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Piston Location for Stepper

Building organ consoles for use with Hauptwerk, adding MIDI to existing consoles, obtaining parts, ...

Piston Location for Stepper

Postby RickC » Mon Apr 15, 2019 12:28 pm

I'm working on implementing pedal pistons, which will include stepper forward and back, and page-turn forward and back. I'd about decided to put the stepper just to the left of the expression, and the page turn to the right of the crescendo. Recently viewed a demo of the Washington National Cathedral organ by George Fergus on YouTube, and clearly the stepper is to the right of the crescendo. Makes me wonder - has anyone an opinion on where it might work best? I doubt there is any kind of standard, is there? On the manuals, I've got it to the left of the divisionals, and I've been happy with it. I'd appreciate any comments and observations from those who have used the stepper from a pedal stud.
Thanks,
Rick
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Re: Piston Location for Stepper

Postby smfrank » Mon Apr 15, 2019 12:35 pm

Seems a lot of church playing uses the left foot more, so to the right of the crescendo would make more sense :)
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Re: Piston Location for Stepper

Postby engrssc » Mon Apr 15, 2019 12:52 pm

It's all about preference. I find the left foot is also more "active". But we use the page turn more than the stepper. So the page turn pistons are on the right, while the stepper pistons are on the left.

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Re: Piston Location for Stepper

Postby Bartfloete » Wed Apr 17, 2019 11:00 am

I would place the forward stepper to the right of the expression pedal - that is where most organs in churches have it.

Pushing the stepper often interferes with pedal playing - you have to distribute the pedal notes so that one foot is free and you have to practice pushing it exactly in the right moment. Therefore, it is very helpful to have it at home in the same place you would have it in churches.

As most organs in churches don't have pistons for page turning, you can put it whereever it is convenient for you.

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Re: Piston Location for Stepper

Postby engrssc » Wed Apr 17, 2019 12:14 pm

Bartfloete wrote:As most organs in churches don't have pistons for page turning


I'm guessing page turning might be more of USA "thing"?

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Re: Piston Location for Stepper

Postby IainStinson » Wed Apr 17, 2019 2:31 pm

I have two expression pedals (right pedal is for the Swell and the left for another division or for a general crescendo). The pistons on either side of the expression pedals, at a higher level than the toe pistons for the Pedal division (a second row), are normally used as follows:

Swell to Pedal | Swell to Great | Expression Pedals | Great to Pedal | Stepper(Advance forward (+1))

The toe pistons which control the couplers are reversible pistons.

There is a picture of console at http://iainstinson.com/images/hauptwerk/hw-2.jpg. The full layout of pistons is at http://iainstinson.com/images/hauptwerk/piston-layout.jpg and http://iainstinson.com/images/hauptwerk/toe-piston-layout.jpg

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Re: Piston Location for Stepper

Postby Andrew Grahame » Wed Apr 17, 2019 10:58 pm

I've just been viewing a video of Olivier Latry at Notre Dame playing the Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor by Bach.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NRVG42lGUkY

His registrations are all managed using the stepper. There's an abundance of pedalboard views throughout the video, and it would appear that there are two stepper advance toe studs - one on each side of the swell pedals. Mostly he presses the one on the right, but there are times where it is clear that he's using the one on the left. There's at least one moment I can recall where he actually uses the right foot on the left toe stud while the left foot is playing low down on the pedalboard. This makes sense, because by keeping the knees together the right leg is already pivoted towards the left. Reaching for a sequencer advance toe stud to the right of the swell shoes at that moment would have involved a greater stretch, but going for the one on the left with the right foot is neater and involves less physical movement. Having an advance toe stud on the left also makes it easier to use the left foot on the toe stud if the right foot is busy on the pedal keys at that moment.

Duplication of the stepper advance on both sides of the swells makes sense to me. I am planning some changes which will involve relocation of the toe studs plus installation of new swell shoes on my console. At present I have the stepper toe stud as the first one immediately to the right of the crescendo pedal and I intend to keep this. The idea of duplicating it on the other side is something which I am now considering. I already have stepper thumb pistons on both sides of the piston rails on all the manuals - flanking the divisional pistons - so the idea of doing the same with the toe studs is appealing.

Meanwhile, as has already been noted, the page turn could reasonably be put anywhere else for convenience. I am considering adding a page turn piston even though at this stage I don't use a digital music display, but perhaps one day I will.

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Re: Piston Location for Stepper

Postby Bartfloete » Thu Apr 18, 2019 5:54 am

I can only confirm Andrew's post from my experiences with consoles in churches. During the last few years I have seen several consoles with much more thumb and toe pistons for the forward stepper than for the backward stepper. This is rather convenient as you use the forward stepper more frequently and from different playing positions.

In my HW setup I had two toe pistons installed, one for the forward and one for the backward stepper - I have changed that a few years ago and use both for the forward stepper. I still have two thumb pistons for the backward stepper, but I almost never use them. I think there are suggestions from the community to make more pistons for the forward stepper available in the HW software than the four we have now.

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Re: Piston Location for Stepper

Postby Mixtuur4st » Thu Apr 18, 2019 6:12 am

I think there are suggestions from the community to make more pistons for the forward stepper available in the HW software than the four we have now.


In this case there is no need to: all the switches you use for the same function can be hardware connected to each other, so you only need one midi-generating device. Hence only once in the HW software.

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Re: Piston Location for Stepper

Postby Andrew Grahame » Thu Apr 18, 2019 6:21 am

That's right. In my console there are 8 stepper forward thumb pistons - 2 to each of the 4 manuals. They are all hard-wired in parallel and thus connect to a single MIDI input. The stepper advance toe stud is on a separate input. Hauptwerk also offers a second pair of controls for the stepper and I use them for Launchpad buttons. Above the 4th manual I have another row of pistons, and that's where I keep the 2 stepper back pistons - one on each side of the general pistons - also wired together in parallel.
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