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AGO or BDO?

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    AGO or BDO?

    Need some advice: I have never played a 30-note flat pedal board. I am considering getting a BDO spec console for my home thinking the proficiency of being able to move from one console to the other (i.e. between AGO and BDO) would be useful. Is this a valid or misguided concept? I am guessing that even the relatively quick double-pedaling of Reger is often if not usually played on such pedal boards in Europe.

    Thanks,
    Dave

    #2
    Re: AGO or BDO?

    Opting for a flat pedalboard is the biggest mistake you will ever make! It will RUIN your pedal technique on a concave pedalboard! I know that for a fact! The church where I played in Del Mar, Cal had a 19th century organ with a flat pedal board and for exactly that reason it was considered a Jonah by the other organists in the city. (San Diego) Fortunately, they bought me something else within six months after I got there!

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      #3
      Re: AGO or BDO?

      I would suggest a concave pedalboard as well...

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        #4
        Re: AGO or BDO?

        Widornut -

        Horsenuggets. Not to put too fine a point on the matter, but the fact that any one person is individually thrown by the switch speaks not to the pedalboards in question...Apart from my own experience, I'll be happy to cite legions of organists (some as young as 5th grade) who breeze easily between all sorts of boards.

        My vote is for the flat board, though not a BDO. (The premise of this thread is thus misleading at best.) The BDO pedalboard, very common in Eastern Europe, is only one among many variants of flat pedalboards. In a nutshell, while BDOs still put the sharps in a better position than the AGO style, the keys themselves are too widely spaced; this, BTW, is what often gives flat pedalboards a bad name. Try visiting an organ by Pasi, Fritts or Brombaugh.

        Actually, the best name to cite is Hellmuth Wolff up in Canada. For years and years, Hellmuth has built an excellent and beautifully ergonomical flat pedalboard. Working in North America, though, he has run into plenty of organists, consultants and committees clinging to the same irrational fears expressed above. Every time the issue came up, he made his clients a simple deal: The organ would be delivered with a Wolff (i.e. flat) pedalboard. If, after a month or so, the client still felt that an AGO (i.e. concave) board was better, then Wolff & Associes would come back to replace the pedalboard at no extra cost.

        An entire lifetime of organ building later, no one has ever taken him up on that offer.

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          #5
          Re: AGO or BDO?

          Count me among those who were talked into a flat pedalboard by Hellmuth Wolff. The day I visited his shop was a turning point in my attitude toward pedalboard configurations. After having been a radial/concave man all my life (including, ironically, a long relationship with a very fine early Wolff organ that had an AGO pedalboard), I got run over by the Wolff steamroller and emerged from the meeting as flat as a pancake. Although Hellmuth did not end up building my organ, I did ultimately specify a flat pedalboard.

          I remember at the time considering this an act of bravery. I had no experience with flat pedalboards, so the decision was a giant leap of faith. But I did know this: virtually all of the pedaliter organ music in existence was written for instruments with flat pedalboards. For me, this simple statistic renders the question of ergonomics irrelevant. The real issue is one of musical interpretation. If you want to approach the original sound of Baroque oboe music for example, you don't use a modern oboe with zillions of keyed valves. One can argue that oboes and flutes and trumpets with mechanical valves are more ergonomic, but that misses the point. The predecessors to these instruments are in fact different instruments that create a different sound and demand a different playing technique. The same goes for organ pedals. There is no question that pedaling strategy is influenced by the shape of the pedalboard.

          As for changing between different types, I think that depends on where you learn. Whenever I sit down at an AGO console, the pedaling that I worked out on my flat pedalboard carries over just fine with no changes. Yes, there is a brief acclimation period, but after that it's smooth sailing. I suspect that the reverse is not true. Organists who learn on non-flat pedalboards (especially radial ones) seem to have more difficulty going flat, if one can judge by the degree to which they complain about it.

          So I say thank you to Hellmuth Wolff for turning me around. I like my flat pedalboard and the positive influence it has had on my playing. It really is true that there is no such thing as progress in music. Those who think they can improve upon whatever resources were available when a given piece of music was composed are delusional.

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            #6
            Re: AGO or BDO?


            Whatever you are most comfortable playing is the important thing.

            The E. Power Biggs Flentrop tracker organ at Harvard German Museum originally had a flat pedalboard when new, but Biggs didn't care for it, he had Flentrop replace the flat pedalboard with a AGO/concave pedalboard very shortly after it was installed.

            One option is to have both a AGO and BDO pedalboard made for this instrument at the same time, thus you would have the best of both worlds....ease of playing for whichever you preferred and protecting the resale value/if you where to ever sell the organ in the US. (a non-AGO pedalboard organ in the states would be more difficult to sell).

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              #7
              Re: AGO or BDO?

              playing on different pedal boards shouldn't ruin one's technique. to be a good organist, one should be able to adapt to new organs quickly. so i believe that every organist should try playing on different organs - with different pedal boards and other dimensions - as much as possible.
              although i have been playing on an AGO for a relatively long time, i still feel uncomfortable with the raidiating keys. the distance between keys are different at every point of the pedal board. in my opinion, radiance just create troubles but concavity is beneficial. therefore a BDO parallel would be my perfect choice.

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                #8
                Re: AGO or BDO?

                I am running into more and more problems with switching from my Kimball pedalboard (25-note, radiating but not concave) and my churches 1978 Moller (AGO). In Marcello's Psalm XIX, i have to hit a low D on the pedalboard, next to the lowest C. On my home organ, it is not bad, at my Church organ, it is difficult at best to hit that low note and sometimes I just leave it out. Also, the pedals are MUCH narrower on my Kimball. Just a thought.

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                  #9
                  Anyone have details of the specifications for a BDO concave parallel pedalboard?
                  Martin Hartley
                  Choral Scholar at St Patrick's Cathedral, Parramatta, Australia
                  Student at Campion College, Australia
                  Assistant Organist at St Margaret Mary's Catholic Church, Merrylands, Australia

                  The Novice Organist: http://noviceorganist.blogspot.com.au

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