Author Topic: Minimum specification of small organ  (Read 43602 times)

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David Drinkell

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Re: Minimum specification of small organ
« Reply #120 on: October 12, 2016, 11:05:26 PM »
Absolutely!  I, too, went on such a course, but a lot longer ago (c.1970), and I got the chance to play the Addington organs at various other times.  I also played this one when it was at Cleveland Lodge.  It certainly is a most versatile and beautiful instrument.  The similar-sized (apart from its having inherited a full-length 32' Double Open Wood) at St. Sepulchre, Holborn, in the City of London is similarly adept at producing several quarts out of a pint pot (http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=N17580).

Having the Contra Oboe as the only reed has been tried elsewhere and has the advantage of providing a pedal reed by coupling as well as adding a special dimension to the manual possibilities.  Lord Dunleath's organ at Ballywalter PC, as rebuilt by Walker (http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=D05475) is another example, as is Wells-Kennedy's at Drumbo PC, Ballylesson (ww.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=D01451). Both were originally Conachers (the dominant builder in Ireland), the Ballywalter one being described as "strikingly gormless" (or some such term) by Lord Dunleath.  Incidentally, this one retained a Dulciana on the Swell at the rebuild, but this was replacedfive years later with a Sesquialtera.  Lord Dunleath said that no one missed the Dulciana but the Sesquialtera was immensely useful and would even stand in as an 8' chorus reed, which I found was indeed the case.

Benjamin Daniel

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Re: Minimum specification of small organ
« Reply #121 on: October 19, 2016, 10:53:29 AM »
I came across details of another small H&H organ which is remarked upon in glowing terms: http://www.cumbrianorganists.org.uk/organs/keswick.html

I was wondering what is the secret behind "producing several quarts out of a pint pot", and also why the idea isn't more widely used?

David Drinkell

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Re: Minimum specification of small organ
« Reply #122 on: October 19, 2016, 10:43:40 PM »
A lot of it is to do with the quality of the work - an organ voiced by Arthur Harrison would be as good as anything available at the time and better than most.  Also, Harrison was influenced by George Dixon, who was clever at devising schemes which got the most out of what was available and avoided redundancy.  Thus, the Harrison/Dixon team could produce a small organ which was complete and versatile, whereas others were content to provide a selection of mostly soft stops which the local cathedral organist would use most often to accompany a choral service, plus a big diapason to lead the hymns.

Father Willis's "Model" organs were similarly clever, and an influence on Dixon.  The mobile "Stainer Organ" in St. Paul's Cathedral is the best known example (Mander added a Great Mixture) and is recorded as having been capable of leading a full congregation when the big organ was out of action as well as having been mistaken for its larger brother on many occasions.

Great: Open Diapason, Lieblich Gedact, Principal, Fifteenth
Swell Open Diapason, Gemshorn, Cornopean
Pedal: Bourdon

There are other, similar jobs around the country.  I can think, offhand, of Dennington and Groton in Suffolk, the Song School at St. Mary's Cathedral, Edinburgh, Great Horkesley, Foxearth and Stapleford Tawney in Essex (these two a bit bigger), Wolferton in Norfolk.

Other builders were less imaginative at getting the most out of a small number of stops.  Here's Binns at Stromness Parish Church, Orkney:

Great: Open Diapason, Rohr Flute, Dulciana, Principal
Swell: Geigen Principal 8, Gedact, Viole d'Orchestre, Vox Angeilca, Salicet
Pedal: Bourdon

You need a few more stops to get a really interesting Binns.  The same goes for Lewis - here's what he did at Woolverstone, Suffolk:

Great: Open Diapason, Lieblich gedact, Salicional, Octave
Swell: Geigen Principal 8, Rohr Flute, Geigen Principal 4, Horn
Pedal: Sub Bass

or Dundrum, Co. Down:

Great: Open Diapason, Lieblich Gedact, Dulciana, Flute Harmonique 4
Swell: Geigen Principal, Rohr Flute, Viole de Gambe, Voix Celeste (all 8')
Pedal: Sub Bass

Small Bevingtons can be rewarding, especially if they run to a mixture, but at other times, especially later instruments, they can be deathly dull - like Little Horkesley, Essex (installed second-hand when the church was rebuilt after a direct hit from a land-mine in World War II):

Great: Open Diapason, Dulciana, Lieblich Flute 4
Swell: Stopped Diapason, Cor Anglais, Principal, Sub Octave Coupler  (the Cor Anglais is a gamba, as usual with Bevington)
Pedal: Bourdon

And so on. Sometimes, these gormless-looking instruments sound rather good and much better than one would expect, like the Hope-Jones that used to be in St. Mary's RC Church, Croydon, where the only upperwork was a 4' Lieblich Flute in the Swell, although there were a lot of octave couplers (and a 16' Rohr Bourdon on the Great!).

Norman & Beard built dozens of small organs in East Anglia, which are generally pleasant and a cut above the rest, although maybe not over-exciting.  They each seem to have a particular character.

Acoustics can make a difference, too, but some of those little Harrisons were in fairly dead buildings.

I think it's the master touch that gives the magic.

Benjamin Daniel

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Re: Minimum specification of small organ
« Reply #123 on: October 20, 2016, 01:47:03 PM »
Thank you for such an informative answer.

I was curious also as to whether the effectiveness of a small instrument is influenced by factors such as the scale of the pipes, wind pressure, or other such variables.

I have also noticed the description whereby a rank of pipes is said to be added "on a clamp", but have so far failed to find a description or picture on the web.  Please could someone explain this to me?

David Drinkell

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Re: Minimum specification of small organ
« Reply #124 on: October 20, 2016, 03:14:47 PM »
A top-class builder would take pains to get the scaling, pressure and so on exactly suited to the situation, while others might use stock pipes and not put such skill into the voicing.  It could make quite a difference to the result.

A clamp is an extension of the soundboard to allow another stop to be added.  It can work well if properly done, although putting extra capacity on a soundboard not designed to take it might compromise the result.

Benjamin Daniel

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Re: Minimum specification of small organ
« Reply #125 on: October 22, 2016, 02:59:38 PM »
I was at St Sepulchre's earlier today, and noticed that the console has had the pedal board removed.  I wonder whether any plans exist for this organ to be brought back into playable condition ... ?

David Drinkell

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Re: Minimum specification of small organ
« Reply #126 on: October 22, 2016, 11:25:43 PM »
Yes, they're hoping to have it restored soon.

 


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