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In praise of small organs

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  • In praise of small organs



    [:O]




    Hee Hee.





    Bear with me now, I'm kind of ignorant of a lot of organ repertoire and terminology, but here goes...




    I've found my niche..I think. Plus I'm just trying to generate conversation/ controversy.
    My favorite organs are the small single manual jobbies without pedals, and maybe only 2 or 3 stops.




    Check out these gems




    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=534TA4PX-yc




    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDzwDE3xf3k





    These can be known as Chamber organs, positive organs, or even portative organs.




    To me, these are of an entirely different character than the big organs. Usually they are in a small space, often you are very close to the pipes, and there's not a huge amount of reverb in the sound.
    The early English organ industry had it 'right' in my opinion.
    I totally disagree with the 'Bigger is Better' mentality.
    Unfortunately this type of organ and its music are largely under-represented in the media, in installation, and in recordings. To me this is a real loss.
    In addition, I think its hurting the instrument not to have the smaller organ repratoire well respresented. By focusing on large organs we discourage people of modest means from taking up the instrument. ($10000 anyone for a practice instrument)




    B.T.W. I don't actually own a 'real' organ at this point, but I may be constructing a "Digital Chamber Organ" in the future. We'll see. For now I'm using a Yamaha keyboard that has a few useful organ patches.





    Thoughts?,Opinions?, Arguments?




  • #2
    Re: In praise of small organs



    [quote user="spotty"]I totally disagree with the 'Bigger is Better' mentality.[/quote]




    Bigger is better when playing Reger, Vierne symphonies, or orchestraltranscriptions. [:D] It all depends on the need.




    I appreciate all pipe organ types - no need to disparage one in order to praise another. I know a larger instrument can sometimes do a credible job of accompanying in a continuo style,whereas a continuo cannot offeraccompanimental supportbeyond its resources - so it is a bit limited.




    [quote user="spotty"]Unfortunately this type of organ and its music are largely under-represented in the media, in installation, and in recordings. To me this is a real loss.[/quote]




    This is not necessarily true. If you listen to recordings of baroque music (especially oratorio and vocal/choral works) you will undoubtedly hear many examples ofcontinuo organs. I'll venture to saythat one is more likely to hear a continuo at aclassical choral concert than a large instrument.




    It may seem they are under-represented in recordings, but only because they are not featured as solo instruments. An 80 minute solo recording of a three-stop organ might wear a little thin. [:)]

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: In praise of small organs

      [quote user="soubasse32"]


      Bigger is better when playing Reger, Vierne symphonies, or orchestraltranscriptions. [:D] It all depends on the need.




      [/quote]




      Fair enough




      [quote user="soubasse32"]




      I appreciate all pipe organ types - no need to disparage one in order to praise another.




      [/quote]




      I guess that nails on my complaint though. I think the big organs do get the spotlight at the expense of the small organs.




      [quote user="soubasse32"]




      This is not necessarily true. If you listen to recordings of baroque music (especially oratorio and vocal/choral works) you will undoubtedly hear many examples ofcontinuo organs. I'll venture to saythat one is more likely to hear a continuo at aclassical choral concert than a large instrument.




      It may seem they are under-represented in recordings, but only because they are not featured as solo instruments. An 80 minute solo recording of a three-stop organ might wear a little thin. [:)]




      [/quote]




      Eh! I could say the same thing about piano or harpsichord.[;)]



      Comment


      • #4
        Re: In praise of small organs

        If you enlarge this category to organs that are a bit larger than 2-3 stops (say 5-10) the organ is still small as if would fit a decent living-room. I have seen a 2 manual portatives with 8 stops that are perfectly transportable by a single person with a van. You will find a lot more recorded music on them, if you look for that kind of music. A lot of baroque and renaiscance music is perfect for those 
        organs. Also the concerto's for organ by Haendel and Co.

        But sadly a lot of people think they need a big organ and drown the music in a sea of mud. Whatever they play...

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: In praise of small organs



          Right on brother! I'd love to have one of those organs, like this...






          You're gonna catch some flak for the mud reference, but I kinda agree with you.




          B.T.W. Is all the Handel stuff typically without pedals? The organ concertos in particular?

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: In praise of small organs

            I'm used to taking flak here and the rest of the throng is used to my point of view by now. So we get along more or less [H]

            Sadly those organs are expensive for what they offer.

            No idea about the Haendel. Never played it (I'm useless for playing with other instruments).

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: In praise of small organs



              I'm hardly an expert on Handel organ concerti, but I just went to this site http://magnatune.com/artists/albums/...e-handelorgan/and listened to some of them. What I heard in the organ parts was essentially a couple of manual flue stops (no pedals) in various pitch registers; if there was an 8' it was stopped. As such, I believe it would have been possible (though not easy) to play them even on that little cabinet organ pictured earlier, but I'm sure it would have been easier on a good 2- or 3-rank portative. I did not hear any reeds or stringy sounds in the recordings. I'm pretty sure there were only diapasons and flutes involved.




              When I was in Bonn, Germany in 2001 visiting the Orgelbau Johannes Klais (preparatory to hiring them to build my church an organ), I went to a service in the local Muenster. It has a full-sized Klais organ, but it was being cleaned and was not operational. I expected to hear singing accompanied by a piano or something, but to my surprise the space was filled with organ sound for the service music and hymns. I wondered about it and after the service discovered that all the music I heard had been produced by an instrument about the size and scope of the little cabinet organ illustrated above. I think it had 3 ranks inside the box, a single abbreviated manual (missing the low octave, at least), and no pedals. In retrospect, I remembered that the organ tone was not very complex, nor was there much variation among the different pieces played. However, the little organ did a fine job as a temporary substitute for the larger instrument that was not working. (As it happens, the little organ was also a Klais.)




              I don't know if this information is useful, but I enjoyed the exercise. I'm sure MS, SG or s32 would be able to give a more cogent analysis.




              David

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: In praise of small organs



                Cool!




                Thanks muchly, great story.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: In praise of small organs

                  I do have the Magnatune recording you mention and was a bit dissapointed in it. I this case the organ is a bit underpowered compared to the string section and there is something about the voicing that bothers me.
                   No idea what, but I would love to hear it with a similar but different instrument.

                  That small organs can fill a large space is true. Got the same experience in Jena where the service was played by the priest himself on a 3 stop positive. (not a large service, there were about 5 people) We (tourists) left the building but on the way out I noticed how even it filled the church. But this is a matter of voicing. Don't expect an organ voiced for a living room to fill a church, neither believe that one voiced for a church will sound fine in a living room.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: In praise of small organs



                    Hey Havoc,



                    I am curious what kind of organs would allow you to do this? Is this pipe or digital?



                    -Jon





                    [quote user="Havoc"]If you enlarge this category to organs that are a bit larger than 2-3 stops (say 5-10) the organ is still small as if would fit a decent living-room. I have seen a 2 manual portatives with 8 stops that are perfectly transportable by a single person with a van. You will find a lot more recorded music on them, if you look for that kind of music. A lot of baroque and renaiscance music is perfect for those
                    organs. Also the concerto's for organ by Haendel and Co.

                    But sadly a lot of people think they need a big organ and drown the music in a sea of mud. Whatever they play...
                    [/quote]

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: In praise of small organs

                      I saw those at the organ builders in question. It were real pipe organs. Sadly I do not have pictures of them (maybe some slides somewhere). One was made in 2 parts that could be used separately. Bottom was a "box" type and the top was a portative type. When both sat on top of each other you had a 2 manual home organ.

                      This one is a portative from the same builder. IIRC it had 2-3 stops, the 8' as a single, the others in b/d for flexibility. The one that could be split was larger than this but made for a living room.



                      The one in the picture is a 2 manual and pedal (working on the first manual with no separate stops) with 4 stops. It is not larger than an electronic organ but it is a real pipe organ, made specially for home use and practice. From the same builder I have seen an 8 stop one without pedal. But he makes whatever you ask and pay for [8-|] 


                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: In praise of small organs



                        Hey Havoc,



                        Do you remember the name of the maker? I'd like to see if they have a website. This looks interesting!



                        Thanks,



                        Jon

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: In praise of small organs

                          The top picture was of an organ made by Thomas: http://www.orgues-thomas.com/
                          The bottom one was made by J. Deblieck. This seems to be his website (in construction?) http://www.deblieck.org/nl/home.php But I couldn't find much there my latin isn't good enough. This is another pic of a similar organ and his contact: http://www.orgelkunst.be/wcms/module...php?storyid=32

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: In praise of small organs

                            You're right that there's very little on the site. I also find it strange that the front page of the site is in Latin.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: In praise of small organs

                              Pardon my obvious ignorance here as I am much more familiar with the "innards" of older electronic organs. But, how is an 8 foot pitch produced in these compact pipe units? There is no pipe near that size that I can see. Again, sorry if there is an obvious answer that I am just not understanding. Can you "stopper" a 4 foot pipe to get an 8 foot pitch maybe? Thanks!
                              Jimmy Williams
                              Hobbyist (organist/technician)
                              Gulbransen Model D with Leslie 204

                              Comment

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