Opinions on pneumatic organ actions

Posted by: ROMagister

Opinions on pneumatic organ actions - 08/14/12 12:51 PM

Hello all - I wonder what opinions you have on late 19th century (and some early 20th) pneumatic action pipe organs. Overlapping or not with the "Romantic" concepts of the time.

In many parts of Romania and Eastern Europe (esp. the Austrian-Hungarian space) they have been a norm at a time communities had the money and interest to buy a state-of-the-art organ, and that's what they are stuck with until now...
I presume the corresponding time-money-technology window was much narrower in UK and US, and in West Europe the few examples have been rebuilt with electric actions ?


Con
- Substantial delay from key to attack, sometimes unpredictably different between keys, so
- Needing to decouple finger-concept from ear and its feedback
- Lower reliability, more complex/expensive maintenance so
- Often in poorer shape now than simpler mechanical action organs, even centuries older

- Usually less or no 'fractional' pipe lengths (3rd, 5th harmonics, even mixtures). That's from the ideals of the era ? nothing inherently in pneumatic action against that.

Pro
- Allows wider timbral palettes, louder stops without becoming heavy on fingers
- First historical ways to achieve octave couplers, preset combinations, crescendo and other gadgets

Would any experienced organist here prefer to play a pneumatic action instead of electric action, if same gadgets were offered ? [I don't mean just for exploring the spirit of a bygone era...]
Posted by: apple*

Re: Opinions on pneumatic organ actions - 08/14/12 01:08 PM

Originally Posted By: ROMagister

Would any experienced organist here prefer to play a pneumatic action instead of electric action, if same gadgets were offered ? [I don't mean just for exploring the spirit of a bygone era...]


no. maybe for fun tho.
Posted by: Vectistim

Re: Opinions on pneumatic organ actions - 08/16/12 07:52 AM

A lot of UK churches have had pneumatic actions replaced with something more reliable.

One of my two churches back home had a pneumatic action, the thumb pistons only half worked, the mixture had leaks from its action so it was handy if you wanted the effect of a gale and the wind blowing.
Posted by: TimR

Re: Opinions on pneumatic organ actions - 08/20/12 02:05 PM

Seems like it would be easier to add midi to the electric?

The organ at our church is not midi capable (though it is an electric action) and that is a huge disadvantage.
Posted by: ROMagister

Re: Opinions on pneumatic organ actions - 09/13/12 03:37 PM

From the Romanian Repertoire of Pipe Organs, counted by action:
841 mechanical
7 mechanical with cone valves
2 mechanical with Barker levers
255 pneumatic
17 electro-pneumatic
11 electric
1 combined
total 1134 pipe organs