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  • Swell v.s. pedal expression

    Virtually all of my experience has been with electronic organs except for about 10 minuets on a small pipe organ over 30 years ago. So at the risk of revealing my total ignorance... :)

    Regardless of whether there was a swell pedal and or a crescendo pedal all of the instruments that I have played had an overall expression pedal which I of course used quite a bit. In much of the music I play I have had a need for gradual overall level changes of the manual or manuals and pedals together. I am looking into doing some VPO projects and of course a virtual pipe organ is based on a pipe organ.

    I understand that the volume on the great will be controlled exclusively by pulling or pushing stops whether by hand or via. the crescendo pedal but when playing on the swell and using the swell pedal how does one keep the pedals in balance with what you are doing with the swell? Do you have to use swell to pedal couplers so that at least some of the pedal ranks are also in the swell box?

    Do theater organs differ from classical organs in any ways related to this?

    Thank you for your patience?

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

  • #2
    Last question first-yes, theatre organs do differ from classical organs in this respect. Theatre organs are based on extensive unification, that is, a particular rank may be available in as many as six pitches, and on every keyboard including pedals. Large theatre organs usually have at least two chambers, with a swell pedal for each, and if, for instance, you have a 16' Tibia in the pedals, it will express with the division in which it is located, usually the Solo division.

    On a classical organ, things are very different. The Swell has its own stops and ranks in its own chamber. On small pipe organs, the Great might also have a chamber under expression, and some of the Pedal might be included in either chamber. There are some small VPO sample sets that have this feature, copying the organs from which they were sampled.
    Mike

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

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    • #3
      And on many classical organs, the pedal division is not enclosed at all, therefore not under any expression. You have to select stops to make it louder or quieter. That's just the way they tended to be. As most pedal pipes are rather large, it's hard to put them into an enclosed chamber without going through other tricks (mitering, Haskelling, etc). Now, it certainly can be done. I know of one instrument that has an Echo division with Echo Pedal ranks within it. However this is a large instrument and all the other pedal stops (except those borrowed from other divisions, some of which are in enclosures) are unenclosed, big, and heavy.

      Bob M.

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      • #4
        Our instrument has 2 manual divisions under expression (Choir and Swell) and 2 that are not not (Great and Antiphonal/Solo); none of the Pedal pipes are under expression. There is a Crescendo pedal that affects the entire organ, though. I believe this is typical of a 4-manual church instrument.

        David

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        • #5
          So if I understand correctly on a set up like yours David, it is virtually impossible to do a gradual decrescendo of the pedals just discrete changes via stops. Is that right?

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

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          • #6
            I'm not David, but I can answer your question, and you are right that it is virtually impossible to doa gradual descrescendo of the pedals. Bear in mind that lower, deeper sounds are not affected as much by swell shutters anyhow, and that the descrescendo basically happens by damping the higher pitches. Many electronic and digital organs have simulated this with their swell pedals.
            Mike

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

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            • #7
              OK. Thanks for the help. As I look further it appears that in Hauptwerk the main volume can be controlled by a variable controller such as a pedal so if it turns out to be a problem then the solution appears not to be difficult. Coming from an electronic organ background it was hard to believe that the pedals would not overwhelm if a manual was reduced significantly via. a swell pedal. I sure wish I had more opportunities to play the real thing. :)

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

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              • #8
                Originally posted by mashaffer View Post
                As I look further it appears that in Hauptwerk the main volume can be controlled by a variable controller such as a pedal so if it turns out to be a problem then the solution appears not to be difficult.
                Very easy indeed in HW version 4. Open either the large or mini audio display, right click the volume slide, click the auto detect option, move the physical pedal or slider, click "done".

                Coming from an electronic organ background it was hard to believe that the pedals would not overwhelm if a manual was reduced significantly via. a swell pedal. I sure wish I had more opportunities to play the real thing. :)

                mike
                All becomes clear when playing repertoire on the real thing. The composers have usually been aware of the characteristics, possibilities and limitations of the instruments for which they were writing.

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                • #9
                  Yes, I look forward to learning. :) Thanks for your patient coaching.

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

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