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 For over 20 years the most stable and extensive resource on the internet for pipe and electronic organs 

 

 

The hub of this site is the Complete Articles page which gives you instant access to many detailed articles dealing with numerous technical aspects of both pipe and electronic organs.  Use the Google search box below to quickly identify areas of interest.  While browsing, why not also listen to over 4 Ĺ hours of music played on the three manual organ below and the Prog Organ virtual pipe organ here?   

 

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  !! NEW ARTICLE !!    - A handy guide to choosing temperaments for the practical musician

 

 

If you are a musician (or anyone else) who just wants to know a bit more about temperament without bothering with the maths and physics, then this could be just the article for you!

 

Most writers on musical temperament concentrate almost exclusively on the theoretical background to the subject, indeed the numerology becomes an end in itself in many cases, so consequently the interests of the practical musician are not well served by much of the literature.  This article takes a different approach by completely ignoring the mathematics and physics in favour of two straightforward but important musical aspects from which others then follow.  For 11 unequal temperaments the variations in key flavour are emphasised, together with a clear indication of whether any keys are unusable.  This is done by a simple tabular representation showing at a glance how the 24 major and minor keys of each temperament fall into categories labelled 'good', 'reasonable', 'poor' and 'awful'.  From the tables it is also sometimes possible to discern the hand of the temperament designer, showing that some were undoubtedly better than others.  Werckmeister and Neidhardt were particularly good at it in that they succeeded in distributing the major and minor keys reasonably evenly across the spectrum of key flavours, whereas some others were less successful.  It is singular that the latter usually failed to achieve enough variation within the minor keys compared with the major ones.  The tables also identify two temperaments in which the worst keys comprise the largest category, which is scarcely a recommendation to use them!  Kirnberger seemed to be one of the less competent sources in these respects.  The tabular format also confirms how temperaments evolved from the early and rather unsubtle meantones, through a progression of later ones with no Wolf intervals and more useable keys, to those incorporating distinct echoes of equal temperament yet which retain a pleasing range of key flavours.

 

 

 

 

 

The picture above is of a test rig used for experiments on pipe organ valves, such as those described in the articles entitled Calculating Pallet Size Touch Relief in Mechanical Actions and Response Speed of Electric ActionsThese can also be accessed from the Complete Articles page where summaries are also available.

 

 

 

 

Pictured above  is an experimental digital organ which simulates many different pipe organs (Prog Organ).  Also see the  article entitled Re-creating Vanished Organs.

 

 

 

This electronic organ is a dual purpose instrument containing both "straight" and "theatre" voices, designed and made by the author.  It is tuned to the author's Dorset Temperament with the addition of some impure octaves as described in Keyboard Temperaments with Impure OctavesA full specification is available for download here (PDF file, 117 kB).

 

 

The things they say:

 

"Just like a town hall organ"

 

"If I didn't know better, I would say this was an Edwardian instrument with its choir organ spoiled by turning it into a baroque-type positive forty years later - much like many British pipe organs in other words.  I love it"

 

"The finest electronic organ I have ever played, simply because it has a genuine warm Romantic sound rather than spit and chiff just  for the sake of it"

 

"Pretty impressive - but lacking the proper starting and ending transients"

 

"You draw a stop and it sounds just like you expect it to"

 

"Very nice Colin.  I'm so jealous"

 

"I'm an engineer and I know how you do it, but not how you do it so well"

 

"Amazing how the great diapason chorus can stand on the Claribel alone"

 

"The reeds are lovely"

 

"Would you take a picture?  I'm writing an article for an organ magazine and I want to be seen at this splendid console"

 

Hear it:

These recordings span some years and they were made in various rooms and auditoria.  The older tracks were made using analogue equipment and some were recorded acoustically using microphones, hence the occasional noises due to piston thuds and page turns, etc.  Other tracks were captured electrically.  All are of real players performing in real time - no synthetic MIDI 'performances' here.  I have not got round yet to normalising the volume settings of all the tracks so they are compatible with each other, therefore you might wish to adjust the volume between tracks depending on which ones you select.  Do not be alarmed if some tracks appear to start with an excessive noise level - this simply means they were recorded at a higher level than others.  Just turn the volume down to suit.  In any case, it is a wise precaution to always begin playing each track at a low level to protect your audio equipment and your ears from unexpectedly high signal levels when the music begins.  Although the instrument has 13 ranks of theatre organ voices in addition to its 'straight' sounds (see specification), copyright considerations preclude the inclusion of much theatre-style music here.  Playing time 1 hour 35 mins approx.

 

  Canzona in D minor. BWV 588. (J S Bach) - 5.51 MB/6m 1s

  Vom Himmel kam der Engel Schaar. BWV 607. (J S Bach) - 1.5 MB/1m 38s

  In dulci jubilo. BWV 608. (J S Bach) - 1.2 MB/1m 19s

  Minuet in D (John Stanley) - 1.70 MB/1m 51s

  Choral Song (S S Wesley) - 3.00 MB/3m 16s

  Holsworthy Church Bells (S S Wesley) - 3.54 MB/3m 52s (also available here played on a simulated Wurlitzer theatre organ)

  Andantino in G minor (Franck) - 5.59 MB/6m 6s (also available here played on a simulated Cavaillť-Coll organ)

  Cantabile (Franck) - 4.72 MB/5m 9s

  Fantaisie in E flat (1st part) (Saint-SaŽns) - 1.85 MB/2m 1s

  Pastorale from Sonata no. 1 in D minor (Guilmant) - 5.3 MB/5m 47s (borrows the Vox Humana from the theatre organ!)

  Monologue I in C (Rheinberger) - 2.02 MB/2m 12s

  Monologue III in E (Rheinberger) 3.01 MB/3m 17s

  Fughetta no. 8 in A (Rheinberger) - 2.55 MB/2m 47s 

  Chorale Prelude on "Eventide" (Abide with me) C H H Parry - 3.92 MB/4m 16s

  Fantasia on "Abridge" (Be thou my guardian and my guide) Thomas Adams - 2.85 MB/3m 6s 

  In Tune with Heaven (Alan Gray) - 2.75 MB/3m 0s

  Chanson de Nuit (Elgar) - 3.28 MB/3m 35s

  Cantique (Elgar) - 3.86 MB/4m 13s 

  Starlight (Edward MacDowell) - 2.56 MB/2m 48s 

   To A Wild Rose (Edward MacDowell) - 1.72 MB/1m 53s ** 

  To be sung of a summer night on the water (Delius) - 1.98 MB/2m 10s

  Andante in D (Alfred Hollins) - 7 MB/7m 39s 

  Solemn Melody (Walford Davies) - 3.69 MB/4m 2s

  Berceuse (Vierne) - 3.37 MB/3m 41s

  Freu' dich sehr, O meine Seele (Karg-Elert) 1.79 MB/1m 57s

  O Gott, du frommer Gott (Karg-Elert) - 2.19 MB/2m 23s

  Adagio in E (Frank Bridge) - 5.06 MB/5m 31s

  Lento (Frank Bridge) - 2.34 MB/2m 31s  

 

**  Played on the theatre organ

 

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