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For over sixteen years the most stable and extensive resource on the Internet for pipe and electronic organs
The hub of this site is the Complete Articles page which gives you instant access to many detailed articles dealing with numerous technical aspects of both pipe and electronic organs. Use the Google search box below to quickly identify areas of interest. While browsing, why not also listen to over 4 Ĺ hours of music played on the three manual organ below and the Prog Organ virtual pipe organ here?
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!! NEW ARTICLE !! - 'Handel's Temperament' revisited
In about 1780 a description was published in London of what has become known as 'Handel's Tuning' or 'Handel's Temperament' Although the association with Handel has little foundation, this article suggests that it is worth revisiting the temperament attributed to him for several other reasons. One is the unfortunate fact that many modern realisations of it are wrong because they are incompatible with the complete set of tuning instructions given. These illuminate tuning practices at a time when beat counting was uncommon and, while therefore vague on detail, they nevertheless incorporate an explicit set of overarching constraints which place definite bounds on the possible outcomes. In particular, all fifths must be flat rather than pure or sharpened, and all thirds must be considerably sharp. It is therefore regrettable that the modern realisations of this temperament which are embodied in electronic tuning devices are mostly wrong because they incorporate pure fifths. It is also impossible to conclude, as some authors have done, that the temperament was just another variation on the meantone tunings which were common at that time in Britain. On the contrary, it is difficult to see how the temperament can be other than a mildly unequal one. Consequently it probably lies on the haphazard path which ultimately led to equal temperament in the nineteenth century rather than being merely another example of an already-outmoded meantone approach, although the temperament itself is not equal because the tuning instructions also dictate that the fifths should differ in their deviations from pure.
The frustratingly unfocused tuning instructions nevertheless allow for several subtle variations in realising a version of the temperament, and therefore I took advantage of this to produce my own which is described in the article. It addresses the tuning instructions at a level of detail not found elsewhere, providing a reading which I therefore believe to be novel. The outcome is a pleasing well temperament with a range of subtle key colours which can render music in any key. Because of the imprecision of the tuning instructions it is not possible to interpret them in a single, unequivocal fashion - the best that can be done is to come up with one of several possible variations on the theme of 'mildly unequal'. That described here is represented as a set of deviations from equal temperament for each note in the scale, a format which is well suited to most of today's electronic tuning devices and apps, thus it should be reasonably simple to evaluate in practice.
The picture above is of a test rig used for experiments on pipe organ valves, such as those described in the articles entitled Calculating Pallet Size, Touch Relief in Mechanical Actions and Response Speed of Electric Actions. These can also be accessed from the Complete Articles page where summaries are also available.
This electronic organ is a dual purpose instrument containing both "straight" and "theatre" voices, designed and made by the author. It is tuned to the author's Dorset Temperament with the addition of some impure octaves as described in Keyboard Temperaments with Impure Octaves. A full specification is available for download here (PDF file, 117 kB).
The things they say:
These recordings span some years and they were made in various rooms and auditoria. The older tracks were made using analogue equipment and some were recorded acoustically using microphones, hence the occasional noises due to piston thuds and page turns, etc. Other tracks were captured electrically. All are of real players performing in real time - no synthetic MIDI 'performances' here. I have not got round yet to normalising the volume settings of all the tracks so they are compatible with each other, therefore you might wish to adjust the volume between tracks depending on which ones you select. Do not be alarmed if some tracks appear to start with an excessive noise level - this simply means they were recorded at a higher level than others. Just turn the volume down to suit. In any case, it is a wise precaution to always begin playing each track at a low level to protect your audio equipment and your ears from unexpectedly high signal levels when the music begins. Although the instrument has 13 ranks of theatre organ voices in addition to its 'straight' sounds (see specification), copyright considerations preclude the inclusion of much theatre-style music here. Playing time 1 hour 35 mins approx.
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