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Vox Humanas are horrible

Started by Nazard Celeste, June 12, 2021, 11:16:54 PM

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Nazard Celeste

I have never seen the point of them after over 40 years of organ scholarship and professional playing. Human voice? More like a dying crow. Organists use 'correct' sounds regardless of whether they're any good -- one of the various foibles of our profession that tend to drive away audiences.


I can only assume that People's taste may have changed over the years ? But it is a good question as to whether the " Authentic" registration should always be used ?
I don't know !



There are Vox's and Vox's!  Authentic registration is a good thing - if the organ you're playing has the relevant authentic voices!  Otherwise it's down to compromise and listening to see what works in the context.

The Vox Humana does seem to have fallen out of favour in recent organs.  Not sure why.  They have their uses.  Also, the Vox Humana (often voiced differently to that in classical organs) is a key component in the cinema organ sound.

Every Blessing


David Pinnegar

The trouble is that sounds and techniques of achieving them change greatly.

The Italian Vox Umani is two flute pipes beating against each other.

The reed version also needs a flute to beat against. If this is done properly as at St Maximin, the sound is sublime. The pipe is very similar to the Cromorne, the transition from Krumhorn to Clarinet, and again at St Maximin built by Isnard in 1775 the sound is sublime.

If anyone has the Hauptwerk St Maximin sampleset perhaps someone might be able to demonstrate. Whilst playing the real instrument the rank of Cromorne is right behind the bench and unsuspectingly one jumps out of one's seat whilst playing.

Best wishes

David P


On it's own, yes, a vox humana generally isn't much to behold. However, when you mix it in with softer flues and strings, it can help to create a beautiful, almost ethereal sound. I'm used to them on theatre organs where, I think it is safe to say, they are a little more refined than their classical cousins. On the theatre organ, mixed with strings and tibia (tremulants on of course), they go a long way in creating a lush, warm tone.