Welcome to Frank's Semi-Musical Web Page
:: Modules
· Home
· Web Links

Abbott & Smith Organ, Christian Science Church, Leeds, UK.

(2018 total words in this text)
(362 reads)   

excerpted from "The Organ", No. 69, July:1938

The Organ in First Church of Christ, Scientist, Headingley, Leeds
By Frank Bevers

"...So far as the specification is concerned the organ at the Headingley Church is unique. The console is of new design, and is most comfortable to play. It has thirty-six toe and thumb pistons, of which twenty-eight (that is, all except the reversibles) are adjustable at the console at special switchboards. An unusual feature regarding the adjustable action is the fact that couplers can be placed on the pistons if required. The pedalboard with its thirty-two notes and real ebony sharps -- not mere "facings" -- is placed centrally with regard to the manuals, and the centre of the three swell pedals is placed slightly to the right of the centre of the knee board. The indicators are placed in a corresponding position over the fourth manual behind a glass panel. The stop-key control was designed by the organist of the church in an attempt (which has proved quite successful) to avoid similarity with the cinema organ and its arc of stop-keys. The stop tablets are placed vertically in the jambs, these being at an angle of 60 degrees to the keyboards. Each tablet has a projection at the upper and lower ends, and the movement is about half-an-inch. A downward touch of the finger puts them on, and an upward movement takes them off. The stop tablets show white when off, and as the upper projection is coloured red it is easy to see when the stops are on. A general cancel piston is placed on the right jamb at the side of the starter, facilitating "clearing the board" when leaving the instrument. From the console which is placed at one side of the church, the organist has a full view of the platform, and the position is ideal for hearing the organ and soloist.

FIRST ORGAN (Diapason)
16' Double Diapason
8' Major Diapason
8' Minor Diapason
8' Stopped Diapason
8' Salicional
4' Major Principal
4' Minor Principal
2-2/3' Twelfth
2' Fifteenth
Spare slide
Second to First
Third to First
First Combinations to Pedal Pistons

SECOND ORGAN (Accompaniment)
8' Geigen Principal
8' Rohr Flote
8' Viola da Gamba
8' Voix Celeste (to AA)
4' Gemshorn
4' Flute
8' Oboe
8' Vox Humana
Second Super
Second Sub
Second Unison off
Third to Second
Fourth to Second

THIRD ORGAN (Orchestral)
16' Quintaton
8' Viol d'Orchestre
8' Orchestral Flute
4' Concert Flute
III Harmonics
II Harmonics
2' Harmonic Piccolo
16' Contra Fagotto
16' Double Clarinet (from 8')
8' Clarinet
8' Horn
8' Orchestral Oboe
8' Tuba
Third Super
Third Sub
Third Unison off

8' Flauto Traverso
8' Dulciana
8' Vox Angelica
8' Unda Maris (to AA)
4' Flute d'Amour
Fourth Super
Fourth Sub

32' Sub Bourdon (from Bourdon)
16' Open Diapason
16' Violone
16' Bourdon
8' Octave (from Diapason)
8' Cello (from Violone)
8' Flute (from Bourdon)
16' Quintaton (from Third)
16' Fagotto (from Third)
16' Clarinet(from Third)
Spare slide
First to Pedal
Second to Pedal
Third to Pedal
Fourth to Pedal

Thumb pistons:
5 to First, 5 to Second, 5 to Third, 3 to Fourth
Reversible: First to Pedal, Second to First, Third to First, Tuba

Toe pistons:
5 to Pedal, 5 to Third
Reversible: First to Pedal, Second to First, Third to First, Tuba

Balanced Pedals
1 to Second, 1 to Third, 1 to Fourth, Crescendo

Electro-pneumatic Action, Detached Console.

The pedal organ comprises three independent ranks of pipes and three ranks borrowed from the manuals. Space has been left for an extra stop to be added at some future time. The Bourdon is very quiet, and is extended upwards and downward, giving the 8 ft. flute and 32 ft. sub-bourdon, the latter a real 32 ft. effect instead of the more usual acoustical makeshift. the diapason is extended to form the octave, and is a fine metal stop, having a telling voice giving a good foundation for the louder effects on the manuals. The violone with its 8 ft. extension is also of metal, and is of pungent string quality. This stop adds "point" to any pedal passage and is especially useful in combination with the string effects on the manuals. Of the borrowed stops, the quintaton, clarinet and fagotto, all of which are 16 ft. stops, are borrowed from the third organ, and being in a swell box make some degree of expression possible on the pedal organ. The quintaton adds fullness in combination with the bourdon and its derivatives, and is a useful addition to the pedal organ before one adds the more weighty violone or diapason. The fagotto, especially with the box open, makes its presence felt, though not obtrusively as would a trombone; and as the box can be adjusted to the tonal requirements, the stop has proved a most useful addition to the pedal organ. The clarinet is a most delicate reed and can be used in combination or as a solo voice. This pedal department is very interesting, and though unusual has to be heard to be properly appreciated.

The diapason department contains two diapasons and two principals. The smaller diapason with its principal was designed to act as a miniature great organ; and its chorus can be effectively completed by coupling the third organ to the first and drawing the three-rank harmonics. The effect of this smaller chorus is charming indeed, and the harmonics being in a box can be adjusted to a nicety. The larger diapason chorus comprises double, major diapason, major principal, twelfth and fifteenth, and floods the church with glorious organ tone, the twelfth and fifteenth adding a touch of silver to the combination. No coupling is necessary in order to obtain a fine effect. The stopped diapason was specially inserted to be of use in combination rather than as a solo voice, and the department receives a touch of string tone with the salicional. A fine department, no matter whether the stops are considered individually or in combination.

To design an organ on paper is one thing, but whether the result justifies the means is another; and it is particularly in the creation of the third and second organs that the close collaboration of builder and organist is most evident, and the results are very happy. As I wrote previously, on the second organ there are no heavy pressure reeds. This organ comprises soft flue work together with oboe and vox humana. The geigen principal is a gem, and one plays upon it by itself without tiring. The true geigen quality is there: add the gemshorn and observe the fine blend of the stop. The flutes and the viol are charming, and give scop for countless combinations. The oboe forms a good solo stop, and is, of course, available for use with full second organ to give a miniature "swell" effect with or without sub or super couplers. This "up to oboe" effect with the couplers is remarkably fine, and when used in conjunction with, or in contrast to, the reeds on the third organ the possibilities are observed to be immense, effects being available which are impossible in an organ as normally designed.

The contra fagotto, horn and five-rank harmonics are the most important stops on the third organ. Here is the "full swell" effect. On the orthodox type of organ these stops, along with those of the second organ, would have been on one manual and termed "swell organ." It is interesting to try the horn with sub and super coupled to the second organ with sub and super, then fagotto and horn coupled to second organ with sub and super. Though the third organ is sub-headed "orchestral," it must not be imagined that we think our "horn" is a replica of the orchestral instrument of that name. Similarly, we do not expect you to tun to your text-books to see what sort of instruments the quintaton and five-rank harmonics are, and then write to the editor about it. No! The sub headings simply are an attempt at a general description of the departments a little more closely than usual, and in this we feel we have succeeded. The possession of two 16 ft. reeds, the fagotto and the clarinet, is unusual, and along with the quintaton they are borrowed to the pedal. It would have been foolish not to have done so, and though the quintaton is not an ideal pedal stop when compared with, say, a double dulciana, yet its voice was required on the third organ, and it useful in combination on the pedals, so it was made available as a borrowed stop. The clarinet is the only extended stop in the organ with the usual exception of the pedal organ.

The orchestral oboe is a plaintive stop -- a beautiful reed -- and a close imitation of the orchestral instrument. The tuba is not as big as is usually understood by the term. This word to many people means a stop speaking out into the building unchecked by any restraining influence of swell box shutters, "topping the organ" with glorious sound. Well! There may be buildings and opportunities for the use of such a stop, places where such a riotous extravagance of noise has a place, but even so it is difficult to see why such hefty fellows do not have the pleasure of being in a box and able to bellow a little louder when the organist sees fit to open the shutters. The tuba on this organ can be satisfactorily added to the diapason chorus, or can be used as a contrast to the other reeds on the third organ. Moreover, being on a moderate pressure of wind when comapred with some of the modern examples, it was not found necessary to tie it down to the soundboard. The family of flutes -- orchestral flute 8 ft. of wood and metal, concert flute 4 ft. of wood, and the harmonic piccolo 2 ft. of metal -- complete this department. They are useful as solo stops, but are capable of exquisite effects in combination.

The fourth organ is the echo department, and has brought tears of joy to the eyes of at least one listener for whom I played. Fine as is the rest of the organ, even superlatives fail to do justice to this lovely section of the instrument. With the shutters open, the fourth organ is soft, but with the box closed the effect is truly aetherial. The dulciana reminds one of Moffat's translation of the "still small voice" as "the breath of a light whisper." It is a magical tiny diapason. The vox angelica is a miniature string; its delicate voice making possible a beautiful diminuendo when played upon after the viol da gamba on the second organ. The only wood stop on the fourth organ, the flauto traverso, is a flute which differs from any other in the organ both in tonal quality and power.

The build-up of tone in various families is interesting. In the diapason family, a gradual growth can be obtained with skilful use of swell box shutters from the dulciana on the fourth organ, through the geigen principal and gemshorn on the second manual to minor diapason and minor principal on the first, with harmonics from the third organ leading to the major diapason and other stops of the diapason chorus. In the string group, a start can be made with the vox angelica, then to the viol da gamba, salicional, and, finally, to viol d'orchestre on the third organ. Flutes also have possibilities by starting from the flauto traverso, then adding the flutes of the second organ, then those of the third organ (including the quintaton and piccolo) and then the stopped diapason on the first organ.

[ Back to 01. Pipe Organ Materials | Main Index ]