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Getting more Bass from the organ

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  • Getting more Bass from the organ

    I recently read an excellent article by organ historian, designer and consultant, Stephen Bicknell titled Harmonics and 'cheats.' It is a comprehensive discussion about various techniques organ builders sometimes use to create more bass in an organ. He covers Haskell pipes, harmonics, "helper basses" and other topics.

    All of this can seem rather academic, however, I have been working out registrations for the Gaston BĂ©lier Toccata using the main Marcussen organ of the Laurenskerk in Rotterdam, which is one of my Hauptwerk sample sets. I was really amazed at the impact that some of the harmonic stops can make. This instrument has a Gedeckte Quinte 10 2/3', and a Rohrquinte 5 1/3' in the pedal. Adding these stops to the 32' plenum has a huge impact. The 16' plenum of the Hauptwerk can be strengthened by adding the Quinte 5 1/3' to the 16' plenum.

    In this case, hearing is believing. I never had a good understanding of the use of these stops. This article opened my ears.

    Here is the link: http://www.stephenbicknell.org/3.6.01.php

    My home organ: Content M5800 as a midi controller for Hauptwerk

  • #2

    Thought provoking article! Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

    I'm on the verge of being able to FINALLY install my pipe organ in my garage, and it has Haskelled basses for the lowest of the 16' stops. Also being installed in the same garage is an organ with a 10-2/3' stop, so now I'll know to use it with an open 16' rather than a stopped 16'.

    Thank you!

    Way too many organs to list, but I do have 5 Allens:
    • MOS-2 Model 505-B / ADC-4300-DK / ADC-5400 / ADC-6000 (Symphony) / ADC-8000DKC
    • Lowrey Heritage (DSO-1)
    • 9 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 6 Pianos


    • Philip Powell
      Philip Powell commented
      Editing a comment
      Installing a pipe organ in your garage? That's any organist's dream right there!

    • myorgan
      myorgan commented
      Editing a comment
      Or every organist's nightmare! I didn't mention the garage will be climate-controlled.


  • #3
    "...builders whose tonal ideal is concentrated at the bat level of the spectrum. The 'new and unusual timbres' turn out mostly to imitate small angry birds and alarm clocks. Germany in the 1960s was awash with Aliquots, Obertons, Nonenkornetts, Schreipfiefen and other insects."

    That article is a hoot!
    *** Please post your questions about technical service or repair matters ON THE FORUM. Do not send your questions to me or another member by private message. Information shared is for the benefit of the entire organ community, but other folks will not be helped by information we exchange in private messages!