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Radio City Music Hall WurliTzer question

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  • Radio City Music Hall WurliTzer question

    I see in specifications for the Radio City Music Hall organ at the ATOS website that 8' ranks have an extra octave of pipes (73 instead of the usual 61). Photos of the consoles show keyboards definitely have the standard 5 octaves. Why the extra 12 pipes? Are perhaps top octaves double piped to enhance volume?

    FWIW, I can imagine how much better this organ would have been if it had been designed by Wurlitzer instead of Kimball. Too many classic Wurlitzer TO ranks are missing and too many "churchy" Kimball ranks are included. I can envision a Wurlitzer design having been based substantially on an enlarged Fox Special scheme.

  • #2
    I would assume that the extra octave is to extend the voice upwards an octave, so that 4 ft stops derived from 8 ft voices continue into the top octave and 2 ft derived stops continue to the next to the top octave. Or, so that octave couplers play the top octave on 8 ft stops.

    If Wurlitzer had designed the organ it surely would have been different.

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    • #3
      Larc,

      Welcome to the Forum! I hope you continue to participate here for a time to come.

      My best guess, based on what I know of pipe organ building, is that the organ has either a 4' coupler and/or a borrowed 4' stop of the same name, and therefore required the additional 12 notes. The same is probably true if the organ has a 16' coupler on a manual, or has a 16' extension for the pedals based on a rank from the manuals.

      As Toodles mentions, the use and purpose is highly dependent on the builder (and/or rebuilder) of the organ.

      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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      • #4
        Since theater organs are designed as "unit" organs, with each rank having independent chest note control, it is typical for some number of ranks to have an extended note range.

        73, 85 and 97 pipe ranks are used to create a larger complement of 16', 8', 4' and 2' stops from the same set of pipes. The fundamental voice of the theater organ, the Tibia rank, is the one most often seen with an 85 or 97 pipe rank. Offset chests hold the lowest octave of pipes.

        Combine that with the fact that most ranks on a theater organ are playable from multiple keyboards and you get the enormous number of stop tabs for a given number of ranks on a theater organ compared to a classical organ. A Link console I once played had 176 stop tabs for a 3-manual, 8-rank organ.

        On a classical organ, back when sub and super octave intra-manual couplers were much more in favor, the extended rank pipe count was more common.
        Last edited by AllenAnalog; 11-15-2020, 09:18 PM.
        Larry is my name; Allen is an organ brand. Allen RMWTHEA.3 with RMI Electra-Piano; Allen 423-C+Gyro; Britson Opus OEM38; Saville Series IV Opus 209; Steinway AR Duo-Art, Mills Violano Virtuoso with MIDI; Hammond 9812H with roll player; Gulbransen Rialto; Roland E-200; Mason&Hamlin AR Ampico piano, Allen ADC-5300-D with MIDI.

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        • #5
          Thanks very much, Toodles, Michael and AllenAnalog. There are 8'+4' unit ranks mentioned, but most of them have 85 pipes, still 12 more than the 73 usually in such ranks. The 8' ranks I was questioning are those that aren't usually extended into other footages such as orchestral oboe and kinura. I'm familiar with theatre organ spec sheets and this one just looks odd. Of course, there's always the possibility that whoever did it got it wrong. Here is a link to the specs:

          https://www.atos.org/RCMH

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        • #6
          Now that I've looked at the stop list you refer to, and the orchestral oboe in particular as referenced on the NYCAGO site, I think the answer is in the Accompaniment Octave Coupler on that manual. The 73 pipes accommodate the notes in the top octave of the keyboard without falling back to a single pipe being played when that coupler is in use.

          Similarly, there are sub-octave couplers on this instrument, pushing the pipe count up as well. I doubt they would have added to the rank pipe count without any means of actually playing those pipes.
          Larry is my name; Allen is an organ brand. Allen RMWTHEA.3 with RMI Electra-Piano; Allen 423-C+Gyro; Britson Opus OEM38; Saville Series IV Opus 209; Steinway AR Duo-Art, Mills Violano Virtuoso with MIDI; Hammond 9812H with roll player; Gulbransen Rialto; Roland E-200; Mason&Hamlin AR Ampico piano, Allen ADC-5300-D with MIDI.

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