New Organ in church

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SOP
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New Organ in church

Post by SOP » Sun Feb 01, 2004 11:15 am

Let me tell you a story. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I shall begin.

A new organ was needed because the old one had reached a stage where it was costing more to maintain than it would cost to buy new.

Old one out - new one in.

One of the reasons (supposedly) for getting rid of the old one was that the pipes blocked the light coming in from one of the main windows. True. Pipes removed, light floods in. At this time of the year it also blinds the reader/priest at the lecturn but hey - small price for progress.

New organ installed. Speakers set up discreetly around the church but - they block the light from 8 or 10 small windows. But hey - small price for progress.

Congregation start complaining of headaches and earache - they aren't musicians, what do they know?

Ah, the organist can't hear what he/she is playing so if they are not familiar with the new organ they increase the volume. New organists - what do they know? A question could be asked why a new organ costing a small fortune does not have monitors for the organist to hear but one really should leave such things to the experts.

Priest wonders why organist carries on playing when priest is ready to carry on with the Mass. Oh dear, organist cannot see the altar. Mmmm.

There is another thread on the board asking if there should be a committee for parish liturgy - there should definitely be a committee for selecting a new organ. The organist and choir master/mistress do not even think of things like the best place to place the organ - there are only concerned with if they can see each other.

I could go on and on and on about this and perhaps I will in future posts. For now, if you are considering purchasing a new organ then please involve as many people as possible and have a brain storming session, i.e. where concerns are voiced, noted and examined for patterns.

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Gwyn
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Post by Gwyn » Sun Feb 01, 2004 12:57 pm

We did the same - old box of whistles out, digital job in. I must say that we have experienced none of the problems or difficulties you desribe. Either your organist/choirmaster and p.p. are particularly stupid or we are wonderfully blessed.

What make of organ is it btw? I ask coz like pipe organs, guitars, flutes or indeed automobiles, you get what you pay for! If it's an Allen or a Makin organ then the good news is that it'll be a deteriorated box of chips in about 20 years and you can bin it. Some sadly endure for longer than this, but a six-inch nail or two pushed strategically into the bowels of the instrument (when it's switched off) should help things along nicely.

Move the speakers! It's so simple. Having them scattered around the building isn't a good idea anyway.

Let the reader understand, if you're getting a new digital organ don't have a huge committee, instead ensure that the organist, the p.p., and the parish financial wizard all have at least one neurone apiece functioning at synaptic level and that all three seek lots of advice and guidance. Come and see what we did, it's fantastic.

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Post by SOP » Mon Feb 02, 2004 4:00 pm

The make of organ is one of those you mentioned but it will still outlive me. Unless anyone has any spare 6" nails?

Bad design all round - the thing can only be opened up by someone strong and much taller than 5'3". There is no way of keeping music books open so it is common to see the organist playing from the hymn book that is on the bench beside him.

Anyone else got horror stories about new organs? Or sad stories about organists being more or less thrown out if they do not want to have the old organ replaced?

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presbyter
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Post by presbyter » Mon Feb 02, 2004 4:51 pm

Does anyone collect decaying electronic organs? If so, pm me and I'll tell you where there's a church with four of them on view. Why can't people thow or give away what is manifestly redundant!

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Post by SOP » Mon Feb 02, 2004 10:49 pm

But, but, but - it might come in useful one day!

Plus, let's face it, there is plenty of room in churches for storage these days! Ooops.

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mcb
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Post by mcb » Wed Feb 04, 2004 12:38 am

Hmm... I guess I have a right of reply to all that, but I don't want to wash dirty linen in public. Suffice to say that (i) the old organist certainly wasn't "more or less thrown out"; (ii) the reasons for choosing the new instrument weren't that the old one "was costing more to maintain than it would cost to buy new"; (iii) the consultation was very extensive; (iv) no-one's complained to me about headaches etc.; (vi) "organist carries on playing when priest is ready" hmm... so the organist's supposed to just fill in when Father's busy? (Actually "organist carries on playing when priest is ready" because organist is card-carrying occasional inhabitant of planet Dopey.)

Don't know why I'm writing all this - it's all there in M & L! Something to do with, what was it, "the flaming sword of truth and the trusty shield of fair play". Who was that - Jonathan Aitken, wasn't it?

The speakers don't block out any of the light from the windows, either.

M.

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Post by mcb » Wed Feb 04, 2004 12:43 am

Gwyn wrote:Having them scattered around the building isn't a good idea anyway.


Beg to differ. Organ purists will say this because a real pipe organ can't distribute the sound all round the building the way you can with speakers. But I reckon the distributed sound is much more supportive of congregational participation.

M.

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presbyter
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Post by presbyter » Wed Feb 04, 2004 12:56 am

mcb wrote:[the distributed sound is much more supportive of congregational participation.


Now there's a thought.... perhaps those decaying organs I mentioned aren't decaying but only dusty. I wonder if on a Sunday four organists play simultaneously to distribute the sound!

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Post by SOP » Wed Feb 04, 2004 9:46 pm

mcb wrote:(Actually "organist carries on playing when priest is ready" because organist is card-carrying occasional inhabitant of planet Dopey.)


Apart from being unkind - who gave him the job? And, why doesn't the choirmaster (i.e. you!) agree a signal with the organist to let him know when to stop?


mcb wrote:The speakers don't block out any of the light from the windows, either.


Magic speakers! May be placed in front of a window but are guaranteed not to block light! Of course they block light as well as being unsightly.

"There are none so blind as those who will not see"

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presbyter
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Post by presbyter » Thu Feb 05, 2004 12:12 am

Errrrrr - before this overheats :oops: I would imagine that a "faculty" would have been issued for all this work by appropriate authorities in both Civil and Canon law - especially so if this is a listed building. (Presbyter inhabits a listed building and is in possession of most of his faculties :wink: ) Consultation will have been extensive - legally it has to be - and the time to object to the work was before the issuing of a faculty, not after it has been granted. (Presbyter also - when not in possession of his faculties - also admits to inhabiting planet Dopey - I nearly paid for someone else's shopping in Sainsbury's today!) Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum :)

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Post by musicus » Thu Feb 05, 2004 1:19 am

Thanks, presbyter. Amen to that. And a virtual blessing too - a first for this forum.

M

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Post by SOP » Thu Feb 05, 2004 8:19 pm

Shame it had to get personal as I was enjoying reading the replies.

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Post by SOP » Fri Feb 06, 2004 4:16 pm

presbyter wrote:
I wonder if on a Sunday four organists play simultaneously to distribute the sound!


LOL - my experience of old organs is that there are usually one or two notes 'missing'. Perhaps with four it would be a way of ensuring all notes are there and any additional whistles or stuck keys could be explained away as 'harmony'.

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Post by Merseysider » Sat May 08, 2004 10:37 am

New organs? Old organs? Problems with organist? You don't know how lucky you are. We don't have any sort of keyboard and we can't afford one. And if we could, I'm not sure we could find anyone who could play it. Result, a very complicated rota of people persuaded to play a variety of instruments and me up til the early hours writing dozens of arrangements because the combination is different every week.

Anyone fed up with the organ or organist? All donations welcomed.

Never grumble about your organist – they're a rare breed.

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Post by Benevenio » Sun May 09, 2004 10:00 am

Personally, I could do without the organ in church, much prefering to use instruments and ring the changes - and yes, I too have worked in the wee hours to arrange things for the tuba, viola and clarinet that we have had that week...

Don't misunderstand me: I do appreciate the organ as an instrument. There is something particularly magnificent about the awesome power that is at the fingertips of one player - and to hear the reverberation around an (English) cathedral after a final notes of a rousing recessional can take my breath.

Perhaps my rather jaded view of using the organ in liturgy is influenced by a number of poor organists - poor practitioners are deadly on any instrument - or by the feeling that I am being dominated rather than supported in prayer, or by organists' improvisations intruding upon silences... And I raise the very naughty question: which is the better model of ministry and Church: one person hidden the organ loft or collaboration between a group of instrumentalists working, playing, praying together? :wink:
Benevenio.

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