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  • Descriptive organ language

    Had the organ tuner in yesterday for the spring check up. (nice fellow, very smart and interesting) We were discussing different makes of organs and digital enhancements and how the new sampled voices would need to complement the initial character of the instrument to work for the long term. We got into using single words to describe the various characters of different builders. It was fun to learn the terms other "critical listeners" use. I described the 1920's Kilgen sound as "Silky" and he responded by describing the 1920's Austin sound as "Woolly". I know these are extremely vague, but made me curious what terms others might be using to "pigeon hole" the organ builders.
    Hauptwerk 4.0 VPO
    Estey Style T reed organ
    Hammond M tonewheel spinet

  • #2
    I remember the first Aeolian Skinner to come the area I lived in as a young lad. The sound was so exciting compared with the other pipe organs I was accustomed to hearing. I later had the good fortune to give a concert on this instrument. It was voiced by Donald Gillette. I would describe it as "quinty". It had a number of stops with a very prominent quint in the harmonics. The Great had a 16' Quintaton, which was also in the pedal. The Positiv had a very nasal 8' Nasonflöte. The fifths in the mixtures were very prominent. While this was a three manual instrument, it was during the era when AS built many reedless Great divisions, of which I am not a fan.

    Interestingly, the organ was modified in later years, a Great Trumpet was added and a 16' Subbass was added to the pedal (as well as some other changes.) While it was exciting for its time, I feel it was improved by these additions.

    Bill

    My home organ: Content M5800 as a midi controller for Hauptwerk

    Comment


    • jordan312
      jordan312 commented
      Editing a comment
      "quinty" I like it.

  • #3
    I read a book once that sort of surveyed the American pipe organ scene back in the middle of the 20th century. The writer, James Blaine Jamison, described some organs as "silvery" by which he meant that the mixtures were clean-sounding with subtle quints and prominent octaves. And others as "brassy" by which he meant the mixtures were too heavy on quints, equal in strength to the octave-related pitches. He praised the silvery ones and disliked the brassy ones. The whole discussion was about the contrast that SHOULD be present between the flues and the reeds, and he was saying that if the flue plenum is too reedy, the potential for contrast is diminished or lost, and the only recourse is to make the reeds ever hotter. The result being a tutti that sounds more or less like one huge reed chorus.
    John
    ----------
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    • voet
      voet commented
      Editing a comment
      This is probably why AS made the quints so prominent, because of the reedless Great division.

  • #4
    An organ friend from long ago was able to acquire an 8' rank of Wicks Tibia. He said they had a special "weeping" sound like no other. To this day I have no idea what he meant by "weeping". He added that Wicks rank to his Robert Morton in his home.

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    • #5
      The weeping tibia. I like it, but I don''t know why.
      Hauptwerk 4.0 VPO
      Estey Style T reed organ
      Hammond M tonewheel spinet

      Comment


      • #6
        A very fitting adjective I once heard in describing a big English Diapason chorus (think Westminster Abbey) was "Noble". I think that is very apt. I also feel that the Mixtures of Father Willis with their tierce ranks add a certain "clang" to the chorus. A Willis Claribel Flute definitely has a "creamy" texture whilst a French Cromorne sounds "mournful". The Tubas up in the dome of St. Paul's Cathedral have been likened to "red hot coals" and I would describe a Cavaille-Coll as a "kaleidoscope of colour" (though I haven't worked out exactly which registers are pink or turquoise yet - suggestions please......!)

        Comment


        • #7
          I like "noble" for an proper English diapason. I'm not sure about "creamy" but "mournful" seem appropriate.
          Hauptwerk 4.0 VPO
          Estey Style T reed organ
          Hammond M tonewheel spinet

          Comment


          • myorgan
            myorgan commented
            Editing a comment
            If you've ever heard of Synesthesia, you'd understand. Apt descriptions.

            Michael
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