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  • The American Classic Organ



    I have one of these digital instruments that has four different voicings, among them the American Classic. Being a Canuck, I don't know what that means. By American Classic would they mean a big Skinner with lots of romantic stops, or what? It will be wonderful if someone can enlighten me.




    Robert, Canada


  • #2
    Re: The American Classic Organ

    When I hear the term American Classic, I immediately think of one of G. Donald Harrison's later Aeolian Skinner instruments.

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    • #3
      Re: The American Classic Organ



      The term "American Classic" supposedly originated from Senator Emerson Richards, in which he described G. Donald Harrison's eclectic tonal philosophy.




      See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G._Donald_Harrison




      Twolandmark instruments:




      http://aeolian-skinner.110mb.com/Specs/Op00940.html




      http://aeolian-skinner.110mb.com/Specs/Op00936.html




      These are actually rather early instruments, however they have been modified.

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      • #4
        Re: The American Classic Organ



        Some time ago the snobby elitist baroque-only gang began to poo-poo ''eclectic'' and make it out to be anathema. Pipes dont know they are baroque pipes. Builders that made them back then didnt get up and say today we shall build a set of baroque prinzipals. They were simply pipes. Some old builders carried on previous traditions and others struck out on their own.




        GDH merged the Skinner ethereal and orch-symphonic which were by 1927 a trademark of American organ ingenuity. He restored to the organ some elements of traditional English cathedral tone via the quinty diapasons and more brilliant Willis chorus reed work. Later he went to Europe circa 1934 and brought back the koppelflotes, nachthorns, spillflotes,blockflotes, fournitures, cymbels, trompettes, cromornes, schalmeis etc. Still his version of all of these were in a modified form. Thus his trompettes are a cross between WillisI and Cavaille-coll. His baroque stops flue and reed, are stable generally rather than the fussy European versions that go out of tune easily.




        He pioneered a design that could produce tone suitable to America. No other tradition offers that much variety. For a nation not well-organ savvy the GDH recipe is a good deal so that people can hear more than just period focused organ. Period focused is for the conniseur more than the man off the street. The USA acoustics are not favorable for period focused organs.




        Today the big houses offer the GDH sort of design along with modified versions of French, German and other schools of organ building. That cant be said of any other nation.

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        • #5
          Re: The American Classic Organ

          an American Classic I think as noted above is a reference to G. donald Harrison's tonal philosophy:

          no reeds on the great, no overpowering stops on their own, everything blends very well.


          I have a Rodgers analog organ that was termed "an American Classic" for the stoplist:

          http://www.rodgers550.com

          a very nice organ, especially for analog technology.

          As to spending time on it..its quite nice but I'd prefer a E.M. Skinner romantic organ anyday.

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          • #6
            Re: The American Classic Organ



            GDH went thru phases of creativity that overlapped one another. For instance even tho he had two landmark jobs in the mid-30s still he offered more traditional work for those who were not ready to jump on the new bandwagon. So the English sound can be roughly traced till circa 1940 even tho he did much of the new style he was developing.Late as 1948 Tabernacle organist Frank Asper was worried that the beloved Austin would be replaced by a baroque organ by GDH. The Tabernacle has all the new stuff of GDH but much older Skinner style material including many strings and orch reeds.




            When the reedless great came into existance sometimes GDH put a lone 16 reed of the short-length sort so that you could play it as a solo voice against choir or positiv flutes. The gutsy reeds were reserved for the jobs that had the Bombarde sections. Here GDH inserted the chorus reeds on 7'' wind and a mixture of 44 scale to add sparkle to the chorus. Where the job was really big he also included a sort of First Diapason 8 on the Bombarde division of 43 or 42 scale and an Octave 4 of say 54 scale. His pipes blended well coz he didnt force the tone and the registers had many overlapping harmonics so that the sound grew as more was added to a registration. He regarded EMS diapasons as too narrow and cut up too high. EMS diapasons were likely his own doing with strong 4ft overtones. Harrisons diapasons were very quinty and clean , incisive and possessed a singing quality that was soul-stirring, diginified, unforced, natural. Many builders copied GDH and went with reedless greats.I like great reeds of both English and French- inspired models.

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            • #7
              Re: The American Classic Organ



              American Classicis all in the eye of the beholder. But it is generally attributed to GDH.


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