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Delays between key press and pipe speak - is it true for positiv/chamber/small organs too

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  • Delays between key press and pipe speak - is it true for positiv/chamber/small organs too



    I had a disastrous experience trying to play a large church organ. I simply cannot cope with the latency issues involved.




    What about really small pipe organs.




    Like single manual 2 or 3 rank positivs or chamber organs




    Is it true for these as well? Or do the smaller dimensions make this problem largely nono-existant?


  • #2
    Re: Delays between key press and pipe speak - is it true for positiv/chamber/small organs too



    This is usually NOT true for small organs.




    However, we have a III/72 at church with pitman chests and it responds instantly. And I have played other large organs that respond instantly.




    How far was your console from the actual pipework?

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    • #3
      Re: Delays between key press and pipe speak - is it true for positiv/chamber/small organs too



      About 20' from the pipes in the front of the church, about 120' from those in the back.




      The delay in the higher pitched pipes wasn't as bad, but became fairly problamatic (for me) once you got to 8 and 16 foot pipes.

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      • #4
        Re: Delays between key press and pipe speak - is it true for positiv/chamber/small organs too



        Interesting . . .




        If one plays at my church from the chancel console (rather than the loft console) one is 120 feet from the main organ and about 16 feet from the chancel Positiv (basically a small principal chorus). The slight delay from the main organ does not bother me; but some organists will always have something registered on the Positiv to help them keep things together.




        Thus, I wonder if the delay is not a slowness in the organ action, but rather, you are not comfortable with the acoustics?

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        • #5
          Re: Delays between key press and pipe speak - is it true for positiv/chamber/small organs too



          Anything is possible.




          I am used to either harpsichord or digital organ in a small space. It may be the size of the room combined with larger pipe's slower speaking speed.




          To really refine my question, is it reasonable to imagine that sitting at a small cabinet or continuo organ I would experience essentially the same key=sound response time as I do with a digital instrument?

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          • #6
            Re: Delays between key press and pipe speak - is it true for positiv/chamber/small organs too



            The short answer: no, it is not reasonable to expect the same key response between a pipe organ (no matter how small) and a digital instrument.




            Electrons travel a lot faster than wind!




            However on a small instrument with pipes close by, the difference should not be that noticeable.




            A certainamount of delay is inherent in pipe organs. The only 'cure' for that is to become more familiar with them. [:)]




            Don't modern digital organs have a little bit of a delay built in, to help simulate playing a pipe organ? [*-)]




            Regarding slowness of bass pipes - the best thing to do is to slow down; barring that, the answer is to add some upperwork so you can better hear what you are playing.




            Regarding distant pipes and/or divisions - thebest adviceis to couple in a nearby stop so you can hear what is going on.




            I'm used to dealing with time lags (actually I wish I had more access to those sorts of acoustics)! What I really don't like is when I'm at an organ at the rear of the church, and the choir I'm accompanying is at the opposite end of the church. I've had to try to watch a conductor - via a mirror - who was probably 100 feet away. Not the most pleasant thing... but I'd rather deal with that than have to use the piano (or have no organ music).

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            • #7
              Re: Delays between key press and pipe speak - is it true for positiv/chamber/small organs too



              Fair enough.




              Good info.





              (I've played a few digital organs and have noticed no built in delay designed to reproduce this effect)

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              • #8
                Re: Delays between key press and pipe speak - is it true for positiv/chamber/small organs too



                If only the delay of the bass pipes is bothering you, then you are playing too fast or using this pipes when they are not appropriate. The delay in speech of a large pipe is dictated by nature: the time for sound to travel up and down the pipe. Once you go to 16' this becomes noticeble.



                With a direct action on a small positive, the inverse can be true. Because the pipes speak with less key travel it may seem they speak faster than on a digital that has some "dead travel".



                And then there's the pneumatic action...

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                • #9
                  Re: Delays between key press and pipe speak - is it true for positiv/chamber/small organs too



                  I always play with at least one 8' stop on the pedal. On my organ, the 8' stopped flute is faster than the 8' diapason, so when using the diapason for fullness of sound, the 8' flute is usually also used. The 16' diapason is very quick as it is actually a metal diaphone (a kind of reed which is voiced to sound somewhat like a diapason). In the home installation, the response is quite fast as the pipes are about 25' away. Theatre organ pipes are voiced on the quick side for playing rhythmic music, also the chest action is very fast, and the expansion chambers under each pipe foot (like a tracker) make the response quick.



                  Church organs on lower pressure are probably a little slower especially at the 16' level.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Delays between key press and pipe speak - is it true for positiv/chamber/small organs too



                    I remember once playing a smallish English pipe organ with an awful delay. Literally, the delay was about one second between pressing the note and actually hearing it. Such that you often found you were two or three notes ahead in the score before actually hearing what you've played. It wasn't that the Church was big either, however the instrument was ina poor state of repair and was about to undergo extensive restoration.




                    Thankfully I was only practicing on it, but no matter what I just couldn't cope with the delay - of course, being brought up on electronic organs means I am used to having an immediate response. I suppose its a matter of getting used to it, but I won't be rushing there any time soon to play for a service.




                    However, just to add a little balance. I have played a few other smaller pipe organs that exhibit hardly any delay at all and I've coped perfectly well.

                    1971 Allen Organ TC-3S (#42904) w/sequential capture system.
                    Speakers: x1 Model 100 Gyro, x1 Model 105 & x3 Model 108.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Delays between key press and pipe speak - is it true for positiv/chamber/small organs too



                      More good info, thanks all.


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                      • #12
                        Re: Delays between key press and pipe speak - is it true for positiv/chamber/small organs too



                        It seems like there so many different variables in this that it would be hard to characterize.  I myself have never particularly noticed delay that's attributable primarily just to 'pipe speak' time.  I have noticed delay that has to do with the 'action', though.  



                        The church I was at in my undergrad years (The Peoples Church of East Lansing -- organ music geeks might know the name Corliss Arnold and his well known "Organ Literature:  A Comprehensive Study"; this was his church for some 30 odd years) had middle-late 1960s [maybe '68?] Schlicker 3-manual non-tracker.  The console was right under the Swell and Pedal pipes, and right across from the Great and Positiv.  There was definitely a moderate noticeable delay between key press and sound, seemingly due to the 'action' or the electrics or something (I'm not knowledgeable enough about the mechanics of a late 1960s electric-action Schlicker to know).  The first couple of times I played it, it definitely took getting used to -- I remember guest organists finding it rather disturbing, but our regular organist was very used to it (she was, after all Corliss Arnold's student on this very instrument).



                        The church I attended while in seminary in Chicago -- St. Pauls United Church of Christ in the Lincoln Park neighborhood -- had a late 1950s 4-manual Aeolian-Skinner (Whiteford).  The majority of the organ was in a typical divided-chambers-speaking-across-the-chancel setup, and I don't remember there being any particularly noticeable delay with those.  The Antiphonal division, though, seemed massively delayed the one time I played it and, at least to my senses, it sure seemed like it was more delay than simply the distance for sound to travel from the opposite end of the sanctuary/nave.  I could be wrong about this, though.



                        On the opposite end of the spectrum, the organ I played at the seminary itself -- a large 2-manual Karl Wilhelm tracker (1981 or 83, I think) -- had such a light action on the Ruck-positiv, that you'd practically get sound if you breathed too hard near the keys.  The Hauptwerk was not quite so bad in that regard.



                        (Oh, and I should note that my first organ playing exposure, really the only organ I played until after high school, was a 1979 Rodgers electronic 2-manual, so it's not necessarily that don't notice 'delay' because I've always been used to it.) 

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