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Which organs lead congregagtional singing best?

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  • Which organs lead congregagtional singing best?

    As I use a VPO in my church now I naturally try different sample sets when playing for services. I have found that my congregation sings well with romantic style organs but are quite noticeably worse singing with baroque style organs. The more authentically baroque the worse they sing and get a little lost with the tempo. This is puzzling to me as baroque organs are brighter, more transparent and you would think easier to sing to.

    So I'm wondering if this is something common or is it just my congregation?
    Last edited by Powerin; 09-18-2018, 06:23 AM.

  • #2
    Maybe they really dislike the shrill sounds of baroque and do not feel inclined to sing with it. You'd think the brilliance would encourage singing, but if they find it truly distasteful it might have the opposite effect.
    John
    ----------
    Church: Allen MDS-45 with Allen MIDI-DIVISION-II expander
    Home: Allen Renaissance R-230 with expanded four-channel audio and MIDI-DIVISION-II
    Shop: Bunch of organs in varying conditions, some good, some not...
    Half of an incredible two-man organ service team -- servicing all the major digitals in Arkansas churches
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

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    • #3
      Might it be something both psychological and physical? Maybe the psycho-acoustics of the space reinforce a sense of self-value and enable a greater participation when the organ emits a lower range of resonance that sounds similar to the singers. I think it could involve filling their sinuses as well as their ears.

      So there's one theory.
      -- I'm Lamar -- 1967 Allen TC-4 Project (forum thread)
      -- 1899 Kimball Parlor Organ (forum thread)
      -- 1999 Rodgers W5000C and Hauptwerk - spare W5000C for spares
      -- Conn 643 Theater - Hammond M3 and E-112 - Roland RD300nx stage piano
      -- Public domain hymn search: https://songselect.ccli.com/search/r...t=publicdomain

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      • #4
        One thing that I believe is often overlooked when evaluating baroque organs is that often the acoustical environment they are in is much more lively than the typical church in America. I, of course, do not know the acoustical characteristics of your church, but I am familiar with many organs that were built during the organ reform movement by American organ builders for churches with relatively dry acoustics. These instruments were often a tonal disaster. The same voicing in a more reverberant setting would be stunning. Later on American builders learned this lesson and voiced their instruments more appropriately for the rooms they were designed for.

        It would be interesting to know what the acoustics are like in your church. How many seconds of reverberation are there. If it is a rather dry room and you are using a wet version of software, there may not be enough pitch definition to lead singing effectively. Also, what are your registrations like? Sometimes principals 8' and 4' give enough support for singing.

        Maybe you could ask another musician to attend your church some Sunday and give you an honest evaluation. In the mean time, if the romantic specifications work well for you, maybe you should just use those for singing and save your baroque specs for literature that would benefit from it.
        Bill

        My home organ: Content M5800

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        • #5
          I wonder if the romantic style voices have more fundamental which might make it easier for inexperienced singers to hear the melody line.
          Sam
          Home: Yamaha P22 and a modified Allen ADC-4500 ... for now.
          Church: Allen MDS-5
          Files: Allen Tone Card (TC) Database, TC Info, TC Converter, Chorus/Mixture TC Generator, ADC TC Soundfont, and MOS TC Soundfont

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          • #6
            The acoustics in the church are very dry. Less than 1 second with people. I use wet samples for the VPO.

            My registrations are pretty much the same as I use with the Allen (ADC 3000)...principal chorus to 2', with or without flutes, building up to mixtures and reeds. Some of the mixtures in some sample sets can sound a bit shrill, but if so I voice them softer. Mixtures actually improve the singing slightly. The Allen is used as the MIDI console for the VPO and the sound is fed back through the Allen amps and speakers. So it is just different sample sets used in the same environment with the same sound system (the original Allen is still used fairly often but has no reverb so the VPOs are much wetter).

            Other (elderly) organists in the congregation say the baroque organs sound fine but are just hard to sing to for some reason...they don't know why either. I'm guessing the theory about a stronger fundamental is probably the most logical. It was just an interesting and very noticeable phenomenon and I was wondering if anyone else had come across it....perhaps those also using VPOs or perhaps Allens and other digitals with multiple stop lists.

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            • #7
              Are you using equal temperament in every case?

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              • #8
                In a dry room, even the "wet" samples may not provide a very interesting ambiance unless the speakers are placed to take advantage of the built-in reverb. The Allen speakers are probably not arranged with that in mind, so your baroque organs may sound quite unpleasant coming through those speakers.

                I used to be crazy about baroque organ sounds, and used to voice Allens that I installed to emphasize the highs and the chiff and noise and such. But I eventually learned that not everybody likes to hear that stuff as much as I do. Unless a room is VERY lively, treble-leaning voicing can be very unattractive to many people. It can even hurt their ears, or at least they think it does.

                And yes, the extra fundamental tones in the romantic organs may be more appealing, more room-filling, and more supportive of vocal pitches. You need some 4' and 2' tone in your hymn registrations, but a little dab'll do ya.
                John
                ----------
                Church: Allen MDS-45 with Allen MIDI-DIVISION-II expander
                Home: Allen Renaissance R-230 with expanded four-channel audio and MIDI-DIVISION-II
                Shop: Bunch of organs in varying conditions, some good, some not...
                Half of an incredible two-man organ service team -- servicing all the major digitals in Arkansas churches
                https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by jbird604 View Post
                  In a dry room, even the "wet" samples may not provide a very interesting ambiance unless the speakers are placed to take advantage of the built-in reverb. The Allen speakers are probably not arranged with that in mind, so your baroque organs may sound quite unpleasant coming through those speakers.
                  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 & 4 Pianos

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by tbeck View Post
                    Are you using equal temperament in every case?
                    I don't know for sure to be honest. I have always used the temperament that the sample sets use as standard which I assumed were equal. I'm using Grandorgue so the sample sets are limited mostly to Piotr Grabowski's sets.

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                    • #11
                      The Giubiasco and Strassburg sample set default temperaments are not equal. Play a B Major chord and then change the temperament from Default to Equal and it will be obvious. I don't know if that would make any difference in congregational singing, however. Perhaps some more experienced church organists could weigh in on that.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Powerin View Post
                        As I use a VPO in my church now I naturally try different sample sets when playing for services. I have found that my congregation sings well with romantic style organs but are quite noticeably worse singing with baroque style organs. The more authentically baroque the worse they sing and get a little lost with the tempo. This is puzzling to me as baroque organs are brighter, more transparent and you would think easier to sing to.

                        So I'm wondering if this is something common or is it just my congregation?
                        I can safely say that the issue you are describing is not just limited to your congregation as I've seen this happen before. My old church has carpeting throughout the sanctuary, with the only visible tiling located where the pews are. At any rate, the church also has a beautiful 1920s era three manual Austin pipe organ there too. Unfortunately, however, the instrument is no longer functional due to a severe mechanical issue. The front of the sanctuary also has a known "dead zone" which absorbs sound quickly. Back when the organ was functional, there was no better sound in the world then hearing that Austin sing. Back when I had a few opportunities to play it, I used the Sforzando frequently!
                        My current organ:
                        • Two manual and 25 pedal Conn Serenade 621F

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