March 9th. 2019
Having experienced a very pleasant February, it seems we are now back into "normal for the time of year weather". Having said that, we are in our own micro climate and the whole area is that much warmer than most of the other parts of the UK. There are quite a few ongoing projects apart from working on the two chamber organs but most of them seem to be in stasis at the moment. The organ world is used to long delays in things happening partly because there are so many different bodies involved in the decision making process and partly because basic ideas are formulated without the necessary requisites in place. As a typical example, a certain church in one part of the country decided that it needed a new pipe organ and set off to bring this to fruition. It took them 35 years until they could bring their original plan to completion. Therefore, a year or so is basically nothing in organ building terms - after all, the resultant instrument will often last several generations once it is finished. Likewise, the commonly held belief that electronic organs have a very short lifetime is often a mistaken. You only have to look at Ebay to see old Hammond RT3 instruments being offered for sale several decades after they were first installed and with a bit of attention, still able to carry on for many more.
February 3rd. 2019
I don't know how we managed it but we didn't really have any snow. Despite the fact that just three miles down the road there were drifts and Okehampton which is within twenty miles, suffered really dire conditions, we only had a very light dusting. Seems that we are very definitely in a micro climate here.
As can be seen from the news page, I will be releasing a facsimile instrument by Avery dating from 1790 -1792 fairly shortly. This will be followed quite quickly by another instrument by James Davis dating from the same period. The Avery is very small with just five stops three of which are split whilst the Davis is a lot larger at nine stops including a short compass reed. both are charming examples of English chamber organs and both are in almost original condition. Both have had some restoration carried out by sympathetic craftsmen organ builders but this has been restricted to repair and the introduction of electric blowing - the latter only during the last decade or so.
January 24th. 2019
Apart from sorting out the odd demo for the new Concert Series and updating some of the web pages , I have re-commenced work on a some of the smaller instruments that I have smpled over the last few years. These will include two chamber organs dating from around 1790 plus a later date single manual church organ which has a very pleasant mellow sound. There are a couple of other instruments which are a bit larger (18 or so stops) which will be worked on as well one; a Henry Jones and the other a Forster & Andrews.
Regarding the 1700's chamber instruments, I may create a two or three manual version from the two sets together with some additional pipework from the same era. The two chamber organs are both long compass down to GGG. I'm not sure as regarding temperament........ One is tuned to something approaching equal temperament whilst the other is very flat and tuned to Mean 5th. comma. I can't say that I really like these unequal temperaments although they can sound quaint. About the closest acceptable temperament pleasing to my ears is 10th. comma which is acceptably unpleasant in the "nasty" keys.
January 4th. 2019
Happy New Year to everyone.
At long last after many years of hard work, the new Concert Series can be released and I hope to be able to announce the release on the HW forum later today.
The last couple of weeks has been the seemingly interminable creation of the GUI's. This has been made simpler due to the fact that the smaller models are all based on the largest model. However, that doesn't mean that it doesn't take several hours to create each of the five screens required for each model and create the cut down specifications. However, it's now done at last - Deo gratias.
My visit up to the school was not a tremendous success.................
The journey up was in horrendous weather (traffic was held up for 3-4 hours over the Blackdown Hills) and whilst I managed to avoid that, it still took a long time on very wet roads. The next day I arrived at the school and met up with the director of music. The job that has been done so far by those concerned is very professional and whilst there is no casework as yet and the speakers haven't been placed in their final positions, one can see the potential (photos will follow). The electricians have done a very good and neat job on wiring everything up with dedicated circuits and we were all set to go. I can now understand why the technical guys at the school couldn't get things working since neither could I despite trying every possible setting. A phone call to the supplier's technical team confirmed what I suspected; both of the interface units were faulty. There fore there really wasn't much I could do apart from make an analysis of exactly what the second hand 4 manual Johannus console transmits via Midi.
All of the keyboards and drawstops work but the pistons are limited in the messages that they send and will have to be rewired and replaced by a more traditional English set-up. The Crescendo pedal also worked but the remaining three swell pedals failed to send out any message at all so these will have to be modified.
Since there was not much else that I could do, I did at least get the opportunity to sample parts of the main pipe organ in the Memorial Chapel. This also proved to be a bit of a disaster. Despite using very tall microphone stands, going up to nearly 30 feet, I was still unable to get as close to the pipes as I would have wished. The cases are very high up on each wall and the only real answer would be to get onto the passage boards which was not possible. Unfortunately, not only is the action and wind leakage noise excessive, the very generous acoustics of several seconds really muddy up everything. From the position that I was able to record in, the full spectrum of the attack and release were not very nice and it is doubtful thta I will be able to use any of the samples that were taken even in a wet set. This is about the first time that I have been totally defeated sampling a pipe organ since I can normally salvage at least something from any recording session. i think in this case it is very doubtful.
I can understand why the organist and director of music hate the machine because it really isn't very nice when one gets to know it. On a relatively small three manual there are a lot of reeds including the Great with 16, 8 and 4 ranks. These are virtually Tubas in their own right. The Contra Gamba on the Pedal and Great is a complete cheat being made up of a few bass pipes (in the case) and the rest from the second Open played in octaves. Surprisingly enough it's actually rather effective when the octaves aren't beating against themselves. The Open Wood's only raison d'etre seems to be to rattle every conceivable bit of non-stonework in the building (but that is not so unusual).
I stayed another night as originally planned and then had another horrendous journey back. Apart from missing a sign and virtually ending up in London before realising my mistake, a complete traffic jam on the M3 resulted in my being diverted past down Winchester and over the top of Southampton and Portsmouth before recovering myself back through Salisbury (yet another huge traffic jam) and getting back to the A303. It took even longer than the journey up and unfortunately, I will have to do it again once the interface units are replaced with ones that work.
All I can say is that having once again experienced the havoc of British roads away from the most distant counties (which is almost the whole country) I am just so glad that I live in Devon away from it all. We may have 8500 plus miles of lanes and roads in the county and much of those have grass growing in the middle of them but it's quiet and calm and peaceful rather than being frenetic and noisy.
It is hoped that the recording process will commence sometime in July. It's a large instrument spread out all over the place so this will take some time. Tremulant-ed stops will be sampled which means that three of the divisions will have twice the amount of samples. All in all a pretty large project which will take some time to complete.
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