Many times over the last twenty years, our firm has been asked to design an organ for a church of modest size, with limited budget or space constraints. Fully one third of our production has been instruments with fewer than fifteen ranks of pipes.
Organs of "unit" design have been looked on with scorn over the years, yet we believe there are many situations where a well-designed organ with some carefully unified voices can be very effective. And while there are those who would champion a one-manual instrument if funds are short, we believe most organists are more comfortable at a console with two manuals and pedals. It goes almost without saying that many organists would prefer a small pipe organ to an electronic substitute.
It then becomes the problem of the builder to come up with a practical stoplist that results in the most organ allowable by the space and budget. We begin by approaching the room thinking about what size of straight Principal ensemble will be required to effectively lead the congregational singing. Inclusion of these stops is imperative if the organ is to have a full, rich and complex sound with correct inner voice leading, unlike typical "unit" organs.
We minimize the number of times each rank is used, and avoid nearly all appearances of the same rank at adjacent (8' & 4', for example) pitches on the same manual. Bold voicing, using variable scaling techniques, gives stops individual character in different ranges.
Waverly Road Presbyterian Church in Kingsport, Tennessee, is an excellent example of fitting the size of the organ to the budget and space limitations of the church. The former organ was installed in a chamber to the left of the chancel, with a tone opening near the ceiling. Much of the organ sound was lost before it ever got into the church. Even though the room only seats about 300, the chancel was deep, and the choir, singing from a divided position, was not heard well.
In a major redesign of the nave, it was decided to place the organ in a free standing case across the back wall of the chancel. This required that the choir be placed forward, facing the congregation, resulting in a much better dispersion of sound.
The organ has fifteen ranks of pipes and with the exception of the Great and Pedal Principal stops, is totally under expression within the case. A 16' Principal, the lowest several notes of which are installed horizontally, gives a firm foundation for the rich sound of the rest of the organ. Independent Principal, Octave and Mixture ranks on the Great are complemented by two Flutes, Gemshorn and Celeste, Quinte, Tierce, Trompette and Oboe. Careful selection of the ranks and pitches used on each manual, has resulted in two divisions of essentially "straight" design, which complement and contrast with each other.
|2 2/3'||Nasard TC|
|1 3/5'||Tierce TC||37||Pipes|
|SWELL - |
|8'||Gemshorn Celeste TC||49||Pipes|