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Thread: New to the Pipe Organ world

  1. #1
    Recruit, Pianissimo
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    New to the Pipe Organ world

    Hello,
    Our church just recently refurbished and restored a pipe organ. We never used a pipe organ before and it is an amazing instrument. I just love how it sounds. Of course, there is so much to learn and a lot of trial and error. I am the choir leader of our church and we have two organists. I'm trying to learn everything there is to learn about pipe organs, so I will be asking a lot of questions on this forum. I'm hoping that you will be able to help me understand some of the issues we've encountered so far.

    The other night during our worship service, the organ didn't seem to be working right. Here are some of the things that we experienced.

    1) A note got stuck. The organist pressed on a key and the note just kept playing. Even though she kept pressing on the key to "release" the note from playing, it would not stop playing. I believe it's called ciphering. (Sorry, I'm still learning the terminology.) She was forced to turn off the organ and turn it back on.

    2) Same issue as number 1 listed above, but it was a combination of multiple notes in a low octave. (It sounded like a background music for a scary movie.) This has happened several times in previous worship services and practices and what we've noticed is that it happens whenever the organist uses Swell Set 7.

    3) Sometimes notes seem to go out of tune. Unfortunately, I don't know if this is an end-user issue or if it has anything to do with the mechanics of the organ.

    Any ideas of what could be causing these issues? Are they all related to temperature change and humidity? Or could it be that there are dusts in the pipes that could be causing these, too? Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you.

  2. #2
    Commodore con Forza GoneBaroque's Avatar
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    Welcome to the Forum. There are several members who can answer your questions. Hopefully one of the Moderators can transfer this post to the Pipe Organ thread where it will most easily be seen. LARS?
    The only reason for time is to prevent everything from happening at once - Albert Einstein

    You know you have reached Middle Age when it takes you longer to rest up than it did to get tired.

    If it sounds good; it is good

    Rob

  3. #3
    Administrator Krummhorn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GoneBaroque View Post
    Welcome to the Forum. There are several members who can answer your questions. Hopefully one of the Moderators can transfer this post to the Pipe Organ thread where it will most easily be seen. LARS?
    Ask and ye shall receive ... and, so moved

    Welcome to the forum ...

    You mention that this organ was recently refurbished ... sounds as if there are a few adjustments that need to be made internally and I would inquire to the powers that be if there was a warranty for the work that was done in the restoration process. The problems you mention are internal to the organ chest and only a qualified organ technician should attempt the repairs or adjustments.

    Ciphers are frustrating things ... they always occur at the most inopportune times (during a prayer, during quiet musical passages, etc). Would be helpful to know what kind of action is in this organ (mechanical, electro-pnuematic, direct electric, etc) in order to "decipher" (a little play on words there ) what may be going on. It really sounds though as if there is a piece of dust on the top of the felt piece of the valve, or the secondary valve itself is being "lazy" and may require re-leathering.

    As for tuning ... all pipe organs go out of tune over time ... my church organ gets tuned twice each year ... if there is an erratic and way out of tune pipe, and it is easily accessible, I will tune it myself between the tunings. This is not something that an amateur should ever attempt - one needs to be shown how to do this as it is very easy to damage these fragile lead and tin pipes, and v - e - r - y costly to replace broken ones.

    Kh

  4. #4
    Recruit, Pianissimo
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    Thank you for your reply and for moving my post.

    Our organ was actually moved from the balcony to the front of the chapel on the main floor. In addition to moving the organ, it was also digitized. To answer your question, yes, it is under warranty.

    I plan on documenting everything that we've encountered and I'm trying to determine if the issues we are dealing with is something that we can control. For example: maintaining room temperature where the organ is located as well as managing the humidity since the room can have the tendency to get dry, especially during winter.

    If I understand you correctly, it sounds like the issues we are experiencing has to be dealt with our pipe organ technicians. I will address your points to them and see what their thoughts are.

    Thanks again for your feedback. I think I'm going to like being on this forum.

    INC

  5. #5
    Vice Admiral Virtuoso wljmrbill's Avatar
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    welcome to the forums. Like Lars said.. these things do occur. I can remember more than once climbing around to try and stop the cipher..usually dust is the problem as Lars stated. Our organ chambers were kept at an fairly even temperature and humidity level witha eleronic dust remover unit year around....which helped greatly with tuning problems. Under warenty for sure use it!!!!!..Good luck and enjoy the new installation. How about some info on your instrument and maybe even a music clip too..
    ....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

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  7. #6
    Administrator Krummhorn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by inciowa View Post
    Thank you for your reply and for moving my post.

    Our organ was actually moved from the balcony to the front of the chapel on the main floor. In addition to moving the organ, it was also digitized. To answer your question, yes, it is under warranty.
    You're quite welcome.

    I annually play a pipe organ that had been 'digitized' where it had several digital voices added (the last 5 notes of a 16' pedal stop because of lack of room in the chambers) to the pedal division. It had these ciphers every once in awhile and the only way to stop them was to power down ... it turned out to be a software problem that has been since rectified.

    Quote Originally Posted by inciowa
    Thanks again for your feedback. I think I'm going to like being on this forum.
    And we're glad to have you as a member here, too .

    Hoping as Bill said earlier to see pictures of this instrument or possible hear some sound clips of it.


    INC[/QUOTE]
    Kh ~~.
    Administrator


    Amateur musicians practice until they get it right ...
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    fessional musicians practice until they can't get it wrong ...


  8. #7
    Admiral Honkenwheezenpooferspieler Corno Dolce's Avatar
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    Welcome aboard, INC

    Here are quite a few organ players and some specialists - Please do feel very much at home on this superfab site with supergreat members all.
    *If a man wants God to hear his prayer quickly, then before he prays for anything else, even his own soul, when he stands and stretches out his hands towards God, he must pray with all his heart for his enemies. Through this action God will hear everything that he asks* -Abba Zeno-

    *Protagoras: "Truth is subjective. What is true for you, and what is true for me, is true for me. Your opinion is true by virtue of its being your opinion."

    *Socrates: "My opinion is: Truth is absolute, not opinion, and that you are in absolute error. Since this is my opinion, then according to your philosophy you must grant that it is true."

    "Improvisational Art": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qSxVO3EoCRM

  9. #8
    Captain of Water Music
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    Welcome Inciowa! Can't help with your query, but it's interesting to read about your problems and equally interesting to read the replies from other forumers. What part of the world are you living in?

  10. #9
    Lieutenant, Associate Concertmaster AllanP's Avatar
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    Usually there is a settling in period required after an organ has been installed. It took about a year for the tuning to stabilize after my organ was installed. To keep the tuning stable, don't touch the bpipes that are still in tune, only adjust the out-of-tune pipes. The ciphers are probably caused by dust and dirt that has been trapped in the chest and wind lines. This problem should disappear after a period of time. The blower should have an air filter on the intake to keep from introducing more dust into the system. My chamber is heated with a separate thermostat to keep the pipe work at a constant temperature. This helps a lot in keeping everything in tune.

  11. #10
    Administrator Krummhorn's Avatar
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    To add to Bill's post above ...

    It's actually best to play the pipe organ as much as possible - it's the long periods of silence that destroys these wonderful instruments.

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  13. #11
    Captain of Water Music jvhldb's Avatar
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    Welcome to the forum!

    You are lucky if turning off the organ clears the cipher, we usually have to lift the offending pipe out of the toe hole until the technician can come out to fix the problem (usually 6-8 weeks after logging the call).
    Johan van Heerden

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