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Mixtures Without Principals


Guest Andrew Butler
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Guest Andrew Butler

I have seen a number of specs (toaster and pipe), and played a couple, that have - usually on the Choir/Positive but in the case of a few toasters on the Swell - a (usually fairly sharp) Mixture unsupported by a Principal chorus, even a 2' based one; ie sitting atop a flute chorus. Does this "work" and is there any historical / practical precedent?

 

An instrument so endowed that springs to mind is one that I know Paul Isom knows - the Wyvern at Harrietsham.......

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
I have seen a number of specs (toaster and pipe), and played a couple, that have - usually on the Choir/Positive but in the case of a few toasters on the Swell - a (usually fairly sharp) Mixture unsupported by a Principal chorus, even a 2' based one; ie sitting atop a flute chorus. Does this "work" and is there any historical / practical precedent?

 

An instrument so endowed that springs to mind is one that I know Paul Isom knows - the Wyvern at Harrietsham.......

 

 

I await other answers with interest. I reckon that these do not 'work' and yes, I've met one or two.

At the very least there ought to be a 4' Principal. I suppose the best historical precendent would be a c.1600-80 North German Brustwerk - but one without any Principal would be pretty strange. You might find a scheme with only a Principal 2' , but then the 8' stop (more than likely) would be a Regal or such.

 

I think the idea of a flute-only chorus (a Cornet decompose) topped by a Cymbal on the Choir went along with a Great with 8'4' and IV in Principals and a Blockflute or Waldflute at 2' but no 2' Principal - a typical aberation of the 60s/70s. In fact, wasn't this the sort of thing you found on the old RCO organ? There might have been a nod to Diapason tone in a Gemshorn or something.... even those tended to be voiced very 'flutey' (or is it 'fluty'? - I never know).

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I await other answers with interest. I reckon that these do not 'work' and yes, I've met one or two.

At the very least there ought to be a 4' Principal. I suppose the best historical precendent would be a c.1600-80 North German Brustwerk - but one without any Principal would be pretty strange. You might find a scheme with only a Principal 2' , but then the 8' stop (more than likely) would be a Regal or such.

 

I think the idea of a flute-only chorus (a Cornet decompose) topped by a Cymbal on the Choir went along with a Great with 8'4' and IV in Principals and a Blockflute or Waldflute at 2' but no 2' Principal - a typical aberation of the 60s/70s. In fact, wasn't this the sort of thing you found on the old RCO organ? There might have been a nod to Diapason tone in a Gemshorn or something.... even those tended to be voiced very 'flutey' (or is it 'fluty'? - I never know).

 

Isn't it right though that in some cases a high (often with tierce) Cimbel type mixture could be used in a solo context for colouristic bell like effects in which its foundations could therefore be flutes. There is a newish Peter Collins organ in a private house somewhere in N Wales where Roger Fisher recorded some Bach a few years ago where he used this sort of effect in a RH obligato type part in a chorale prelude and the effect was quite magical. My historical knowlege is sketchy on this but some of the recent renaissance/early baroque 'recreations' in Germany/Scandinavia have this kind of possibility - maybe this is what the 60s/70s builders got wrong when they tried to bolt on little 'toy' Positifs to Victorian/Edwardian instruments over here.

 

AJJ

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There were Brustwerks in northern german baroque organs with 2' Prinzipal only, a few regals, say 8-4, and a Mixture (Cymbel).

It seems to have been an archaism then, in instruments having been modified several times.

This was not the thing to retain, since we know today what Bach liked in the few northern organs he

played: the many reeds that these organs had compared with the central german ones, and the

good speaking 32's!

In the "néo-classique" period, say a 1950 Walcker or Gonzalez, a bit later Delmotte in Belgium, you have

Mixtures on manuals that are entirely deprived of Principals.

These stops are soloists you can use with a Gedackt or a Bourdon only; no choruses there, rather

colours like used by Olivier Messiaen.

 

Pierre

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Isn't it right though that in some cases a high (often with tierce) Cimbel type mixture could be used in a solo context for bell like effects in which its foundations could therefore be flutes. There is a newish Peter Collins organ in a private house somewhere in N Wales where Roger Fisher recorded some Bach a few years ago where he used this sort of effect in a RH obligato type part in a chorale prelude and the effect was quite magical. My historical knowlege is sketchy on this but some of the recent renaissance/early baroque 'recreations' in Germany/Scandinavia have this kind of possibility - maybe this is what the 60s/70s builders got wrong when they tried to bolt on little 'toy' Positifs to Victorian/Edwardian instruments over here.

 

AJJ

 

This is correct and it is also, I think, the point of the "Polish Zimbel" which was mentioned somewhere - perhaps on orgue-l rather than here.

 

Zimbels were not meant to be used as plenum stops, particularly not in polyphony, which has a hard enough time with ordinary repeating mixtures. Unfortunately a lot of neo-baroque builders designed their Zimbel stops as very high chorus mixtures, thus obscuring the issue.

 

Cheers

Barry

 

PS In the case of toasters, it's more or less all the same, since the mixtures don't sound much like mixtures anyway - at least I have never heard a toaster mixture that sounded as if it were of "principal scale".

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Guest Andrew Butler
I await other answers with interest. I reckon that these do not 'work' and yes, I've met one or two.

At the very least there ought to be a 4' Principal. I suppose the best historical precendent would be a c.1600-80 North German Brustwerk - but one without any Principal would be pretty strange. You might find a scheme with only a Principal 2' , but then the 8' stop (more than likely) would be a Regal or such.

 

I think the idea of a flute-only chorus (a Cornet decompose) topped by a Cymbal on the Choir went along with a Great with 8'4' and IV in Principals and a Blockflute or Waldflute at 2' but no 2' Principal - a typical aberation of the 60s/70s. In fact, wasn't this the sort of thing you found on the old RCO organ? There might have been a nod to Diapason tone in a Gemshorn or something.... even those tended to be voiced very 'flutey' (or is it 'fluty'? - I never know).

 

 

A couple witha 2' principal spring to mind:

 

http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=D06250

(full spec not given, but i think the positive 8 & 4 are flutes and the 2' a principal

 

and

 

http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=N06806

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
Isn't it right though that in some cases a high (often with tierce) Cimbel type mixture could be used in a solo context for colouristic bell like effects in which its foundations could therefore be flutes. There is a newish Peter Collins organ in a private house somewhere in N Wales where Roger Fisher recorded some Bach a few years ago where he used this sort of effect in a RH obligato type part in a chorale prelude and the effect was quite magical. My historical knowlege is sketchy on this but some of the recent renaissance/early baroque 'recreations' in Germany/Scandinavia have this kind of possibility - maybe this is what the 60s/70s builders got wrong when they tried to bolt on little 'toy' Positifs to Victorian/Edwardian instruments over here.

 

AJJ

 

 

I think you're referring to Dr.Malcolm Clarke's instrument at Ystym Colwyn Hall - I played it in its first incarnation - it has now been rebuilt and enlarged as a three manual by Peter Collins (once again). The Cymbal was on the Great which went

8 Open Diapason

8 Chimney Flute

4 Principal

2 Fifteenth

II Cymbal 33.36*

 

Even with all that foundation and Peter Collins' voicing (which is the best thing he does)

the mixture still stands out a mile. Mind you, Dr.MC is very proud of it - points out the Cymbal as a real feature of the instrument.

 

It occurred to me that the owner could be one of many people who already have hearing loss and this would explain why such a Mixture could sound quite pleasant to anyone. By all accounts, this hearing loss (upper partials) was one of Ralph Downes' problems. I think hearing such things at close quarters would tend to make this unfortunate condition worse if anything.

 

*To me, it's just an aural pin-cushion!

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A couple witha 2' principal spring to mind:

 

http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=D06250

(full spec not given, but i think the positive 8 & 4 are flutes and the 2' a principal

 

and

 

http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=N06806

 

These look very much of their time though not having played or heard either can't really comment on just a stoplist. Interesting however is the 2' Great flute instead of an expected 15th (that was often the 'done thing' at that time - in the way of 'decomposing' Cornets etc.) and the 'perky' effects suggested by the rather skeletal choruses, mutations, quintadenas and other exotica floating about slightly illogically. The Stafford organ has been mentioned here before in the context (if I remember correctly) of the H & H at the other end of the building - I believe that H, N & B used bass sharing to fit it all into the case - on electric action too!

 

AJJ

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
These look very much of their time though not having played or heard either can't really comment on just a stoplist. Interesting however is the 2' Great flute instead of an expected 15th (that was often the 'done thing' at that time - in the way of 'decomposing' Cornets etc.) and the 'perky' effects suggested by the rather skeletal choruses, mutations, quintadenas and other exotica floating about slightly illogically. The Stafford organ has been mentioned here before in the context (if I remember correctly) of the H & H at the other end of the building - I believe that H, N & B used bass sharing to fit it all into the case - on electric action too!

 

AJJ

 

 

St.Mary's Stafford: the HN&B was quite acceptable....there were a few compromises, as you suggest to get it all into the historic case. Mind you, this is a better fate for the Geib mahogany casework than it being left nailed up, masking bits of the heroic, romantic 4-manual H&H at the chancel end of the church. I think the reeds of the HN&B were its weakest point (and there might only have been three of these, all pretty thin-sounding) but they were not by any means the worst reeds HN&B produced.

 

Forgive me for repeating this here, but it's a little-known story: no HN&B reed voicer ever went to Gloucester Cathedral to finish those (much argued-about) reed stops! By the time the tonal finishing stage arrived, the work-force were desperate to stay as far as possible away from Ralph Downes and his methods. Obliged to do something, the management capitalised on a working relationship Downes had built up with an Irish flue voicer, named Prosser, and he was persuaded (pretty much against his will) to do the whole job, reeds and all. He wrote a most enlightening account of this in detail - I've seen it - but it has never been published. One day I hope it hits some journal or other. I understand Prosser's still in business on his own account in the Republic of Ireland.

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Forgive me for repeating this here, but it's a little-known story: no HN&B reed voicer ever went to Gloucester Cathedral to finish those (much argued-about) reed stops! By the time the tonal finishing stage arrived, the work-force were desperate to stay as far as possible away from Ralph Downes and his methods. Obliged to do something, the management capitalised on a working relationship Downes had built up with an Irish flue voicer, named Prosser, and he was persuaded (pretty much against his will) to do the whole job, reeds and all. He wrote a most enlightening account of this in detail - I've seen it - but it has never been published. One day I hope it hits some journal or other. I understand Prosser's still in business on his own account in the Republic of Ireland.

 

Not totally sure about this - a good friend of mine was apprenticed to HN&B and spent some time there, as did some of his colleagues, working on voicing with Mr Prosser. So at least there was some kind of representation.

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Guest Paul Isom

I have seen a number of specs (toaster and pipe), and played a couple, that have - usually on the Choir/Positive but in the case of a few toasters on the Swell - a (usually fairly sharp) Mixture unsupported by a Principal chorus, even a 2' based one; ie sitting atop a flute chorus. Does this "work" and is there any historical / practical precedent?

 

An instrument so endowed that springs to mind is one that I know Paul Isom knows - the Wyvern at Harrietsham.......

 

The Harrietsham organ was a compromise instrument for difficult situation The Choir organ is sited in the chancel with it's own Pedal Bourdon, while the main organ is in the nave (Great, Swell and Pedal). My memory is a little hazy as to the exact stoplist of the Choir division. The general idea was to have a small chorus in order to support and accompany the choir. I chose to put a Mixture on top of what is basically flutes. The Choir 2' was called Flageolet in order to allow us some leaway with sample choice. After all a Father Willis Flageolet appears as a silvery principal, as opposed to a wide-sacle flute. I think the resident organist preferred the wide 2' against anything else we had to offer. The Mixture is a simple 2 ranker (19.22), fairly narrow in scale - silvery in nature, and quite different from the larger chorus Mixtures of the Great and Swell divisions. It sort-of works in it's own way. I think the narrow scale ensures that it tops out the chorus without being objectionable. I think the stoplist is:

 

Stopped Diapason 8

Salicional 8

Spitz Flute 4

Nazard 2 2/3

Flageolet 2

Mixture II

Corno di Bassetto 8 (speaking from the nave only)

Solo Posaune 8 (speaking from the nave only)

 

I agree with the comment made that the Mixtures of toasters generally let the side down. However, I recently played for a concert on an organ built by our American cousins and was very impressed with the Mixtures.

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Forgive me for repeating this here, but it's a little-known story: no HN&B reed voicer ever went to Gloucester Cathedral to finish those (much argued-about) reed stops! By the time the tonal finishing stage arrived, the work-force were desperate to stay as far as possible away from Ralph Downes and his methods.

 

I was working for HNB at the time, and make a couple of the smaller soundboards for the Gloucester job. They were unusual as they didn't have normal pallets and actions, but used multilple direct electric pallet magnets instead. It was intended in the original design to use varying numbers of them depending on how many, and which, stops were in use. I think the idea was patented, but it didn't work, seriously affecting the tuning, and in the end they were all used all the time. Back to the reeds.

Frank Hancock, the reed voicer, was reluctant to work with RD, as were the other voicers. RD had written a precise specification of how the various stops were to be constructed - scale, mouth widths and cut up etc. - and I think it probable they thought he was treading on their toes. One of them told me that 'all his flutes sound the same to me', and FH assured me that with the treatment dictated for the various reeds it was quite impossible to achieve the effect RD wanted - indeed, he told me that the treatment specified was certain to produce unsteady speech, but that 'they' wouldn't listen. He provided the chap who did go ( I've forgotten his name, but he was one of the junior voicers as his seniors didn't want to know) with a set of weights for the reed tongues, which he knew were necessary to stabilise the speech of the bass notes, but I believe they were never used. The organist at the time queried the unsteady speech with FH, and was told 'That's the Downes dither!'. Or so I was told - I suppose it's true. All rather sad really. But it does raise the interesting question of how involved the consultant should be in specifying what will be done in a rebuild. Are pipe scales and treatments his province or should he keep out of it and just say what he is looking (listening?) for, leaving details to the Organ builder? And should he be involved with the day to day business of the regulation of the completed instrument? Or should that also be left to the builder? There was little doubt among the men of HNB which they would prefer!

 

Regards to all

 

John

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The Brustwerk which H. Kröger added to the Totentanzorgel in the Marienkirche in Lübeck in 1621/2 had a 4-rank Scharf, but no Principals:

 

Gedackt 8

Quintatön 4

Hohlflöte 2

Quintflöte 1 1/3

Scharf IV

Krummhorn 8

Schalmei 4

 

As to whether it worked, who can tell?

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk

quote from John Maslen:

 

I was working for HNB at the time, and make a couple of the smaller soundboards for the Gloucester job. They were unusual as they didn't have normal pallets and actions, but used multilple direct electric pallet magnets instead. It was intended in the original design to use varying numbers of them depending on how many, and which, stops were in use. I think the idea was patented, but it didn't work, seriously affecting the tuning, and in the end they were all used all the time. Back to the reeds.

Frank Hancock, the reed voicer, was reluctant to work with RD, as were the other voicers. RD had written a precise specification of how the various stops were to be constructed - scale, mouth widths and cut up etc. - and I think it probable they thought he was treading on their toes. One of them told me that 'all his flutes sound the same to me', and FH assured me that with the treatment dictated for the various reeds it was quite impossible to achieve the effect RD wanted - indeed, he told me that the treatment specified was certain to produce unsteady speech, but that 'they' wouldn't listen. He provided the chap who did go ( I've forgotten his name, but he was one of the junior voicers as his seniors didn't want to know) with a set of weights for the reed tongues, which he knew were necessary to stabilise the speech of the bass notes, but I believe they were never used. The organist at the time queried the unsteady speech with FH, and was told 'That's the Downes dither!'. Or so I was told - I suppose it's true. All rather sad really. But it does raise the interesting question of how involved the consultant should be in specifying what will be done in a rebuild. Are pipe scales and treatments his province or should he keep out of it and just say what he is looking (listening?) for, leaving details to the Organ builder? And should he be involved with the day to day business of the regulation of the completed instrument? Or should that also be left to the builder? There was little doubt among the men of HNB which they would prefer!

 

Regards to all

 

John

 

 

Thankyou very much indeed for this extremely interesting post, John.

 

Somewhat of a recurrent theme of mine (having been involved with the organ-building side in a very small way myself) is to point out to current critics/purists/armchair designers how there are always reasons for some of the apparent mistakes of the past. So often the reason is either an ignorant/over-ambitious customer or (of course) a 'bee-in-his-bonnet' adviser.

 

This is a particularly important story you have told us here.... and to have it from someone right on the inside - wonderful!

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  • 1 month later...

The 2'-based chorus is not solely a creation of the whackier 1960's Orgelbewegungers: none other than J.S. Bach specified the following new Brustwerk at Muehlhausen around 1708:

 

Gedackt 8

Floete 4

Prinzipal 2

Tierce 1 3/5

Quinte 1 1/3

Mixtur III

Schalmei 8

 

Source is Peter Williams's 'The European Organ', p.145. It's not clear there whether Bach designed every element of this stop-list, but Williams does imply that Bach specifically requested the Tierce, which would have been a highly unusual feature in Thuringia at the time, and would surely have required a 4' flute to go with it.

 

J.F. Wender seems to have built the new Brustwerk to this stop-list, so the precedent for such choruses is definitely there. Unfortunately I don't have any info on the composition of the Mixtur.

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I've found another example: the Luebeck Marienkirche (the 'Totentanz orgel') had a Brustwerk added by H Krueger in 1621 with no Principals at all (again, this is according to Peter Williams):

 

Gedackt 8

Quintatoen 4

Hohlfloete 2

Quintfloete 1 1/3

Scharf IV

Krummhorn 8

Schalmei 4

 

Still, I don't know how common it was to omit Principals from choruses in the 17th and 18th c's. Arp Schnitger (re)built a Brustwerk at Steinkirchen with only a 2' Principal and a 3' Quinte, with a very high Scharf (26.29.33). Hope this helps...

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I've found another example: the Luebeck Marienkirche (the 'Totentanz orgel') had a Brustwerk added by H Krueger in 1621 with no Principals at all (again, this is according to Peter Williams):

 

Gedackt 8

Quintatoen 4

Hohlfloete 2

Quintfloete 1 1/3

Scharf IV

Krummhorn 8

Schalmei 4

 

Still, I don't know how common it was to omit Principals from choruses in the 17th and 18th c's. Arp Schnitger (re)built a Brustwerk at Steinkirchen with only a 2' Principal and a 3' Quinte, with a very high Scharf (26.29.33). Hope this helps...

 

 

Dearc Some Chap,

I'm sure you are correct.

 

This all has to do, of course, with the Werkprinzip layout. The traditional Brustwerk was always placed immediately above the console - likely as not with a regal stop at the front so that this (least stable of reed stops) could be tuned easily from the front. This position gives intimacy, a light action and excellent control but also a very definite height restriction. Your few 8' stopped basses could be conveyed off the chest and laid horizontally above the remainder of the division which would have height (often) for no pipe longer than about 30" - i.e. a 2' Principal pipe plus the pipe foot. In some very early cases, there was not considered room for an 8' flute and you will find the occasional specification where the only 8' stop is the fractional length reed.

 

I believe that it is true to say that the Werkprinzip idea mostly died out for new organs before Bach's time. One of the reasons for this could well be the increasing taste for character stops at 8' pitch. Any sort of Viol, for instance, would be impossible to include in a Brustwerk division, likewise a full-length reed at 8'.

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No probs. :unsure:

 

I do my umlauts the hard way (Alt + ASCII code), but someone (pcnd?) once mentioned an easier way which I think worked a bit like the "insert symbol" window in Word. Any reminders gratefully received!

 

I have 'character map' (from which you can get all the accents etc. you want) installed as a shortcut - following pcnd's assistance some time ago though I can't remember where I got it from in the first place - probably somewhere in the depths of Word and therefore searchable!

 

AJJ

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I have 'character map' (from which you can get all the accents etc. you want) installed as a shortcut - following pcnd's assistance some time ago though I can't remember where I got it from in the first place - probably somewhere in the depths of Word and therefore searchable!

Start | Programs | Accessories | System Tools

 

A quick shortcut for acute accents only is "Alt Gr" + the letter.

 

Paul

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No probs. :unsure:

 

I do my umlauts the hard way (Alt + ASCII code), but someone (pcnd?) once mentioned an easier way which I think worked a bit like the "insert symbol" window in Word. Any reminders gratefully received!

 

 

As one who does a lot of German wordprocessing, I've now more or less memorised the ATL+ formulae, which seem to me quicker than the insert symbol method. There are only 3 or 4 you need frequently:

 

ä is +132

ö is + 148

ü is + 129

and ß (for things like 8 Fuß), is +225

 

Capitals don't crop up all that often:

 

Ä is +142

Ö is +153

Ü is +154

 

French, however, is a different matter ....

 

JS

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Start | Programs | Accessories | System Tools

 

A quick shortcut for acute accents only is "Alt Gr" + the letter.

 

Paul

 

Paul,

 

I too usually use the ASCII codes; the character map would be more helpful but I can't find it where you have suggested, nor does a search on "character map" produce anything. Any ideas? Nothing unusual on my system: XP Home, MS Office and IE7.

 

John C

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