Upcoming Performances

November 18, 2018
4:00 pm Central

Guest recitalist, St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Columbus, Miss.

December 4, 2018
8:00 pm Eastern

Organist, Appalachian Chorale, Rosen Concert Hall, Appalachian State University

February 12, 2019
8:00 pm Eastern

Organ-plus-one concert with ASU faculty, Rosen Concert Hall, Appalachian State University

April 28, 2019
3:00 pm Eastern

Guest recitalist, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Kingsport, Tenn.

May 5, 2019
Guest recitalist, St. Paul's Cathedral, Des Moines, Iowa

June 21-26, 2020
Worship Organist, Fellowship of United Methodists in Music and Worship Arts, Lake Junaluska, N.C.

Entries in The perfect console (2)


The perfect console, part 2

Wonderful comments are coming in about The Perfect Console. Here are a few more theses for my Lutheran-style posting on the doors of organ builders:

26. Drawers installed under a stop jamb tend to serve only two purposes: a) contain important gadgetry that you can't reach in the heat of battle; b) destroy your knees when you enter/exit the bench.

27. Key cheek pistons are OK, I suppose. But are they really necessary if we have room for drawknobs and generals to do what we need to do? And if key cheek pistons are installed on every manual, then there's nothing to hang onto during pedal solos.

28. Clarifying my original thesis regarding sub-octave coupling: I'm not advocating for extensions on all ranks. That would be foolishly expensive and space-hogging. I am suggesting that certain stops make use of the lowest 12 notes of other similarly-voiced stops that have those pipes available. Examples: when sub-coupled, the 8' flute could make use of the low 12 notes of the existing 16' bourdon. When sub-coupled, the 8' string could use the lowest 12 notes of the 16' violone. The 8' trumpet could go into the 16' fagott. And so forth.

29. From Part 1: "If there is only one expression shoe, it should be located in the center, not right of center. The right foot is not the only foot that is often required to move the box." I should add that it is most inconvenient for a lone shoe to be recessed into the console so that it is "boxed in" and you must literally "insert" your foot STRAIGHT into the recession to get to the shoe. That wastes precious time, removes the other foot from being considered for box operation, and it turns the kick board black from all the "missed approaches."


The perfect console, part 1

Those of us who play lots of consoles become console snobs, whether we mean to or not. On the other hand, WHY, OH WHY do some builders continue to do things on consoles that just aren't useful?? And in that same vein, why, oh why do churches and builders allow the incumbent organist to design a dream console (or dream instrument, for that matter) that the next organist won't appreciate as much or be able to use as well? One of these days, I'm going to dress up as Martin Luther and tack the following 25 theses to the doors of many organ builders:

1. General piston toe studs must match thumb layout. It is completely illogical to arrange those in different configurations or to have a different number of studs than thumbs. It is much more efficient to hit the “third piston on the top” with thumb or toe than it is to hunt for the correct number among two different configurations.

2. Five or so Generals on the right-hand side would be nice. They must be duplicated on toe studs, too, and also on the right-hand side – see above.

3. Memory level up/down controls needs to be on thumb pistons WITHIN REACH. It’s nice to have them on toe studs, as well.

4. Piston sequencers for the page turner need to be on both sides of the console and completely out of the organist’s way.

5. Thumb pistons should be round, not square. There is no such thing as a square thumb. And thumb pistons should have a diameter greater than that of a shirt button.

6. Ventils on electric consoles are absolutely useless and are usually laughably, distantly located.

7. LCD readouts are too slow to change and too hard to read at an angle.

8. Box position gauges are nice, so long as they are accurate.

9. Make sub-couplers create a real lower octave by wiring the appropriate stops to lower-pitched stops already installed. 8-foots could descend into 16; 4-foots could descend into 8', etc.

10. Make standard: I/II transfer, piston sequencer, detachable cables for movable consoles.

11. See. No. 1 again, just to refresh your memory.

12. Pedalboard and music rack lights should come on with the blower, but they should also have manual switches to achieve darkness during Holy Week services.

13. Manual keys, pedals, and expression shoes need to be weighted, not merely stiff. And none of them should ever be hair-triggery. And the weighted-ness of all these needs to be about the same. It is silly to have feather-light keys and pedals, only to have to throw hips out of joint to move an expression shoe.

14. Expression shoes should be located BEHIND pedal sharps, along the natural arc that the knee joint creates. It is absolutely ludicrous to have to twist one's leg sideways to get a foot up onto an expression shoe.

15. If there is only one expression shoe, it should be located in the center, not right of center. The right foot is not the only foot that is often required to move the box.

16. Boxes should have movement across the entire range of motion of expression shoes.

17. Allow some extra play in the Crescendo shoe before the first stage engages. Better for the shoe to have some “forgiveness” built in when it is accidentally grazed in performance.

18. Organists need spacious key cheeks to hang onto for dear life during pedal solos. Let’s not install drawknobs too close to the cheeks.

19. Install no locks requiring keys. Keychains will swing while hanging from a lock and scratch whatever they’re rubbing against.

20. Pencil troughs are nice to have below the coupler rail, above the top manual.

21. Every bench is too tall for some short person. And every bench is too short for some tall person. Solution: make it really short, and provide a crank AND bench blocks. If the crank doesn’t crank it up far enough, add the blocks. If the crank doesn’t lower it enough, remove the blocks.

22. AGO Standard is nice, but there is no such thing as an AGO standard body.

23. Low C and high G of the pedalboard must be unimpeded by stud mounts or console frame construction. It is not encouraging to go for low C with authority, only to hit General 26 or the console frame instead.

24. Include a large plate glass on top of the console cabinet. You’ll need it to protect the console from the inevitable choir folder, Kleenex box, Coke can, and CCTV equipment.

25. See. No. 1 one more time, just to be sure.

In closing, see No. 1.