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25-note vs. 27-note compass

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  • 25-note vs. 27-note compass

    Hi everyone. I'm currently reading a book entitled Bach and the Pedal Clavichord: An Organist's Guide by Joel Speerstra. In it I found an interesting tidbit of information, actually coming from a quote by Susi Jeans regarding Bach's trio sonatas and pedal clavichord. She says:

    "There is no doubt that music was especially written for the pedal house-Claviers. One of Adlung’s remarks supports this view, when he asks for the inclusion of the d in the pedal compass of the pedal clavichord 'because it is needed more at home than on the Church organ.'"

    I'm wondering if anyone here can shed some light on this. Why would having the extra C# and D be better for home use vs. church use? Is it simply referring to the fact that, on an organ, you can use higher pitched stops?
    Last edited by shivasage; 07-10-2020, 05:52 PM.

  • #2
    Shivasage,

    Welcome to the Forum! Good question. In the absence of having read this book, I can only surmise what was intended by the author.

    In Bach's time, in order to practice organ at church, one had to go to the church (unheated or cooled), employ one or more blower operators, and rehearse there. Many musicians had a pedal clavichord (or pedal harpsichord), on which to practice at home, which required no additional people and was already heated.

    I suspect the reason for the extra notes at home is because a home instrument would not have a pedal clavichord (or pedal harpsichord), but was more likely to need one–therefore the recommendation. I believe the author was recommending it because church instruments at least had the 30>32 note set of pedals on their organs. I don't think the author was referring to a church having a pedal clavichord (going from what you have stated in your post).

    That's my best guess based on what I know of the time period. Hope it helps.

    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 & 6 Pianos

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    • #3
      Originally posted by myorgan View Post
      because church instruments at least had the 30>32 note set of pedals on their organs.
      As far as I know, many organs at that time didn't have that large pedal board but 25 oder 27 notes. The 27 indeed being the one with c# and d in the lowest octave (and these are still fairly standard in many churches in my part of the world, the 30/32 note pedalboards being the exception rather than the rule.)

      One for maybe needing those notes at home more often than in church I can think of is that one didn't usually sing hymns in D major but rather in F major or G major or sometimes E flat major. When browsing through older hymn books, one can see that most hymns were written higher than they're sung nowadays. While at home, when you played a piece for keyboard instrument in D major, you might want to use the lower notes on the pedals for this.

      But I honestly don't know, and I haven't read that book either.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by myorgan View Post
        Shivasage,

        Welcome to the Forum! Good question. In the absence of having read this book, I can only surmise what was intended by the author.

        In Bach's time, in order to practice organ at church, one had to go to the church (unheated or cooled), employ one or more blower operators, and rehearse there. Many musicians had a pedal clavichord (or pedal harpsichord), on which to practice at home, which required no additional people and was already heated.

        I suspect the reason for the extra notes at home is because a home instrument would not have a pedal clavichord (or pedal harpsichord), but was more likely to need one–therefore the recommendation. I believe the author was recommending it because church instruments at least had the 30>32 note set of pedals on their organs. I don't think the author was referring to a church having a pedal clavichord (going from what you have stated in your post).

        That's my best guess based on what I know of the time period. Hope it helps.

        Michael
        Hi Michael. Thanks for your response.

        Sorry I didn't provide more context. In fact, the statement is a bit out of place. It appears in a larger section on whether Bach's 6 trio sonatas were intended for organ or pedal clavichord. I now understand the statement related to the compass as being relevant because having the 27-note compass allows one to play all of the sonatas, but I don't see how this has anything to do with being at home or at church. Even if she is implying that you are more likely to play the sonatas at home than in church, which is true, the writer she quotes (Jakob Adlung) is seemingly not referencing the sonatas, and could very well have made that statement before the sonatas were even written, or at least before they became popular.

        ​​​
        Originally posted by andijah View Post

        As far as I know, many organs at that time didn't have that large pedal board but 25 oder 27 notes. The 27 indeed being the one with c# and d in the lowest octave (and these are still fairly standard in many churches in my part of the world, the 30/32 note pedalboards being the exception rather than the rule.)

        One for maybe needing those notes at home more often than in church I can think of is that one didn't usually sing hymns in D major but rather in F major or G major or sometimes E flat major. When browsing through older hymn books, one can see that most hymns were written higher than they're sung nowadays. While at home, when you played a piece for keyboard instrument in D major, you might want to use the lower notes on the pedals for this.

        But I honestly don't know, and I haven't read that book either.
        I'm a bit confused when you say "c# and d in the lowest octave." From my understanding, the difference between the 25- and 27-note pedalboard is the 27-note version has the extra c# and d above middle c, that is, in the highest octave. Is that correct?

        That's an interesting point about hymns not being in D major. I never would have thought of that!

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        • #5
          Shivasage, you are asking a good question. However, it should be noted that Bach wrote organ music intended to be played in church on a 27 note pedal board. One example is In Dir Ist Freude from the Orgelbüchlein.
          Bill

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

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          • #6
            Sorry, I didn't mean to confuse you shivasage.
            When you look at historical organs, you can find all kinds of interesting variations, including the so-called "kurze Oktav" (short octave) where your pedalboard starts with what looks like an E and then F, F#, G etc. all the way up as you'd expect it, but the "E" isn't an "E", it's sounds and is "C".
            Not building the lowest notes for the pedalboard (and sometimes the manuals, too) was sometimes done to save money (large pipes were expensive).

            It is also possible to have pedalboards that don't have c# and d on the higher end.

            Last year I played on a lovely historical organ in the Netherlands that had a 22-note-pedalboard and ended on a.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by andijah View Post
              Sorry, I didn't mean to confuse you shivasage.
              When you look at historical organs, you can find all kinds of interesting variations, including the so-called "kurze Oktav" (short octave) where your pedalboard starts with what looks like an E and then F, F#, G etc. all the way up as you'd expect it, but the "E" isn't an "E", it's sounds and is "C".
              Not building the lowest notes for the pedalboard (and sometimes the manuals, too) was sometimes done to save money (large pipes were expensive).

              It is also possible to have pedalboards that don't have c# and d on the higher end.

              Last year I played on a lovely historical organ in the Netherlands that had a 22-note-pedalboard and ended on a.
              No need to apologize! My confusion is only a result of my lack of knowledge. Although I was aware of the so-called 'short octave,' I did not take into account the various layouts of pedalboards that would've been extant at the time. Certainly there was no established rule, even within relatively small geographical areas (I'm assuming). Interesting point about the large pipes being more expensive. This makes complete sense.

              So, my obsessiveness got the best of me and I ended up emailing the author of the book. He gave me this response:

              "I think Adlung was suggesting that a bigger pedal compass on home instruments allowed for the performance of a wider range of house music. We know that Bach enjoyed playing string trios at home at the pedal clavichord, and that means he probably wasn’t the only one?

              Adlung may have, in fact, had it backwards. There were house instruments with a wider pedal keyboard range because it was a lot less expensive to add a couple of keys to the pedal of a clavichord or harpsichord compared to extending the pedal compass of an independent pedal division at the organ."

              For what it's worth!

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              • #8
                The pedal part in the Toccata in F goes up to top F.

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