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Coupler action in a hybrid organ

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  • Coupler action in a hybrid organ

    I posted this question elsewhere on the Forum as part of a lengthy discussion of other issues. I want to break it out for specific consideration here among the pipe crowd. I have my own opinion on the question but want to hear some other thoughts.

    I am renovating a hybrid consisting of legacy Moller ranks and a 20-year-old Johannus console. The Moller organ was seven ranks, two manual plus pedal arranged in two chambers. At the time of the Johannus installation, the manual divisions (consisting of six of the ranks) were combined into a single new division called "Pipe" on the Johannus console. The Pipe division can be played from its own keyboard or coupled to the electronic Great, Pedal, and Swell divisions.

    The entire pipe division is under expression on a single pedal.

    Because the pipe ranks started out as two separate manual divisions, finding a satisfactory disposition has been a challenge--I want to avoid having "two of everything" such as two 8' strings, two 4' strings, etc. Because I am using an Artisan uMIDI relay (a replacement for an earlier Artisan system) and learned to do the programming myself, I have unlimited ability to change the stop list drawn from the ranks subject to having only 13 stop tabs available. Currently, I have settled on the following disposition:

    8' Principal (open diapason rank)
    8' Dulciana (dulciana rank)
    8' String Celeste (gamba rank)
    8' Hohl Flute (hohlflute rank)
    8' Stopped Flute (stopped flute rank)
    4' Octave (open diapason rank)
    4' String Celeste II (dulciana and gamba ranks)
    4' Open Flute (hohlflute rank)
    2 2/3' Nazard (stopped flute rank)
    2' Superoctave (open diapason rank)
    2' Rohrflute (stopped flute rank)
    8' Fagotto (reed rank)
    4' Clarine (reed rank)

    I am pretty happy with the results.Principal and flute choruses are solid, and although the strings/celestes look weird on paper, the duciana and gamba work well together. Using both the 8' and 4' celestes with the 8' stopped flute is really quite lovely. The obvious omission--a mixture--can be filled in using the MIDI expander to make an acceptable Positiv or alternative Great division.

    The Pipe division has its own intramanual couplers, Pipe to Pipe 16', Unison Off, and Pipe to Pipe 4'.

    Intermanual couplers are Pipe to Swell 8', Pipe to Great 8', and Pipe to Pedal 8'. Of course, the usual Swell to Great 8', Swell to Pedal 8', and Great to Pedal 8' are also present.

    The intramanual couplers are implemented in the Artisan relay, downstream of the console. The intermanual couplers are all implemented in the Johannus processor within the console.

    As a result, the intra- and intermanual couplers work cumulatively rather than independently as is standard practice. For example, if the organist draws the Principal 8' on the Pipe, activates the Pipe to Pipe 4', and then activates the Pipe to Swell 8', playing on the Swell will sound both the 8' and 4' principal.

    I can see the benefits of this arrangement for an instrument of limited resources since it effectively gives 4' and 16' couplers to the other divisions as long as one does not need to play with a different coupling scheme on the Pipe manual. In this sense, the Pipe division seems to be more of a floating division.

    I wonder what the rest of you think. I can, with some more programming, move all of the Pipe coupling into the Artisan relay and cause it to work in the conventional way. But no sense doing so if the present arrangement is a good one.

    Don




  • #2
    Don,

    Personally, I prefer straight couplers (w/o octaves). There are voicing issues that come in to play, which make it difficult for an inexperienced organist to obtain satisfactory results. We have to admit, that is generally most of the organists who will play a particular instrument. Generally, octave couplers end up making the ranks involved screech.

    One observation about the ranks you list above. I've never run into an organ where the Gamba was softer than the Dulciana. For that reason, I would have used the Dulciana as the celesting rank. OTOH, by having the stronger (presumably) rank as the Celeste, it does make it so it will still be effective when other ranks are added.

    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


    • #3
      The gamba is indeed more vociferous than the dulciana. The pipe builder who renovated the ranks decided to tune the gamba sharp after we decided on a string celeste, and I had the same reaction as you. Once I played with some registrations, I decided that I like this scheme--the gamba sounds rather harsh by itself but really sings as the celeste to the dulciana. And you are correct that it has enough guts to stand out over an additional 8' rank such as the stopped flute (as I mentioned above) or even the principal.

      I spent some time on site with the Encyclopedia of Organ Stops open on my computer, playing samples to see what my pipe ranks really sound like. Although the construction of the dulciana is typical of the class, it sounds for all the world like a quiet erzahler. I have even considered renaming it as such. Unfortunately, the gamba is not even close, so honesty will require me to name it a gamba celeste or string celeste and let the organist figure out what sounds good.

      I have ordered replacement stop tab lenses from Johannus to complete the renaming process with many extras having alternative names--even enough to make a few rank changes in the future. (Maybe we can trade in the gamba on a slightly used erzahler driven only to church on Sundays by a little old lady.)

      But Michael, what specifically do you think about having the sub and super couplers act upon the intermanual couplers, leaving aside any issues of muddy sound? Would this arrangement be puzzling to a visitor, or might it be somewhat expected?

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by don60 View Post
        But Michael, what specifically do you think about having the sub and super couplers act upon the intermanual couplers, leaving aside any issues of muddy sound? Would this arrangement be puzzling to a visitor, or might it be somewhat expected?
        Don,

        If you could somehow delineate how the couplers act upon the stops (i.e. some use a dot on the stop or coupler) to indicate which are pipe vs. Johannus, and use the same scheme on which couplers affect all the stops vs. just the pipe stops. Just my 2¢ worth.

        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


        • #5
          Michael, the pipe ranks are all grouped into a separate division in a separate row of stop tabs. No pipe stops are interspersed with digital stops on the manuals (the pedal being a slightly different story). So the sub, super, and unison off couplers have a very clear application to just one division of the organ, but that division can be coupled to others. My concern is that coupling the sub and super couplers is unusual. Or maybe not. I have not played enough quirky pipe organs to have a sense of the degree of unusualness. Since I can change the coupler action to the conventional approach through programming, I want to know musically what good players here have to say about the issue.

          Comment


          • myorgan
            myorgan commented
            Editing a comment
            That eliminates me!;-) I had forgotten it was a separate division. As long as there's an explanation when the organist plays the instrument, that should suffice. Most "good" organists can navigate the waters of a hybrid organ, especially when as clearly delineated as yours is/will be.

            Michael

          • iPlayKeys
            iPlayKeys commented
            Editing a comment
            I don't think it's that unusual to use sub and super couplers, especially on instruments that don't have 16's in the manuals.

          • myorgan
            myorgan commented
            Editing a comment
            Mark,

            What I'm referring to are voicing issues.

            An 8' Diapason will be a certain volume at Middle C, while a 4' Octave played an octave lower will be slightly softer, and a 2' Super Octave played 2 octaves lower will be even softer than the 4' and 8'. When you get an 8' Diapason played an octave higher to match the Octave 4', the 8' Diapason note will be stronger than the 4' Octave. Therefore, using sub- and super-couplers cause that issue no matter how well-voiced the organ is. 4' Couplers will tend to get screechy and overpower the upper work you may have drawn. 16' Couplers tend to be less of an issue because that end of the spectrum is generally voiced a bit softer to blend, rather than provide overpowering bass.

            I hope I explained that right.

            Michael

        • #6
          I am inclined to leave things as they are. There are some benefits in providing sub and super couplers between the Pipe and other divisions. As you say, informing a visitor of this quirk ought to diffuse any nasty surprises. I just posted an update on my other thread in the Electronic Organ Repair forum. The BomeBox is not a long-term solution.

          Comment


          • #7
            If you don't have the sub- and super-couplers go through the intermanual coupler, that gives you the option of having, for example, Principals 8', 4' and 2' sub- and super-coupled on one manual, but not on the other. This is a nice option that gives you two similar-but-not-identical registrations available at the same time.

            In my opinion, a shame that the Gamba was shortened. In smaller instruments, Gamba+Flute was often used as a secondary Principal. From the sounds of things, Dulciana+Flute won't accomplish that. But, it's too late for that now. Not meaning to sound critical, just offering some background.

            Comment


            • #8
              If I survive this build (we have MIDI issues going on too as posted elsewhere in the Forum), I will make a few sound recordings to demonstrate the pipes. Ensembles seem to be more than the sum of the parts; individual notes and ranks do not impress me for the most part--it is a Moller, after all--but together they make for a nice division that has historic value to the church.

              The gamba was chosen by the pipe builder to be the celeste; I was expecting the dulciana to be tuned sharp since it is the softer rank. But I like the result fine and do not see much other use for the gamba, which has a nasty buzz to it that is not endearing as a solo stop. Burying it in an ensemble is the only hope for it.

              Comment

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