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  • Mixtures in the Early 1900s

    I've been reading a periodical published between 1892-1893, and nearly all the pipe organ specifications given (except very small 2-manual instruments) have at least one mixture per manual. Just now, I researched the OHS database for organs from 1920, and all except for 2 consoles had no mixtures anywhere to be found. Even a 4-manual civic auditorium had no mixtures at all! I did look at builder names, but the difference didn't appear to be builder-related.

    I've heard so much about the Baroque revival in the 1960s-1980s and how mixtures made a comeback. However, does anyone know why mixtures might have disappeared between the 1890s and 1920s? It seems like the pendulum keeps swinging. I wonder why? I also wonder why it never seems to settle in the middle?

    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)
    • 11 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 7 Pianos

  • #2
    The orchestral approach did not lend itself to mixtures. Baroque revival started much earlier than the 1960's, though by the 1980's it was far better understood, with more of an effort to use historical approaches in tonal design rather than just following a formula of low pressure, inclusion of mixtures and high pitches, open toe voicing, and un-nicked flues,

    Some of the early baroque "revival" organs were screechers, often not even using organ cases, just having pipes in the open--later ones are extremely well balanced and more musical.

    Why we can't just settle in the middle--I suspect we have to some degree, as I think most organists find mixtures of value today, but the ultimate answers is that styles never seem to remain constant.throughout human endeavors.

    Comment


    • myorgan
      myorgan commented
      Editing a comment
      Great information, Toodles. When would you say the Baroque revival started in the 20th century? 1950s?

      Michael

  • #3
    I often find small church organs missing mixtures, as they are not sung to, expensive and hard to tune, so why bother?

    Comment


    • AD43
      AD43 commented
      Editing a comment
      Pedal Key action Stop action Compass-low C Compass-high f1 Keys 30
      1 Bourdon 16

      Great Key action Stop action Compass-low C Compass-high c4 Keys 61
      2 Open Diapason 8
      3 Dulciana 8
      4 Stopped Bass 8
      5 Wald Flute Treble 8 ?CD 4'

      Swell Key action Stop action Compass-low C Compass-high c4 Keys 61 Enclosed
      6 Stopped Diapason 8
      7 Echo Gamba 8 TC grooved
      8 Principal 4

      These are the specifications of a church organ of the late 19th century rather than early 20th though.

  • #4
    I think the organ reform movement (Orgelbewegung) got under way in Germany early in the 20th century. Albert Schweitzer was a huge influence, drawing attention to Schnitger and Silbermann organs. I think it was taken up in the 1930s in the USA, but a bit later in the UK. I would say that it didn't really make much headway here (UK) until after the organ in the Royal Festival Hall, designed by Ralph Downes, was built. It was a big shock here.

    It's great to see that with experience builders have stopped putting shrill mixtures on to romantic instruments, for example, without respecting their character. Having said that, some English cathedral instruments were a bit dull and judicious addition of a little brightness and some mutation stops can be very beneficial.

    Comment


    • myorgan
      myorgan commented
      Editing a comment
      It makes me wonder what the Mixtures sounded like in the late 1800s, and whether any still exist unaltered. From an organ building perspective, I wonder if the break back existed back then as it does now, or if that was a 20th century invention. I suppose the organs of Notre Dame or St. Sulpice could be examined, but they've probably been modified since.

      I also wonder why organs of the turn of the last century had so many 16' and 8' stops. They require the most material, yet were prolific on those organs.

      Michael

  • #5
    German organs became romantic instruments many with failing actions. (a lot of experimenting going on). After several wars Germans began restoration of trackers and then we were off to the races.Many German builders came to the US after WW 1.

    Comment


    • michaelhoddy
      michaelhoddy commented
      Editing a comment
      The current organ at Incarnation is a 1986 Casavant that replaced a 1963 Schlicker that replaced an even earlier 1925 Casavant that was itself a rebuild of the Roosevelt, which dated to I believe 1883. So there are probably no extant recordings of the original two iterations. However, as you say, there were quite a few mixtures in the Roosevelt, and even a couple (Great IV and Swell III) remaining in the 1925 Casavant. The Roosevelt looks positively classical compared to the generations that followed up until the 1930's and 40s.

      https://pipeorgandatabase.org/organ/27531

    • tbeck
      tbeck commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks, Michaelhoddy. I should have been more diligent in my research.

    • michaelhoddy
      michaelhoddy commented
      Editing a comment
      Not trying to be a know-it-all, I just happen to be familiar with Incarnation because I used to work on that part of Long Island. Stunning church with wonderful music!

  • #6
    It makes me wonder what the Mixtures sounded like in the late 1800s, and whether any still exist unaltered. From an organ building perspective, I wonder if the break back existed back then as it does now, or if that was a 20th century invention. I suppose the organs of Notre Dame or St. Sulpice could be examined, but they've probably been modified since.
    If you want to know what Cavaille-Coll designed for his instruments in the mid- to late-1800s, St. Sulpice, St. Sernin, Caen, and St. Ouen are great examples that are essentially unaltered. St. Sulpice and St. Ouen have definitely been well-preserved, and I believe the instrument at Caen was restored without alteration. I think St. Sernin had a few extra stops added by Mutin, but my CD of Michael Murray playing Franck there explicitly calls out that he avoided those extra stops and only used the original Cavaille-Coll stops.

    If you look on YouTube, you should be able to find a recent video posted by one of the organists at St. Sernin demonstrating the various registers. I found it very interesting. He includes a demonstration of the mixtures including one starting near the bottom of the compass and showing how it adds ranks as you go up the scale. This was to beef up the treble to compensate for the reeds that got weak in that range. French composers relied on that characteristic in their music, e.g., Vierne in the last movement of Symphony No.3, where he has the right hand up high where the mixtures dominate, contrasting against the left hand and pedal dominated by the reeds.

    Comment


    • #7
      Originally posted by mlaird View Post
      He includes a demonstration of the mixtures including one starting near the bottom of the compass and showing how it adds ranks as you go up the scale. This was to beef up the treble to compensate for the reeds that got weak in that range. French composers relied on that characteristic in their music, e.g., Vierne in the last movement of Symphony No.3, where he has the right hand up high where the mixtures dominate, contrasting against the left hand and pedal dominated by the reeds.
      It's interesting you should mention adding ranks in a mixture as it goes up the scale. My understanding of mixtures in the past was that they would maintain a certain number of pipes per note from the bottom to the top of the keyboard. I knew about them breaking back (lower) as they ascended the scale, but only in the last several years did I learn ranks were added in some cases as the scale ascended. I wonder if there are any mixtures where ranks are removed as the mixture gets higher to keep it from getting too screechy?

      This thread is quite informative for me as I progress in my knowledge of the use of mixtures over the centuries. As mentioned in one (or more) posts, certain composers (the Vierne example was given) in various centuries wrote for the type of mixtures in use at the time. To date, I've never found a single document delineating the type of mixtures (i.e. scales & pitches), used in certain countries, within certain genres. It would make a great doctoral thesis for some especially ambitious student!;-)

      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)
      • 11 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 7 Pianos

      Comment


      • michaelhoddy
        michaelhoddy commented
        Editing a comment
        The added ranks (as in, say, a IV-VI) would be composed to allow brilliance and clarity in the bass, but to add weight in the treble. Often the added ranks are doubles of existing ranks to reinforce certain harmonics, as such:

        https://www.lawrencephelps.com/Docum...undstops.shtml

        You do often see mixtures where a rank is removed in the final break or two at the top of the compass.

      • myorgan
        myorgan commented
        Editing a comment
        Michael,

        That document is an excellent reference tool I didn't know existed. Thank you for sharing it!

        Michael

    • #8
      Given the fairly recent converting of organ specification and building documents to digital format, it well may be within the scope of a Ph.D.-to-be to create a survey of mixtures at least since ~1600 when the fairly steady making and saving of records began.

      Up to the middle/late 20th century such a survey would have been unlikely as implied by Peter Williams and Barbara Owen's 1980's The New Grove The Organ in the Appendix Three Glossary of Terms:
      ...The history of mixture stops is the history of the organ itself, from the big pleno at Winchester (10th century) through the medieval Blockwerke and Renaissance Mixtura (Barcelona, 1480), Locatio (Schlick, 1511), Hintersaz, Zimbel and Fourniture to the 19th-century Compensation mixture, Progresso Harmonica etc....The contents, planning, voicing and scaling of the various mixture stops distinguish national organ schools and test the skill of both ancient and modern builders more than any solo reed or Principal stop.

      Because of when they researched and wrote, most of their work was paper-based and found visit-by-visit in libraries and archives. But now with the interwebs and all...

      Given that the starting five to six centuries of organs in the West, say up to 1600, weren't documented in much detail or with any frequency, it seems probable that the history of mixtures prior to 1600 will be like the history of Neanderthals: tantalizing bits and pieces with usually heaps more conjecture than fact to get those fragmentary parts to hang together as a whole.

      Comment


      • myorgan
        myorgan commented
        Editing a comment
        Originally posted by JeffW
        Given the fairly recent converting of organ specification and building documents to digital format, it well may be within the scope of a Ph.D.-to-be to create a survey of mixtures at least since ~1600 when the fairly steady making and saving of records began.
        You know, I missed the import of this paragraph the first time I read your post.

        Where many advanced college degrees are requesting digital portfolios of their work vs. documentation only, the candidate could not only analyze the mixtures, but could also provide high-quality reference recordings of the stops in their native environment to preserve the voicing characteristics as well (i.e. "screech" vs. "ensemble").

        Michael

    • #9
      While some may make derogatory comments about the great Midmer-Losh organ in Atlantic City, Senator Emerson Richards introduced some of the concepts of the Baroque organ into the US in this instrument he designed in 1929. There are certainly many mixtures of varied compositions. Richards and G. Donald Harrison were friends and Richards is credited with coining the name of the American Classic Organ. Harrison went through several variations of the concept during his career at A-S but I've always considered it to be the middle ground between the symphonic and Baroque - avoiding the screeching instruments that Schlicker and Casavant built during their over-the-top years.

      https://organforum.com/forums/forum/...-classic-organ

      First Baptist Church here in Denver has the organ which was in Senator Richards home in AC. They wanted an organ faster than A-S could build one so Richards sold them his organ, which had a lot of A-S pipework. The story is told here:

      https://www.fbcdorgan.org/the-legacy
      Last edited by AllenAnalog; 04-21-2020, 09:42 PM.
      Larry is my name; Allen is an organ brand. Allen RMWTHEA.3 with RMI Electra-Piano; Allen 423-C+Gyro; Britson Opus OEM38; Steinway AR Duo-Art 7' grand piano, Mills Violano Virtuoso with MIDI; Hammond 9812H with roll player; Roland E-200; Mason&Hamlin AR Ampico grand piano, Allen ADC-5300-D with MIDI, Allen MADC-2110.

      Comment


      • #10
        Originally posted by JeffW View Post
        Up to the middle/late 20th century such a survey would have been unlikely as implied by Peter Williams and Barbara Owen's 1980's The New Grove The Organ in the Appendix Three Glossary of Terms:
        ...The history of mixture stops is the history of the organ itself, from the big pleno at Winchester (10th century) through the medieval Blockwerke and Renaissance Mixtura (Barcelona, 1480), Locatio (Schlick, 1511), Hintersaz, Zimbel and Fourniture to the 19th-century Compensation mixture, Progresso Harmonica etc....The contents, planning, voicing and scaling of the various mixture stops distinguish national organ schools and test the skill of both ancient and modern builders more than any solo reed or Principal stop.

        Because of when they researched and wrote, most of their work was paper-based and found visit-by-visit in libraries and archives. But now with the interwebs and all...
        Jeff,

        I think you've hit the proverbial nail on the head! Just because stops have a particular name, it doesn't necessarily mean they are the same stop. The scale can vary, the breaks may vary, and most of all, the sound may vary. I like the intented quote above because it essentially sums up my initial question, which was limited to one genre of Mixtures, but in reality defines the scope of organ building.

        Unfortunately, we'll never know what sound was produced centuries ago without hearing recordings, but we can attempt to re-create the record and draw natural conclusions from what written record exists. Some of the stops you listed I have never heard of before. I would imagine they sounded different over the years, though.

        Great information, Jeff!

        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)
        • 11 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 7 Pianos

        Comment


        • #11
          BTW, here is the video of Jean-Baptiste Dupont demonstrating the stops of the Cavaille-Coll instrument in St. Sernin, Toulouse:


          His demonstration of the mixtures starts around 11:28.

          A good example of Vierne's usage of the reeds vs. mixtures can be heard in this video of Sarah Soularue playing at St. Ouen, Rouen:


          The effect I'm referring to can be heard right at the beginning. The sound of the right hand is bright thanks to the mixtures, but the same registration in the left hand sounds dark and is dominated by those fiery French reeds. BTW, Sarah's playing in this rendition is wonderful, and the instrument is, of course, fabulous for this music.

          Comment


          • #12
            Mr. Laird,

            Thank you for the videos. Both were very informative. The 2nd was very interesting with the use of the Swell pedal. I've never heard Swells used in quite that extreme, but I suppose they would only work that way in a reverberant location. On a real pipe organ, one would need really quiet swell shades! I tried to discern which end of the keyboard was more affected by the Swell pedal, but with my laptop speakers it was hard to decide.

            Thanks so much for the videos.

            Michael

            P.S. As I think more about it, I think the reeds stand out is because generally a reed rank doesn't continue as reeds to the top of the keyboard. Instead, flue pipes are often used to complete the rank, as the average listener cannot tell the difference.
            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)
            • 11 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 7 Pianos

            Comment


            • #13
              Originally posted by myorgan View Post
              Thank you for the videos. Both were very informative. The 2nd was very interesting with the use of the Swell pedal. I've never heard Swells used in quite that extreme, but I suppose they would only work that way in a reverberant location. On a real pipe organ, one would need really quiet swell shades! I tried to discern which end of the keyboard was more affected by the Swell pedal, but with my laptop speakers it was hard to decide.
              Cavaille-Coll's swell box at St. Ouen is quite effective. Despite its great age and lack of full restoration, it's still very quiet too. You don't need a reverberant location for swell shades to work well or to work quickly. Check out this video of Carlo Curley playing Lemare's "Rondo Cappricio:"

              Lemare subtitled that piece "A study in accents."

              As I think more about it, I think the reeds stand out is because generally a reed rank doesn't continue as reeds to the top of the keyboard. Instead, flue pipes are often used to complete the rank, as the average listener cannot tell the difference.
              Yes, that's true, and particularly so for 19th century French reeds.

              Comment


              • #14
                Originally posted by myorgan View Post
                I've heard so much about the Baroque revival in the 1960s-1980s and how mixtures made a comeback. However, does anyone know why mixtures might have disappeared between the 1890s and 1920s? It seems like the pendulum keeps swinging. I wonder why? I also wonder why it never seems to settle in the middle?

                Michael
                If you would like a detailed overview of organ history, which includes a discussion of mixtures, you might want to read Lawrence Phelps article Towards a Rational Tonal Design. Not only does this help in understanding what tonal principles builders of different eras were trying to achieve, it is helpful in understanding how to register organ literature from different eras and national traditions. While it will not answer all of your questions, it is a good start.

                Here is the link:

                https://www.lawrencephelps.com/Docum...shtml#romantic

                Bill

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

                Comment


                • #15
                  Originally posted by voet View Post
                  If you would like a detailed overview of organ history, which includes a discussion of mixtures, you might want to read Lawrence Phelps article Towards a Rational Tonal Design. Not only does this help in understanding what tonal principles builders of different eras were trying to achieve, it is helpful in understanding how to register organ literature from different eras and national traditions. While it will not answer all of your questions, it is a good start.

                  Here is the link:

                  https://www.lawrencephelps.com/Docum...shtml#romantic
                  Thanks for sharing that article; I started reading it, and it looks very interesting! I am appalled at how much disdain Phelps expresses for anything Romantic, particularly the whole idea of the symphonic organ. Being a life-long fan of the Wanamaker Organ and of Cavaille-Coll's work, I can't read Phelps' writing without the urge to dismiss it out of hand as he seems to be doing to nearly all of my favorite instruments. However, I think his perspective is useful to understand, and the history he describes is interesting and useful, even if I know I'm not going to come to the same conclusions at the end.

                  Comment

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