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Canadian “Cathedral” Reed Organ worth sampling

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Canadian “Cathedral” Reed Organ worth sampling

Postby Johannes Sørensen » Sat Jan 06, 2018 11:31 am

The reed organ on the picture was located in Ireland but originally manufactured by a company in Canada named Doherty, and this “Cathedral Reed Organ” was the largest and most expensive the company build.

When you see the picture of this barn find it is obvious, that the organ has been stored for years under really bad circumstances, and the inside condition wasn’t better or even worse with damages by rot and wood worms. Possibly you think, that a suggestion to sample and make a virtual model of it must be a foolish, unsuccessful and unfunny yoke, but no, it is quite serious.

Image

Sometimes in things, most reasonable people regard as worthless and useless apart from as firewood, a few can see value and potential. Canadian Rodney Jantzi is one of them. Previous he has restored several reed organs and approved his skills for such kind of work. When a couple of years ago he got informed about the Doherty Cathedral Reed Organ in Ireland, despite its bad condition he decided to get it moved back home to Canada. He completely took it apart and began the process piece by piece to repair, restore and rebuild and recreated missing parts. After two years of incredible patient and skilful work the organ has resurrected like the bird Phoenix:

Image

This is the crowning achievement of Rodney Jantzis many reed organ restore projects.
The fabulous rebuilding process’ countless steps you can follow detail by detail in this photo documentary:
http://www.rodneyjantzi.com/dohertycathedral/index.htm

And finally you can see and hear Rodney Jantzi play the finished reed organ:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWQGvsbbtUg
More music played on this and other of his restored instruments:
https://www.youtube.com/user/rodneyjantzi/videos

Underneath the picture of the finished instrument Rodney Jantzi writes: ” … later in the spring of 2018 when the organ is transported to our church where I plan to have a reed organ concert.”
At present there are only a few reed organ sample sets available for Hauptwerk. The size and the qualities of this instrument are far beyond the sampled ones. Hopefully someone is able to and can get permission to sample and make a virtual model. That could be a good and appreciated supplement.

Best regards
Johannes
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Re: Canadian “Cathedral” Reed Organ worth sampling

Postby Antoni Scott » Sun Jan 07, 2018 9:32 am

I have had personal experiences with reed organs from Canada and the USA. Bell reed organs from Canada manufactured outstanding instruments. Although the vibrating free reed was known to be rather dull and lacking in harmonic structure and very difficult to produce to make
strikingly different sounds, Bell (as well a Dominium) was quite sucessful. Estey, in the United States, was by far the largest reed organ manufacturer, but the quality of its sound left much to be desired. Stops like the Open Diapason and the Dulciana were hardly different at all. Sawyer, from England, made the largest reed organs ever built, some having up to 5000 plus reeds.I don't know of any that remain.

Bell organs produced some exceptional two manual reed organs. They were also very successful in creating a "reed" stop that sounded very reedy compared to their standard "flue" stops. Also, very unusual for reed organs, was a 2ft manual stop. If anyone could get a hold of any of the above (Bell, Dominium, Sawyerm etc) they would make a wonderful sample set.

The only reed organ sample set I have heard/own is the two manual/pedal Estey which is a good sample set of a not very interesting organ. It would be nice to have other reed organ sample sets available.
Antoni
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Re: Canadian “Cathedral” Reed Organ worth sampling

Postby seh52 » Sun Jan 07, 2018 12:38 pm

I have a late 19th century Bell 1 manual reed organ with 16, 8, 4 and 2' pitched stops; available for sampling in Los Angeles.
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Re: Canadian “Cathedral” Reed Organ worth sampling

Postby Johannes Sørensen » Sun Jan 07, 2018 3:00 pm

Hello Antoni

Interesting information about your experinces.

What do you think about the sound of this reed organ as far as you can judge it from the six recordings of it on YouTube?

Best regards
Johannes
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Re: Canadian “Cathedral” Reed Organ worth sampling

Postby Antoni Scott » Mon Jan 08, 2018 8:50 am

First of all congratulations on an outstanding restoration. Its comforting to know that this impressive instrument will be preserved and enjoyed by future generations. As a reed organ enthusiast myself I can appreciate the amount of work that went into such a project.
I used to have a two manual and pedal Estey reed organ which was probably one of the largest ones they made in large production numbers during the early part of the 1900's. There is a sample set available of this exact model instrument.
Estey seemed to deviate from the reed organ standards of the day by making these instruments with what I would describe as "full compass" stops. The reed organ norm of the day was to split the compass of the keyboard at around Tenor F so that a different stop could be played in the left hand from that in the right hand. Although the concept looked good on paper, because it was universally used by reed organ manufacturers, it made little difference in the flexibility of the instrument. Estey decided to have a full compass stop from Bottom F (or bottom C if it was a reed organ with a pedalboard) right up to the top note. Also their Voix Celeste stop, which in most reed organs stopped at Tenor C, in the large Estey I am referring to in the above example, extended all the way to the bottom note. Lastly, Estey introduced a set of much larger scaled manual reeds to give more volume. In their small scaled reeds the brass tongue was narrower and in some cases had weighted ends (probably to slow down the vibration).
Since reed manufacture must have been a hellishly difficult to create their different timbres (sound colors), they were always plagued with the fact that a vibrating reed could be heard like a sine wave. It was impossible to create a sound like that of a wood vs metal pipe or a stopped vs an open pipe. Even the so-called reed stops like an Oboe, Trumpet or Clarinet were poor imitations. Close examination of the reed design in many cases would reveal that the shape of the brass tongue was anything but straight, some having an interesting curve from the point of attachment to its tip. This treatment of the curve of the tip was interesting. I very closely examined the curve of the brass tongues and tips on many different stops from many different organ manufactureres and was astonished at how subtle these differences were, yet yielded a differrent tone. The Estey I owned (and also the one that is available as a sample set) had ten full compass sets of reeds. Quite large for reed organs. The Great had a Dulciana and an Open Diapason (also a 16' Clarionet and an 8' Trumpet). Examination of the Dulciana reed compared to the Open Diapason reed showed that both had a curved tip that looked exactly the same to me (obviously it wasn't) but the Dulciana reed tongue was significantly narrower. The very very large scaled 16' Open Diapason on the pedal was a straight reed, no curves, but had weighted ends. You could see the scratches on the weighted tip, probably by the voicer removing metal to tune it. The cheaper sounding reed organs did not have such complicated curvatures similar to this Estey pedal stop but throughout the manual reed stops,

I can't imagine how difficult it must have been to "voice" these things. It is an art formm I am afaraid, that is probably lost forever.

Lastly, reed organ manufactures resorted to fanciful names probably to avoid the criticism of the fact that it was not a good imitation of the original stop or just for sensationalism. Voix Jubilante, Clarionet, Cremona, Sax Horn, Violetta.

Comparing reed organ sounds over the internet does not do justice to the instrument but I cn say generally that it is a fine sounding instrument. I always thought that Bell and Dominium (both from Canada) made the finest sounding reed organs. I used to have a one manual Bell, with one set of reeds but had access to a two manual Bell that had 18 stops ( no pedals) which was the finest reed organ I ever heard. This was the instrument that I was referring to that had the outstanding "reed" stop called a Cremona ( top half) Euphone (bottom half). It made for a superd solo stop when used with the Vox Humana (the rotating fan). This is also the instrument that had the 2' Piccolo (top half) SaxHorn (bottom half) I was referring to that went right up to the top note. I can't imagine how difficult it must have been to make and voice these reeds.

If anybody could find one of those I would be thrilled if it could be sampled. Reed organs are fading away fast. Take the immense three and four manual Sawyer reed organs that had upward of 5000 reeds. The only thing left is a photograph. This is a travesty.

Antoni
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