SOPP340: I recall having seen (or heard) that when you use a very low fifth stop (10 2/3' for instance) along with a 16' you get the effect of a 32'
Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start episode 340 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. Today we have two comments which we would like to discuss. The first was sent by Irineo and he writes:
“Nice post as usual, maestro.
But I recall having seen (or heard) that when you use a very low fifth stop (10 2/3' for instance) along with a 16' you get the effect of a 32'. Trouble is that there isn't any 16' stop left over there. So I guess the only solution lays in calling the technician. Could that be caused by the bellows having ruptured or collapsed and not being able any more to deliver the necessary pressure for the heavier stops? What do you think maestro?
V: And the second question was sent by John. He writes:
“I frequently quint bass notes on the Subbass - no other stops drawn, as it sounds unpleasant. It only works (as far as I can tell) from bottom C to F - after that it doesn't sound good. This idea of playing the tonic + its fifth on the pedals goes really well with string combinations and 8' - 4' flutes. This gives a quasi 32' effect. Of course when you are playing full organ you can use this method as well (but probably only once at a climax or the last chord).”
V: So Ausra these two questions are related because they talk about the 32’ effect.
V: Umm-hmm. And in one post Irineo sometimes uses a low fifth stop plus 16’ to get the effect of 32’ and John uses just the Subbass but playing fifth interval on the lowest notes from bottom C to F. Do you think that in liturgical organ playing it’s nice to have this effect?
A: I think yes, because I think if you want to play pedal in fifths definitely but not play repertoire music. It would be more suited for hymn playing.
V: And not always entire verse but just the last few chords probably.
A: Yes, I think it adds a nice effect.
V: A cadence.
A: Yes, in a cadence.
V: Would you use it?
A: Well yes if I wouldn’t have enough stops in the pedal or it would sound nice I would probably use it. And I like how people are creative in a way to get a nice effect on the organ. It’s very nice.
V: I just remember when I played organ works by Teisutis Makacinas in Armenian Notebook he had one episode with C chords in the hands and intervals of the fifths in the pedals in the bass range E flat to B flat, D flat to A flat, and C to G, the last few notes of the cadence and I didn’t use 32’ stops. It adds gravity.
A: Yes, it’s really nice, nice to gravity in the pedals.
V: In symphonic orchestra the basses divide and cellos also play divisi and play in fifths too.
A: What about that low fifth in the pedal? Do many organs have it do you think? 10 2/3' as Irineo says...
V: Let’s see. Normally we have the lowest fifth 2 2/3’. So that is based on the principal of 8’ level. If it’s based on 16’ level then it is a fifth from the 5 2/3’ I think, right? Sometimes its written 6’ in baroque organs in the pedal. If it’s based on 32’ then yes, 10 2/3’.
A: But if you have 32’ stop in the pedal then you don’t have to get the effect of 32’ because you already have it. But if your organ doesn’t have 32’ stop then you shouldn’t have that low quint.
V: It should only have 5 2/3’.
A: And I mean not quint of fifth.
V: I think this is too low for normal organs.
A: That’s what I was thinking too unless it’s some sort of experimental organ. You can find things like this too around the world.
V: Let’s see. 10 2/3’ organ stop. Where is it organ stop in Wikipedia? Major Quint it’s called in Encyclopedia of Organ Stops. It’s a pedal mutation stop. It has been made in a variety of forms. Wood or metal. Open or stopped. Irwin reports that it is usually of diapason tone. Audsley says that open pipes “are to be desired in all cases.” This stop reinforces the 32’ harmonic series, but it often appears in a pedal division that has no 32’ stops: when drawn with a 16’ stop, it produces a resultant 32’ tone.
A: Just as Irineo said in his letter.
V: Umm-hmm. So yes, there are examples in German its Grossquitenbass, right?
A: Yes, I have seen it.
V: And it has it in Atlantic City the great organ in the convention hall, John Wanamaker’s store in Philadelphia, Liverpool Cathedral, Royal Albert Hall in London. Monster organs, right?
A: Yes so it’s not a stop that you could find every day on each organ. But I think when talking about organ in general you always need to listen to what sounds well on a particular instrument. Because I think these suggestions cannot be taken for granted because what works well on one organ may not work at all on another one so you always need to check.
V: I can read between the lines what your saying and correct me if I am wrong. For example if you are playing a relatively small instrument and you are playing fifths in the bass and trying to do this resultant in the bass which would sound an octave lower. It might sound muddy because there is a reason why this organ is small in such a place, right?
V: There is no enough reverberant acoustic. No place for the echo to spread.
A: Because in an ideal world and it’s not always the case in our world when a church is built and an organ is built in it, it needs to be sort of in a nice resonance with the room. So the organ builder has to know to calculate how the organ will sound and according to that to put a specific stop list for a particular instrument.
V: And intonation of the stops also that happens in the room itself.
A: Yes but of course I would see that sometimes the money is the main cost of the things and you just calculate how much you can afford to put into the instrument and it might also be designed not maybe as it should be.
V: But it’s good that people are thinking about that.
A: Yes, it’s very good.
V: Thank you guys for sending us these questions and remember when you practice…
A: Miracles happen.
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Drs. Vidas Pinkevicius and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene
Organists of Vilnius University , creators of Secrets of Organ Playing.
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