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  • Crescendo Pedals

    I have never liked the idea of the crescendo pedal. An exception maybe for improvisation under SOME circumstances (that might still be questionable). All one needs is some well programmed pistons and some skill with a swell box. The crescendo pedal seems only to support a single monophonous sound of varying intensity. I am open to change my opinions if good reason and logic is provided, but as it stands I dislike the things.

    It might be useful for a rock organist if they were ever allowed to get close enough to a real organ (which I would hope not).

  • #2
    I believe most modern Crescendo pedals can be programmed to meet the needs of the Organist. Of course, the intent is to provide a simple method by which to come up with louder voicing on demand, but there is nothing that prevents them from varying the tonal nature during that process, if such were the desire of the users.

    I guess the simple answer is: If you don't like Crescendo pedals, don't use them. They won't do anything unless they are used.

    David

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Sathrandur View Post
      I have never liked the idea of the crescendo pedal. ... All one needs is some well programmed pistons and some skill with a swell box.
      That's all well and good if your instrument *has* pistons. I service many instruments that don't have anything by way of a combination action, but a crescendo pedal will allow the organist to make quick changes, albeit limited in their scope or imagination. We do the best we can with the tools we are given.

      Originally posted by Sathrandur View Post
      It might be useful for a rock organist if they were ever allowed to get close enough to a real organ (which I would hope not).
      Not sure why you wouldn't allow a rock organist near a real organ. There have been several instances of rockers using a real organ in their music with good success. Styx comes to mind as one. Why should one's chosen music disallow them from using a particular instrument to further their art?

      Shawn

      Comment


      • #4
        I'm on the fence with this one. On the one hand, I almost never use the crescendo pedal because it's so difficult to gauge when a stop will be added, and (depending on the pedal) the stops are not always added equidistant from each other. Precision is required to use the pedal well.

        On the other hand, however, on a piece like Elgar's Enigma Variations, or Fox's version of Bach's Come, Sweet Death, it is almost impossible to obtain the subtle variations in tone and get a smooth crescendo and diminuendo without a sizable number of pistons or a good crescendo pedal.

        Bottom line, I find limited use for the crescendo pedal, but in limited circumstances there is no better substitute. I certainly do wish organ builders would disclose the order the stops are added, though. It would save my having to figure it out on my own!

        Michael
        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)
        • 11 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 7 Pianos

        Comment


        • #5
          I use the crescendo pedal more often than I'm comfortable admitting. In fact, I just used it in a recital yesterday (twice). Why waste a piston for full organ (or for steps along the way) when you can use the crescendo pedal? I'd rather use my pistons for other things, especially if there are only a few. Of course, I'd always prefer to set everything on pistons, but economy is a good justification for the crescendo pedal. Also, try Reger's B-A-C-H (or several other works) without it. I dare you. A good crescendo pedal, with lots of steps, is a terrible thing to waste by underuse.
          As of 7/16/2013, no longer active on forum.
          Practice hard, practice well.

          Comment


          • #6
            I have never probably had occasion to use one with an adequate number of well regulated steps. I think IIRC it came about as the only way to express before the invention of the swell box so there is probably a historical aspect to its use. I can see it being useful in some situations if there are enough stops involved to obtain a smooth result. Otherwise a foot operated sequencer would be better.

            mike
            If it is Caesar that you worship, then Caesar you shall serve.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by douçaine View Post
              Of course, I'd always prefer to set everything on pistons, but economy is a good justification for the crescendo pedal. Also, try Reger's B-A-C-H (or several other works) without it. I dare you. A good crescendo pedal, with lots of steps, is a terrible thing to waste by underuse.
              Did you ever use a rollschweller (sp?)? I never have, but I'd like to try it sometime. As I recall, there's one in that big Steinmayer (sp?) somewhere in Pennsylvania.

              Rick Dostie
              Resurrection Lutheran Church
              Waterville, ME USA

              Comment


              • #8
                I haven't, but would really like to soon.
                Just to be clear, I find the crescendo pedal to only really be useful for quicker crescendos (less than 20 seconds or so from soft to full) where the sound needs to build but individual stages are hard to judge separately, and for sitting on a particular level for continuous playing. An American organ can never make a seamless buildup simply with the register crescendo, because certain stops inevitably stick out. This is especially the case with French-inspired instruments; harmonic flutes in particular make the beginning of the crescendo lumpy, and the bright reeds make the end of the crescendo precarious. German instruments can rely on their rollschwellers for expression because each stop is designed and voiced to have a specific position in the crescendo; a rollschweller should not be adjustable, because there is only one ideal sequence. That explains, by the way, the profusion of very quiet 8' stops on such instruments.

                Mashaffer, the swell box was invented a good while before the register crescendo system, but the old organists could probably have done pretty smooth register crescendos if they wanted (using an assistant). The prerequisite for a swell lever is a rod and shutters, but the prerequisite for a register crescendo pedal is a sophisticated system of pneumatics, a complicated relay, or a computer.
                As of 7/16/2013, no longer active on forum.
                Practice hard, practice well.

                Comment


                • #9
                  In regard to Shawns comments I make two points. Firstly, if your instrument doesn't have pistons, it is almost certain you will not have a crescendo pedal. Secondly, and I risk sounding three times my age here, I wouldn't let a rock musician near a real organ because they would desecrate it with a poor excuse of a sound misnamed music. A rock song with the same repeating bassline, same repeating four bar harmonies and a voiceline often closer to screaming than a real melody does not, as far as I am concerned, class as anything cultured, let alone music. Why then is such music common? Simple. It requires very little intellectual ability to create it. At least this post is in the soapbox section.

                  Douçaine: very interesting post, especially regarding the amount of soft stops on German instruments. I hadn't thought of that.

                  Also, as an overall comment, I didn't think in many cases crescendo pedals were manually programmable. Still I must agree with David, it is a choice to use the thing or not. As I don't have one anyway, it is more an argument of principle than practice.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    t
                    Originally posted by myorgan View Post
                    I'm on the fence with this one. On the one hand, I almost never use the crescendo pedal because it's so difficult to gauge when a stop will be added, and (depending on the pedal) the stops are not always added equidistant from each other. Precision is required to use the pedal well.

                    On the other hand, however, on a piece like Elgar's Enigma Variations, or Fox's version of Bach's Come, Sweet Death, it is almost impossible to obtain the subtle variations in tone and get a smooth crescendo and diminuendo without a sizable number of pistons or a good crescendo pedal.

                    Bottom line, I find limited use for the crescendo pedal, but in limited circumstances there is no better substitute. I certainly do wish organ builders would disclose the order the stops are added, though. It would save my having to figure it out on my own! Michael
                    Michael, Over the past fifty years or so, I have also considered crescendo pedals rather useless appendages . . . until I got my Phoenix. IMO, the way Don Anderson has the crescendo set represents absolute perfection:

                    1. Couple SW - CH
                    2. Couple SW - GT
                    3. Couple CH - GT

                    meanwhile adding minimal light salcional, flutes, and principals.

                    His setup probably wouldn't work for everyone, but since Don is a liturgical organist the setup works just great for those of the same mindset. There are 20 crescendo steps with a readout as to which step might be currently employed.

                    As for Come, Sweet Death, starting out by engaging the SW/CH celestes foot piston along with a couple of breathy open diapasons on the GT, the crescendo pedal takes over from there, combining everything that is needed in a very agreeable manner.

                    I have a whizz-bang teenage nephew classical pianist . . . like he is really really good! When he shows up for family occasions he likes to play with the organ. He never bothers with stop tabs or pistons . . . just the crescendo pedal to do everything!, and he sounds really great; something that should be reasonably possible on any well-set-up organ! ?
                    2008: Phoenix III/44

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I'm going to try to bring us back to the original topic - Crescendo Pedals.

                      They can be very effective (or not). Two major considerations are the stoplist of the organ and the number of stages on the crescendo pedal.

                      STOPLIST - Just to demonstrate the extremes, if you have 5 stops on a one-manual organ with Flute 16' and Principals 8', 4', 2', and Mixture IV, no crescendo pedal will ever give you a smooth crescendo. If you had 5 stops on a one-manual organ with Aeoline 8', Dulciana 8', Salicional 8', Gamba 8' and Geigen Diapason 8', the crescendo might be very smooth, depending on the voicing of the stops.

                      The organs on which a crescendo pedal really works will tend to have multiple stops of the same pitch and of similar-enough tone color that stop additions are virtually seemless. The 4-manual Sauer organ in the Berliner Dom, Germany has 113 stops, if I remember correctly, and 51 of them are 8' stops. There are two Principal 8's on each manual! I once played a 3-manual Casavant, the Swell of which included Viola da Gamba 8', (soft-ish) Principal 8', Oboe 8' and Cornopean 8'. Although they were distinctly different in volume, they had been exceptionally well-voiced and their tone color was similar enough that the addition of each louder stop wasn't too brutal. The volume increased, but the actual core tone color remained somewhat constant.

                      NUMBER OF STEPS ON THE CRESCENDO PEDAL - Again, to explore extremes, if your organ has 50 stops and the crescendo pedal has 2 stages, expect a bump. If you could have as many stages as you have stops, you could actually simulate the drawing of one stop at a time. I don't know what the common industry standards or options are, but I'm guessing 8 - 20 stages? Working as a team with a qualified and capable organ technician, the organist should be able to come up with a sequence of stop additions that will be as smooth as possible on the organ in question. [Refer to the paragraph on STOPLISTS above regarding how much potential you have for "smooth".]

                      Any organ that I've played has had a crescendo pedal that could be adjusted, albeit by the tech who had to reach inside the back of the console, and together we have improved the crescendo sequence of at least 3 instruments. One of them was absolutely horrible - by the time you had the crescendo pedal at its limit, the Swell consisted of Flute 8', Octave 4', Nasat 2 2/3', Mixture III and Bassoon 16' !! We have no idea how that came to be, but it was quickly changed.

                      HOW TO USE THE CRESCENDO PEDAL - If it allows you to do grand, seemless crescendos, that is an option open to you for increasing the volume, even in the middle of a phrase, for example. If the crescendo has bumps, it will sound less so if you can nudge it open BETWEEN phrases. In any case, it can also be helpful to have Full Organ on the Crescendo pedal different from Full Organ on the Tutti piston - That way, one of them is "almost there (but still really close)" and the other is the "crowning glory."

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Regarding the number of crescendo steps

                        My 1981 vintage Allen 3 manual theatre organ has 40 steps. The steps are cumulative, that is, once a stop is turned on in the sequence, it remains on as the pedal is advanced. It is not readily programmable although it can be altered by wiring changes on a terminal block.

                        Modern crescendo pedals are completely programmable, can have multiple selectable sequence banks, and can be non-cumulative in nature.

                        Here's data from some Hauptwerk Virtual organs:

                        Organ Specification Crescendo Steps
                        Paramount 320 3M 20R 20
                        St. Anne's Mosely 2M 30R 40
                        Major 1 American Classic 3M 65R 33
                        Pitea School of Music (extended) 3M 45R 33
                        -Admin

                        Allen 965
                        Zuma Group Midi Keyboard Encoder
                        Zuma Group DM Midi Stop Controller
                        Hauptwerk 4.2

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Sathrandur View Post
                          I have never liked the idea of the crescendo pedal. An exception maybe for improvisation under SOME circumstances (that might still be questionable). All one needs is some well programmed pistons and some skill with a swell box. The crescendo pedal seems only to support a single monophonous sound of varying intensity. I am open to change my opinions if good reason and logic is provided, but as it stands I dislike the things.

                          It might be useful for a rock organist if they were ever allowed to get close enough to a real organ (which I would hope not).
                          Crescendo's are actually polyphonous because voices are added as the treadle is pushed forward. In turn the intensity increases. So 'logically' it stands to 'reason' that the name implies what it does. It crescendos:-)
                          I like the idea of a programmable crescendo pedal with a simple faint green light illuminating the tabs the pedal meets on it's way down. Peripheral vision tech is an untapped avenue. There should be no speedometers IYKWIM.

                          You'd be surprised at how many rock organists can play right along side a high level classical organist and you can bet you'd feel it somewhere besides your eardrums and your brain.

                          I love at least SOME of all genres of organ and feel very lucky for it. In fact I watched The Faces 1972 Live video last night. These guys were/are so talented every last one of them. Including Ian McLagan's awesome 'rock organ' performance.
                          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xHBjeiqzkQ
                          Wurlitzer '46' Model 31 Orgatron & 310 rotary cab, 56' 4410 , 65' 4300
                          Hammond '55' S6 Chord Organ,HR-40,ER-20, 1971 X66/& 12-77 tone cabinet w/ 122 kit & TREK Transposer- of which I've retrofitted a Wurlitzer/Lowrey 'PedAL gLIdE' awesome!
                          Gulbransen 61' 1132 '76' Rialto II & Leslie 705 + two 540
                          Conn '57' 406 Caprice '59' 815 Classic (the 29th 815)
                          PLEASE SAVE THE WURLITZER ELECTROSTATIC CONTINUOUS-FREE-REED ORGANS 1953'-1961' Hammond TW's ONLY TRUE COMPETITOR! (Ggl> NSHOS WURLI 4600)

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            The side conversation regarding Rock Musicians and Organs has been moved to it's own thread.
                            http://www.organforum.com/forums/sho...nd-Real-Organs

                            Please limit further comments in this thread to Crescendo Pedals.
                            -Admin

                            Allen 965
                            Zuma Group Midi Keyboard Encoder
                            Zuma Group DM Midi Stop Controller
                            Hauptwerk 4.2

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Admin View Post
                              The side conversation regarding Rock Musicians and Organs has been moved to it's own thread.
                              http://www.organforum.com/forums/sho...nd-Real-Organs

                              Please limit further comments in this thread to Crescendo Pedals.
                              Maybe the crescendo was the Macguffin as it were? I wasn't talking about "rock musicians and organs" so where did my comment end up? Ah', it wasn't that important anyway, but I was getting ready to edit the following (below) into that comment, so good thing I didn't or it would be a real bollix. Anyway, I bet these guys know how to work a crescendo pedal so what's the difference!?


                              WURLITZER 4800 ELECTROSTATIC FREE REED CLASSICAL,POPULAR,LITURGICAL,... CRESCENDO/SWELL



                              Wurlitzer '46' Model 31 Orgatron & 310 rotary cab, 56' 4410 , 65' 4300
                              Hammond '55' S6 Chord Organ,HR-40,ER-20, 1971 X66/& 12-77 tone cabinet w/ 122 kit & TREK Transposer- of which I've retrofitted a Wurlitzer/Lowrey 'PedAL gLIdE' awesome!
                              Gulbransen 61' 1132 '76' Rialto II & Leslie 705 + two 540
                              Conn '57' 406 Caprice '59' 815 Classic (the 29th 815)
                              PLEASE SAVE THE WURLITZER ELECTROSTATIC CONTINUOUS-FREE-REED ORGANS 1953'-1961' Hammond TW's ONLY TRUE COMPETITOR! (Ggl> NSHOS WURLI 4600)

                              Comment

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