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Thread: "New" organ for my church at last...

  1. #211
    Moderator jbird604's Avatar
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    Thanks! I appreciate the compliment.

    Good question, Hamman, but I'm a poor one to answer it. My playing is fully self-taught, and I really don't know how a real organist would set the bench height. I know when it feels comfortable to me, and the MDS at church and my R-230 at home both feel about right. Now and then I try out one that feels too low for me (especially when in a church where the organist is a short-legged person who has had someone cut off the bench legs). Even a half-inch too low can make a bench feel very uncomfortable to me.

    My guess is that the bottoms of your feet should only lightly touch the pedal keys when you sit naturally and swing your feet from side to side. If the bench is too low, you will have to expend energy raising your feet with the muscles in your upper legs, making it very tiring to play, and causing you to play keys by accident. If the bench is too high, you may find it impossible to use your heel at all, and have to do all your playing with a pointed toe, which is also very tiring.

    I just re-watched the video and see that I don't do much heel playing. That's not by design though. I used to play a spinet organ and got used to mostly playing with the toes, so now I only seem to use a heel when I need to hold a pedal note and switch to another key with the same foot. Might also be partly due to my playing in socks.
    John
    ----------
    Church: Allen MDS-45 with Allen MIDI-DIVISION-II expander
    Home: Allen Renaissance R-230 with expanded four-channel audio and MIDI-DIVISION-II
    Shop: Bunch of organs in varying conditions, some good, some not...
    Half of an incredible two-man organ service team -- servicing all the major digitals in Arkansas churches
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

  2. #212
    pp Pianissimo Piperdane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbird604 View Post
    . . . Might also be partly due to my playing in socks.
    Glad to know I'm not the only one! I have to play in socks because of severe foot neuropathy ... cannot "feel" the pedals through any organ shoe sole. But I do regularly use heel/toe movement as well as cross over and cross under when pedaling.

  3. #213
    Moderator jbird604's Avatar
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    Back to the organ itself... lately I've been feeling that I'm not getting as much oomph out of it as I want. The new Walker subs did improve the pedals, but the rest of the stops don't seem as immersive as they once did.

    I may need to move the little horn tweeters back up on top of the subs. They are currently down at floor level behind the subs, as I was thinking the sound was overly bright at one time. But whether it's my own ears, or changes brought on by the weather, or some condition in the church building that I'm not aware of, something makes the organ sound different from time to time. It was too bright a month ago, and now it's too dull.... I don't THINK my ears are changing that much, but who knows....

    Another thought I had today -- maybe I should completely re-think my voicing philosophy, especially in the great stops. My strategy on setting levels has been to set them so that even on a tutti combination with expression pedals open it won't be too loud. But that may be causing problems. For instance...

    I really can't get enough volume to lead singing at even a soft level without combining several stops. The 8' and 4' principals and flutes of both divisions, coupled together, is about the minimum registration that will give me enough body to even approach hymn leading. I'd sometimes like to lead one verse of a hymn with nothing more than, let's say, the 8' principal plus one 4' stop, or the 8' stops on the great plus the 8' stops on the swell. Right now, such combinations would be quite weak.

    Maybe I should voice the 8' principal stop to be more like an open facade diapason rank. In other words, quite loud. Since the great on this MDS45 has the stops divided into four groups, perhaps I can have my principal bigger and bolder, without having to raise the softer stops in the division. If nothing else, it would make it possible to use that 8' principal by itself sometimes.

    Another possible benefit of such a revoicing would be to make the crescendo pedal truly useful. As it is now, my full-organ pistons are already as loud as the crescendo pedal wide open, so it adds nothing, though it does pull in the softer stops along with my normal ensemble stops. Maybe if individual stops were louder, I could use fewer stops in my piston combinations, then the crescendo would still be able to add something meaningful. I don't know.

    As with any revoicing, I certainly need to proceed with caution. Large changes in the stop levels could prove quite unsettling to my choir members (who are seated right in the midst of all the organ speakers), as well as to folks in the pews who wear hearing aids and have sensitive ears. I do have one of those little hand-held sound level meters. Perhaps I can check the present levels, then after voicing, create new registrations that are close to the same levels but with fewer stops, for all the above reasons.

    Anyway, these are just thoughts that went through my head this morning during the service (when I shouldn't have been obsessing on the organ sound!), and I actually made myself a few notes on the back of the bulletin. Maybe I'll have time to try some of this out later in the week.
    John
    ----------
    Church: Allen MDS-45 with Allen MIDI-DIVISION-II expander
    Home: Allen Renaissance R-230 with expanded four-channel audio and MIDI-DIVISION-II
    Shop: Bunch of organs in varying conditions, some good, some not...
    Half of an incredible two-man organ service team -- servicing all the major digitals in Arkansas churches
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

  4. #214
    p Piano voet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbird604 View Post
    Back to the organ itself... lately I've been feeling that I'm not getting as much oomph out of it as I want. ...something makes the organ sound different from time to time. It was too bright a month ago, and now it's too dull.
    John, in many churches, attendance is less in the summer and picks up in the fall. In many cases, a sanctuary full of people can really absorb a lot of sound. You have probably had the experience where the organ does not have as much umph on Christmas Eve or Easter morning.

    Just a thought.
    Bill

    My home organ: Content M5800

  5. #215
    Moderator jbird604's Avatar
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    It is true that we've had more people present the last couple of Sundays than we did for much of the summer. Could be part of what I'm hearing, though in truth the crowd hasn't increased that much, maybe five or six extra people lately.

    I'm having some allergy trouble, a twinge of ear pain now and then, so my hearing may actually be off some right now.
    John
    ----------
    Church: Allen MDS-45 with Allen MIDI-DIVISION-II expander
    Home: Allen Renaissance R-230 with expanded four-channel audio and MIDI-DIVISION-II
    Shop: Bunch of organs in varying conditions, some good, some not...
    Half of an incredible two-man organ service team -- servicing all the major digitals in Arkansas churches
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

  6. #216
    Moderator jbird604's Avatar
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    Just spent a little time tinkering with the voicing. The voice groups are sensibly divided, with two groups devoted almost exclusively to the principal chorus. Adjusting just those two groups will affect the great principals at 8, 4, and 2, as well as both halves of the mixture. The only non-principal stop mixed in with these is the great 4' flute.

    So I raised the level of the principal just a tad, definitely enough to notice, made it suitably assertive but not overwhelming, I trust. Then I raised the octave to match it. Since this brought up the 4' flute, I also brought up the voice group with the flute 8 in it so the 4' wouldn't overshadow its mate. The great trompete is in the same group, so it got louder too, but I think it's still fine. Fortunately, I didn't have to bother the group containing the 16' Gemshorn and the Quinte-2-2/3, both of which were just right as they were.

    Bottom line, the primary flues of the great are now a little bigger. Comparing them to the swell, which I didn't touch, I don't think I did any violence to the general rules of voicing balance. The 4' principal on the great is still just audibly louder than the 4' principal on the swell, as it should be, though in many voicing jobs these days I set them to be equal (due to the fact that a lot of self-taught organists want the swell and great divisions to be equal in volume, or even to have the swell louder).

    I re-visited my registrations slightly, emphasizing an orderly build-up on my first five pistons. Piston #1 starts with 8' tone, #2 adds 4', #3 adds 2', #4 adds mixture, #5 adds reeds. I won't really know until Sunday morning if I've overdone the changes, but my impression was that it isn't going to be too loud for anyone.

    We'll see.... (And yes, I know I'm obsessing over this once again!)
    John
    ----------
    Church: Allen MDS-45 with Allen MIDI-DIVISION-II expander
    Home: Allen Renaissance R-230 with expanded four-channel audio and MIDI-DIVISION-II
    Shop: Bunch of organs in varying conditions, some good, some not...
    Half of an incredible two-man organ service team -- servicing all the major digitals in Arkansas churches
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

  7. #217
    p Piano voet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbird604 View Post
    And yes, I know I'm obsessing over this once again!
    John,

    This is attention to detail that separates a well voiced instrument from one that is just OK. I have had my instrument for 5 months now and I am still tweaking things. When you play literature you find things that you miss when you just go through each voice note by note. I also find that a single note may sound well adjusted, but in combination with other voices it may need to be changed. For example, a mixture doubles lower voices when it breaks as you go up the compass. This might make a note stick out that previously seemed fine.

    I applaud your efforts.
    Last edited by voet; 10-09-2018 at 02:23 PM.
    Bill

    My home organ: Content M5800

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