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Thread: Unit Organs

  1. #1
    Lieutenant Commander, Concertmaster
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    Unit Organs

    Hi guys

    I'm playing a unit organ soon. I'm a bit worried that it won't have enough power or ranks to sound any good! It's only coupler is great to pedal - there's no swell to great.

    Can anyone explain more about these small organs? It has a crescendo pedal so could that be used to give it more oomph? Can the Cres pedal be in effect the swell to great?

    PS here are the ranks:
    Swell (enclosed): Open Diapason 8, Lieblich Gedackt 8, Dulciana 8, Lieblich Flute 4, Dulcet 4, Nazard 2 2/3, Flautino 2

    Great (enclosed): Open Diapason 8, Lieblich Gedackt 8, Dulciana 8, Principal 4, Twelfth 2 2/3, Fiftheenth 2, Mixture III

    Pedal: Bourdon 16, Bass Flute 8, Fifteenth 4, Octave Flute 4


    Thanks all!

    Kevin
    Nicht Bach sondern Meer

  2. #2
    Administrator Krummhorn's Avatar
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    Hi Kevin,

    Unit organs were created by some manufacturers as a way to get pipe organs into churches and educational institutions cheaply enough to compete with the electronic/digital counterparts. Möller (now defunct) did this for many years - everything was 'in the box' and under expression, meaning it was "unified".

    Looking at your specification I would guess that this "unit" organ is about 5 ranks. The Open Diapason on the Swell and Great are unified (one rank) as are the Lieblich Gedackt and Dulciana. The Principal 4' could be a rank by itself probably starting at Tenor C (being a 4' rank). The mutations are "wired", meaning that the Nazard and Twelfth are really the Dulciana rank being played an octave and a fifth above unison. The Flautino 2' is most likely "wired" from the Gedackt rank, and the Fifteenth 2' is probably "wired" from the Principal 4' rank.

    The Mixture III is most likely a series of ranks all by itself ... so here is, as I see it, how the ranks are laid out:

    • Open Diapason = 1 rank playable on either the Swell or the Great
    • Lieb Gedackt = 1 rank playable on either the Swell or the Great
    • Dulciana = 1 rank playable on either the Swell or the Great
    • Mixture III = 3 ranks playable only on the Great

    As is typical on "unit" organs, the pedal stops are "wired" from the manual stops with the exception of the last 12 notes of the Bourdon (which is really the Lieblich Gedackt in disguise).



    So, in other words, pulling on the Open Diapason on both manuals is fruitless as it is the same rank of pipes. The Crescendo pedal will engage all 5 ranks when it is fully open. The amount of "oomph" you get from using the Crescendo pedal would be no different than playing the organ on the Great with all the stops drawn.



    On my Möller II/9 in my church, the Swell is enclosed and the Great is exposed, so I have two separate "flute" ranks, one each in the Swell (Spitflöte) and the Great (Gedackt). In the unit organ, the "flute" is one rank.



    Okay, the reason for the duplication of stops on both manuals is so that you can employ the Diapason as solo stop against a softer flute stop in the other manual. One can be quite creative with a few number of ranks.


    In my own case, on my Swell division, I play the 1-1/3 Larigot an octave lower with the 4' flute, making it sound like an 8' flute with a 2-2/3 mutation.


    Lars A

  3. #3
    Vice Admiral Virtuoso wljmrbill's Avatar
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    Very well put Lars. SOunds like a nice insturment to play actually for a unit organ.
    ....To play only what is written is the domain of science. To realize what is not written is the domain of art."
    - Jean Langlais

    I wish you the Best for each day, now and always.

    Bill

  4. #4
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    Thanks for that Lars - much appreciated.
    I have to play for a wedding on this organ - i hope its sufficient. Any tricks or techniques to make it sound better? Also for the last verses of hymns I really like to go for it. I'm not going to be able to do it am I?!

    So the maximum power on this organ can be achieved by drawing open diapason, lieblich gedackt, dulciana, mixture and bourdon 16?

    thanks for your help
    Nicht Bach sondern Meer

  5. #5
    Administrator Krummhorn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bach>Meer View Post
    . . . So the maximum power on this organ can be achieved by drawing open diapason, lieblich gedackt, dulciana, mixture and bourdon 16?

    thanks for your help
    Yes ... except leave out the Dulciana as it will do nothing to add to the full ensemble. You can experiment around with playing the left hand where it belongs and playing the right hand an octave higher to get a little more brightness possibly ... use some trial and error in practice sessions. You can also use the Swell shades to good advantage ... maybe open them 1/2 or 3/4, and then go full open for a final verse and/or add the Mixture rank.

    There is only so much "oomph" one can get out of 5 ranks ... I know from firsthand experience, and in my present case at my church, there is so much that II/9 can do, too - although my organ tech says I make it sound like 15 ranks (for tutti with all the 16' stops drawn, I'll sometimes play both hands an octave higher).

    I played for years on a Wicks unit organ ... it was originally installed in a theater and comprised 13 ranks, but the church got the console and 5 of the ranks, including the Xylophone (which was never hooked up). The wind pressure was at 15" ... and the 5 ranks were 8' Diapason, 8' Melodia, 8' Tibia, 8' Vox Humana and 8' Salicional. There were stop tabs for all these at 16', unison, and 4', typical of theater organs that are mostly unified anyway.

    For hymn and service playing, two ranks were all that were useable ... the Diapason and Melodia. The Tibia was too "hooty" and could never be used to play block chords on, but it was useful as a solo stop. Because of the high wind pressure, the organ required monthly tunings and maintenance ... after the organ tech died, I took over the tuning and repairs myself. I then re-voiced the Vox by closing the top caps completely, and tuned it sharp to the Salicional ... a quasi celeste ... albeit a strange sounding celeste, but none-the-less there was finally a use for the Vox rank.

    In later years, I swapped the Tibia rank for a 4' Cornopean ... for the first time, the organ could be heard at the back of the church!!

    I played that piece of junk for 7 years - it was a fun experience, one that I'll never forget ... especially the ciphers that would occur all by themselves ALWAYS right in the middle of a quiet prayer or pause in the pastor's sermon. The only cure was to go up to the chamber and pull the pipe and fix it later. More than once I had to stuff a heavy rag into the mouths of the lower pitches of the Melodia rank. We finally replaced it with an Allen Digital (600-DK) and sold the pipe organ for $500.

    Two of those ranks (vox and tibia) were theatrical ranks and hardly suitable for church service playing - although in later years, I re-voiced the Vox by closing the caps on the pipes and then tuning them slightly sharp to the Salicional, creating a quasi celeste - a strange sounding celeste, but with the trem on, it wasn't bad. The Tibia was way too "hooty" to use for anything but as a solo stop, so for hymn singing I had 3 ranks basically.
    Kh ~~.
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