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A couple of questions re registration. Also, anyone ever played the organ part for Sweeney Todd?

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    A couple of questions re registration. Also, anyone ever played the organ part for Sweeney Todd?

    Hi all,

    Ok, I freely admit, I'm not an organist I'm a synth programmer and I've been asked to "recreate" some organ registrations for a production of the show "Sweeney Todd" at the Opera House in Covent Garden. I have a huge personal collection of organ stop samples which I have collected and recorded over the last few years, and I intend to load those into my keyboard.

    Looking at the organ part for Todd there are some markings that confuse me! If the parts says "couplers on", does that mean the U and L manuals are connected (so if one is played, the other plays too)?

    And then there is the "rotaries" marking. Would this be the equivalent of Tremulant?

    Finally, there is a marking for the pedals: 16,8,16,8 - I could understand 16+8, but not repeated.

    Can anyone help?

    Many thanks,

    Martin Hughes

    #2
    Re: A couple of questions re registration. Also, anyone ever played the organ part for Sweeney Todd?

    Unless there is some additional information the score, I don't think there are any definitive answers to your questions.

    Organs have both intramanual and intermanual couplers, so the "couplers on" notation could mean that one or more manuals are coupled to and will play from a single one, but it could also mean that the voices on the given manual are to sound at additional pitches.

    My guess would be that "rotaries" refer to Leslie speakers and yes, that would indicate tremulant.

    Don't know about the pedal markings. Could mean that 16' and 8' pitches are coupled to the pedal?

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      #3
      Re: A couple of questions re registration. Also, anyone ever played the organ part for Sweeney Todd?

      Hi Martin,
      I thought that there was an organ deep below the Royal Opera House played by the phantom, but maybe it has been disconnected. On a more serious note, I don't think that the couplers marking on the score would apply to a synthesizer - is the sound you want that of a pipe organ or a Hammond? They are not the same thing at all! If a pipe organ, it depends on the dynamic marking. Who is the organ score by? Maybe a Great to Mixture + Full Swell sound if you want the Bishop to be approaching the altar - or Sweeney Todd about to cut up one of his customer's. On a pipe organ 16,8 twice would suggest a Sub Bass and an open Wood (to tie in with the period) + Flute and Octave, otherwise known as big boom and little boom. Some Hammond organs have two 16' drawbars and two 8's on the pedal. Give the audience a thrill! Give them the sound of St Mary Redcliffe : Great coupled through to Full Swell + the two pedal 32' reeds! Add the Tuba for effect. Make sure you drown the orchestra - though leave this to the performance, for the conductor is bound to want less organ if you use it in a rehearsal.
      John Foss

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        #4
        Re: A couple of questions re registration. Also, anyone ever played the organ part for Sweeney Todd?

        16,8,16,8 might refer to Bourdon 16 and 8, Diapason 16 and 8. Just a good guess without looking at the score.

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          #5
          Re: A couple of questions re registration. Also, anyone ever played the organ part for Sweeney Todd?

          Martin,
          I've been an organist off and on over the years, and I've also played the Sweeney Todd part. If I remember correctly, this is the one that says "to be improvised nightly; invoke the muses and wail".

          The registration info is pretty much irrelevant, and I can't see where the score would benefit from rotaries (Tremulant in the world of pipe organs, rotating "Leslie" speakers in the world of electronic organs). Broadway scores generally retain all the notes from the original production, and this probably meant a Leslie.

          My advice is to listen to the cast recording to get an idea what it is supposed to sound like, and then work whatever instrumentation you have into the picture.

          Also, the climactic whistle in the recording is actually a steam whistle, although you could probably play some kind of loud "pipe organ" diminished seventh to good effect.

          "Couplers on" generally means tying manuals together; in this context it means playing more of the organ to get a broader sound. Except for the very end of the introduction, I could see it being played (in the recording) with a combination of 16' and 8' pitches, although I think that alone would make it kind of muddy.

          Great show - Good luck.
          Larry

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            #6
            Re: A couple of questions re registration. Also, anyone ever played the organ part for Sweeney Todd?

            An organ part for Sweeney Todd?? YOU LUCKY DOG!!! for 25 years my hobby was conducting college musicals. A quirk in the Texas legal system prevented anyone from their own music staff from conducting the college shows, and I was the only one in the area who could handle it. I ALWAYS WANTED to do Sweeney Todd, but I never could talk them into it!

            Take indicated organ registrations with a grain of salt! The key here is the "Roteries" indication. This is NOT organ terminology! From this you may safely assume that the arrainger did NOT know what he was doing; therefore, you are free to do anything you want! Remember that the BOTTOM LINE is, "Does the organ sound good?" Then play with it until it does. 16, 8, 16, 8? Another indication that the arranger was not an organist. Just add 16s and 8s, until you like the sound, and that's the right registration! Be careful that the 16's don't overpower. Couplers on a two manual organ? Just turn them ALL on and see what you get. If you like it, fine, if you don't, play with the sound some more.

            So do I know what I'm doing? Well, my last concert was on a 110 rank Aeolian-Skinner. And the opera house at Covent Garden? Four years ago I was hit by a Porche right in front of it! (Impossible street system down there! The Strand is bad enough!)

            My email address is on my profile. I'll be glad to help you in any way I can if you need it.

            Dave

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              #7
              Re: A couple of questions re registration. Also, anyone ever played the organ part for Sweeney Todd?

              The first 16, 8 would be for Flues
              The second 16,8 would be for the Reed ranks

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