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DISCUSSION: Churches who do not allow sampling

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DISCUSSION: Churches who do not allow sampling

Postby Jon Liinason » Fri Oct 13, 2017 3:55 am

What can we do about the trend that more and more churches do not allow sampling of their organs?
Last edited by Jon Liinason on Fri Oct 13, 2017 7:23 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: DISCUSSION: Churches who do not allow sampling

Postby josq » Fri Oct 13, 2017 4:30 am

Is there a trend?

If there is, tell people about the worldfamous and extremely valuable organs that have already been sampled for Hauptwerk, e.g. Salisbury, Haarlem, Waltershausen. Why then should anyone oppose the sampling of less famous and less valuable organs?

Or if an organ is almost equally valuable, what if a fire destroys the organ? If you have sampled it, all details of its sound will be preserved on computers worldwide, so that the memory of the organ can be relived by everyone. Moreover, it may help the reconstruction of the organ.

I don't know the reasons why people obstruct the sampling of an organ. Do they sense power and exclusive ownership? That's hard to fight against. Are they afraid the sampling process will interfere with liturgical activities? Sampling isn't much more invasive than a CD recording.
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Re: DISCUSSION: Churches who do not allow sampling

Postby adri » Fri Oct 13, 2017 2:10 pm

I'm sorry to having to tell you that often it are our fellow colleagues (yes, of all people!) who are the real obstructionists as churches and organ owners depend on their so-called expert advice, which in most cases is nothing more than self-inflated ego. They often believe it's "their organ" that they have a monopoly over. They feel they have to "protect" it (in the case of sampling, from what?). Or they believe that the organ will be less frequented by concert goers.

And I will express myself a bit sarcastic now: indeed someone who uses HW in the USA was actually planning to attend that concert in let's say England, Holland, or Germany, or Spain, or Italy, or the Czech Republic? Or someone living in Leens (sampled) was planning to go to every concert in Bergen op Zoom (sampled) or vice versa?). You can see how odd this kind of thinking actually is.

Another argument I heard is that once the organ is sampled it will draw less national and international attention as people will be satisfied with the sampled version and skip the real organ. I actually did an inquiry about this on this forum and found out that this is not really the case; it's all a question of physical distance.

Would it diminish sales of CDs of the organ? My inquiry: not really either.

In the case of Haarlem, e.g., the organ is owned by the city, and is -in a way- public domain. The same for Kampen, and Gouda I believe (not sampled). There are some others in Holland and perhaps in other countries too that are no church owned, while the organ is nevertheless in a church.

The trick might be to get the testimonies of those churches and organists where the organ was permitted to be sampled, as leverage to get new sampling done. Although not in all cases are the organists happy about "their" organ being sampled. They certainly had their egos crushed.

But at any rate, love is the only answer, and the only way to get the goodwill and cooperation of an organ owner is by friendly approaches and goodwill gestures. And good deals.

My take....
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Re: DISCUSSION: Churches who do not allow sampling

Postby Antoni Scott » Sat Oct 14, 2017 9:12 am

Let me apologize ahead of time if my following response offends anyone who has voted to not allow sampling of certain pipe organs (or any instrument for that matter). I have a very strong opinion when it comes to the above. That being said, I personally think it is a matter of a certain level of arrogance on the part of those not allowing sampling of their, or any, instruments. If anyone reading this is in favor of not allowing sampling I would like to hear their reasons.

But I am not surprised at all by this attitude (i.e not allowing sampling). As an organ enthusiast for my entire life I have experienced the entire spectrum of attitudes from friendly and encouraging to downright hostile. One would think that an organist , or church committee, would encourage a would-be student or a sampling sound engineer to embrace the organ rather than take the "don't touch it" approach. In most cases it has nothing to do with inconvenience, cost or liability, just the arrogance of those in charge of giving sound engineers permission.

When I hear that sound engineers and samplers are not allowed access to certain organs I ask myself "why" ? What's the harm ? I have had personal experience with this issue regarding the sampling of the Midmer-Losh in Atlantic City when a sampling engineer (name withheld, but they know who they are) asked to sample certain stops on the giant organ in Convention Hall. As a Director, I was all in favor of sampling it but was voted down since I was one of seven casting our vote. What would be the harm ? No logical or reasonable explanation was given. You would think one would want to share the experience with other people rather than keep it for yourself. Again, what's the harm ?

Let's face it, the pipe organ is in jeopardy of becoming extinct. The extreme cost of building a pipe organ gives digital organ companies a good advantage. Once an organ needs replacing or rebuilding, you find churches opting for electronic organs in many cases. Digital organs are getting better although no one that is discriminating will ever say that you can't tell the difference. But that being said, I think it is imperative that existing worthwhile pipe organs be sampled.

So let me hear a good reason from a church, or committee, why they will not allow their organ to be sampled.
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Re: DISCUSSION: Churches who do not allow sampling

Postby jbittner » Sat Oct 14, 2017 10:34 am

I wouldn't expect anyone on this forum to support a church's or venue's decision not to permit sampling, but let me play devil's advocate and ask this, "In what way is it advantageous for them to permit sampling?" They've spent large amounts of money installing and maintaining the instrument which is part of their unique historical musical and spiritual identity. Once that uniqueness is surrendered to the sampler, is not that investment, and the incentive for continued investment diminished? Why wouldn't the argument be made the next time a major expense was required for the maintenance of the instrument be, "Why bother? Junk it, we'll get the Hauptwerk version like the church down the street?"
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Re: DISCUSSION: Churches who do not allow sampling

Postby dcaton » Sat Oct 14, 2017 12:54 pm

Antoni Scott wrote:Once an organ needs replacing or rebuilding, you find churches opting for electronic organs in many cases.

Perhaps some people think that sampling will accelerate the growth of electronic organs and the decline in real instruments. But if you don't have the money for pipes you don't have the money, and there are already plenty of companies out there building expensive electronic or hybrid instruments.

A counter argument could be make that a church that doesn't have physical space for a pipe organ could still benefit from a high quality VPO. A church with a good VPO is better than a church with no organ at all (or even worse, a "praise" band :cry:)

I think there may be another possible reason. Perhaps some fear that by allowing replicas of the original, uneducated listeners could come away from a service or performance believing that the replica is an accurate representation of the original, no matter how good or horrible it may actually be. This in turn could tarnish the name and reputation of the original, particularly if the VPO's owner made it a point to advertise the sample set's origin instrument.

I don't necessarily agree with that either. But as jbittner said, no one on this forum would likely support a no-sampling decision. Likewise, those who are not in favor of sampling aren't likely to be on the forum either.
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Re: DISCUSSION: Churches who do not allow sampling

Postby Antoni Scott » Sat Oct 14, 2017 1:46 pm

To all:
It is difficult to answer hypothetical questions. With the responses offered so far, even as a devil's advocate or not, my opinion is that they are insufficient. I stand by my original premise that the "reason" given to not permit sampling is a personality or political one. Organists,or organ committee members, that suffer from insecurity issues, wield their weight by denying a sampler the opportunity to capture the sounds of a particular instrument. I think that stating that "one could come away from a service or performance believing that the replica is an accurate representation of the original" is giving too much credit to the person making that statement although this explanation does sound like the best I have heard so far.

"Once that uniqueness is surrendered to the sampler, is not that investment, and the incentive for continued investment diminished?" In this instance I would think that such a position (I'm keeping in mind that they are all subjective statements) is petty. Possibly the organ builder may think that "copying" a stop is akin to intellectual property theft and may object that a sampler is being rewarded for the organ builders painstaking voicing, etc.

I feel strongly that the sampler today has a unique opportunity to "preserve", as well as technology permits, the sounds of historic, and unique instruments. Over time, historic instruments may be damaged or destroyed by fire, etc. I think of the fabulous Sauer instruments in Germany that were basically destroyed during WWI so that their metal pipes could be used for the manufacture of bullets. Similarly, during WWII, the magnificent Walker organ in the Luitpoldhalle Nurnburg, was totally destroyed from bombing. Its sounds lost forever. Another tragedy.
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Re: DISCUSSION: Churches who do not allow sampling

Postby josq » Sat Oct 14, 2017 1:57 pm

I guess the best moment for a request to sample an organ may be immediately after a restoration or (re)build. At these moments, there usually is a positive atmosphere of pride and a desire to show the organ to the rest of the world. And of course, the organ will be in optimal form.
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Re: DISCUSSION: Churches who do not allow sampling

Postby dcaton » Sat Oct 14, 2017 2:18 pm

Antoni, perhaps you will eventually be able to persuade your colleagues about sampling the organ at ACCH. My family has a house in Wildwood and I got a chance to hear the organ last July. It's amazing. Can't imagine what it will sound like once it's fully functional.

Perhaps sampling the organ could be used as a fund-raiser for the restoration effort. That organ is somewhat unique in that it's owned by a public entity, and therefore belongs to the taxpayers of NJ. I could understand perhaps not allowing it to be sampled for private purposes, but if it was done as a non-profit endeavor to raise money...

I imagine you know people associated with the Wanamaker organ. Do you know if anyone has ever raised the idea of sampling that? I'll bet even a partial sample set of that would be a big seller.
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Re: DISCUSSION: Churches who do not allow sampling

Postby Antoni Scott » Sun Oct 15, 2017 9:23 am

To Dacron:
Thank you for your positive comments regarding the Atlantic City organ. My original statement that a sampling engineer has a unique position is musical preservation history unfortunately is not shared by everybody and I haven't heard (or expect to hear from) any individual with reasons for not sampling organs. Your suggestion about using it as a fund-raiser was brought up in 1998 but was never followed through on. I even contacted the Trump Casino organization next door hoping that Donald Trump (who supposedly looked at it) could throw a few million dollars into it suggesting that we could put a plaque with his name on it and suggest organ enthusiasts stay in the Casino next door. The restoration is now under the control of HORC and I haven't suggested to then about sampling the organ. Hopefully the new group can agree to sampling the organ,
Yes, the organ belongs to the taxpayers of New Jersey and as such there is a far better opportunity for anyone that wants to get to play it. I would suggest that anyone interested in playing the organ contact them. A donation of even a few dollars would always help and you could come away with the experience of a lifetime. Unfortunately, money is always the issue but one dollar from a million people is the same as a million dollars from one person.
The Left Chamber, which has over a 100 ranks, has a spectacular String Division, similar in size to Wanamaker. All the chests are newly relreathered, etc so wind noise is low. The Right Chamber still has the original leather and suffers from constant ciphers. On the Great Division the Diapason Chorus (I-X) has ten Open Diapason stops, some spectacular Mixtures and an incredible Brass Chorus. I would love to see that sampled !!!!! I am unaware if there have ever been any plans to sample the Wanamaker organ. There is hope for the future. On a technical note I can't imagine the memory requirements required !!!!!
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Re: DISCUSSION: Churches who do not allow sampling

Postby RichardW » Mon Oct 16, 2017 6:18 am

Just a thought ...

Do churches generally want other people to know about their organs or do they jealously protect them from "outsiders"? If more people knew about their organs then they might be more inclined to come and listen to a concert or join in a service or buy a recording.

Sampling an organ is a good way to advertise the organ. It hardly costs the church anything, the "advert" lasts for many years and is directed towards the people most likely to take an interest in the organ - other organists.

What is not to like?
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Re: DISCUSSION: Churches who do not allow sampling

Postby Antoni Scott » Mon Oct 16, 2017 10:02 am

Richards
What is not to like ? The first part of your post would require a survey. Personally I would lean more towards 50/50%. My experience has shown me that the less significant the organ or organist the more likely they would be to deny permission to play or sample it. Its a bitter opinion but based on personal experience. On the other side, take Daniel Roth and the magnificent St. Sulpice Cavaille-Coll. I see dozens of guests on Youtube, many unaccomplished organists, who have been welcomed to play. Mr. Roth is a generous man and obviously enjoys sharing the magnificent organ with others. A perfect gentleman.
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Re: DISCUSSION: Churches who do not allow sampling

Postby hackjo » Fri Oct 20, 2017 10:17 am

I once contacted Worcester Cathedral in the UK about sampling the old hybrid organ before it was torn out in 2007. A lot of people loved that instrument, warts and all and it had a unique sound which would have been great to preserve beyond the destruction of the instrument (which I have always questioned the logic of).

They sent me a terse reply saying that the instrument was in poor repair and beyond further recordings - effectively, "f*ck off". This was disappointing.

On another note, someone seriously needs to sample Coventry Cathedral's Harrison and Harrison. Offer to cut them into the proceeds of sales of the sample set - they need the cash.

And if anyone wants to sample a delightful little 28 stop English church organ by Nicholson and Lord at St. Mary's Kingswinford in the Black Country, they are currently without an organist so it may be an easy route in. Let me know!
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Re: DISCUSSION: Churches who do not allow sampling

Postby Antoni Scott » Sat Oct 21, 2017 7:44 pm

So it seems my negative experiences regarding the sampling of organs and the general attitude is not just mine alone. So sad.
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Re: DISCUSSION: Churches who do not allow sampling

Postby sjkartchner » Sun Oct 22, 2017 1:44 pm

Late to the conversation, but what would the incentive for sampling be for a large institution (church or otherwise) with an active, well-known and financially secure mission? Preservation would not be an issue, nor would exposure be. I understand that Salisbury Cathedral used sampling specifically for the purpose of having access to the organ’s sounds while the physical instrument was being renovated. Aside from that sort of situation, there just aren’t many compelling reasons I can think of for such a venue to agree to have its instrument sampled, or to permit public distribution of the set if sampled.
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