Hope-Jones's Quintadena Stops
Posted: 7 December 2009
Last revised: 22 December 2011
© C E Pykett 2009 - 2011
initiated some of the most bizarre and grotesque sonorities that have ever
emerged from an organ ”
Christopher Kent 
Abstract. Hope-Jones included Quintadena stops in many of his organs, and conventional wisdom assumes that he intended them to replace mixtures. This article examines this assumption together with the characteristics of the stops themselves. It demonstrates the wide range of quiet and mezzo-forte effects which are endowed by Quintadenas in conjunction, not only with other speaking stops, but with the large number of couplers on Hope-Jones’s organs. Some of them are decidedly attractive and useful in works from the conventional repertoire such as those by Bach. It is suggested that this might be set against the general condemnation which his organs have usually attracted. Some sound examples are included to assist readers make up their own minds on the matter.
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Robert Hope-Jones included his characteristic Quintadena stops in many of his organs in Britain , and this article examines the reasons why. But before we can do this, a necessary first step is to look at the origins and attributes of the stop itself because it existed long before Hope-Jones used it, indeed it is a stop of considerable antiquity which was found frequently in European organs at least as far back as the sixteenth century.
The Quintadena (otherwise known as Quintaten, Quintade or other similar names, together with their equivalents in other languages) exists at 16, 8 or 4 foot pitches and it is found on both the manuals and pedals. Despite the range of name and pitch, here it will be referred to generically as a Quintadena for convenience. The stop is constructed of stopped pipes with dimensions and scale similar to those of flutes, and a drawing of a typical pipe is shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1. Typical Quintadena pipe
Note the relatively large scale which makes the pipe fatter than a diapason (principal) pipe of similar length but comparable to that of a flute. However the mouth is cut low compared with a flute. In this example the pipe is closed at the top by a canister rather than by a wood stopper.
Generally of metal but sometimes of wood, the pipes have a significantly different tone from the general run of flutes: subjectively the interval of a twelfth or third harmonic  above the ground tone is very prominent, which is achieved largely by using a low-cut mouth in addition to the stopper. Examination of the frequency spectra often shows that the nineteenth (sixth harmonic or the octave-twelfth) is also prominent. The enhancement of the third and sixth harmonics is not restricted to them alone; the voicing technique which leads to this also means that adjacent ones in the series are made stronger relative to the fundamental than is the case for most flutes. Another way of saying the same thing is that more harmonics are generated to start with, and the reason why low cut-up mouths have this effect is given in . The net result is a spectrum which is more characteristic of diapasons (principals) rather than flutes when considered purely in terms of the number of harmonics. In Hope-Jones’s case the attribute was reinforced further by blowing the pipes fairly hard at his usual flue pipe pressure of at least 5 to 6 inches of water (125 – 150 mm) even in his smallest organs. Therefore it is not unreasonable from an aural perspective to regard his Quintadenas as diapason or principal stops of medium loudness but with a particularly prominent twelfth in their tone. A typical Quintadena frequency spectrum which demonstrates the features just described is shown in Figure 2.
Figure 2. Typical Quintadena frequency spectrum
This pipe spoke the middle F# of an 8 foot Quintadena stop (fundamental frequency 370 Hz). Note the prominent third harmonic, speaking the twelfth, with an amplitude about 15 dB below that of the fundamental (i.e. it is about 18% of its amplitude). The sixth harmonic, speaking the nineteenth or the octave-twelfth, is also pronounced relative to its neighbours. There are about 12 harmonics of significant amplitude, thus were it not for the pronounced third and sixth harmonics, this pipe would have merely sounded similar to a diapason (principal). This can be proved by electronically reducing them by about 12 dB, i.e. to about a quarter of their actual amplitudes, when they become comparable in strength to the adjacent ones and the ‘quinty’ flavour of the tone then vanishes.
What does the ear make of a Quintadena? Apart from its ‘quinty’ flavour, perhaps the most obvious feature is that the pipes nevertheless sound fairly fluty despite their relatively extended harmonic retinue which is more characteristic of diapasons. This is probably a result of the subjective perceptual conditioning of our auditory mechanism on account of the majority of conventional flutes also having a dominant third harmonic .
It will help to understand why Hope-Jones saw Quintadenas as so important if we now look at two other aspects of the tonal structure of his organs – the absence of mixtures on the one hand together with the plethora of couplers on the other. We can then attempt to paint a plausible picture of how Quintadenas were an integral part of his overall tonal scheme.
Hope-Jones is notorious for having swept away mixtures and mutation stops from his organs. This is not the place for a detailed discussion of why he did this, though it is appropriate to emphasise a few key points:
1. Hope-Jones was not the originator of the idea but only one of many, though he remains the most well known in organ building circles. He was merely articulating and putting into practice what countless organists had apparently been yearning for over many years. Other famous organ builders such as Willis and Cavaillé-Coll showed tendencies to go in the same direction.
2. No less a person than Berlioz would probably have supported him had he not died when Hope-Jones was but a small boy . Outside the organ world many still agree to this day. It is not uncommon for non-organist musicians, including some conductors, to find the continuous motion of the multiple parallel fifths inseparable from mixture work to be aurally insufferable.
3. Had Hope-Jones’s ideas not evoked a wide resonance in his day he could not have sold a single organ. The fact is that his type of instrument was that which many in a position of influence, including numerous cathedral organists, were clearly crying out for. This statement can easily be proved by referring to the contemporary literature (see also  for a more recent view). Therefore, those who vilify Hope-Jones today as the sole architect of the situation must presumably be ignoring, or indeed perhaps be ignorant of, the realities of Victorian musical life as they were at the time.
It is, therefore, perhaps not surprising that Hope-Jones identified a market hitherto largely unsatisfied by contemporary organ builders by setting out his position regarding mixtures thus:
leaves us in no doubt of Hope-Jones’s dislike of mixtures, but I know of
nothing so unambiguous regarding his views on Quintadenas as substitutes for
them, even though this is commonly taken as axiomatic today.
Indeed, simple logic obstructs the progression from the one statement to
the other: if he disliked mixtures so much, then why would he have immediately
introduced other stops alleged to perform a similar function?
Perhaps better reasons for their inclusion were that Quintadenas make
attractive solo stops, they blend well with others and they add quiet definition
(on the pedals) and brightness (on the manuals) to an ensemble.
Few today would dispute this, and if we allow that Hope-Jones and his
customers also realised it, then perhaps they might have had rather better taste
and judgment than some are prepared to admit.
However there is another aspect of the matter which has to be considered
which concerns couplers.
Hope-Jones’s organs were replete with large numbers of octave and suboctave couplers, both intra-manual and inter-manual, and in this respect they were singular if not unique at the time. Today’s usual and dismissive view is that he was merely capitalising on the capabilities of his novel electric action to multiply the effect of the speaking stops on the cheap and thereby reduce their number, reducing the cost of his instruments at the same time. However he himself denied this, and when one looks in more detail at some of the peculiar characteristics of his couplers, there does seem to be more than perhaps meets the eye because they were not always like those we meet today. For example, in his Worcester Cathedral organ and some other instruments, the superoctave couplers worked selectively on certain stops only and the suboctave couplers on different ones. For instance, the suboctave couplers on his large instruments did not affect the loudest, most heavily winded, stops. Insofar as one can divine Hope-Jones’s intentions while trying to remain objective, they seemed to be designed to prevent excessive top or bottom heaviness when octave couplers were employed with full combinations of speaking stops. Moreover, most of the unison couplers only worked via double touch – one had to press the keys harder to get the stops on the coupled manual(s) to speak. In addition he sometimes provided extra octaves of pipes at the extremes of the compass to prevent the couplers ‘running out of notes’. The combined effects of these novelties mean that one would have had to register carefully on a Hope-Jones organ in order to get the best out of it – the couplers seem to have been almost as much a part of the tonal scheme as the speaking stops themselves.
All of these attributes were in effect part of the fully extended or unified organ in another guise, first described by Hope-Jones as early as 1891 , and later realised in Britain by Compton once the practical difficulties (mainly that of providing sufficient electrical power for the huge numbers of action magnets) had been overcome. If one thinks about it, the two types of instrument – Hope-Jones’s largely ‘straight’ early organs but augmented with lots of couplers, and Compton’s unified instruments whose architectures were little different to those of the contemporary theatre organ – were early and mature ways respectively of achieving a similar goal. That goal was using a rank of pipes to its utmost without (hopefully) the organist noticing most of the time. George Dixon, the influential soldier turned organ pundit of the first half of the twentieth century, went so far as to devote pedagogical time and effort to getting the best out of an extended instrument (a flavour of his ideas can be found in ), and one of his conclusions was that the extension organ “will yield an immense range of subtleties if registered with artistic discrimination”. If this was so for a Compton extension organ, then it would by definition have been so for one by Hope-Jones on account of the similarities mentioned above.
Whether or not Hope-Jones really saw Quintadenas as makeshift mixtures, it seems to have become an unquestioned assumption. For example the 4 foot Quintadena in his 1897 organ at St Mary’s, Warwick was said to have “sounded like a 5-rank mixture” (, repeated in ). We might as well adopt this widely held belief here because it admittedly leads to some interesting lines of analysis. It is certainly the case that these and some other stops combine in a fascinating way with the many couplers in his organs, and this will be described presently.
But before one can be too assertive about registration (the art of combining stops) for any “school” of organ building, one needs to have tried out the possibilities first on at least one representative instrument. This is as true for Hope-Jones’s organs as it is for, say, those of Gottfried Silbermann. Regrettably, so few of the former now exist that opportunities to do the necessary experiments are inevitably restricted. It is, for instance, almost a waste of time attempting some of the following suggestions on an organ without a superoctave coupler to the great organ itself (not to be confused with a swell superoctave to great, which is of course a different thing, though that too is essential). Hope-Jones included them frequently, yet how often are they found today? Nor must any of the couplers “couple through” if the results described presently are to be replicated, meaning (for instance) that if one draws the swell superoctave simultaneously with the swell to great, the octave notes on the swell must not sound when playing on the great. Although this remains an attribute of many electric actions today (part of Hope-Jones’s technical legacy, incidentally), it is not necessarily the case for other types of action. And of course, given the subject matter of this article, at least one Quintadena is required, though it does not matter too much whether it is at 8 or 4 foot pitch provided the necessary complete coupler complement is available. Unfortunately there is said  to be only a single playable example of a Quintadena actually by Hope-Jones.
The first opportunity I had of carrying out some registration experiments involving an actual Hope-Jones’ Quintadena was when I first became acquainted with his 1898 organ at Pilton (Devon) in 1992, and it is here where the said sole survivor is to be found. I described this interesting little instrument more fully in reference . Coincidentally, Clark may have done similar things at the same organ at about the same time judging by the remarks in his article which appeared the following year , more or less coinciding with mine . The instrument has been considerably modified and enlarged, but fortunately the original Hope-Jones’ stops remain readily identifiable as in the list below (Table 1):
Table 1. St Mary, Pilton (Hope-Jones, 1898) 
Note the octave coupler to the great as discussed above, and the relatively large complement of other couplers (none of which couple through). Most importantly as far as this article is concerned, there also exists the 4 foot Quintadena on the swell.
The experiments to be described here focus on the tonal options offered by combining the Quintadena with only one other speaking stop, the great Hohl Flute. At first sight this might seem to represent an excessively constrained set of possibilities, but the number of useable combinations facilitated by the couplers is considerable, and we only need consider these two stops to illustrate the point more generally.
Table 2. St Mary, Pilton - swell with Quintadena 4 drawn plus various couplers
For starters, Table 2 illustrates the possibilities on the swell only. The column headed “actual combination” denotes all possible combinations of the Quintadena, either alone or with the couplers. To its right are the equivalent pseudo-mixture compositions using the conventional interval-above-unison nomenclature used for describing mixtures. It assumes that the Quintadena alone approximates to two ranks sounding a twelfth apart. On the right of this are the corresponding footages, and the right-most column contains some perhaps fanciful descriptions of what each combination sounds like expressed in other terms, such as dulciana or maybe flute mixtures. Others would doubtless have their own ideas, though I am not alone in having strayed this far into such whimsical territory, because the Quintadena plus superoctave coupler at Pilton “more than suggests a soft compound stop” to Clark .
Accordingly, a sound recording might be appropriate at this point to keep our feet on the ground. Although I have no recordings of the Pilton organ in the flesh, I have examined and played it and have since simulated it digitally . Therefore I can experiment at leisure on an instrument which is in my (no doubt prejudiced) opinion a reasonable approximation to the real thing. At least it allows one to physically set up the registration options on an organ with an identical stop list to that at Pilton and whose couplers behave in an identical manner, and this is useful in itself. The sound clip below is of the simulated Quintadena alone, and although it might seem odd to play on an unaccompanied 4 foot stop, and a “mixture” at that, I took a cue from Helmut Walcha here. He played the same piece on the Schnitger organ at Cappel, plainly using the 4 and 1 1/3 foot flute stops on the Rückpositiv , and the effect was not dissimilar to what you can hear here. If you have his CD you can of course judge for yourself. I also found the experience salutary for another reason, having earlier concluded that it was almost impossible to play Bach on the Pilton organ in any sense beyond that of pressing the notes. I have now been obliged to revise this opinion.
Vom Himmel hoch BWV 606 (J S Bach) – Quintadena only - 706 kB/45s
The pseudo-mixture compositions in Table 2 show that no notional rank is available at the 22nd interval above unison (octave-fifteenth or 1 foot) position. This gap would not occur with a quint mixture constructed conventionally from separate ranks of pipes unless one wanted to implement it deliberately in this manner for some reason, and it is a point worth bearing in mind when using Quintadenas as ersatz mixtures. Third-sounding notional ranks speaking the 17th (tierce) interval or its octave are not available either, and Hope-Jones may have intended his Tiercina stops such as that at Worcester Cathedral to fill this gap. Also these notional mixtures have no breaks, which is yet another reason why a Quintadena imitation sounds different to a conventional one. In fact it can sound quite attractive in this regard because there is less of a tendency for the stop to scream in the treble or become overbearing in the bass, as a normal mixture often does when constructed with badly voiced or poorly regulated independent ranks. Finally, the quint ranks in these notional mixtures are always quieter than the octave ranks because of the relative strengths of the harmonics in the Quintadena tone itself. This is something a skilled voicer usually strives for when regulating a conventional mixture, and it cannot be regarded as other than advantageous.
Table 3. St Mary, Pilton - great with Flute 8 drawn, swell with Quintadena 4 drawn, plus various couplers
Table 3 shows all of the musically useable combinations of the great Hohl Flute and the swell Quintadena when different couplers are used. There are fifteen of them, which indicates how many tonal options are afforded from just two speaking stops on this small Hope-Jones organ. In this case all the combinations have a stronger 8 foot component than those in Table 2 because of the presence of the 8 foot flute, and when the great superoctave coupler is used there is a stronger 4 foot ingredient as well. These are indicated by a bold typeface.
It is not practical to include examples of all these combinations, and only two contrasting ones will be demonstrated to give some idea of the range of possibilities. The first is played using a “gap” registration consisting of the great 8 foot flute with the 4 foot Quintadena coupled an octave higher (serial number 8 in the table):
Voluntary no. 8 in C minor (extract – Maurice Greene) – "gap" registration - 731 kB/46s
The second example is the fuller combination consisting of the great flute with octave coupler, plus the Quintadena coupled at all three pitches (serial number 15 in the table):
Voluntary no. 10 in D minor (extract – Maurice Greene) – "full" registration - 816 kB/ 52s
To my ears, all three examples sound reasonably respectable in a tonal sense, and comparable to how they might sound on many an organ with a more conventional stop list. In fact, when recording and mastering them I tended to forget they had actually been played on a simulated Hope-Jones instrument. Therefore, on the basis of these experiments I think it is reasonable to suggest that some striking and useful registrations could have been conjured up on his organs. Almost invariably they would have required a carefully judged use of couplers, and many of them would probably have used his Quintadenas.
Hope-Jones incorporated his characteristic Quintadena stops in many of his British organs, and this article has investigated how they might have been used. It has been demonstrated how the pronounced third harmonic of a Quintadena could indeed be used as an ingredient of a pseudo-mixture as conventional wisdom assumes, though the stop would also have been useful on its own. The unusual importance of couplers, by today’s standards, to effective registration on a Hope-Jones organ was also demonstrated.
It is legitimate to question how many of those expressing strong views on Hope-Jones’s organs, usually negative ones, have actually played one with an open mind in view of their rarity today. This is particularly true for those which contain a Quintadena, of which only one playable specimen is thought to exist in his small instrument at Pilton in Devon. One cannot form a fair judgement of any organ merely by looking at its stop list, consequently some tonal experiments were done using a digital simulation of the Pilton organ so that, however imperfectly, theory could be put into practice to some extent. Some sound examples have been included, which is thought to be rare if not unique in the literature relating to Hope-Jones.
Among other things it was concluded, and it has been demonstrated, that Quintadenas would have offered the player of a Hope-Jones organ a wide range of quiet and mezzo-forte effects which would have been useful when registering works from the traditional organ repertoire such as those of Bach. This conclusion might be set against the general condemnation which his organs have usually attracted.
I am grateful to Don Hyde and Roger Fisher at the Lancastrian Theatre Organ Trust in Manchester for having introduced me to the surviving Quintadena stops from two Hope-Jones organs which are preserved in the Trust's Hope-Jones museum .
1. There was no Quintadena in the one manual Hope-Jones organ of 1896 at All Souls, Cardiff Docks (The Mariners’ Church, now demolished) nor the two manual one of 1899 at St Dyfnog’s, Llanrhaeadr, Clwyd (extant, playable and in almost original state). However there is a 4 foot one on the swell of the slightly larger two manual organ of 1898 at St Mary’s, Pilton, Devon (extant and playable though now considerably enlarged and otherwise modified). According to Clark , this is the only Hope-Jones Quintadena now surviving. This is not so however, because two additional 4 foot ranks are in the care of the Lancastrian Theatre Organ Trust in Manchester. One of these is from Hope-Jones's famous organ at St John's, Birkenhead (though it was not present when the rebuilt instrument with electric action was first unveiled to the world). The other is from St Saviour's, Oxton on the Wirral. Therefore it is more accurate to regard the Quintadena at Pilton as probably the only remaining playable example.
At the other end of the scale, the large four manual instrument of 1896 at Worcester Cathedral ,  had two (one at 8 foot on the swell and the other at 4 foot on the great). There was also an 8 foot Tiercina on the choir in this organ which spoke with a pronounced seventeenth (fifth harmonic) in addition to the twelfth. However the slightly earlier four manual organ at St Paul's, Burton upon Trent (1894) did not have a Quintadena, whereas those at St Mary's, Warwick (1897) and at St Modwen's, Burton (1899) both had one.
2. Harmonics are always numbered counting from one, which is the same as the fundamental frequency, pitch or ground tone of a pipe. Clark  incorrectly referred to the twelfth as the first harmonic rather than the third when discussing the Quintadenas of Hope-Jones’s Worcester Cathedral organ.
3. “How the Flue Pipe Speaks”, C E Pykett, 2001, currently on this website (read).
4. “Elgar’s Organ Sonata and the Organs at Worcester Cathedral”, C E Pykett, 1999. Currently on this website (read).
5. “An apparently controversial instrument”, Relf Clark, BIOS Journal, (17), 1993.
6. “The Tonal Structure of Organ Flutes”, C E Pykett, 2003, currently on this website (read).
“Grand Traité d’Instrumentation et d’Orchestration Modernes”, H
“The Organ – its tonal structure and registration”, Cecil Clutton and
George Dixon, London, 1950.
9. “The History of the English Organ”, Stephen Bicknell, Cambridge, 1996.
10. “Electrical Aid to the Organist”, R Hope-Jones, Proceedings of the College of Organists, 5 May 1891.
“The Hope-Jones Organ in Pilton Parish Church”, C E Pykett, Organists’
Review, November 1993.
“The Organs and Organists of the
Collegiate Church of St Mary, Warwick”, Charles Matthews and Alan
Baker (church pamphlet).
“The Hope-Jones Organ at St Paul’s, Burton upon Trent”, Relf Clark,
Organists’ Review, March 1991.
The digital simulation of the Hope-Jones organ at Pilton is described elsewhere
on this website (read).
Deutsche Grammophon DG 474 747-2
“Elgar’s Organ Sonata in G (Op 28): A study of the manuscript sources and
original interpretation”, Christopher Kent, BIOS Journal, (2), 1978.
17. Quoted in "The Organs of Britain", John Norman, David and Charles, Devon, 1984 (p. 92).