Recent Posts

Pages: [1] 2 3 ... 10
Jokes / Re: Wow! Well Done, that IS you featured on Google today, isn't it?
« Last post by Roger Mardon on March 22, 2019, 05:07:31 PM »
Looks like a lawyer. If it weren’t copyright I’d have the illustration for my avatar on the forum.
Peter's Pearls / Re: No__104__The Organ from Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
« Last post by Peter Anderson on March 22, 2019, 04:27:04 PM »
Part 12


Italy is mentioned first because its organs developed to their maturity soon after 1500 and remained relatively unaltered until about 1800. The Italian organ had one manual and usually only an octave of pedal keys, which had no pipes of its own (except an occasional independent 16-foot contrabasso) but was coupled permanently to the manual. The manual chorus (ripieno) had the peculiarity that there was no collective mixture; all the ranks were drawn by separate stops. Each rank broke back an octave as it reached the 11/2-inch pipe. In addition, there were flute stops of 4-foot, 22/3-foot, and 2-foot pitch and a register called the fiffaro or voce umana (not to be confused with the French voix humaine or German vox humana, which are regals), a principale rank found only in the treble and tuned sharp so that when it is played together with the principal one hears an audible beat. It was the forerunner of the similarly constructed voix céleste stop popular in the 19th-century romantic organ. The scale of the classic Italian principale was not much different from its counterpart in the north, but its mouth was narrower, its voicing more delicate, and there was a notable lack of chiff. Reeds were not found until late in the 16th century and were never considered essential.
Peter's Pearls / Re: No__104__The Organ from Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
« Last post by Peter Anderson on March 22, 2019, 04:26:03 PM »
Part 11

History of the organ to 1800

The earliest history of the organ is so buried in antiquity as to be mere speculation. The earliest surviving record is of the Greek engineer Ctesibius, who lived in Alexandria in the 3rd century BC. He is credited with the invention of an organ very much on the lines of the single-manual, slider-chest organ already described, except for its wind supply, which made use of a principle that was most ingenious, though applicable only to a very small instrument. A piston pump operated by a lever supplied air to a reservoir; at its upper end, this reservoir communicated directly with the wind-chest. The reservoir, cylindrical in shape and with no bottom, was placed in a large drum-shaped container that was partly filled with water. As the reservoir became filled with air, the air would escape around its lower edge. In this way a more or less equal pressure of air was maintained inside the reservoir. This type of organ, called a hydraulus, may have served chiefly as a noisemaker or an engineering marvel. Little is known of any music that might have been played on it. A clay model of a hydraulus was discovered in 1885 in the ruins of Carthage (near modern Tunis, Tun.), and the remains of an actual instrument were found in 1931 at Aquincum, near Budapest.

The development of the organ during the early Middle Ages is obscure, but by the 8th or 9th century it was being used in Christian churches, perhaps as a signal to call congregations to worship or in other nonliturgical roles. About 990 a famous organ in the cathedral at Winchester, Eng., was constructed, of which the monk Wulfstan left a famous but much garbled description. Literary accounts of early organs are often hyperbolic or metaphorical, but it appears from descriptions such as Wulfstan’s that organs like that at Winchester were loud, somewhat clumsy to operate by modern standards, and probably unsuitable for all but the simplest music.

The artistic history of the organ begins with the development of the chromatic keyboard (i.e., having 12 keys per octave). By 1361 the cathedral organ at Halberstadt, Ger., had three chromatic keyboards and pedals; the keys, however, were much wider than those of the modern keyboard. The modern size of keys was fairly generally established by the end of the 15th century. Although the Halberstadt organ had three manuals, it had no stop mechanism. The main keyboard controlled a huge mixture stop, and the other keyboards controlled reduced groups of stops.
Ctesibius’ slider arrangement was probably rediscovered some time in the early 15th century, and it became common soon after 1450. Reed stops began to appear at the same time, and by 1500 the organ had reached a stage in northern Germany in which all the important features of the modern organ were present. In the 16th century the organ began to develop an idiomatic repertoire distinct in style from that of instrumental ensembles, although written organ music of the Renaissance gives no clues as to how the different stops and keyboards were employed.

During the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, three diminutive forms of the organ were widely used. These were, first, the positive (in which category are included most chamber organs of the period), a small organ capable of being moved, usually by two men, either on carrying poles or on a cart. The second type, the portative, was smaller still, with only one set of pipes and a manual of very short compass. It was carried by the player, who worked the bellows with one hand and played the keys with the other. Such instruments were used in processions and possibly in concerted instrumental ensembles. Between the last two in size was the third type, the regal, which usually had only one reed stop, a regal, as previously described.

Since national styles of organ building vary widely and it is necessary to know something about them before the music of each nation can be performed intelligently, the more important styles must next be considered briefly. Of the basic medieval organ, prior to the development of national styles, little if any material survives, except in the old cathedral at Sion in Switzerland, where a large proportion of the seven-stop organ appears to date from about 1400. Although voiced on low wind pressure, the tone of the chorus is brilliant, colourful, and powerful.
Jokes / Wow! Well Done, that IS you featured on Google today, isn't it?
« Last post by Peter Anderson on March 22, 2019, 04:01:15 PM »
There are four basic families of organ tone, and in this and the following Replies, I'll show you the basic pattern of Drawbar settings to create each of them.

1       Diapason is defined as a typical organ sound.   
It is commonly used as a foundation setting, so it is often referred to by that name.

Start by setting your drawbars to resemble this shape: -

It has a strong fundamental and second harmonic, with weaker upper harmonics.     Also as an 8' combination, it makes an excellent accompanying sound.

However, with a 16' setting, it is the basis for a full theatre organ sound.

When some of the other family members (see the following Replies) are emphasized in the combinations, you may have a flute diapason, a reed diapason, or a string diapason.

I stated that this Pearl would contain no numbers, but if you want some examples of diapason drawbar settings for your AR, then click on the following link.

This link is also available in Ed’s Tickles, but you may like to check out this website, which graphically shows Hammond Drawbar settings for different sounds.

Remember that on the AR the 8’ and 5 1/3’ lightbars are reversed, and that you have 6 settings for each one where the Hammond lists 8.
If you are looking for a particular sound this is a first class resource.

So back to our subject, occasionally you’ll hear the terms open or stopped preceding the name of the designated family, with names like open diapason or stopped flute, for example.

These refer to open or closed (also known as stopped) organ pipes.   
When the upper end of a pipe is closed, the pipe produces a softer and somewhat different tone quality.   

Examples of the open and stopped drawbar settings can be found by clicking that link given above.

Peter's Pearls / Re: No__103__A brief history of the electronic organ
« Last post by Peter Anderson on March 21, 2019, 08:31:41 AM »
The B-2 and C-2, introduced in 1949, allowed vibrato to be enabled or disabled on each manual separately.    In 1954, the B-3 and C-3 models were introduced with the additional harmonic percussion feature.     Despite several attempts by Hammond to replace them, these two models remained popular and stayed in continuous production through early 1975.

The B-3 and C-3 models introduced the concept of "Harmonic Percussion", which was designed to emulate the percussive sounds of the harp, xylophone, and marimba.     The B-3 was the most popular Hammond organ, produced from 1954 to 1974

Hammond B3                                                  Hammond C3
The Concert E was replaced by the model RT in 1949, which retained the full-sized pedalboard, but otherwise was internally identical to the B and C models. RT-2 and RT-3 models subsequently appeared in line with the B-2/C-2 and B-3/C-3, respectively.

In the next Reply we detail the 100 series Hammond organs.

This Pearl was brought about by a question posed in General Discussion, and you can follow the posts by clicking on this link and opening it in a new window:

Jokes / Don't throw away that old Harmonium
« Last post by Peter Anderson on March 20, 2019, 03:47:29 PM »
Is this Recycling or Upcycling?

The Cowbell is an idiophone hand percussion instrument used in various styles of music including salsa and infrequently in popular music.


It is named after the similar bell historically used by herdsmen to keep track of the whereabouts of cows.

Tuned cowbells or Almglocken (as they called in German), sometimes known by the English translation alpine bells (or Alpenglocken in German), typically refer to bulbous brass bells that are used to play music, sometimes as a novelty act or tourist attraction in the northern Alps, and sometimes in classical music, as in Richard Strauss's Alpine Symphony.

Set of Tuned Cowbells

Since they are tuned differently, in order to distinguish individual animals, they can be collected "from the pasture" in random tunings, but commercial sets in equal temperament are also available.    The metal clapper is retained, and they sound much noisier than handbells, which are otherwise used similarly in ensembles.

Composers who included Almglocken among their musical palette include Tōru Takemitsu, Jo Kondo, Gustav Mahler, Richard Strauss, Roy Harter, John Adams, Joseph Schwantner, and Karlheinz Stockhausen.      Olivier Messiaen used multiple chromatic sets of clapperless cowbells in several of his compositions, notably "Et expecto resurrectionem mortuorum" and "Couleurs de la cité celeste".

Clapperless Cowbells are made of metal are an important element in Latin-American and go-go music.   These cowbells are struck with a stick – the tone being modulated by striking different parts of the bell and by damping with the hand holding the bell.

In several parts of the world (notably in West Africa) pairs or trios of clapperless bells are joined in such a way that they can be struck separately or clashed together.     The Brazilian name for these is agogo bells.

Cylindrical wood blocks played in the same way are also called Agogô, as we have seen above.   

In Cuban music the cowbell is called cencerro and often played by the same player as the bongos.

In Caribbean music two or three are often mounted together with a pair of timbales.   (As in the illustration above.)

This type of cowbell, when mounted in this way, can also be played with the foot using a modified bass drum pedal or even bowed with a double bass bow.

Cowbells and Agogos on your Key Boards can be found at:
Cowbell @   Upper Keyboard     G# 2
Cowbell @   Lower Keyboard     G# 3
Agogo H @   Upper Keyboard     G 3
Agogo L @   Upper Keyboard      G# 3
Agogo H @   Lower Keyboard     G 4
Agogo L @   Lower Keyboard      G# 4


Bearing in mind that the drawbar system is vertically flipped in comparison to a graphic equaliser, those who have an affinity with graphic equalisers will recognise the left hand ‘tone shape’ shown below as giving a ‘scooped’ midrange with strong bass and treble elements. 

Conversely, the right hand ‘tone shape’ produces a nasal sound, which might in a graphic equaliser be used to simulate a human voice.    Even though this is an organ, the effect on the timbre is just the same, like this:

Drawbars, themselves are physically adding individual pitches to a composite tone, rather than merely emphasising or de-emphasising pitches, which are already there, as is the case with a graphic equaliser.    But there's very little difference in the way a given tone shape impacts on the tonal character - provided of course that you remember your drawbar tone shapes are upside down.  They're vertically mirrored images of your graphic equaliser tone shapes.

Of course, it’s worth investigating the exact settings that some famous Hammond players have used in their renditions, if you want to accurately copy them and learn more about special techniques.   You can read more about that in Peters Pearl #85 - Drawbars - (xviii) Some settings to try.

Remember that on the Hammond organs the frequency bands, their second (5 1/3') and third (8') drawbars, are  reversed to those on our Yamaha AR organs.
On a graphic equaliser they would exactly match the Yamaha layout.
You can and should, of course, use your ears to make fine adjustments, but the important thing is that you have a ballpark vision of what is changing the sound.

The idea of imaginary Bass, Middle and Treble zones described above, gives you a structured and simple method, of generating the sound you are looking for.
It’s just like adjusting a graphic equaliser on a hi-fi, so if you're able to adjust your hi-fi to sound exactly as you want, there’s no reason why you can’t do the same with your Yamaha AR drawbars.

So in short, Forget Numbers – Think (and remember) Shapes!

In the next Reply, I show more shapes of drawbar settings.

Pages: [1] 2 3 ... 10