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Position of Choir and Swell pedal when switching off Rogers organ

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  • Position of Choir and Swell pedal when switching off Rogers organ

    Dear all,

    My church is using Rogers T967 organ for 30 years - with no enclosed pipes. Recently our organists argue about whether the Choir and Swell shoes should be in fully open or closed position, when switching off the organ.

    As my church has no enclosed pipes (some open pipes only), I assume the shoes are controlling the electronic amplifications. Some argue that the shoes should be kept open, as it is a good practice when we may play in churches with enclosed pipes. Some argue that the shoes should be kept closed, as it will protect the internal electronics of the organ.

    Personally I think it doesn't matter - but I need to resolve their arguments.

  • #2
    Fong,

    Welcome to the Forum! I hope you continue to contribute here.

    As a new member, you wouldn't know this, but we recently had a conversation on this very topic related to pipe organs. The answer you provide is very correct, but it really doesn't matter as you suspect.

    I understand both sides of the argument regarding an electronic instrument, though. If the Choir and Swell shoes are left open when someone turns on the organ, if there is any sort of registration on the organ, it would sound quite loud if someone walked on the pedals or pressed the keys. On the other hand, if the Choir and Swell shoes are left closed, it would matter less.

    I also do understand the issue when switching to a pipe organ, and the habits that are formed. I'm not sure how many of your organists switch between your organ and pipe organs, but they really should learn to play in peace, no matter whether the shoes are open or closed.

    I hope that helps. Again, welcome to the Forum!

    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

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    • #3
      Let may add to myorgan 's reply that not only it doesn't matter in your case, because the expression pedals are not controlling shutters, but also doesn't matter for most pipe organs with shutters. Unless the organ is a tracker, with mechanical coupling to the swell shoes, the position of the shoes has no affect on the position of the shutters when the organ is off. This is because in non-direct-mechanical implementations, the shutters are operated either by pneumatics or electrically, both methods of which require the organ to be running. In these instruments the organ builder can choose to have the shutters open or closed automatically when the blower is off.

      There's also no consensus as to whether the shutters should be left open or closed when the organ is not in use. Some argue that the shutters should be closed in order to keep dust and debris out of the chambers, while others argue that they should be left open so that there is no temperature differential that could affect tuning between the enclosed and non-enclosed divisions.

      I think if you look at the swell pedals on your electronic, you'll find that they offer no real protection to the organ's internals whether opened or closed.
      -Admin

      Allen 965
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      Hauptwerk 4.2

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Fong Wilson View Post
        My church is using Rogers T967 organ for 30 years - with no enclosed pipes. Recently our organists argue about whether the Choir and Swell shoes should be in fully open or closed position, when switching off the organ.
        I welcome you, too, to the organ forum.

        My question is - if the church has used the organ for 30 years with no argument, what happened that now there is disagreement? Did someone learn something that wasn't known before? Another question would be whether the new information is correct. If it is, it needs to be acknowledged as such. If the new information is not correct, it needs to be addressed and corrected.

        As was mentioned, on an electronic, the position of the shoes won't affect the internal electronics. However, I did once play an older electronic organ that would send a short signal through the system when you turned it on. If the volume was up, the whole church heard the electronic "Thump," so organists got in the habit of closing the shoes to prevent the noise when they turned it on. This doesn't sound like your situation.

        Doing it just because it's good practice for when you go to a church with enclosed pipes has some merit, but only if the organists are doing that all the time. Every building and organization has some of its own rules that don't apply to other similar situations. That is fine. It's just the way things are.

        Is it really an argument or just a discussion? How many organists use the organ?

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        • #5
          Sadly, this sounds more like a falling out of personalities rather than an issue of best practices not being followed. As has been mentioned, most pipe organs are built so that the Swell (Choir too) shutters open automatically when the power is turned off. I played a Balcom and Vaughan built in the late 1970's with this feature. Nevertheless our Emeritus organist was very *n*l about always "opening the shutters" after playing the organ. It could have become a thing between us, but I humored him and kept the expression shoes open after playing as well. My very next position had the very next opus number that Balcom and Vaughan built (what are the chances) and no Emeritus organist,so as you might imagine I made sure to leave the expression shoes in the open position. Now I play a Rodgers where it doesn't matter, our Emeritus organist doesn't care, and I don't really care either. I haven't really thought much about which position the expression shoes are in in quite a long time. This thread has re-triggered me in unsettling ways. I suggest the o.p. or anyone it should concern try to get to the bottom of what is actually going on. There is more to this than meets the ear.

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          • #6
            More important to me is to remember to close the CRESCENDO pedal when I am done, and turn off all the stops! Nothing makes an organist like me look so much like a klutz as turning on the switch and then putting feet down on the pedal board to adjust the bench and getting a loud ROAR!
            John
            ----------
            *** Please post your questions about technical service or repair matters ON THE FORUM. Do not send your questions to me or another member by private message. Information shared is for the benefit of the entire organ community, but other folks will not be helped by information we exchange in private messages!

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            • #7
              Before I switch off my electronic instruments I 1) press the general cancel piston, 2) make sure the crescendo pedal is off, 3) make sure the swell shoes are at minimum volume, and 4) turn off the music desk light since it is on a separate switch. Then I turn off the organ and gently close the roll top (if it has one). That helps keep the dust off the keyboards.

              I too have scared the daylights out of myself when my feet hit the pedals while mounting the bench having left 32' stops turned on with the volume up. So now it's just a set routine before I dismount the bench. And if I have a guest organist play the instrument they find the instrument ready to go without any surprises.

              When I play a pipe organ, finding a short note on the music desk reminding me whether the regular organist would like the swell shoes left open or closed is helpful if they are mechanically operated. But as others have said, it may be an automatic process to have them close or stay open when the organ is turned off.
              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.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by jbird604 View Post
                More important to me is to remember to close the CRESCENDO pedal when I am done, and turn off all the stops! Nothing makes an organist like me look so much like a klutz as turning on the switch and then putting feet down on the pedal board to adjust the bench and getting a loud ROAR!
                I have been doing this almost daily by bumping into the manuals, and the organ is only in my workshop. Making sure that the Crescendo is at zero is something that I have learned the hard way.
                -------

                Hammond M-102 #21000.
                Leslie 147 #F7453.
                Hammond S-6 #72421

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Leisesturm View Post
                  Sadly, this sounds more like a falling out of personalities rather than an issue of best practices not being followed.
                  Thank you, Leisesturm. Good point. I sometimes forget that option.

                  It makes me wonder, too, if there has been some ongoing disagreement and whether this is simply the latest version of that. Too many times we only look at "the straw that broke the camel's back" and forget to examine what came before.

                  Re-reading the original post, it's also hard to know whether the word "argue" is used to describe a simple, friendly difference of opinion or something more serious.

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                  • #10
                    I was taught very early on to always open the swell shoes before shutting the blower down. A Wicks I played years ago shut the shades no matter what position the swell shoe was in ... it was pnuematic and need the blower to be running to keep the shutters open.

                    To this very day, even on the AOB analog I play every week at my church, I open the shoes before turning it off. It's something I automatically do no matter what console I have been seated at.

                    I've recently learned that the late Virgil Fox went so far as to open the crescendo shoe after turning the blower off, just to make sure the blower was actually off, and not accidentally left running. He would press keys on each manual before closing the roll top.

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