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Superb article on organ registration by Peter King - Bath Abbey

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David Pinnegar:

--- Quote ---"Making Music on the Organ"
Originally delivered as a lecture in St Cuthbert’s Church, Wells
as part of the Wells Organ Day
IAO South West Regional event
October 2007

--- End quote ---

Link well worth visiting.

Benjamin Daniel:
"There is a place in Percy Whitlock’s music where he gives the direction: “Open Diapason and Celeste” (Andante Tranquillo in E flat from Five Short Pieces) – not possible! ..... the Open Diapason and the Celeste won’t beat with each other, they’ll sound in tune, or just off speech and wrong."

I'd assumed that Percy Whitlock's direction here implies that the Swell Open Diapason is to be used in conjunction with the Celeste + Gamba, rather than as a substitute for the Gamba.

David Drinkell:
A celeste tends not to work if you plant it next to the stop with which it's intended to beat.  They tend to pull each other into tune.  Therefore, you often find the celeste next to the diapason, so it may not beat properly.  The problem wouldn't arise for Whitlock because he was used to Compton unit organs with the ranks planted separately.  And Compton often provided a two-rank celeste, so the beat would be there already.  When you can get a diapason that beats with the celeste, the effect can be ravishing.

Benjamin Daniel:
Thanks David, but your reply still leaves me with some confusion.

I can appreciate that the effect of a diapason beating with a celeste could be ravishing, but at the same time you state that Compton often often provided a two-rank celeste.

I've never thought anything of colouring the sound of the celeste + gamba duo, usually by adding the stopped diapason whilst "doodling" over the keys to cover liturgical action.  I'd assumed Whitlock was asking for the same kind of thing but using the Open Diapason to add body to the beating strings rather than to beat with a single celeste rank.

I will listen again carefully to see if the beating effect of the celestes disappears when the open diapason is added, but I do not believe this to be the case on the organ I usually play.


Interesting article.  Listening is indded important - I'm reminded of one electronic I used to play where one of the best "Full Great  Flues" was the unlikely combination of Principal 8 + Mixture IV (with or without the Qunitadena 16)!

As to celestes, I've seen organ where the celeste rank is planted well away from all the other unisons, whus allowing it to be used with any other 8ft - but rather getting in the way of tuning the upperwork I would suspect!

Every Blessing



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