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Do you love your crescendo pedal?

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  • Do you love your crescendo pedal?

    Hitting the keys harder or putting more pressure under the pipes doesn't change the volumn of the organ in a useable way; and organists have been trying to get expression into their playing since the Roman Hydraulus, probably. The medieval Blockwerk(all ranks all the time) eventually evolved into the baroque instruments with stops controling the ranks, and with a savvy assistant the musician could add or withdraw ranks to "express". As the Romantic Era came around in the mid 1800s, organists wanted more ability to put the feeling that orchestras and pianists were getting, so the English put some ranks in a box with a variable mute on it, either a "nags Head", or a venitian Swell. The French added "Ventils" which alowed certain families like Reeds or Mixtures to be added or withdrawn as a group, and the Americans put on mechanical pistons, levers, or toe studs that would draw a fixed preset combination; at least P & F, sometimes more. The Germans added the most complex expressive device, called the "rollerschwelle" which we recognize today as the crescendo pedal.

    My questions, if you have a crescendo pedal on your pipe or electronic instrument:
    1. Do you use it even some? If so give some examples.
    2. If it is programable, what principles guide you in the programming.
    3. If when it was being designed, you could have traded it for some other feature, what would it be.

    My answers are 1. only rarely. Mostly one Hymn that calls for full and soft portions in each verse (Master, the Tempest is Raging), and a few others.
    2. It is programable. I follow a Romantic pattern that starts with flues 8 and 4 , then chorus reeds, then fractional upperwork, and mixtures, then finally solo reeds and couplers to Stfortzando.
    3. I can make most all changes with pistons, so I would have traded my crescendo for more memory, another string, almost anything.

    Your Thoughts?


  • #2
    Re: Do you love your creshendo pedal?

    I love the crescendo pedal.

    use it all the time to add stops for subtle affect during certain passages.

    in answer to the question:

    I have a pipe organ at my house, it does not have any presets/pistons. And it does not have any swellbox so I have to use the crescendo for the "swell" effect if that makes sense.

    I can quickly throw some stoptabs, but prefer to use the crescendo pedal on the Reuter organ I have.

    1. an obvious example: while playing "Ave Maria" about half way thru when it starts getting dramatic I carefully add one stop at a time via the crescendo pedal on each measure until I'm at full TUTTI then reverse back down for a soft ending.

    also its my only way of going full organ without hitting every single stoptab.

    2. My crescendo is not programable. It probably is if I rewired it but not going to mess with the 60 year old wiring and besides I like how it functions now perfectly anyhow.

    3. I wouldn't give up a crescendo pedal, maybe some pistons would be nice. Just 2 or 3 would be so helpful, but I can make due with the crescendo pedal.
    But I have got so used to using the crescendo that I prefer using it over pistons. on my electronic organ in NYC I have 14 pistons, but only use 3 or 4 of them. I'm in the habit of using the cresendo so I make due with that.

    On my Hammonds I'm stuck with just the volume pedal or moving a drawbar out etc but that takes your hands off the keyboard. For my own taste I prefer a cresendo as you add color as well as volume, instead of just volume.


    • #3
      Re: Do you love your creshendo pedal?

      I dont use it, period. I just use the swell pedal, and, I will use toe-pistons, to change things around a bit, between verses (We are methodist, if there are 10 verses in a song, by george, we sing all 10. It gets boring, changing stops, livens it up) Maybe I should try the crec. pedal.


      • #4
        Re: Do you love your creshendo pedal?

        I don't use mine just because I don't like the programming and can't change it. The reeds come on too early so you get a "jump" in the volume instead of a nice curve.
        Finally self-published some of my compositions! https://www.createspace.com/3734555
        Piano and organ videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/CurtisBooksMusic


        • #5
          Re: Do you love your creshendo pedal?

          Tutti: thats too bad on the reeds coming in too early, in my opinion that would not be a very good thing. They are the very last stops to go on on my Reuter.

          My Reuter has two expression shoes: one swell shoe and one crescendo shoe.

          Interestingly the left "swell" shoe is also a crescendo IF two stops are selected (I think its a string stop and the orchestral horn)..if those two stops are selected you can depress the SWELL shoe and half way thru it will add JUST the Dulciana stops but no others.

          Then the "right" crescendo pedal will add the other 4 ranks, starting with the gedeckts/flutes, then the strings, then the diapasons & finally the reeds...which on the Reuter adds the stops in sequence of lowest volume to highest volume.


          • #6
            Re: Do you love your creshendo pedal?

            NYCF, looking over your picture page again to confirm what I thought I remembered; You do not in fact presently have any ranks under swell, Right? I can see why you would learn to depend on the creshendo pedal. I have never heard of the phenomon you describe with your left pedal; Has anyone else ever run into it? I wonder if an it is an original put on by some handy organist or local technician at some point in it's life? Thanx for sharing.



            • #7

              Post deleted by author


              • #8
                Re: Do you love your creshendo pedal?

                avoid using a crescendo pedal. a series of pistons and putting stops on or off by hand is always better. that way you can see what stops are on.


                • #9
                  Re: Do you love your creshendo pedal?

                  > if there are 10 verses in a song, by george, we sing all 10


                  I'll run into a few people that think differently, but I love the crescendo pedal. (Which by the way it's spelled crescendo... not [i]creshendo[i]).

                  I suppose it depends on the instrument... specifically the way the organ sounds to begin with, and what stops are being played. For example, if you have an organ that sounds like a dying cow, even with a good crescendo pedal, it's going to be worthless. And if you have a bad crescendo pedal with a great organ, pistons are better.

                  But if you have both a great instrument and a great crescendo pedal... than I think it's great. I remember messing around with the crescendo pedal on the Letourneau organ at Baylor... oooh *shivers*... It was the most glorious thing that I had ever heard... especially when you're playing a hymn or something and you build up and then settle back down during the different parts of the piece.

                  I don't think my electronic organ even builds up to a tutti with the crescendo pedal. Mine seems to ignore the reeds... which is fine with me.

                  I think to have a good crescendo pedal, it should build up like this:
                  Reeds / Mixtures
                  with the lowest pitches going first (except for on the pedal, in which case it'd be highest to lowest... I think...).

                  But like philomela said, you never really know what's playing...

                  I generally start with, say a string playing chords in the left hand with a flute on the right and then build with the crescendo pedal from there.


                  • #10
                    Re: Do you love your creshendo pedal?

                    The organ that I learn on is a Letourneau, wow, what a work of art. It is up at St. Andrew United Methodist Church, in Plano, Texas. I remember, about a year ago, Joyce Jones, hopped on it, and played a few things. What a funny lady, wait, you should know that, she is down there at Baylor.


                    • #11
                      Re: Do you love your creshendo pedal?

                      1) Principals, 2) additional even footages--4', 2', 1'--never add fractionals, 3) mixtures, 4) reeds with the pedals gradually augmenting at the same levels, 5) throw in a 32' or 64' for good measure at the very end. Drives 'em crazy. Period.


                      • #12
                        Re: Do you love your creshendo pedal?

                        I have a crescendo pedal, but I almost never use it. I don't really have a swell pedal, but I'd use that if I could. For rather idiodic reasons, the first Allen Digitals didnt' have a Swell pedal, but a 'volume' peadal, so you cant' adjust the relationship between the great and swell. DRIVES ME CRAZY.

                        So, NYC FARMBOI, Do you have a swell on your Allen? I imagine that by the time yours was made they ironed out that little mistake of engineering.



                        • #13
                          Re: Do you love your creshendo pedal?


                          Hmm...on my Allen Digital Computer Organ...(the Allen I have is very old...first generation digital..from about 1972).....I think its just a volume pedal that controls both the Swell and the Great, but I could be wrong. I have only played that Allen maybe 4 times ever for 5 minutes at most. (its temporarily in my garage in Indiana and its been cold while Ive been there so I really have not had too much time to "make friends" (to borrow a Biggs term for getting to know a organ) with the Allen I have there.
                          I do know I do not like using the volume pedal on the Allen I have as it is very narrow.

                          On my Rodgers 530 digital here in NYC... the "swell" is really nothing more than a volume pedal that controls both the Swell and Great.... interestingly there are also slider switches near the stoptabs for just the Pedal and Great that also control the volume (sort of a master volume switch)....so at least on the Rodgers there are 3 volume controls in theory. A master volume control on the back of the organ that you can't get to easily. The slider switches for JUST the pedal and Great (not for swell), and the swell shoe which works for everything all together. In practice I have set all the volume levels on the sliders to max and have not touched them since...they seem redundent to me.

                          Now the Swell shoe on my Rodgers 550 ANALOG 3 manual does work ONLY on the SWELL & CHOIR , it will not affect the GREAT in terms of volume. The Rodgers 550 Analog I have has just 2 shoes: a swell shoe and a crescendo shoe (am I right or wrong in calling them shoes?). The Crescendo pedal on the Rodgers 550 analog is also very useful and seems to be programmed correctly for me anyhow. I use it all the time when I play it.

                          Virgil Fox's Black Beauty had 3 expression shoes, I guess 2 swell ..one swell for the choir and one swell for swell...and one crescendo?


                          • #14
                            Re: Do you love your creshendo pedal?


                            • #15
                              Re: Do you love your creshendo pedal?

                              I myself Prefer a Cresendo shoe, I have a large 3 manual which uses Ahlborn modules. At church we have an Allen MOS 1 with a swell and great shoe so there resort to the 6 factory set pistons. In addition I have a swell shoe for each division of the organ I have a total of 5 Shoes, 4 for expressing each division and a cresendo pedal. I find it easier for me to use the Cresendo pedal or toe pistons then the thumb pistons.

                              but to each his/her own.