PipeChat Digest #15 - Tuesday, July 29, 1997

(back) Subject: Re: Question on 4 Weddgs & a Funeral From: Adam Levin <alevin@advance.net> Date: Tue, 29 Jul 1997 09:50:18 -0400 (EDT)   On Mon, 28 Jul 1997, Stan Guy wrote: > The piece at the wedding where the priest was such a dork was a > transcription of "Entrance of the Queen of Sheba" from the oratorio > Solomon by Handel. I thought it was GREAT!   And, FYI, the "dork" was none other than Rowan Atkinson, AKA Mr. Bean, one of the funniest men on television. :)      
(back) Subject: Re: Home pipe organs (long) From: cremona84000@webtv.net (bruce cornely) Date: Tue, 29 Jul 1997 12:39:58 -0400   Jim. I hate to sound like abroken record.... but since you have the basic six ranks, now is the time to consider adding some straight ranks to the organ to starting adding integrity of design to the ensemble. A few unified ranks are not nearly as unsatisfying when they are working with some independent, properly scaled and voiced ranks (which can ONLY be done if they are conceived as single stops). It will be well worth the sacrifice. The only thing that saves the 16 rank unified to 38 stops organ I play is that the great in 4 independent stops. Ohterwise, the organ would be virtually useless for playing literature.   end   o o Bruce Cornely o o o o ______________ o o OHS ======================== AGO  
(back) Subject: Re: Locked Consoles/ For Shame! From: MFulk70776@aol.com Date: Tue, 29 Jul 1997 13:34:45 -0400 (EDT)   In a message dated 97-07-29 04:43:25 EDT, you write:   << I don't often approve of throwing weight around, but the father of that bride should have had that organist's, uh, head mounted and nailed to the console. end o o Bruce Cornely o o o o ______________ o o OHS ======================== AGO >> Oh, well said, Bruce!  
(back) Subject: Re: Home pipe organs (long) From: "Wm. G. Chapman" <wchapmn@ibm.net> Date: Tue, 29 Jul 1997 11:57:52 -0400   Sure, I will answer to Bill. (May I call you Bruce?)   Let me see here. Just what have I stepped in ...   bruce cornely wrote: > > you made some . . . points. First, . . . is the fact that a unified stop cannot be voiced properly. > If it is correct as a 4' stop is will not do as well as an 8' stop, or > 2, or whatever; ...   Let me first, perhaps, surprise you. I agree with your general idea. Depending on the situation I might insist on your position as a minimum. Let me, by way of example, create analogous groups. (These are somewhat general so do not take them too literally--or push it too far.)   Let us agree to say that we have an "Episcopal" and a "Baptist" setting to work in--both small. IN GENERAL, the Episcopal is likely to end up with an entirely straight organ and the Baptist with the unit organ. Further, the Baptist situation is likely to be ill-served if the organ were Slider & Pallet chest with mechanical key action. (What do "you" play? How do "you" play? What do "you" need to do that WITHIN the given budget? Or, what are the musical needs?)   Now, to complicate the matter we would have an Episcopal musician take a position in a Baptist setting--it happens. All agree that the present Baptist organ is not "good." (BTW, last I checked about 80% of all churches expressed disatisfaction with their musical instruments.) Most of the time the project is started by the organist. So, it then becomes likely that this church, because of the information filtering by the organist, will end up with something more "Episcopal" than "Baptist." While this organist may be well served by it the church likely is not. Yet, a Builder who "educates" the committee would often be "sliced and diced" by the organist--out of earshot, of course. I am perfectly willing to agree this church might get a "technically better" organ this way but it will not be a good fit.   Eighteen months later, when the organist is most likely to leave, the Baptists get another organist who shortly thereafter starts talking about "wouldn't it be nice if" and the church repeats the cycle of disatisfaction--or modifies a "new" organ. And too, they most likely repeat the same pattern of replacing this organ at about the same time in service as the previous upon the pretext of everything that is hopeless about it. (Afterall, from inception--to completion--to use, we all bring a bias to a project or situation. What we fail to do is to be upfront about the bias so that others can weigh how valid our bias is to that community.)   This leads me to conclude that your statement while technically correct is almost unusable in practice. The theoretical ideal gets in the way of the legitimate musical needs of the setting. This is, in part, why we have the odd situation of better than four out of five organs being electro-pneumatic today; while the remaining one out of five is a combination of "all-electric" or various types of slider-pallet and "other." Yet the "mind-space" of the literature is preoccuppied with Slider & Pallet and mechanical key action. To the instruments built to this ideal I agree that the unit stop is philosophically inferior.   Philosophy should inform practice. So while I might like to agree that, "The problem is that each stop cannot be a well finished stop" I find that, in practice I have experienced very musical unit organs and octave-octave or octave-super borrows that make sense, are well scaled and work musically in more than one way.   I remember many years ago being asked about unit organ design. At the time I thought in terms of what I had accepted uncritically, "a unit organ is like a theatre organ where too few stops are made to play too often--in every division at every pitch and the thing sounds like a calliope." I responded that if that was what they wanted then list the stops they wanted and the pitches available and duplicate this in each division, the Pedal, of course, one octave lower. Shortly thereafter I learned that there is much more to it than that--even on the ubiquitous stoprail of a Wurlitzer.   > Regarding your second point (the organist who pushes tabe because "more > is better") is one reason, a good reason, not to unify. It sounds cruel > and judgmental, but if the organist (?) did not have all of these > pseudo-options, perhaps there might be some forced learning taking > place.   This too is a good point and I would like to agree with you. However, the musical purpose of a Wurlitzer (pop music, gospel and light classics, etc.) would be defeated if we had "forced learning." The creativity started by the Jesse Crawford vein of playing, which is not crude, would be defeated by this approach. This does not mean the approach you prefer is invalid, only that is cannot be global. I think that the central tenant of what you intend is simplicity. This too is what Jesse Crawford desired. The "better" organists I have had the pleasure of watching are restrained, selective, discriminating and go for an "effect." Part of what goes with that is knowing when you have gone too far. I see repeatedly that there is very selective use of stops amongst the "better" organists. And, a ton of creativity. I have yet to find one who takes a drawknob at face value; or, adds "just one more" after the effect is found on that instrument. What I am left with is the conclusion that different organs do have different purposes and therefore different means of arriving at that end. All of this is "legitimate" if carefully done. The critical thing in the tonal analysis, stoplist, voicing and registration is knowing when to quit. Can we agree then that it is a case of: better too little than too much?   I concur fully with your third point. It just confirms that the focus is on apparent knobs and not listening. (True story: I got frustrated by an organist who played on a large Swell with a fairly full registration--up to a reed chorus, including a Celeste, and has two 16' stops on and then plays full chords in the tenor ortave with a Sub-coupler.) SAD and, "just one more." However, I cannot agree with your conclusion as you state it. Any stoplist is a compromise. To list a few examples: There will be restrictions to stops, pitches, divisions, appearance, space and budget. A Builder who is vehement about restricting pitches in order to "force learning" and restrict bad taste will have an Organ that looks like this:   8' Gedeckt 4' Octave (pull down pedal?)   You certainly would have a hard time offending anybody with improper displays on that--unless they did not like the Pedal borrow. Now, we have your two exquisitely voiced stops in a case. But what need does it meet in most churches? (It would certainly save a ton of money.) Or, would most churches rather have this played, with retraint:   16'-97 Gedeckt 4'-73 Principal   Manual II 8' Gedeckt 4' Gedeckt 2' Principal (1 1/3' Gedeckt)   Manual I 8' Gedeckt 4' Principal 4' Gedeckt 2' Principal (or Gedeckt, depends on room) 1' Gedeckt   Pedal 16' Gedeckt 8' Gedeckt 4' Principal 4' Gedeckt 2' Gedeckt   Please understand, that in this case "restraint" means the largest combination used would be six voices. I suspect that even given as much chaffing as I would do with this stoplist that I could play a wider range of literature and more service music with it than the alternative. Each is two stops however.   Now, as to what I would like to see for teaching and registration. Let the student begin their studies on a two manual and Pedal TRACKER organ with one stop in each division. (OK, I will allow you to add some couplers, unison only please.) Let them have two types of supplementary instruments to learn on. One a six stop "unit organ" where they must learn to listen to the sound and not the names or "cluster registrations." Second, a good "teaching" organ of at least 13 stops. Finally, the juniors/seniors can have at the "concert" instrument which has no justification for being over 70 stops and, in fact, could be a two manuals and 24 stops. You are right in saying that registration is better learned on small organs. However, if the organ "sounded much better" it was because THE STUDENT "had prevented misuse by restricting unification" or the overuse of certain stops or stop combinations.   (Do you really have no mixtures?)   I agree entirely with your statement, "I think it is the builder's responsibility to build an organ that has integrity in its design and equipment." With the proviso that the setting the organ will be placed in dictates the interpretation. A six stop organ in a non-liturgical setting could well have a celeste (Gedeckt, Principal, Gemshorn, Celeste, Trumpet, Quint). A six stop organ in a liturgical setting should not (Gedeckt, Principal, Gemshorn, Nachthorn, Fagotto, Mixture). Your point, though, is well taken. I know organs that have chamades because that is all the donor would give the money for. (It does not matter to them that the rest of the stuff needed before one gets to "tuned taxi horns" is absent.) Your point is a reiteration of what I think I started with. Almost all that we do comes back to restraint. When something included in the organ or the registration "interferes" with anything else the principle has been broken.   In closing, I agree that, "...builders owe it ... to the craft ... to design, build, finish, and SELL with integrity." Which means that a builder should be willing to lose the commission rather than meet a subset of the needs. (Dare I say it? Organists need to understand that good ideas are cooperative and not exclusive--some of the poorest organs around are built to play one persons opinion.) I remember one situation where I was looking forward to the prospect of building a nice three manual tracker. The organist was adamant about it too. A funeral director ended up heading the committee. His parlor had pipes. This is good, I said!? They bought an brand A "tracker pipe*like* organ" complete with baroque samples and a casework for speaker cabinets. Why? Because he knew the way to get the "biggest and best organ" for his church was to take the contract total and divide it by all the gadgets and gizmos he found on the console and say that this one has the lowest cost per widget. The pipes were "replaced with large, unsatisfactory substitutes." But unsatisfactory to who? The church loves it. The committee chair retorts that, "it makes sound using real organ pipes just like yours." The organist found a different church which got him an electro-pneumatic (his ideals having become rather pragmatic). And, I learned something too.   Wm. G. Chapman West Coast Pipe Organ Co.    
(back) Subject: Re: Home pipe organs (long) From: cremona84000@webtv.net (bruce cornely) Date: Tue, 29 Jul 1997 16:39:25 -0400   In brief.. Well designed pipe organs are nondenominational. A Baptist church can be served well by a mechanical action organ; I believe their grand pianos are mechanical action, as well! Good music played on a well-designed pipe organ is good music. celestes are NOT essential to any ANY form of worship, and are often used by players (as are loud combinations) to masque playing or improvizational ability. The change in organists you mentioned is one of the main reasons I believe the builder should build with integrity. If the organ is genuine, well designed an ]d mechanically sound, the person who is unable to play on it will soon leave, too. Literature does not know what kind of action it is being played on. Most literature is best performed on mechanical action. I have heard find theatre organist's do incredible things on small mechanical action non-theatre organs. (However, TO's should not be part of this discussion; if it suits a church's needs to have one, so be it) I probably cold not tell absolutely if an organ is unified from listening; I may be unsatisfied and not know why; as a player I would know from working with the instrument. Just as it is possible to be "fooled" with a "good" digital. In response to your examples, I would rather play the mechanical action, encased, 8 Gedeckt and 4 Principal with pedal pull down--well voiced and scaled. To ME the others are dishonest and unsatisfactory musically. I agree with your suggestion for teaching!! Again, I feel there is no difference for non- and liturgical organs. Both must accompany hymns and congregation music. A 4 Octave (independent) is far more important than a celeste; a mixture is nonessential as well, since a small organ is probably in a smaller room, and unless there is sufficient foundation to support the mixture, the congregation will hate it, complain, and it wont be used anyway. It is far more useful to have a stop that brightens and intensifies the plenum rather than screamingt on top of it. A Hutchings I once played (without a mixture) had a Gamba on the Great which accomplished exactly that; several times organists (respectable ones) had commented on how the addition of the mixture to the chorus was so nice!!, not knowing that it was just a juicy Gamba. Well, this has been fun (and I really mean that) but the debate will never end, the differences never reconciled, and the other people on the list will be bored out of their minds. so i'm going to bow out of this discussion with thanks to Bill for his participation and comments. If it were not for differences, we might as well all play Hammonds (Oh God! not more flames, I only used Hammond because of tonal consistency!)   end   o o Bruce Cornely o o o o ______________ o o OHS ======================== AGO  
(back) Subject: Re: Home pipe organs (long) From: "Wm. G. Chapman" <wchapmn@ibm.net> Date: Tue, 29 Jul 1997 14:04:35 -0400   bruce cornely wrote: > > A Baptist church can be served well by a mechanical action organ; I > believe their grand pianos are mechanical action, as well!   Been in Southern California lately?   A Baptist (you think I picked it by accident?) church down the road had what the members referred to as "The White Elephant." It was a 19th Century Tracker. I kind of liked it. The organist who got that organ left the church. The organ was not far behind.   As for the "mechanical action" of their grand, oh well, not so. The only mechanical action found there is the drummer. Everything else is amplifiers, guitars, Synths, Fender-Rhoades and, well ... need I say more.   Apart from this I observe that you and I are trying to get to the same place--you on one path and I on the other. If the discussion were not on small organs I think it would be more obvious to all.   I responded to your message because I picked up from your posts that you seem to be one of the few people that I know of whose preference for Slider & Pallet has increased with age/experience. Normally, I find the young student in love with trackers. As they get older the preference moves elsewhere. In your case it was backwards, but I think I have a better handle on why.   Thanks for a good discussion.   Wm. G. Chapman    
(back) Subject: Re: Home pipe organs (long) From: cremona84000@webtv.net (bruce cornely) Date: Tue, 29 Jul 1997 18:10:35 -0400   Bill, to bring this fun discussion to a close, I have discovered.... I'm usually the last one to jump on the bandwagon, and the last one to fall off! Best regards and many thanks   end   o o Bruce Cornely o o o o ______________ o o OHS ======================== AGO  
(back) Subject: Re: Various Organs In Films - Answers! From: "Donald MacKenzie" <donald@bucksnet.co.uk> Date: Tue, 29 Jul 1997 23:20:47 +0000   The Churches were real in 'Four Weddings'. I seem to recall that right at the end of the cast list they give credit to the ecclesiastical bodies!   I played for the premiere in 1994. The prelude consisted of - you've guessed it - love songs and wedding music. I descended into the pit with good old Mendelssohn - they didn't want Widor V :-(   'Interview With A Vampire' I helped build the *organ*. It was all done at Pinewood studios - the film company couldn't get a disused church. It was filmed in the '007' studio. The organ console was a mock up of St Merri and the case was an amalgamation of several historic French cases which the set designer visited. The console had to have an authentic specification - no Cavaille-Coll romantics! One thing that was *odd* the console was under the gallery, under the Positif!!!! Well how on earth - it was before pneumatics. Poetic license.   The case was made from drainpipe and fibre and plaster casts!   The film 'Yanks' was filmed at the Davenport Theatre Stockport, Manchester. (Just pulled down - thankfully organ saved a 3/7 Compton by the Lancastrian Theatre Organ Trust.)   'A Private Function' was filmed at the Regal Cinema Henley - now again deceased but the organ was salvaged.   The Wurlitzer console for the 'Dr Phibes' films was supplied by my colleague, organ builder, David Pawlyn (who was behind the Vampire thingy as well).   Happy viewing!   Donald MacKenzie.  
(back) Subject: Re: Home pipe organs (long) From: dougcampbell@juno.com (Douglas A. Campbell) Date: Tue, 29 Jul 1997 18:59:54 EDT     On Mon, 28 Jul 1997 20:03:46 -0400 cremona84000@webtv.net (bruce cornely) writes: >Bill (may I call you Bill?), you made some very important, >controversial, and sad points. First, for me (and this is, of course, >all opinion), is the fact that a unified stop cannot be voiced >properly. >If it is correct as a 4' stop is will not do as well as an 8' stop, or >2, or whatever; and we won't even get into unit mutations. The >problem >is that each stop cannot be a well finished stop (that is altogether >important, controversial & sad). <Mucho snippo>   Dear Bruce,   Perhaps your limited opinions are simply based on limited exposure to well though out instruments of great integrity that DO use SOME unification.   I would suggest that you venture to Binghamton, NY and attend a service at the Congregational Church. The organ there is a 33 rank Aeolian-Skinner and according to the organist, one of the last Aeolian-Skinner's to be personally finished by Ernest M.   The organist there knows this to be true, because he was there in 1932 when it was installed! I have heard him play and make a 33 rank organ sound like 60 ranks ! Bach's works speak with clarity and romantic music soars in the space. The TWO rank ECHO organ is extremely impressive. The Tuba speaks with clarity and assurance. The only mixture is a III on the Swell, but by adept coupling and the use of unified couplers you might be fooled into thinking there were more.   Bye the way, you might have heard of this organist - his mane is Searle Wright.     Douglas A. Campbell formerly in Skaneateles, NY now in Jackson, WY  
(back) Subject: Re: Movie Theater in Memphis, TN -- Organ??? From: ScottFop@aol.com Date: Tue, 29 Jul 1997 20:55:12 -0400 (EDT)   In a message dated 97-07-28 00:34:31 EDT, you write:   << I am with a nonprofit group trying to renovate a Circa 1926 movie theater in Memphis, TN. There was once a pipe organ of some kind. Do you have any suggestions as to where I might go to try and track down what type of organ it was and if it could be replaced? Please let me know if you have any suggestions. >>   Hi Kevin   My name is Scott Foppiano, I am a Memphis native, grew up in Whitehaven and Germantown. I attended Christian Brothers High School and "cut teeth" on the Orpheum's Wurlitzer and the Kimball(s) in Dixon-Myers Hall (the auditorium north and south halls in the Cook convention center). While there I studied organ with Jim Brinson at the Church of the Holy Communion on Walnut Grove (down from CBHS) and John Hooker at Calvary Episcopal downtown. I grew up and played at St. Paul's Catholic Church on Shelby Drive in Whitehaven and then at the Church of the Incarnation in Collierville (after we moved out east).   Which theatre are you trying to restore? How many seats does it have and what kind of chamber space does it have? Also, if you are looking for a consultant or artist to help you with the project and, hopefully, dedicate the organ when it goes in, I'd certainly appreciate being considered. I have a national reputation in both classical and theatre organ, am a friend and protege of Tom Hazleton and have recorded five CDs to date with three currently released. I would be glad to send copies to you if you so desire in the future.   Two immediate contacts I want to give you regarding procuring and reinstalling a theatre pipe organ:   Brant Duddy (Cedars, PA) (610) 584-4035   David Nelms (Charlotte, NC) (704) 545-0435   I would recommend calling Brant first as a starting point as he has extensive experience with relocating, rebuilding and reinstalling theatre pipe organs. He has maintained my last few church organs and is one of THE finest mechanical and tonal people anywhere. David, as well, maintains several very prestigious instruments and had some very important contracts coming up. Though there are not any theatre pipe organs in Charlotte, he has worked with them and does beautiful and meticulous work, as does Brant. In my opinion they are both excellent and at the absolute top of their field. Please tell them I sent you when you call them.   Remember: be very careful who you call if it is not one of these two choices and especially if they do not know theatre pipe organs. You could get into a real mess with someone who does not work with these instruments regularly.   Please let me know if I can be of any further assistance and I do look forward to hearing back from you soon. If you are interested in my help with this project, I can guarantee my getting Tom Hazleton to assist with this project as well. The chance to visit and play in Memphis again would be very exciting and something I would really look forward to.   Thank you so very much and good luck!   Scott Foppiano   230 W. Marigold Street Munhall, PA 15120 (412) 461-3624 H (412) 462-8161 W scottfop@aol.com  
(back) Subject: Re: Home pipe organs (long) From: cremona84000@webtv.net (bruce cornely) Date: Tue, 29 Jul 1997 22:03:21 -0400   I really hate to get into this, but I saw no mention of actual unification in your post; couplers don't count. EMSkinners pedal departments were most often only one or two ranks and the rest extensions. In the pedal, unification has minimal effect and duplexing is basically coupling. I have been fortunate, though, not to have had a lot of experience with unified organs, at least since the sixties. That was plenty!   end   o o Bruce Cornely o o o o ______________ o o OHS ======================== AGO  
(back) Subject: Tough luck? From: tom rishel <trishel@hhs.net> Date: Tue, 29 Jul 1997 22:03:42 -0700   Hello, I'm just another organist from southwest PA. I'm 15 years old and have been playing for about 10 years! I take lessons from a very respectable teacher in Pittsburgh and I really enjoy playing the organ.   Here's my story: About 1 year ago I asked the organist at our small, hometown, Catholic church if I could start playing in church occasionally because I love playing the organ and I hope to make a living out of it someday. She said that she would ask the pastor and call me back. Around a month later she ran into me and told me that the pastor said it was OK and she would call me during the course of the week to set up a rehearsal or something. Well, she never attempted to call me back or anything. In fact, when she sees me in public she seems to try to avoid me! I figured that would never happen again. I then on Holy Thursday went to another couple of interviews at 2 other local churches and both organists took my phone number and seemed impressed with my playing. They also told me they would call me back. As my luck would have it, 4 mos. pass, no phone call! Just tough luck, or a conspiracy?! You decide. Tom :-)  
(back) Subject: Organ Design/Unification was: Home pipe organs (long) From: SCoonrod@aol.com Date: Tue, 29 Jul 1997 22:06:10 -0400 (EDT)   Dear All,   I am going to add my two cents worth to this discussion.....   First of all: I do not believe we can any longer say that a Liturgical (i.e. Episcopal, Catholic, Lutheran) Church will need one type of organ (straight) and the more "free" churches (Baptist, Methodist) another (unified). I know of several Episcopal Churches that use a VERY wide variety of music from Rennaissance to rock! On the other hand there are sure to be Baptist Churches whose music is of much higher calibre than many liturgical churches. Each situation is unique, and it is the individual institution's needs that must be considered.   Second: We all have our individual opinions about organ design, and those opinions should always be shown respect. As for me, I am all in favor of unification and duplexing of some stops sometime....the discussion started out to be that of home organ design, and a few well voiced ranks do exceptionally well for serious organ practice......   Surely we can make room for a variety of viewpoints in the organ world!!! Happy playing, and pull out all those celestes and 16' and 4' couplers!!!!!!!!!   RandyT  
(back) Subject: Re: Home pipe organs (long) From: CDKrug@aol.com Date: Tue, 29 Jul 1997 22:23:11 -0400 (EDT)   In a message dated 97-07-29 17:10:00 EDT, you write:   << As for the "mechanical action" of their grand, oh well, not so. The only mechanical action found there is the drummer. Everything else is amplifiers, guitars, Synths, Fender-Rhoades and, well ... need I say more. >> For the record, my Fender Rhodes has a mechanical action, as does my Yamaha CP-70. (Technical details gladly provided privatly)