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DaveHarries

Odd Gadgets On Organs

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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!

 

The next thing will be digitally simulated blower noise as you start the thing up!

 

AJJ

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The next thing will be digitally simulated blower noise as you start the thing up!

 

AJJ

 

 

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

 

 

Trinity Church, NY?

 

You can hear digital wind-noise etc.

 

MM

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

Trinity Church, NY?

 

You can hear digital wind-noise etc.

 

MM

 

Oh, brother... I expect it'll need a simulated digital overhaul in 20 years - just like the real thing - by which time they'll be able to bolt on a new simulated random cipher module.

 

For crying out loud, if you're going to have an electronic, just have an electronic and be done with it! The more of this "just like the real thing" crap that turns up, the more of a laughing stock these things become. A few years ago Copeman Hart (not seen any recent ones) were doing good solidly made work with excellent joinery, quality keyboards and a fundamental honesty about them. Conversely, a friend has just bought an Eminent for his house - which has authentic wind shake - it still makes foul noises redolent of the late 70's and has an appallingly tacky moulded plastic keyboard and crappy console fittings. There is just no aesthetic at all - it's no more than a gimmick race which is really getting to stupidity stage now.

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Oh, brother... I expect it'll need a simulated digital overhaul in 20 years - just like the real thing - by which time they'll be able to bolt on a new simulated random cipher module.

 

 

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

 

 

With all respect to our host, you can hear it for yourself.

 

Some rather good organ-playing, at the very least:-

 

http://www.trinitywallstreet.org/resources/?pipes

 

MM

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

With all respect to our host, you can hear it for yourself.

 

Some rather good organ-playing, at the very least:-

 

http://www.trinitywallstreet.org/resources/?pipes

 

MM

 

Haha! Splendid stuff from good old Gerrmy fil-Sell, who lives with the Queen at Wind-sore Castle. I love the invocation to the audience to turn off all the widgets and gadgets. Obviously not ALL of them!

 

A remarkable sound via the internet, and like you say stunning playing, but wouldn't it be better if the instrument was honest about itself and didn't try so very very hard to taste like real butter by imitating irrelevant things like blower noise?

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The next thing will be digitally simulated blower noise as you start the thing up!

AJJ

 

You DO hear it, and it's not simulated - it's a CD-quality recording of the real thing (along with the key and stop action noise, and every pipe of every stop).

 

On the St Anne's, Moseley organ (which comes free with HW) the blower starts automatically when the organ is 100% loaded (you hear the clunk of the motor starting up, and then the rushing mighty wind).

 

With the big EM Skinner (Our Lady of Mt Carmel, Chicago) you actually have to turn the key on the console before you hear the same thing. This produced some interesting reactions from visitors to our stand at the CRE in Exeter a couple of weeks ago, when they drew stops, played a few notes and wondered why no sound was being produced. It works perfectly once you turn the blower on! :D

 

With all due respect to Mr Coram, this is not "just like the real thing crap". It's actually as close to the real thing as you can currently get without going to Moseley, Chicago, Thuringia, Aix-en-Provence, etc, and a helluva lot cheaper. (Incidentally, it's also considerably cheaper than most examples of what are known on this board as "toasters".) Those who came, saw and were amazed did not consider it a laughing-stock. I would invite all "Doubting Thomases" to try it for themselves, with an open mind, and prepare to have it boggled!

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With all due respect to Mr Coram, this is not "just like the real thing crap". It's actually as close to the real thing as you can currently get without going to Moseley, Chicago, Thuringia, Aix-en-Provence, etc, and a helluva lot cheaper. (Incidentally, it's also considerably cheaper than most examples of what are known on this board as "toasters".) Those who came, saw and were amazed did not consider it a laughing-stock. I would invite all "Doubting Thomases" to try it for themselves, with an open mind, and prepare to have it boggled!

 

And with all due respect to you, you've said it for yourself - "it's as close to the real thing..."

 

An electronic does not NEED a "blower switch" or the sound of rushing wind in order to fulfil its function. This achieves nothing except ego stroking. It's rather like having a luxury modern car which won't start until I operate a crank handle on the front, or an electric clock that I have to wind up every 2 days. Such a feature would be no more than sham. Just be HONEST! Here's the plug, put it in the wall, turn it on and go. As long as it's well constructed from quality materials and at least comparable with its competitors sound-wise (there will always be development, there is not and will never be an "ultimate solution"), that should be all that matters.

 

Sorry to appear abrasive but I feel so passionately about this I can hardly tell you - it doesn't matter what you're doing, whether it's an electronic or a 1937 Rushworth or an 1850 Walker or a 2005 Mander, do it well and properly with aesthetic, honesty, quality down to the last microdetail and musical concerns above egotistical and financial ones, and you will find it almost impossible to fail.

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An electronic does not NEED a "blower switch" or the sound of rushing wind in order to fulfil its function.

But Hauptwerk is not trying to simulate a pipe organ; its aim is to reproduce specific existing organs, and to do that fully, it does need these sounds.

 

Of course, you may not want such a reproduction of a pipe organ; but some people do. Using them, say, in a church, is another matter - the original was possibly tailored to its location (though considering the number of organs that get moved, perhaps this isn't as absolute as it might seem at first thought).

 

Paul

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Guest Andrew Butler

Perhaps this belongs in "Embarassment", but it's relevant here too I think.

 

Peter Collins restored/enlarged the instrument in St George's, Benenden, Kent. One of the additions was a pedal trombone. There were various delays in completing the work, and for some reason that the more technically minded may be able to fathom, when it was first connected the drawstop worked "in reverse" for a few days - presumably to enable it to be used. What a pity no-one told me when I turned up to play for a funeral..............!

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But Hauptwerk is not trying to simulate a pipe organ; its aim is to reproduce specific existing organs, and to do that fully, it does need these sounds.

 

Of course, you may not want such a reproduction of a pipe organ; but some people do. Using them, say, in a church, is another matter - the original was possibly tailored to its location (though considering the number of organs that get moved, perhaps this isn't as absolute as it might seem at first thought).

 

Paul

 

Your first sentence presumes that fully reproducing every detail of all aspects of the experience of a particular pipe organ is actually possible to do in its entirety, without the physical movement of air vibrating through pipes into a building and provision of identical playing characteristics through console shape and layout, playing aids, key action, you name it - all of which things dictate how any instrument is used to a large extent. I submit that it's not, and never will be, in the same way it's not possible to precisely replicate the feel of a 1930's MG without actually building one using period materials and techniques and then finding a 1930's road to drive it on, and it would therefore be better and more honest to accept that a simulation can only go so far and adhere to that acceptance with integrity. I don't see how any experience of a particular organ can claim to be in any sense realistic without actually physically being in the building (which we are so fond of saying is the best stop on any organ), feeling the particular action and key material, the sensation of drawing stops; no amount of spray-on Extra Reality TM features can ever compensate for that, so why not just set perceptions and goals realistically and honestly, and say "this is a mockup of what such-and-such an organ sounds like - good, isn't it - NOW go and see the real thing!" and throw all this spin and hyperbole in the bin where it belongs? At that point, I can have respect for what it's trying to do and subscribe in full with the utmost admiration.

 

Exactly the same argument could be levelled at the "barn door organs" mentioned elsewhere - the idea is fine, the experiment is fine and it's an interesting exercise, and it's a valuable and useful experience. But the spin in the brochures! - some overwrought nonsense along the lines of "At last, savour the experience of playing as Gibbons and Byrd played; steep yourself in the sounds familiar to Tomkins and Wilbye" etc etc. Hang on - this is a barn door - we know it had some slides, and how many notes it had. Steady on!

 

That is the point, for me, at which I stopped thinking "this is interesting" and started thinking "this is bogus", and that's a great shame. Trying to say that an electrical hum and some pre-recorded wind leaks can take a computer in my front room any significantly closer to St Bavo achieves precisely the same effect.

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Your first sentence presumes that fully reproducing every detail of all aspects of the experience of a particular pipe organ is actually possible to do in its entirety,

Of course not. There is only one reality. But if it is worthwhile to attempt to reproduce parts of it, then there is also scope for different people to feel that different parts of the reproduction help with the illusion. Just because they can't reproduce some aspects of the reality which matter to you doesn't mean that attempts in other directions are wrong. Any CD recording is as far from reality as Hauptwerk, and indeed I know people who can't stand recorded music at all - but that doesn't stop plenty of other people enjoying it.

 

Paul

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On the St Anne's, Moseley organ (which comes free with HW) the blower starts automatically when the organ is 100% loaded (you hear the clunk of the motor starting up, and then the rushing mighty wind).
I have to admit that I found this gloriously funny when I first heard it - as DHM will probably remember! Personally I don't think it either adds to, or detracts from, the experience of actually playing the reproduction - which I thought had been very well done indeed. To me it just seemed an irrelevance, but I fully accept that others' mileage may vary. In a sense, the HW sound files are an "archive record" of the organ. Viewed in this way, it is not illogical to record the blower noise as part of the archive.

 

I can see more point in the Calcant stop on the Silbermann. I take it that the aim of HW organs is to give you something of the experience of playing the original and I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing to be reminded that players of these organs couldn't just plug and play. (But do you have to wait the appropriate length of time for the bellows to fill? I can't remember).

 

I don't think anyone in their right mind would ever claim that playing a HW Silbermann is going to feel exactly like the real thing - and if you're doing it through a HW block or adapted toaster console it won't feel remotely like it. Even so, the sound can still be instructive. At least I found it so. It will teach you something about what works and what doesn't on a Silbermann (or Schnitger, or whatever). This, I think, is what counts.

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Of course not. There is only one reality. But if it is worthwhile to attempt to reproduce parts of it, then there is also scope for different people to feel that different parts of the reproduction help with the illusion. Just because they can't reproduce some aspects of the reality which matter to you doesn't mean that attempts in other directions are wrong. Any CD recording is as far from reality as Hauptwerk, and indeed I know people who can't stand recorded music at all - but that doesn't stop plenty of other people enjoying it.

 

Paul

 

I really don't want to go on arguing all night. A CD is far, far further removed from reality than Hauptwerk, and this is the point you seem to have missed; a CD doesn't pretend to be any more than it is. It is not an attempt to reproduce a performance, because as we all know it is edited, improved, has background ambulances removed etc etc. It operates within its own parameters as a document of music, performer, instrument and sound engineer, roughly in that order.

 

If a CD inlay brochure told me which way to face while listening, the dimensions and firmness of the chair I should sit in and how draughty the room should be, or otherwise tried to claim or make allusion to an ability to be any more "just like the real thing" than any other CD, I would be instantly disappointed because this just isn't possible to achieve even to a discernable degree.

 

To my mind any simulation is at its best when working inside its own honest and realistic parameters, and doing so well. If you're going to simulate one aspect of something - the sound - do it, do it well, and then just accept you've captured the essence, you're never going to capture the full playing experience and then stop trying to tinker with irrelevancies! An accurate and well done tonal record of famous organs for later recall is, apart from being interesting, a project with potentially useful historical and academic connotations.

 

Two quick examples to illustrate my point before I shut up for the day and go and do some work. First; I like Sainsbury's bread because it's almost as good as the little bakery that used to be open in town but is no longer. I hate it however that they use yeast-scented air freshener to lure me into thinking warm thoughts about it. That's tacky and, as it doesn't actually do anything to make the bread taste better, it's pointless. Second; I have an artificial Christmas tree; it's rather good. It looks a bit like a Christmas tree, does the same job as a Christmas tree and doesn't die or drop needles. That's precisely the job I want it to do. For an extra fiver I could have got one with artificial snow sprayed on it and the lights already built in. Much less convincing, somehow, and certainly more dishonest.

 

Goodnight all...

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First; I like Sainsbury's bread because it's almost as good as the little bakery that used to be open in town but is no longer. I hate it however that they use yeast-scented air freshener to lure me into thinking warm thoughts about it.

 

I never knew that...................

 

AJJ

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... First; I like Sainsbury's bread because it's almost as good as the little bakery that used to be open in town but is no longer. I hate it however that they use yeast-scented air freshener to lure me into thinking warm thoughts about it. ...

 

Do you happen to know if this is also available as a deodorant spray, please?

:D

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Do you happen to know if this is also available as a deodorant spray, please?

:D

 

I thought I'd just check this fact and apparently it does happen, at least (as in my local supermarket here) by taking an air conditioning feed from within the baking area and disbursing it round the bread aisles. Other examples include popcorn smells in cinema foyers and coffee smells in auditoriums just before intervals. Slightly 1984, isn't it?

 

On edit - actually, if it eventually leads to olfactory transmittors for the domestic reception of incense, then it might be a good thing. By then of course most digital organs will be emitting a different smell depending on what key you're playing in...

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I like Sainsbury's bread because it's almost as good as the little bakery that used to be open in town but is no longer.

...

 

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

 

 

There is no such thing as "Sainsbury's Bread"........though I'd just let you know.

 

 

:D

 

MM

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Great analogy!

If we continue down the laudable path of attempting to reduce our carbon footprints then it's quite possible that we'll have to wind up our Hauptwerk machines every ten minutes or so, like those clockwork portable radios. Or perhaps each house will have a treadmill.

 

By the way, I really can't see anything wrong with HW recreating the blower switches and wind noises. If you don't like HW's approach don't use their products. And remember, lots of things that we didn't like or couldn't understand a few years ago are now standard.

 

Michael

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I completely agree with David Coram's view on this.

 

If your aim is to reproduce the organ in its entirety you might as well go the whole hog and have ciphers, notes off, pipes out of tune, stops that won't draw fully, the thud of the combination mechanism, notes hanging on, notes sounding late, the sound of wind leaking, the clacking of pneumatic motors and all the other non-musical paraphernalia that goes with the organ. Perhaps it should monitor the relative humidity in the building, and produce more faults the longer there has been low RH. During a prolonged period of low humidity, the flutes would go sharp and wind leaks would increase, eventually affecting the amount of air available at the pipe feet when many stops are drawn.

 

All these simulated faults could, of course, be rectified by pressing a button marked "tuning and repairs".

 

Well - what's the difference between that and having a button to summon the organ-blower? It's all completely risible.

 

Personally, I'd be happy if these organ-imitating machines could reproduce diapason tone convincingly and have a satisfying plenum in a poor acoustic.

 

Nick

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If we continue down the laudable path of attempting to reduce our carbon footprints then it's quite possible that we'll have to wind up our Hauptwerk machines every ten minutes or so, like those clockwork portable radios. Or perhaps each house will have a treadmill.

 

By the way, I really can't see anything wrong with HW recreating the blower switches and wind noises. If you don't like HW's approach don't use their products. And remember, lots of things that we didn't like or couldn't understand a few years ago are now standard.

 

Michael

 

Aaaagh! But I love HW!!! I think it's an absolutely brilliant concept and I wish I could afford a setup of my own. It's nothing to do with not understanding or not liking.

 

I just find it difficult to have any respect for something which is brilliant at what it does and then tries to go further, rather like having no respect for the plastic Christmas tree with the pretend snow. It stops being a fake whose aim is to convince, and starts being a fake whose aim is to dazzle. These are hugely different things.

 

Once trodden, however tentatively, this path can lead only to more of the same with increasingly irrelevant diversions appearing, none of which will actually do anything to enhance the experience or the quality of the core product.

 

More to the point, it straight away distracts the prospective purchaser from the brilliance of the original conception and leads them off down side avenues making gizmo comparisons with Wyvern, Viscount and all the rest of them. HW started off in a niche market all on its own; now it's creating competition which didn't previously exist because other firms will be able to cheaply and easily provide the same features and gloss over the fundamental differences. If it ain't bust, don't fix it.

 

Does anyone at all understand where I'm coming from, or am I shouting at myself?

 

Oh, and MM, I bought some bread today - the label reads, verbatim, "Sainsbury's White Split Tin Loaf". I caried it home in a bag marked "Sainsbury's." What precisely in your view means this is not Sainsbury's bread? It was most though-ful of you to mention it however.

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And remember, lots of things that we didn't like or couldn't understand a few years ago are now standard.

 

Michael

 

 

Name three. In particular, three things that have replaced something that went before, and have faithfully reproduced all its inessential quirks as well as its functionality.

 

 

If we continue down the laudable path of attempting to reduce our carbon footprints then it's quite possible that we'll have to wind up our Hauptwerk machines every ten minutes or so, like those clockwork portable radios. Or perhaps each house will have a treadmill.

 

By the way, I really can't see anything wrong with HW recreating the blower switches and wind noises. If you don't like HW's approach don't use their products. And remember, lots of things that we didn't like or couldn't understand a few years ago are now standard.

 

Michael

 

By all means let's have a Calcanten stop that rings a bell at the treadmill to tell the hapless operative to start generating power for the organ, without which the organ honestly won't play. At least it would serve some purpose and not be an utter sham.

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Name three. In particular, three things that have replaced something that went before, and have faithfully reproduced all its inessential quirks as well as its functionality.

 

Just so you're aware, Microsoft Windows is excluded from this exercise, on the grounds that downright crapness is not a quirk and gross indifference is not the same as faithful reproduction.

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Name three. In particular, three things that have replaced something that went before, and have faithfully reproduced all its inessential quirks as well as its functionality.

I was thinking of aspects of performance practice and instrument design eg tracker actions, upperwork, non-ET tuning, ornamentation, articulation - rather than anything brand new. Generally, what comes after is less than it's cracked up to be.

By all means let's have a Calcanten stop that rings a bell at the treadmill to tell the hapless operative to start generating power for the organ, without which the organ honestly won't play. At least it would serve some purpose and not be an utter sham.

Why are you so incensed by a little piece of software? As David suggests, get incensed by something massively offensive like Microsoft Windows or Rupert Murdoch instead. And what is sham about an on-switch, for heaven's sake?

 

Michael

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("innate") By the way, I really can't see anything wrong with HW recreating the blower switches and wind noises. If you don't like HW's approach don't use their products.

If you don't like the "noises off" you have the option to disable them.

 

(Nick Bennett) If your aim is to reproduce the organ in its entirety you might as well go the whole hog and have ciphers, notes off, pipes out of tune, stops that won't draw fully, the thud of the combination mechanism, notes hanging on, notes sounding late, the sound of wind leaking, the clacking of pneumatic motors and all the other non-musical paraphernalia that goes with the organ.

You do get the action noise - draw stops thudding, tracker action clacking, etc. If there are voicing inconsistencies (e.g. on some of the older organs) it is faithfully reproduced, not ironed out by the computer, since these are intended to be historical archive documentations.

 

(Nick Bennett) Personally, I'd be happy if these organ-imitating machines could reproduce diapason tone convincingly and have a satisfying plenum in a poor acoustic.

They do. And then some.

 

(Nick Bennett) By all means let's have a Calcanten stop that rings a bell at the treadmill to tell the hapless operative to start generating power for the organ, without which the organ honestly won't play.

That's exactly what it does on the Reinhardtsgrimma Silbermann. Only the treadmill and the hapless operative are imaginary.

 

Come and see us at Sandown Racecourse in May.

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