

are actually treasures, and nobody would imagine "bettering"

an altar from the 18th century in order to render it "better" fit for

its purpose....

 

Pierre

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Of course, but.....

An organ is not an utilitarian device, like say a fridge.

And just like the church service is not a commercial one,

but something special -to say the least- an organ is a piece

of art, with a right to belong to a dedicate style.

There are more than enough written pieces one can play on

a british baroque organ for the services, while accompanying

can be done with simple means, or even a second organ.

After all, many churches have ancient pieces of furniture that

are actually treasures, and nobody would imagine "bettering"

an altar from the 18th century in order to render it "better" fit for

its purpose....

 

Pierre

 

But an altar or painting or chalice or ancient chair is not likely to limit the type, style, duration or quality of worship that can be offered. So there wouldn't seem to be much that could be done to improve them.

 

I agree with you entirely in principle but as music has developed over time so must the instruments. Outstanding instruments of all periods are best kept in private collections and museums, like vintage cars, where the resources to properly maintain, respect and appreciate them are more easily to be found. Museums and private collections collect things that are rare or unusual so ironically these instruments have to be rare or unusual for human preservation instincts to kick in - if it were not so we'd be banger racing in vintage Daimlers.

 

If we restrict ourselves in this way in our churches we risk making the situation even worse, alienating even more people and furthering the cause of those who would not hesitate to get rid of the organ altogether (this is going to be an increasingly prevalent situation) - they will find it easier to win friends and do so if the organ demonstrably can't cope with the reasonable 21st century demands made on it or makes it even harder to find people who are able or willing to play it week in week out, and can therefore be shown to be irrelevant or outdated for the needs of its home (and those needs are NOT principally musical). Although not specifically commercial, the church has to think commercially in order to survive (and, for that matter, the maintenance of organs and any other art works has to contain a commercial element of investment). Philanthropy is both more common and more sustainable outside the church walls.

 

There will always be some places of course that don't have to concern themselves with these things - principally seats of learning and private institutions (royal chapels etc) where the organ can be a work of art first and foremost.

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I'd rather believe the "neo-classique", ecclectic do-it-all-and-nothing organ

to be responsible for these problems!

 

But present St-Maximin, Isnard, Essen-Werden, Walcker, Alkmaar, F-C Schnitger

(among others) to a complete foreigner to the organ, and see what happens!

 

We ourselves, in our memories, stuck all back to characterfull organs when

we try to remember when we were "forever smitted"!

 

Pierre

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Guest Roffensis

Ande toe Upminster Abbey were we wont toe goe, and toe master who doth in all things finely. The wind rushing forth mightily toe the pypes and frome organes dide mightily mighty sounde bellow toe the church, suche I be mightily mighted. The systers Poggett , note of wante of men who put up hither thither suche organes of great magnum, gave up grate sounde that dide mightily fulled the chaire, suche the great pypes soundes with fysts. Eliza Poggett put forthe handes ande we mightily joyed. Our eares dide harken ande oure eyes toe bigge Tom as the grate belle dide swungen.

 

A mighty meale of Poggett steade dide wonte us toe London we wend.

R

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Guest Roffensis
Ande  toe Upminster Abbey were we wont toe goe, and toe suche master who doth in all things finely. The winde rushe forth mightily toe the pypes and frome organes dide mightily mighty sounde bellowe forthe toe, suche I be mightily mighted. Systers Poggett , note of wante of men who rendere forthe hither thither suche organes of grate magnum, gave grate sounde that dide mightily fulled the chaire, suche grate pypes soundes with fysts. Eliza Poggett forthe suche handes ande we mightily joyed. Our eares dide harke ande oure eyes toe bigge Tom the grate belle dide swungen.

 

A mighty meale of Poggett steade dide wonte us toe London we wend.

R

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Which particular drug were you using for this post? Can I have some?

 

Of course you can.

 

Here is a 1515 inventory:

 

Imprimus ij grete organ casez with carven worke.

 

Itm cobbordes for the ley in the belowes in the same casez.

 

Itm smaller casez with carved worke and the song-bordes redy wrought to set in pypes.

 

Itm xxviij of fyne tynne in plate redy wrought.

 

Itm in ley metall xiij Ib weight.

 

Itm in lede iiij Ib weight

 

Itm a pytt of erthe to melte tyn inn (yes, inn!!!)

 

Itm iijxx pypes of tymber, the most part redy-made.

 

Itm a stoke and a grete hammer for the same.

 

Itm a longe planke for to plane metall uppon.

 

Itm an organ case peynted grene with keys and a song-borde redy made

to set in pypes, with a case of white tymber therefor, redy made.

 

Itm ij planes for to plane metall with, and the irons to the same.

 

Itm iiij planes with irons to the same.

 

Itm iij hollow planes.

 

Itm v gowges and formes and metal coffyns.

 

Itm ij irons for to shave metall bright in square.

 

Itm iij mawndrells.

 

Itm a grete knyff for to cutt lede with.

 

Itm iiij rowndes for to tune pypes with.

 

Itm iiij peces for to caste with metall.

 

Itm ij swages with branches and byrdes.

 

And mind you, they did not even have tobacco to smoke in 1515!

 

Pierre

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