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  • 2 or 3 manuals?

    A discussion (argument?) we occasionally run into is.... at what point do you go fromtwo to three manuals. Let's say you have 30 ranks going into a church installation that has a traditional music program. Better to have two fairly complete manual divisions or should you add a third manual divsion that's enclosed so that you end up with two enclosed and one unenclosed division?

  • #2
    Re: 2 or 3 manuals?



    Another way to look at the 2/3 manual question is that 3 manuals allows for a greater ease in changing the sound quality by merely changing manuals. For example the choir could be registered as an accompaniment, the Great a louder combination, the Swell a different quality of sound. By merely changing manuals, there are a greater variety of sound qualities possible without using pistons. A change could be made every measure if desired. With 2 manuals (which my organ has) limits the quick registration change possibilities, one must be more clever in registration to get the desired effects.



    I played on a 3 manual organ with 3 divisions Great, Positive, Swell with only 34 ranks. The 3 manuals were quite convenient for registration changes, inter-manual couplers could be set up to get bigger combinations. I vote for three manuals even if one manual has only a few stops.



    Allan



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    • #3
      Re: 2 or 3 manuals?



      For me that has always been "just when you are ready to add an 8' Geigen to the Swell". By that time you have two volume levels within the Great and Swell Flutes. When you add the Geigen, you'll have a softer Principal chorus on the Swell, than in the Great. Usually, you would have already had a smaller mixture on the Swell too.This is the appropriate time to consider adding an accompanimental group of stops to the Swell division....which would be the Choir.




      Probably another view of thinking would be "anytime you want to accompany Swell stops, and find the Great stops too powerful".


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      • #4
        Re: 2 or 3 manuals?



        Mike Quimby replied to me in an email that organists want 3 or 4 manuals. SoI am persuaded that it is better to have duplexeing to fill out a 3 manual tonal scheme for flexibility in accompaniement.


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        • #5
          Re: 2 or 3 manuals?

          For a human player I think 3 manuals is the best arrangement...for a medium to large size organ 2 manuals is just too limiting.


          reason: In theatre organ terms: it is just too hard to switch around the accomp versus solo versus great for a greater variety as Allen posted so I'm with him on that completely.


          I'm going to alot of trouble and expense to change my house organ console from a 2 manual to a different 3 manual console for that reason. Also after a certain number of ranks it just gets impractical to have a gazillion registers per manual.

          I started out at 5 ranks and 2 manuals...I'm up to 22 ranks now I believe and it is really difficult to do what i wanna do with just 2 manuals ..I'm eventually going to 40 ranks on my home instrument so I really have to have at least 3 manuals to spread things out coherently.




          The intermanual coupler thing really comes into play on a 3 manual organ where you can add 4', 16', or unison ranks to other manuals or whatever and make some musical sounds just not possible otherwise and still do something different on the great..etc. br>



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          • #6
            Re: 2 or 3 manuals?

            40 ranks....?

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            • #7
              Re: 2 or 3 manuals?



              An enjoyable and fascinating thread this is.




              Following what AllanP and Sesquialtera16 said, I favor three manuals rather than two (and also rather than four, which I find too cumbersome and non-ergonomic). I have a delightful little two-manual console at home with a complete combination action and it works just fine - especially in a residence. We have two three-manual consoles at church and they are more versatile - you can use the combination action less also.




              There are two churches in this general vicinity that have an interesting compromise. One organ is about 25 ranks at the other organ is about 50 ranks. They both have only three divisions, Great, Swell and Pedal. However, they also have a top third manual that is a coupling manual. I have never played either organ, but I imagine that this is very convenient and helpful. Moreover, it makes the console look more impressive.




              I believe that Ascension Church in Denver has a newer two-manual pipe organ with 29 ranks and I expect that they are very happy with it.




              ADDENDUM: We have a small floating Positiv division at church that could have been a fourth manual.


              Comment


              • #8
                Re: 2 or 3 manuals?



                [quote user="NYCFarmboy"]...I started out at 5 ranks and 2 manuals...I'm up to 22 ranks now I believe and it is really difficult to do what i wanna do with just 2 manuals ..I'm eventually going to 40 ranks on my home instrument so I really have to have at least 3 manuals to spread things out coherently [/quote]



                Wow! 40 ranks will be some 'home' organ! (or will it be one of those 'live-work' artist studio?)



                Against the protests of my local organ salesman, I chose a privately sold 3 manual older Allen ADC with only 47 stops over the salesman's 2 manual newer MDS model and I have not regretted it. He told me I was just blinded by the fact it was a 3 manual, and partially he was correct, but if that is what I wanted, where's the problem? There's always MIDI if I really need more sounds, but for my purposes, my home console is a practice instrument and not intended to replace the Wanamaker in tonal varieties. ;-)

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: 2 or 3 manuals?



                  I believe the premise of the question is, "At what number of ranks do you put them into a 3 manual vs. a 2 manual?"




                  I would counter that perhaps it's not the number of ranks, but the space available for pipes, the use of the organ (theatre, classical, liturgical, concerts), etc.




                  I have concert literature that requires 3 manuals to play, and one would be hard-pressed to play it on 2 manuals (although I've tried). Another consideration, is that with 2 manuals, as stated earlier, Great stops are not necessarily well-suited to accompanying a soft Swell solo stop or combination. Intra-manual couplers on a 3 manual, when judiciously used, would open up the possibilities tremendously.




                  Just my 2ยข worth--for what it's worth.




                  Michael




                  P.S. I do prefer a 3-manual. I breathe a sigh of relief when I know I have a good 3-manual instrument for a concert.

                  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


                  • #10
                    Re: 2 or 3 manuals?



                    For me, it's either when the Great in particular starts to load up with enough accompanimental and color stops that are not part of the major chorus of the organ, OR when both Great and Swell have enough mutations, reeds and compound stops that they start to become inefficient when trying to contrast different tonal colors. The first instance usually dictates a Choir as the third division, and the second case often a Positiv. Space and layout certainly bear heavily on the workability of this.



                    Most Swells in these mid-sized organs have the primary strings, a flute chorus, the major mutations, and at least a solo/chorus reed like an Oboe if not a sort of expressive reed/mixture chorus in the French or English traditions. Besides maybe the mutations, most of this stuff is not going to depart the Swell for a third division even if one is available, so that's why I feel the disposition of the Great has more influence on when the third division makes tonal sense.



                    I would rather have a small stripped-down exposed Great with about 6-7 stops and everything else on an expressive third manual than a larger Great as part of a 2-manual scheme.




                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: 2 or 3 manuals?



                      As "myorgan" points out, we've strayeda bit off course. Of course the general reaction is to want more, but there are trade offs. There are two separate issues to be dealt with:




                      Youmay have a two manual organ of 30 ranks that has fairly complete, well thought out choruses. Both manuals could even be in separate swell enclosures. OR you may have three manuals and thin out your resources so as to increase your flexablity.




                      Keep in mind that the size of most instruments is dictated by budget and not by whim. With this reality, if you choose a three manual configuration you will likely end up fewer ranks (stops) for your dollars.Where's the tipping point?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: 2 or 3 manuals?

                        Speaking arbitrarily, I would put the "tipping point" at 30 ranks.

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                        • #13
                          Re: 2 or 3 manuals?



                          I don't think that there is a one-size-fits-all answer to this question. I maintain 3-manual organs that range in size from 13 to 60-some ranks. It really depends on what you want the organ to do, how flexible you want the registration possibilities to be. Moller used to do 3-manual organs wath an almost fully duplexed Great/Choir division where there were only one or two unique stops to either division, but they were in common chambers under common expression. cross-division borrows of reed stops increases the flexibility as well.



                          As an organist, my personal preference is for a 3-manual organ. there is much literature that can be played more easily on 3 manuals for some reasons listed by others. some literature demands 3 manuals (Durufle's compositions come to mind).



                          Good design is the bottom line.



                          Rick in VA

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: 2 or 3 manuals?

                            Please forgive me for going off topic as well, but I want to thank Dell for the excellent video link. Speaks very well to our other favorite topic about the quality of analog technology. Yes, I know this was an extreme but it does show the great concern the engineers had (and talent) for brining the best of organ music to those who couldn't have pipes. I believe that devotion was applied even in small measure to less expensive instruments that made a sampling of the organ experience available to those of limited budget or space. Please send an update if the organ is ever purchased and reinstalled. What a shame to lose such a treasure.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: 2 or 3 manuals?



                              Having played a three manual organ at church for almost four years, and having both classical (hauptwerk) and theatre Allen) three manuals at home, I go for the three manual console. I do think that you need enough ranks to make it worthwhile, though, if it is a classical organ. I assume we are not talking about theatre organs here.



                              Thirty ranks and above should have a third manual, Less than that can be accomodated on a two manual, including one or two soft stops on the Great to accompany solos on the Swell. Of course, if some of the ranks are unified to some extent, as in NYC's organ, and on the church organ that I play, twenty ranks could easily need a three manual.



                              I do not care for the idea of duplexing a good part of the Great and Choir. I believe that defeats the purpose of having the third manual. Nor do I like the idea of including part of the Great in the Choir chamber. I had that situation when I came to my present position, and the church allowed me to move the shutters back and cut back the roof of the chamber, to bring all of the Great into the open. Believe me, the results were worth it! The sound of an enclosed Great just simply does not cut it, IMHO.

                              Mike

                              My home organ is a Theatre III with an MDS II MIDI Expander.

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