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Visited a 1985(ish) Schlicker organ

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    Visited a 1985(ish) Schlicker organ

    At the beginning of March I visited a nice Schlicker organ, built/installed around 1985. I was able to play it over the course of a couple of days and so I got a decent feel for it.

    It was a nice organ with a small console (which I really liked). It has a decent stoplist and sounded nice in the room. The keys felt really nice and was a fun organ to play. If it were under my care there are a few things I'd change about it though. The first is that the Scherp IV on the Swell was somewhat shrill, and with the shades open it was not comfortably usable. Secondly I had wished there was a quieter stop on the Great—the Hautbois on the Swell was a potentially great solo stop to use with quieter accompanying registration but the Swell was the only division under expression and there wasn't a quiet enough stop on Great. And lastly it only had 6 generals/4 divisionals and A/B memory levels ... I'm not used to such paltry offerings!

    I think the pipes in the front are for the Prestant 16' in the Pedal:

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    The console:

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    The stop tabs felt very high quality:

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    Here's a scan of the specifications:

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    Viscount C400 3-manual
    8 channels + 2 reverb channels (w/ Lexicon MX200)
    Klipsch RSX-3 speakers and Klipsch Ultra 5.1 subwoofers

    #2
    Have a listen to that scherp out in the room. Often mixtures which sound harsh at the console are balanced with the rest of the foundation chorus when they get out into the listening space.

    Schlickers are nice organs. But if they are spread out they can be a pain to tune. They employ cone tuning which is good for stability but if you need to re-pitch a division it's a real pain. The pipes get beat up too. Many years ago we fitted a Schilcker swell division with sleeve tuners because it was removed from the rest of the organ by many feet and was in a chamber with exterior walls. It needed to be re-pitched at least twice a year.

    Comment


      #3
      I wonder if you couldn't boost the hautbois in the swell by adding in the gedeckt and salicional (I frequently do this even on a digital, as the solo reed may be too pungent by itself, for my taste anyway). Then perhaps the 8' roerfluit on the great wouldn't be too loud to accompany it.

      Only other way to play a solo would be to use the swell for accomp and make a solo sound on the great using the mutations with one of the 8' flues. The great trompet is probably too loud.

      Schlicker is one of the builders sampled by Allen for Renaissance and later organs, but I have no idea what Schlicker or where.
      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


        #4
        Originally posted by jbird604 View Post
        Then perhaps the 8' roerfluit on the great wouldn't be too loud to accompany it.
        Or maybe it isn't too loud as is... ?? Those 17th Century chorale preludes... those accompanying figurations under the Cantus Firmus were meant to be heard. I'd love a nice, chiffy 8' flute and maybe a 4' companion for it to do justice to "Schumke Dich". Heaven. Mixture too loud with shade open? Sigh. I don't want to sound .... judgemental, about it, but the o.p. did put it out there for comment... see it wouldn't be my instinct to second guess the voicing decisions of a first rate builder like Schlicker. I would assume its me, if I didn't like something on an organ like what is being discussed. I'd be looking for ways to work with it rather than thinking about what I would change if it was mine to change. Likely the prepared for 8' flute would be ideal to accompany the Hautbois, but it isn't Schlickers fault that the instrument is not complete*. However, I can't see them signing off on letting it out of the shop as it stands without a way to accompany the Hautbois. Does anyone know of an instrument anywhere with a prepared for rank(s) that were ever completed? It is a serious question.

        Originally posted by jbird604 View Post
        Only other way to play a solo would be to use the swell for accomp and make a solo sound on the great using the mutations with one of the 8' flues. The great trompet is probably too loud.
        I'm guessing that ALL the ways you have outlined, including Great Trompet accompanied by Swell flues (with mixture?); including the Hautbois with 8' flute, or string, or both; or just by itself, are valid for some musical purpose somewhere, at sometime, in the repertoire or in improvisation. Choices, what a concept. That Pedal (Pedaal) division... OMG... look at all the complete ranks! The B&V I play is a similar size of instrument to that Schlicker with at least as many Pedal stops, (edit: actually it has several more Pedal stops) but it has only three independent ranks of its own, everything else is simply borrowed from a manual division. Including the reeds. All of them. That is a seriously quality instrument that is being damned with faint praise in this thread, just saying.

        *well, to be perfectly frank, it kind of is. I don't like the concept of designing an instruments tonal specification and leaving it up to the capricious and largely uninitiated Organ Search Committee (with or without an organ consultant) to push for completion. Build the best instrument you can for the money available right now, and call it good. Is that really so hard?
        Last edited by Leisesturm; 05-08-2017, 09:53 AM.

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by Terpodion View Post
          Have a listen to that scherp out in the room. Often mixtures which sound harsh at the console are balanced with the rest of the foundation chorus when they get out into the listening space.
          I second that suggestion. I have been quite shocked with hearing stops I haven't used because the console is so close to the pipes, but when heard in the actual space, the sound and blend were just wonderful. It's too bad you can't bring someone with you to play so you can hear. Alas, that's the fate of the organist--we have to guess on strange organs in strange spaces.

          Michael
          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

          Comment


            #6
            Thanks for everyone's replies!

            My comment about the hautbois was simply because I would have liked to have been able to use it by itself with a quiet accompaniment, not because I couldn't think of a way to use it. I did use it, just not how I really wanted to.

            I don't feel bad criticising the voicing on the Scherp Especially because the long-time organist at this church (who was responsible for getting the organ in the 80s) felt the same way. In fact she never used it. I did use it but only with the shades mostly closed.

            I agree Leisesturm that it is a quality instrument. I really enjoyed playing it. Forgive me if I came across critical. Perhaps I was thinking about what I'd change because visiting this organ was under the premise that I might become the full time organist/music director at the church, and it nearly worked out (there were some small but important differences in perspectives the church and I tried to work through but ultimately did not succeed). So, during the four days I was there I considered what I might like to do to the instrument. The first time I fully heard the organ was while the former organist was demoing for me, and I walked around the auditorium as she played.

            Not meaning to complain about it overall. And maybe that's how whoever initially voiced it wanted it to sound. The character of the organ was bright and while that's not my preference I could definitely respect it and wouldn't want to change its fundamental character, but I felt like it needed fewer razor blades in the Scherp and just a bit more meat in the Prestant 16'
            Viscount C400 3-manual
            8 channels + 2 reverb channels (w/ Lexicon MX200)
            Klipsch RSX-3 speakers and Klipsch Ultra 5.1 subwoofers

            Comment


              #7
              I felt like it needed fewer razor blades in the Scherp and just a bit more meat in the Prestant 16'
              Both of the things you describe are endemic to vertical-chorus Baroque organs, of which this Schlicker (really, any Schlicker) is representative. Any contrasts you create on such an instrument are much more contrasts of color and timbre rather than contrasts of volume. The more Romantic solo-reed-stop-and-quiet-accompaniment idiom you describe is not really what Schlicker ever really designed for.

              This organ is designed for Bach, hymns, and polyphonic music: vertical ensembles rather than horizontal The Swell chorus is much like a Positiv chorus and is pungent, lighter, and brighter than the Great, which sets up a timbral contrast. If you listen to Bach chorale preludes, the accompanimental voice is just as loud as the solo voice, but the timbre is different (usually a reed or cornet contrasted with one or several flutes).

              In fact, the division really is much more like a Positiv in the German sense, with the exception of the pair of strings and maybe the Hautbois. The Celeste and string in the Swell is really an afterthought in this school of design, intended for a singular effect rather than as an accompanimental voice.

              In English organs and the American Classic work of Skinner, Harrison and those who followed them (which really has come to define the archetype of American church playing), the function of the Swell, including its reeds and mixture, and the presence of a second, quieter homophonic set of accompanimental voices in either the Great (on a 2-manual) or Choir is entirely different, and I suspect you are trying to play what is basically a Continental baroque organ in this English/American way, which will be somewhat disappointing.

              Play Buxtehude, Bach, big congregational hymns with moving inner voices, and polyphony in general, and I suspect it would be much more in its element and much more satisfying.

              Comment


                #8
                The Schlicker Principal stops are to die for. I absolutely love how they sound.

                There is a 39 rk Schlicker in the city in which I live ... 3 manuals.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by michaelhoddy View Post
                  Both of the things you describe are endemic to vertical-chorus Baroque organs, of which this Schlicker (really, any Schlicker) is representative. Any contrasts you create on such an instrument are much more contrasts of color and timbre rather than contrasts of volume. The more Romantic solo-reed-stop-and-quiet-accompaniment idiom you describe is not really what Schlicker ever really designed for.
                  Michael,

                  For those who may not know, please define what you mean by vertical-chorus. Your brief description of Romantic idiom was a bit more descriptive. If a person were to search for more information on the subject, what key words would they use to produce the most knowledgeable results?

                  As organ music is (arguably) dying, the same can be true of the genres of organ building and their specific tonal characteristics. Do you have any recommendations (beyond Audsley--now almost 100 years old) for reading on the topic?

                  I visited the Schlicker factory in the 1990s (before they sold out), and it was quite an educational visit. I was impressed, and I certainly would have considered them as a builder for an organ in certain settings. On the same trip, I also visited the Holtkamp factory (not far away), and wasn't as pleased with what I experienced. It's nice to know Schlicker's artistry has been preserved past their ultimate demise, so future generations can experience it.

                  Michael or John: So, were Schlicker's pipes sampled for the Baroque or American Classic sound set in Allen's Quad Suite?

                  Michael
                  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

                  Comment


                    #10
                    For those who may not know, please define what you mean by vertical-chorus. Your brief description of Romantic idiom was a bit more descriptive. If a person were to search for more information on the subject, what key words would they use to produce the most knowledgeable results?
                    Here's how I would describe it more specifically:

                    1. Romantic organs build color through the use of rich individual and combined textures that are primarily dependent on the timbre and harmonic development of individual stops, and less concerned (although not entirely unconcerned) with differences of pitch. The ultimate example of this are the orchestral organs of the early 20th Century, in which a 30-rank organ might not have any 2' stops or mixtures, and only a couple 4' stops. The tonal designer at the time would have undoubtedly told you that upper work was unnecessary due to the rich development and voicing of the individual stops. Of course this extreme has been as soundly rejected as the neo-baroque overindulgences of the extremes of the Organ Reform movement.

                    Baroque organs build color through the combination of relatively harmonically undeveloped stops at a wide variety of pitches above the fundamental, including mutations and mixtures. Baroque voicing is not completely unconcerned with harmonic development, but it is secondary to vertical chorus development. In short, this is why romantic organs (and I include many American classic organs in this description) have many 8' unison stops in all families of tone, a good number of 4' stops, and relatively less higher pitched stops, mixtures, and mutations. A Baroque organ of a similar size may only have a relative handful of 8' stops, and as many 4', 2', and mixture stops as unison stops! And compared to romantic organs, things like strings and reeds are a relative afterthought.

                    If you listen to a North German (Schnitger) or Dutch flute or principal, many of them are very "vanilla." This is because distinctiveness and timbre is built in the vertical chorus, not as much in individual stops or "horizontal" combinations of unison or near-unison stops. This is an entirely different philosophy than, say the English or French 19th-century approach to tonality!

                    2. Baroque organs build contrast between lines and divisions primarily with difference in timbre. The various divisions are all unenclosed in traditional Baroque organs, and even if one is not (as in the Schlicker above), tonally it still functions this way. Thus, pitch, combinations (such as the Cornet or flute choruses) and stop family are the primary ways to create a contrast in a Baroque organ. Most stops of a given family are relatively the same volume throughout the organ. Divisional contrast is built by emphasizing different pitch centers in each division- this is the entire philosophy behind Werkprinzip (where, as an example the Hauptwerk is centered on 16' or 8' Principal pitch, the Positiv on 8' or 4' Principal pitch, and the Brustwerk or similar on 2' Principal pitch).

                    Thus, the relative volume of the major stops is similar, but the balance is different. This is why a Positiv might have a very dominant 4' and 2' Prinzipal with a high-pitched mixture like a Scherp. It is lighter, brighter, and more incisive than the same chorus on the Hauptwerk, but not necessarily a lot less loud. This creates the contrast.

                    Incidentally, this is the primary purpose of short-resonator buzzy reed stops in the manuals in a Baroque organ- to create a contrasting voice against the flute chorus. Much Baroque literature can be played quite successfully with no manual chorus reeds and a Fagott or Posaune drawn at 16' in the pedal as the only "chorus" reed in the organ!

                    Romantic organs build contrast with volume AND with timbre, and Romantic literature emphasizes contrasting colors at much more similar pitches with primarily "horizontal" registrations, with combined stops at similar pitches across multiple families of tone (the French fonds is an excellent example of this).

                    All this to also say: as much as the Baroque idiom is primarily about vertical ensemble, Schlicker, like Silbermann who undoubtedly inspired him, produced some truly refined and beautiful individual stop colors.

                    Michael or John: So, were Schlicker's pipes sampled for the Baroque or American Classic sound set in Allen's Quad Suite?
                    I don't doubt they were used in the Baroque set in the Allen Quad Suite. The American Classic set in the Quad was mostly Harrison/Skinner and classic Allen library stops. In the 7-sample-set Quantum organs, Schlicker has/had an entire dedicated sample set, which I have played at length at Allen Macungie, and which, along with the French set, is my favorite in those organs.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      RE: Schlicker stops sampled by Allen. Michael, the listing I have (that came off the Renaissance "Matrix" CD provided to dealers) shows only a few stops that are said to be taken from Schlicker. These are:

                      Fagott 16'
                      Trompete 8'
                      Dulzian 16'
                      Trompeta Real 8'

                      The particular organ is not identified by location, but the build date is given as 1973.

                      This collection of samples was created for the original Renaissance organs, not the later Quantum with multiple suites. These Schlicker samples were simply among those available on the Matrix CD that could be installed into a Renaissance organ using DOVE.

                      The descriptions given for the various sets of samples are quite vague, with many of them identified as coming from "English Organ" or "Cavaille-Coll Paris" or "German" or "French" or some such. A number of stops are said to be sampled from the Naval Air Station in Pensacola FL, and a number are said to be from an organ identified as "Fisk Ponytracks." Others are just "Skinner" or "Moller" or "Phelps" or simply as coming from the Allen catalog (presumably some of the pipes that were sampled as long ago as the MOS era).

                      I really doubt that any of the suites on a Quantum model actually represent specific organs in a specific place. All suites are surely composed of a variety of samples selected from numerous examples of the organ type that is being imitated.

                      EDIT: I hadn't seen michaelhoddy's excellent summary when I wrote this, but he is speaking as one who has actually played a fully "Schlicker" suite on an Allen. I have not played one of those, and am only familiar with the older Renaissance organs, thus the list of stops I have is much smaller.
                      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


                        #12
                        The Pensacola NAS organ IS (was?) a 1973 Schlicker, so that might connect those dots.

                        It seems like a number of the original Renaissance stops came from the library of Allen analog stop recordings dating back to the MOS era. As I believe I have mentioned elsewhere, there are at least a handful of Renaissance stops that are the exact same names, sounds, and descriptions as ADC stops. With the advent of the multiple suites in Quantum, I would imagine they had to get busy sampling new material.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Aha! Well then, quite a few of the available Renaissance samples were from a Schlicker, if the Naval Air Station organ is one of those. As I said above, the sources and descriptions given in that document on the Matrix CD are all quite vague. It's surprising that they identified quite a few as having come from the Naval Air Station, but then there are those other four listed simply as "Schlicker 1973." Obviously these samples were not very well organized and whoever wrote up the descriptions may not have had all the information at hand.

                          Nowadays, sampling specific organs (as in Hauptwerk) has become so common and so well-known, we tend to forget that it was not that way until recently. Back when Allen (and Rodgers and others) were first doing their "sampling" (or maybe just making recordings), they didn't bother to identify the organ or location from which a given sample was taken, with a few exceptions. I do recall Allen making a big deal out of getting some Schulze pipes shipped from England so they could be sampled while that organ was undergoing renovations.

                          But back in the "old days" of the early digital organ, nobody even claimed that they were reproducing the tone or stoplist of a given organ, just that they were selling "real" samples of "real" pipes out there somewhere.
                          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


                            #14
                            Interesting replies everyone!

                            Originally posted by jbird604 View Post
                            But back in the "old days" of the early digital organ, nobody even claimed that they were reproducing the tone or stoplist of a given organ, just that they were selling "real" samples of "real" pipes out there somewhere.
                            Viscount C400 3-manual
                            8 channels + 2 reverb channels (w/ Lexicon MX200)
                            Klipsch RSX-3 speakers and Klipsch Ultra 5.1 subwoofers

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by rjsilva View Post
                              As a pianist I have my own instrument, a Steinway from 1925. It's nice and a good practise instrument although it has its idiosyncrasies. There's a sort of bond with it. I'd love to also have a Bosendorfer and a Mason and Hamlin, but if there was a piano that pretended to be all three I wouldn't buy it.

                              I think there's value in the relationship with a specific instrument, complete with its limits. While I see some educational (and also some gimmicky) value in virtual organs....
                              But, unlike pianos, the tonal design of an organ lends itself to particular genres of music, so it's not a gimmick if I want to use a Wurlitzer sample set to play a medley from "Hello Dolly", a Silberman to play the Bach chorale prelude "Nun Komm Der Heiden Heiland", a Father Willis cathedral organ to play Percy Whitlock's "Plymouth Suite." or even a Hammond B3 sample set for some Jimmy Smith.

                              Originally posted by rjsilva View Post
                              ...I'd like to feel like there's more to their offering than just a console pretending to be another organ—I want to feel like that organ is its own organ.That's how it's always been and I think it's overall better
                              That's how it was, but has not been since advent electronic organs where, with exception of customized instruments, the specification and "uniqueness" is determined by model number.

                              Some may not desire the wholesale sampling of a particular instrument, and I accept that, but not all virtual organ sample sets are constructed that way. I currently have own three sample sets that are composites of different instruments:

                              Major I American Classic Organ from Etcetera
                              Paramount 320 Theatre Organ from Paramount Organ Works
                              Father Willis Standard 80 from Silver Octopus

                              These organs are not copies of any existing instrument, and are as unique as any M&O or Walker custom.

                              Naturally, if one's taste in organ music is less eclectic, there's nothing wrong with organ monogamy, but there's nothing sacred about it either.
                              -Admin

                              Allen 965
                              Zuma Group Midi Keyboard Encoder
                              Zuma Group DM Midi Stop Controller
                              Hauptwerk 4.2

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