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DaveHarries

Odd Gadgets On Organs

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Hi all,

 

Anyone here ever come across a strange gadget on an organ? Perhaps a stop that does something unexpected?

 

I once did some practice on a Saturday afternoon on the organ of St. Paul, Newcastle-under-Lyme and pulled a stop called the "Tibia Liquida". It isn't a playable stop though: it opens a cocktail cabinet above the stop jamb. Would love to know whose idea that was.

 

Anyone came across something similar???!

 

Dave

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Guest Barry Williams
Hi all,

 

Anyone here ever come across a strange gadget on an organ? Perhaps a stop that does something unexpected?

 

I once did some practice on a Saturday afternoon on the organ of St. Paul, Newcastle-under-Lyme and pulled a stop called the "Tibia Liquida". It isn't a playable stop though: it opens a cocktail cabinet above the stop jamb. Would love to know whose idea that was.

 

Anyone came across something similar???!

 

Dave

 

 

Nothing quite so strange, but our house organ has no blower switch, as such. My wife insisted on having a draw stop marked 'Sine qua non', which operates the blower. (She also refused to have a pedal light on the grounds that one should not need to look at the feet whilst playing.) I will suggest a 'Tibia Liquida' as a very suitable addition.

 

Were there any cocktails in the drawer in Newcastle-under-Lyme?

 

Barry Williams

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Guest Cynic
Nothing quite so strange, but our house organ has no blower switch, as such. My wife insisted on having a draw stop marked 'Sine qua non', which operates the blower. (She also refused to have a pedal light on the grounds that one should not need to look at the feet whilst playing.) I will suggest a 'Tibia Liquida' as a very suitable addition.

 

Were there any cocktails in the drawer in Newcastle-under-Lyme?

 

Barry Williams

 

The last time I played at St.Paul's N-U-L the cocktail cupboard was well-stocked. Mind you, this was while the late great John Norris was still titulaire.

 

Dr.Malcolm Clarke's Collins organ at Ystym Colwyn Hall, Meifod (suberb, by the way) also has a drawknob for the wind supply. At the end of every piece I automatically put it in with the others. Whoops!

 

I gather that when she gave a recital there Margaret Phillips did the same. We're obviously just so well-trained.

 

Oddest thing to see by a console has to be the (moderately ancient) lever that operates the carved wooden hand which pokes out just above the entrance to the choir, part of the organ screen at Ripon Cathedral. This was obviously intended so that the organist could conduct the choir without being seen!

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The 1881 Gray & Davison organ at Rock in Northumberland which Harrisons recently restored had an unusual alternative system to the Swell pedal for controlling the Swell box shutters: the organists bench had a backrest which was able to pivot and operate the shutters. Not sure whether this is still in use.

 

More information on NPOR: http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=N04159

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The original cocktail cabinet was I think Rieger's in Ratzeburg Cathedral. There it's called "Rauschwerk" - to have a "Rausch" means to be raving drunk, but of course you international types all knew that already.

 

Somewhere here, but I am afraid that I have forgotten where, there is a stop labelled "Noli me tangere", but if you do, a dusty old foxtail swipes you in the face. And if you draw the "Vox strigis" on the organ of the catholic cathedral across the road here, a wooden owl appears from the side of the Rückpositif case and says "Hooo" rather plaintively.

 

Cheers

B

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The 1881 Gray & Davison organ at Rock in Northumberland which Harrisons recently restored had an unusual alternative system to the Swell pedal for controlling the Swell box shutters: the organists bench had a backrest which was able to pivot and operate the shutters. Not sure whether this is still in use.

 

More information on NPOR: http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=N04159

 

I visted Rock Church whilst on holiday last summer. Judging by the rather kinky looking harness attached to the back of organ bench, this novel swell mechanism has been restored.

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The organ at my old school had somebody's front door (I think it was painted green) as the "lid" of the bellows. I believe the action was truly mechanical in that it was pieces of Meccano which operated the stops. The thing was designed, I think, and built by an ancient biology teacher called "Oily" Wells.

 

Peter

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St Martin's Chelsfield (Gary & Davison) has a drawknob marked BLOW. It is heavily sprung to the off position, so a sharp tug results in a loud thump as it returns, somewhere near the hand - blowing gear, thus startling the poor old organ blower into life !

 

H

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This organ

 

http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=N01836

 

was constructed by the then organist, who had a background in engineering. It should be stated for the record that he made a pretty good job of it – the standard of his workmanship being vastly superior to that of certain 'professional' organ builders who had been engaged by the church authorities at other times.

 

The pipework is from a variety of sources, including a fine instrument by Hill, which had been dismantled in the late 60s/early 70s.

 

http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=N02046

 

However, as regards gadgets...the pedal stops were/are controlled by a bank of light switches placed at the bottom of the LH jamb.

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(She also refused to have a pedal light on the grounds that one should not need to look at the feet whilst playing.) I will suggest a 'Tibia Liquida' as a very suitable addition.

 

Were there any cocktails in the drawer in Newcastle-under-Lyme?

 

Barry Williams

 

Hi

 

When I was learning the organ back in the 60's, my teacher refused to have a light on the pedal board for the same reason - when Osmonds put a new organ in the church, they were firmly told not to fit one! I still never turn pedal lights on where there's a seperate switch, unless it's a strange organ and I think I might need to look for foot pistons.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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Hi

 

When I was learning the organ back in the 60's, my teacher refused to have a light on the pedal board for the same reason - when Osmonds put a new organ in the church, they were firmly told not to fit one! I still never turn pedal lights on where there's a seperate switch, unless it's a strange organ and I think I might need to look for foot pistons.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

 

Each to their own. Personally I would never insist on such a thing - particularly if one is learning. It is necessary in the first instance to have a visual reference-point, in order to aid (and confirm, if you will) the physical aspect of finding pedals and toe pistons, etc. In any case, if it is a choice between playing correct notes and looking, or playing incorrect notes and trying to feel for things (even on a familiar instrument), then I would look every time. I note that a number of my colleagues who happen to be cathedral organists do the same.

 

My own instrument has small brass toe pedals, mounted in two staggered vertical rows - positioned closely together. Most people do not use them because they are difficult to locate and it is easy to press the wrong pedal. In fact, Barry Ferguson, when he was in charge, had them stopped-off with small blocks of wood, in order that he did not press them by accident. I am quite used to them, but I will still look - just in case.

 

I really do not see a problem with occasionally looking at one's feet. After all, I doubt that you play without ever looking at your hands!

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Oddest thing to see by a console has to be the (moderately ancient) lever that operates the carved wooden hand which pokes out just above the entrance to the choir, part of the organ screen at Ripon Cathedral. This was obviously intended so that the organist could conduct the choir without being seen!

 

Apparently it used to be operated by a pedal to the right of the console, where you would expect to find a trigger swell.

 

I got a rather severe telling off from the Dean for moving it during one of the evensong lessons, for a dare. It was all going well until it started to squeak on the way back down!

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Guest Barry Oakley
Hi all,

 

Anyone here ever come across a strange gadget on an organ? Perhaps a stop that does something unexpected?

 

I once did some practice on a Saturday afternoon on the organ of St. Paul, Newcastle-under-Lyme and pulled a stop called the "Tibia Liquida". It isn't a playable stop though: it opens a cocktail cabinet above the stop jamb. Would love to know whose idea that was.

 

Anyone came across something similar???!

 

Dave

 

The idea to incorporate a Tibia Liquida at St Paul's, Newcastle-under-Lyme, came from the late John Norris who was organist at the church for more than 40 years. He saw the device on a cathedral organ in Germany (can't remember the name) during a holiday there. When the St Paul's Hill organ was rebuilt and enlarged by George Sixsmith & Son during the last decade, John requested they incorporate such a facility on the new console. It's been cleverly designed and constructed, featuring interior illumination and is complete with lead crystal glasses and a selection of miniature strong stuff. It used to be replenished on a quite frequent basis.

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As well as the drinks cabinet at Ratzeburg Cathedral, I seem to recall that the organist there was also a part time fireman and he had an emergency light fitted in case he was needed on the fire engine. It's over 25 years since I was last there but I understand it activated in the middle of a service once and he disappeared much to the surprise of those in the congregation expecting an introduction to a hymn.

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Oddest thing to see by a console has to be the (moderately ancient) lever that operates the carved wooden hand which pokes out just above the entrance to the choir, part of the organ screen at Ripon Cathedral. This was obviously intended so that the organist could conduct the choir without being seen!

 

This dates back to the time when the organist sat in the oriel gallery with his back to the choir and with the wooden hand just behind him. What a pity Gilbert Scott had to plonk his big heavy case right up against the edge of the magnificent carved medieval screen, with only token acknowlegdement of the oriel gallery in the protruding 'tower' above which now houses the Great Tromba 16. The console was placed within the screen on the south side so that the organist could see east and west.

 

Now that the cathedral has a marvellous new mobile nave console, it would be nice to think the screen console could one day return to its original position.

 

JS

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A couple of tonally comprehensive organs that I've played have been furnished with a two-way switch labelled 'Bombarde 32'/16''', enabling the organist to make either the 32' or 16' pedal reed controllable by a single reversible piston. This strikes me as being a most useful device and I'm quite surprised that is isn't more common on large instruments.

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Guest acc

The Grenzing organ at Brussels Cathedral has two "suns" decorating the pipe shades, with a drawknob at the console to make them rotate.

 

(Sorry, but images.google.com didn't give me any picture on which these are clearly visible.)

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Each to their own. Personally I would never insist on such a thing - particularly if one is learning. It is necessary in the first instance to have a visual reference-point, in order to aid (and confirm, if you will) the physical aspect of finding pedals and toe pistons, etc. In any case, if it is a choice between playing correct notes and looking, or playing incorrect notes and trying to feel for things (even on a familiar instrument), then I would look every time. I note that a number of my colleagues who happen to be cathedral organists do the same.

 

My own instrument has small brass toe pedals, mounted in two staggered vertical rows - positioned closely together. Most people do not use them because they are difficult to locate and it is easy to press the wrong pedal. In fact, Barry Ferguson, when he was in charge, had them stopped-off with small blocks of wood, in order that he did not press them by accident. I am quite used to them, but I will still look - just in case.

 

I really do not see a problem with occasionally looking at one's feet. After all, I doubt that you play without ever looking at your hands!

 

 

The most useful thing for a pedal light is to have it connected to the blower so the organist, full of exexhilaration after a brilliant performance, does not go home leaving the blower running. Anyone one out there gone home (hopefully returning when realisation dawns) leaving the blower on? This is also an excellent excuse for having a pedal light.

 

FF

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Apparently it used to be operated by a pedal to the right of the console, where you would expect to find a trigger swell.

 

I got a rather severe telling off from the Dean for moving it during one of the evensong lessons, for a dare. It was all going well until it started to squeak on the way back down!

 

 

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

 

 

Apparently, when Dr.Philip Marshall (a great character), was O&MOC at Ripon, the ONLY time he ever allowed himself to do this, was when his mother visited and sat in the choir for Evensong!

 

To quote Dr.Marshall's own words, and use them to describe him,"His language wasn't always entirely BBC."

 

:blink:

 

MM

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Anyone here ever come across a strange gadget on an organ?

 

 

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

 

 

I've seen a few odd things from time to time, such as odd stop-keys placed underneath stop-knobs, where bits had been added on and there wasn't space, but I can't recall where.

 

I suppose they're quite a rarity now, but St.John's, Bierley, Bradford, has one of those strange Norman & Beard consoles, where the stop is drawn using a small ivory button beneath the respective stop, and cancelled in the normal way.

 

This was an attempt to get all the stops very close together, and place them in a single row beneath the music-desk. I'm not sure how many there are at Bierley, but it is quite a substantial 3-manual of about 35-40 stops, and all the stops are situated above the Swell and below the music-desk.

 

They are quite difficult to get used to.

 

I came across an organ in Huddersfield, which had a Tuba, but when I played the organ, I couldn't find it anywhere. It eventually turned up as a single, separate draw-stop, tagged beneath the right-hand side of the Choir manual!

 

Perhaps the most curious consoles were those infamous "Brindgradus" system instruments, made by Brindley & Foster of Sheffield.

 

Using an Anglised version of the German "keglade" chest (cone valve mechanism), the consoles included a number of "transformers," which would typically be:-

 

Swell Couplers Off

Great Couplers Off

Pedal Couplers

Swell Unison Off

Free Pedal

Viole Celeste

Flute Celeste

Principal Celeste

Woodwind Reeds

Flues

GrandChoeur

Oboe Solo

Clarinet Solo

Cornopean Solo

Free Pedal

Free Accompaniment

Free Couplers

 

These were essentially pre-sets, working on a stop-ventil pneumatic system, but it is so long ago that I played one (there is one just down the road from me), I cannot recall whether these "transformers" also supplied suitable accompaniment/pedal stops at the same time as drawing individual solo effects.

 

The only two I know, are those at St.Peter's Church, Shipley (just across the road from where the Guildford Cathedral organ came originally), and Colne Parish Church, which was featured in "The Organ" some years ago.

 

The other, very effective stop mechanism, were those full-adjustable, pneumatic piston-setters devised by Binns, where a set of pegs and squares (set by inflating pneumatic motors), could set up the toe-pedal combination action. The trick was to draw stops and pull the appropriate setter-knob corresponding to the toe-combination number. That set the combination, and it was an absolutely wonderful early system, which I used a great deal when I had this device on an organ I played in Bradford.

 

Of course......there are theatre-organs........... :blink:

 

 

MM

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The old organ loft at St Paul's cathedral was full of interest because of all the different ways of spying on what was happening around the building. The was one large and one very small peep hole for looking down to the west end and two similar ones on the opposite side for keeping an eye on the altar and the collection's arrival. Then the dummy pipes in the chair case could also be folded right back immediately behind the organist to see the choir. Christopher Dearnel;y always had one of these wide open when he was accompanying to see the beat from the senior vicar's choral - usually Maurice Bevan. On either side of these you could open panels behind the taller chair case pipes and then see out between the pipes themselves. Dykes-Bower used to keep one of these open just a crack to see the choir in. Harry Gabb used to occasionally open one of the larger central doors and one would see him sitting at the console in his braces!

Martin.

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

I've seen a few odd things from time to time, such as odd stop-keys placed underneath stop-knobs, where bits had been added on and there wasn't space, but I can't recall where.

 

I suppose they're quite a rarity now, but St.John's, Bierley, Bradford, has one of those strange Norman & Beard consoles, where the stop is drawn using a small ivory button beneath the respective stop, and cancelled in the normal way.

 

This was an attempt to get all the stops very close together, and place them in a single row beneath the music-desk. I'm not sure how many there are at Bierley, but it is quite a substantial 3-manual of about 35-40 stops, and all the stops are situated above the Swell and below the music-desk.

 

They are quite difficult to get used to.

 

One such example is here - I believe this was a design which the blind organist Alfred Hollins was involved with creating. FF would know more. What's good is that a number of registers can be brought on at the same time, which I found extremely easy to use intuitively where big crescendos are required - you just keep adding more of the stuff on the right of each group without risk of knocking anything off - and what's more is that VERY QUICKLY you don't have to look. The first photo shows the console in reasonable detail.

 

Anyone know who did the electrification job on this instrument (about 5 years ago I believe)? NPOR has no details but I believe it was a local builder.

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Guest Andrew Butler

I can think of several N & B "Disc and Button" consoles still around of which I am aware. I think there will probably be quite a few that people could add to my list. For starters:

 

Norfolk: Horning, Ranworth, Brampton

 

Suffolk: Ufford

 

Oxon: Banbury St Mary (3 man)

 

Kent: Lenham (slightly modified form, more like rocking tablets)

 

Slightly tangentally, isn't it awful to see a nice console spoiled with out-of-character light switches etc. The light switch at Ss Peter & Paul, Headcorn, Kent, says "Water Heater" on it!

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One such example is here - I believe this was a design which the blind organist Alfred Hollins was involved with creating. FF would know more. What's good is that a number of registers can be brought on at the same time, which I found extremely easy to use intuitively where big crescendos are required - you just keep adding more of the stuff on the right of each group without risk of knocking anything off - and what's more is that VERY QUICKLY you don't have to look. The first photo shows the console in reasonable detail.

 

Anyone know who did the electrification job on this instrument (about 5 years ago I believe)? NPOR has no details but I believe it was a local builder.

 

I was always told that Alfred Hollins developed these, exactly as David has said. A blind person feeling for conventional stops could too easily knock something off that was on. It also kept the stop control in a central position that a stop could be judged and found from the position of hands on the keys, not having to lash out right or left for the stop jambs.

 

FF

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St Martin's Chelsfield (Gary & Davison) has a drawknob marked BLOW. It is heavily sprung to the off position, so a sharp tug results in a loud thump as it returns, somewhere near the hand - blowing gear, thus startling the poor old organ blower into life !

H

 

A bit like playing the Hauptwerk version of the 1731 Silbermann at Reinhardtsgrimma (perhaps VH might confirm/comment?): there is a stop marked "Calcant", and the organ won't play a note (though you can see the keys moving on-screen if you try) until you have drawn it. It rings a bell to summon the organ-boy to pump!

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