PipeChat Digest #690 - Friday, February 5, 1999
organ-builder training
  by "Bud/burgie" <budchris@earthlink.net>
Re: Playing to distraction
  by "JeffWinSTL" <Reedstop@worldnet.att.net>
Re: Playing to distraction
  by "Travis Evans" <tle6399@seward.cune.edu>
Re: Playing to distraction
  by "Ron & Mandy" <ronwest@spiderweb.com.au>
Mea Culpa
  by "Dennis Goward" <dgoward@uswest.net>
Re: The need... (even longer)
  by "Nelson and Tracy Denton" <ndenton434@bigwave.ca>
Re: The need...(a bit shorter)
  by <GRSCoLVR@aol.com>

(back) Subject: organ-builder training From: Bud/burgie <budchris@earthlink.net> Date: Thu, 04 Feb 1999 18:32:06 -0800   I agree ... it's a great thread, and one that needs to be explored in depth.   I disagree with one statement, though: organists should know how to tune the reeds, at least in moderate-sized instruments, and PARTICULARLY outside of urban areas, where the "organ man" comes through once or twice a year. One of the few practical things that a certain teacher at Oberlin (who shall remain nameless) did in organ class was to knock the Regal out of tune on the studio organ and then have each member of the class tune a certain number of notes properly, using the right tool.   Tuning the reeds, of course, assumes access that won't require one to run through a car-wash afterwards to get the dust and grime off. Which brings up the subject of cleaning organs. The European handbooks say that all the pipes should be removed once every seven years or so, and the rackboards, topboards, etc. given a thorough vacuuming. Opinions vary as to how often it's necessary to burnish the reed-tongues. Having grown up in a dusty mining area, I'd say that seven years is probably not often enough for the general cleaning.   The point being (aside from longer life for the organ) that most organists will not climb into a filthy chamber or case to touch up the reeds. And if they do, they're liable to knock dust, etc. into the pipes.   If you don't know how to tune reeds, get someone who knows how to teach you.   Blower maintenance (if required) could be included in the church's regular maintenance schedule, if there's a maintenance person on the premises.   For those who play 'em, oiling Hammond tonewheelers once a year is a no-brainer ... you just need the right oil ... I'm sure the Hamtech site covers that. Ditto Leslie motors. Most other toaster play until they don't play ... then you DO need the tech.   Here's a question: if good universities offer degrees in engineering, why not organ-building?   Cheers,   BUD    
(back) Subject: Re: Playing to distraction From: "JeffWinSTL" <Reedstop@worldnet.att.net> Date: Thu, 4 Feb 1999 21:41:08 -0600   >I've also had people come up to the consoel (when I was at a different >church) and thought the Diapason was a soft stop and pulled it on <snip>   OK, this is where I would draw the line. Why would someone think they can just change registrations on you??? I'd definitely have a HUGE problem with this!   Jeff "Keep your paws off my stops" White Holy Cross Luth. St. Louis      
(back) Subject: Re: Playing to distraction From: Travis Evans <tle6399@seward.cune.edu> Date: Thu, 04 Feb 1999 21:45:38 -0500 (CDT)     > >I've also had people come up to the consoel (when I was at a different > >church) and thought the Diapason was a soft stop and pulled it on <snip> >   I don't have to worry about this happening, the church I play at, the people are afraid to touch it, they are afraid 'something' might happen to it. So I just have to deal with the talking.   Travis Evans    
(back) Subject: Re: Playing to distraction From: "Ron & Mandy" <ronwest@spiderweb.com.au> Date: Fri, 5 Feb 1999 13:58:52 +1000   The only one that can get away with changing stops in the middle of a piece is my cat Demon. I play 6 shows a week in a silent cinema and this little guy knows that the red ones are loud so if he wants attention during a show he just 'paws' one of the red ones on. The audience loves it. My feelings are mixed, but then you can't whack a dumb(?) animal in front of witnesses now, can you? Ron   ---------- > From: JeffWinSTL <Reedstop@worldnet.att.net> > To: PipeChat <pipechat@pipechat.org> > Subject: Re: Playing to distraction > Date: Friday, 5 February 1999 13:41 > > >I've also had people come up to the consoel (when I was at a different > >church) and thought the Diapason was a soft stop and pulled it on <snip> > > OK, this is where I would draw the line. Why would someone think they can > just change registrations on you??? I'd definitely have a HUGE problem with > this! > > Jeff "Keep your paws off my stops" White > Holy Cross Luth. > St. Louis > > > > "Pipe Up and Be Heard!" > PipeChat: A discussion List for pipe/digital organs & related topics > HOMEPAGE : http://www.pipechat.org > List: mailto:pipechat@pipechat.org > Administration: mailto:admin@pipechat.org > Subscribe/Unsubscribe: mailto:requests@pipechat.org  
(back) Subject: Mea Culpa From: "Dennis Goward" <dgoward@uswest.net> Date: Thu, 4 Feb 1999 21:57:59 -0700   Earlier today I posted an intemperate reply to comments made by Jason Comet. I feel I need to publically apologize to Jason and to the list for my some of my comments.   Dennis Goward      
(back) Subject: Re: The need... (even longer) From: Nelson and Tracy Denton <ndenton434@bigwave.ca> Date: Fri, 05 Feb 1999 00:59:08 -0500   Rob wrote . . . "I think that one of the best things about the continuation of the trade of organ-building is that it still has an air of mystique about it, and things are learned "at the knee of the master". This is important because organ-building is not simply a trade, it's also a form of art. You can't learn an art simply by reading about it, you need a teacher standing over you as you do it."   I agree with Rob here but the problem with this is that "the master" is often very poorly trained or an indifferent person. In North America at least the biggest complaints about the poor quality of workmanship comes from those who have witnessed the work of "mass produced organ experts" trained by those organ builders who are in themselves poorly trained and who produce the worst organs and don't seem to care.   I have heard a number of horror stories about the cranking out of "trained organ techicians" with 2 weeks training by firms who send kids out to tune and repair organs without even the slightest bit of concern that their students can't repair or tune. ( Can you imagine a church organist being hired to play or a preacher to preach with that little training or experiance?)   I often find pieces of paper lying in organ chambers with the "bearings" written on them, left behind by "Factory Trained Technicians". I've met and talked to a few of the guys who have worked for these types of firms. Most admitted they were sent out to do a "mans work" by bosses who only wanted the money that a tuning/service call would provide and who didn't care that the poor kids were asked to tune a 50 rank organ in a morning and also tune 5 others in the afternoon. An average service call to completely tune and service an organ lasted less than 30 minutes! Often less than 15!!! The kids admitted that they didn't know enough about organs to do more than this because they had no training and were too naive to know better. In almost every service book that I read where some of these "2 week Wonders" were trained is a long list of excuses such as - "No time to fix this" "Must ask the boss for permission to do this" and Must ask the specialist (The Boss) at the shop to come and fix this.   The problems? A loose wire on a junction.- A slipped stopper on a 4' flute - A burned out magnet.- Dirt in a valve. Basic repairs that any tech should have found in seconds and been able to repair themselves. Ok you say they didn't have the right parts with them or they were pressed for time - Then why are the same problems reported year after year by the organist and the words "Fixed this" listed by the tech almost every time?   Most of the service men left after a very short time to pursue other jobs or joined better firms. Sadly some continued in the trade working with the same boss and are now training others as badly as they were trained.   The idea that learning at the master knee is a good one. However unless the master himself knows what he is doing it's all for nought. I personally studied under my father from the time I could walk until my father's death when I was 22. My first works are not things i'm always proud of. I doubt that any of us want to listen to their first attempts at playing the organ in public. As organbuilders our works outlast us good or bad. As musicians our mistakes disappear with the dying echos. Almost forgotten by all. Even with all the experiance I have gained working full time from the age of 16 with over 130 years worth of family records and knowledge and skill, I still find myself stumped by much of the new technology that has arrived on the market in the past 20 years. My father was a highly trained expert in the electronics field, a woodworker,and pipe organ builder yet he only had the chance to see one IC circuit before he in a pocket calculator before he died. Dad had no idea what they were. Grandad was born in a log cabin he didn't know AC from DC. Things change so fast that at age 42 I am so far behind technology's advances that even though I trained in college as a electronics tech I struggle to understand all the new things organs can do every day.   Without books and the now the Internet I would have no way of ever understanding the daily changes that are going on.   I'd love to spend a few years travelling to Europe or the U.S. to study in a factory with one of the big firms. I'd love to go to every organbuilders convention. But I can't, I've got a family and a business to run. I doubt that most of the other organ builders can as well. We can only learn so much as apprentices, then we must go out on our own and learn from our experiances and attempt to make a living at our trade. I agree that we can't learn organbuilding from a book. But without book learning we will never be able to about learn that which we cannot see with our own eyes or touch with our own hands.   If organ building is an art that can only be learned by doing, then why do organists have sheet music to read?   It's not enough to learn HOW to do things. We must learn WHY things are done.   Remember those who cannot learn from the past are condemned to repeat it.           Nelson E. Denton -The Pipe Organ Tracker Project, The worlds largest collection of organ related links - http://members.xoom.com/radentonson & Canadian Musical Instrument Heritage. http://www.freeyellow.com/members4/cmih -      
(back) Subject: Re: The need...(a bit shorter) From: GRSCoLVR@aol.com Date: Fri, 5 Feb 1999 01:53:47 EST   Hi Nelson and list:--- BRAVO !!!!!! Nelson,,,that post was awesome! <G> You hit this old guys personal recollections and rememberances of the organbuilding/repairing trade right on. I can see the romanticism of the "apprentice at the masters knee" in theory,,,but in practice, at least mine, it was being the "gopher" for a crew of factory technicians rebuilding the action on a pretty big pipe organ, I quickly found out that with the barest of instructions I could get on with just about anything they threw at me, and the critique afterwards, while not ego inspiring, helped me do better quality work the next time. Your comments regarding looking at work done in the past is so true! I had a chance recently to look at swell shade pneumatics that I recovered when I was 18, seems they have given up again, (only 40 years) as I looked at them I thought,,,,OMG! is this the kind of work I did back then? (how sobering, <G>) But thats what life is all about---EXCELSIOR----upwards and onwards....   Thanks also to Dick Willson on the latest in the NEC and cotton wrapped wire. This is not too much of a concern for the home installer,,but in a commercial space,,school,,or church, You bet its gotta be taken into consideration. Fuses are required as well today in action wiring groups, according to the latest NEC. Not a bad idea either,,,maybe not the "purist" of ideas, but pipe organ fires due to bad wiring are not unheard of. Are any of you out there old enuf to have come upon a big old DC dynamo on the back of the blower motor or belted to it? No solid state involved in them,,,but how many people rebuild/reinstall them on their TO's or PO's, none that have solid state or MIDI anything I will almost bet, and with good reason! The Pyrotechnics display that can come out of the back end of a DC machine with slightly bad brushes and with the console on a full chord with couplers is awesome,,but makes one look around to see where the nearest fire extinguisher is located, and then call their tech and say "get a solid state power supply on my organ!" Regards, --Roc