PipeChat Digest #4962 - Saturday, December 4, 2004
Omnium Gatherum or lotsa stuff
  by <SWF12262@aol.com>
Re: purity
  by <Gfc234@aol.com>
Re: screaming mixtures
  by "John Foss" <harkat@kat.forthnet.gr>

(back) Subject: Omnium Gatherum or lotsa stuff From: <SWF12262@aol.com> Date: Sat, 4 Dec 2004 02:42:05 EST   Dear Pipechatters, Regarding nomenclature, we can rant and rave all we like about the proprieties, but the reality is there is NO universally recognized = standard. Nomenclature has come down to us over several centuries from a number of = countries, and while each stop name may have denoted a very specific tone quality at = one time and in one place, these definitions have become less distinct with = the passage of time, the diffusion of local musical styles to other parts of = the world, and the whims and fancies of builders, organists, and committees. =   Every pipe organ is a living, breathing instrument and unique -- = "identical" instruments would most likely take on different characters in different = rooms with different climates. The only way to reliably know the various = qualities and peculiarities of ANY organ is to listen to it and play it! That = being said, perhaps the organ community should adopt a model of the business = and legal community and formulate some sort of "universal code" of nomenclature. = For instance, in the US there is a universal commercial code to which state = laws might strictly adhere, or they might define their individual differences = from the universal commercial code in their particular state laws. The world = of organ nomenclature does not have such a universal code, to my knowledge. =   Perhaps we should -- a document that clearly defines a diapason, = principal, prinzipal, etc.; a document that defines a range of scales, cutup, = nicking, and so forth for each name. Then we could at least agree on definitions, and builders could stipulate their instrument is in compliance with the = "Universal Nomenclature Convention," or whatever it might be called, or state their differences. I guess I'm looking for a standard in nomenclature similar = to the "AGO standard" in consoles -- 61 note manuals, 32 note pedalboards, standards = in key width and pedal spacing, etc. Given the naming practices of the last hundred years or so, in the worst case scenario, a similarly named stop = on different instruments might be closer to comparing apples and platypuses = than apples and oranges! I think this is probably a pipedream [pun = intended], so it remains the responsibility of every organist to know the instrument he or = she is playing. That's why they pay us the big bucks! Regarding "authentic" instruments and "authentic" interpretation, I would =   submit that both are best guess scenarios in most cases. I wonder how = many organs built prior to 1750 are extant in a completely unaltered condition? = Having never heard Bach play, I feel very uncomfortable saying he would = certainly have performed a given figure in a given manner. Certainly we should acquaint ourselves with the best that is known about performance practice = in a given period, but I would suggest that this knowledge should inform our performance rather than dictate it. Organs are living, breathing = instruments, adapting and changing to some extent with the seasons and climate; surely = the literature is also a living document, and will survive even if the = interpretation is not exactly what the composer had "in ear." The score is like a = blueprint -- we organists are like contractors building to those specifications, = and if we lack a particular part specified by the architect we must make do with =   the parts available. Is there any organ that can give a TRULY authentic performance of early Italian, early Spanish, French baroque, German = baroque, French romantic, and 20th century music on a single instrument? There are quite = a few that can render all of the above to a greater or lesser extent in a respectable manner. So much depends on the organist! Of all the = professions, businesses, and trades, we must surely be the best at making do with what = we have! Regarding price per rank, again it is apples and orangutans. Or kippers = and custard. There are far too many variables to make a nice, convenient figure like price per rank at all accurate. The number of large-scaled = 16 or 32 foot ranks, reed ranks, enclosed divisions, and dozens of other variables = come into play, as do type of action, case design, and so forth. Price per = rank is a fallacy, unless a price is quoted for each individual rank = (including its chestwork and other parts) and separate price for console, case or = chamber preparation, etc. Even so, the average price will certainly vary per = spec. Another one of the joys in dealing with an instrument where each is = unique! I think price per rank would be quite different comparing a 30-rank = tracker with one 16' in the pedal, one 8' on each manual and lots of upper work = with a 30-rank EP with several 16s, several 8s and minimal upperwork. Regarding component instruments and also further regarding cost, I play a =   "Frankenstein" EP assembled in 1990 or '91 (don't recall the exact year). = St. Lambert boasted a lovely electronic Connsonata Toaster Oven from the = 1950s before that -- the only "instrument" I ever played that had a 2 2/3' = coupler! We were given the opportunity to acquire a Tellers from a church the Archdiocese had closed, for free. We added a new Great Diapason chorus, = and pipework from some other instruments. The current spec is: GREAT Open Diapason 16' Diapason 8' Chimney Flute 8' Octave 4' Chimney Flute 4' (ext) Superoctave 2' Mixture IV Trumpet 16' (Sw) Trumpet 8' (Sw) Trumpet 4' (Sw) Chimes Great 4' Great Unison Off Great 16' SWELL Bourdon 16' Bourdon 8' (Ext) Salicional 8' Celeste 8' (tenor C) Principal 4' Triangular Flute 4' Twelfth 2 2/3' Triangular Flute 2' (Ext) Trumpet 16' (Ext) Trumpet 8' Trumpet 4' (Ext) Tremulant Swell 16' Swell Unison Off Swell 4' PEDAL Acoustic Bass 32' (Ext Subbass) Diapason 16' (Gt) Subbass 16' Bourdon 16' Diapason 8' (Gt 16') Flute 8' (Ext Subbass) Bourdon 8' (Ext Sw) Choralbass 4' (Ext Gt 16') Trumpet 16' (Sw) Intermanual couplers 16, 8, 4 Pedal couplers 8, 4 CHOIR nonexistent Fortunately, the architect (1960) provided two winded organ chambers and a = blower room in the basement. We had to prepare the north chamber (bare cinderblock walls) with insulation, wallboard, and acoustic sealant paint, = as well as lighting. Acquired 16' Open from another church; bought new Great Diapason chorus (8, 4, 2, IV). Wiring, installation, etc., plus all of = the above $60,000 in 1990 or 1991. This has proved a very versatile instrument, = but we are hoping to expand into the south chamber with a new swell. Current = swell will become choir (it is voiced rather softly). We have 12 ranks of = Hillgreen and Lane pipes to go in there (and chests) but inadequate funds as yet. = Is this an ideal instrument? No way! Is it far better than this church ever = had before? Immensely! We've managed to build a strong music program around =   this rather modest instrument -- strong congregational singing of = traditional hymnody, multigenerational choir, etc. I guess the point I want to make is we organists (and choir directors) = must make the best of what we have. For those of us employed in churches (as I = have been at St. Lambert's since 1988) there is always the delicate = balance between serving the music and serving the liturgy, but that's a topic for = a whole different discussion! Sorry for my loquaciousness on these subjects! My two cents, with a generous allowance for inflation and then some! Steve Steven Weyand Folkers Director of Music St. Lambert Church Skokie, IL  
(back) Subject: Re: purity From: <Gfc234@aol.com> Date: Sat, 4 Dec 2004 02:44:06 EST     In a message dated 12/4/04 1:07:29 AM, ArieV@ClassicOrgan.com writes:     > when we > disregard composers who played their own music and had it recorded for > posterity sake? >   Uh hum--- Who does "WE" refer to? Me and my friends do our homework. Going on = with your logic-why should people even bother learn the music? People can = just play whatever notes they want! Your post upsets me. That "who cares" = type attitude is why our profession is dying, so much playing is poor, and so = many new organs are rubbish. Respectfully submitted-basically-I just disagree with you! :) peace, gfc       Gregory Ceurvorst 1921 Sherman Ave. #GS Evanston, IL 60201 847.332.2788 home/fax 708.243.2549 mobile gfc234@aol.com gfc234@nextel.blackberry.net  
(back) Subject: Re: screaming mixtures From: "John Foss" <harkat@kat.forthnet.gr> Date: Sat, 4 Dec 2004 11:37:22 +0200   Monty Bennet RMB10@aol.com wrote: "Sometimes I wonder if the builders know how to make mixtures to work properly. I'm playing an organ next week in a program that the mixtures = are unusable because they don't blend with the foundations at all. The Great Mixture screams over the top of everything and the Swell Plein Jeu, while not high =   pitched or loud, just doesn't fit...it's not really bright, it's almost hooty in nature. It's the most bizarre sound I've ever heard."   I think that, generally speaking, the secret to mixtures lies in the = unison ranks - crystal clear 15 and 22 harmonics. The quints should be blended to =   these, with the 15 + 22 breaking back at the same place, an octave below = the top note, perhaps. Do not use octave couplers with mixtures - then they = will scream.   John Foss http://www.organsandorganistsonline.com/