French harmonium

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L.Palo
Posts: 57
Joined: Sun Feb 22, 2009 7:30 pm
Location: Sweden
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French harmonium

Postby L.Palo » Thu Nov 24, 2011 10:06 pm

Hi!

I've got a suggestion for a project I'd find very interesting. Complete, note for note, sampling of a standard french harmonium of the kind César Franck composed L'Organiste for. Loads of other music also made for such instruments. Here in Sweden we have lots of harmoniums also, but it would be great to have an original french one sampled for GrandOrgue (and possibly other formats). Wouldn't that be nice as a new Jeux d'orgues set?

I'd be very much interested in helping with production of such a sampleset if someone can record quality (at least 24/48) samples.

Kind regards

Lars P

CatOrg
Posts: 35
Joined: Thu Jul 21, 2011 1:45 pm

Re: French harmonium

Postby CatOrg » Fri Nov 25, 2011 3:26 pm

Dear Lars,

The french harmonium is very sensitive to "expression".

Here a recording that lets hear what should be an harmonium - definitely nothing for Old Sister Bigbeak:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MMYsDHdFE-A
and as you can hear, the color of the sound changes with dynamic:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cOwqaUU6QSs

The deal would be make a controller with two pedals that resist (more) to the feet-pressure (when speed increases). Something like a windpressurecontroller from saxophone-controllers. Worth the deal (There is good music for harmonium, not only Franck).

And I dont know if GrandOrgue accept dynamik.

Without dynamik, this is not worth, there are still enough vacuum-harmoniums everywhere, and the harmonium music was written for harmonium d'art (pressure).

L.Palo
Posts: 57
Joined: Sun Feb 22, 2009 7:30 pm
Location: Sweden
Contact:

Re: French harmonium

Postby L.Palo » Sat Nov 26, 2011 9:03 pm

Hi!

Yes, I know about the dynamic of the "expression" (that's one of the things that made the instrument popular). But I also know that it's perfectly possible to disable the expression if one wished. (The expression actually disabled the reservoir so that the player feeded the air directly to the reeds, but wihout expression the reservoire bellow made sure to have a steady tone during playing) The use of expression is clearly marked in the scores and this feature is likely not possible to exactly mimic, though it's possible that in the future a special form of enclosure with expression pedal could imitate this different colouring of the sound (and nuance shading).

Still, I'd be very interested to have the sound of the french harmonium sampled even if it's in a more "organ like" setting. I think it could be interesting and useful with the peculiar stop divisions that makes that music understandable, and also thus gives the organist a hint of how that music could be realized on a "normal" organ.

Kind regards

Lars P

CatOrg
Posts: 35
Joined: Thu Jul 21, 2011 1:45 pm

Re: French harmonium

Postby CatOrg » Sat Nov 26, 2011 9:19 pm

Dear Lars,

if you ask some harmonium specialists/virtuoses (really specialists like this J. Michel in the given links), they will all tell you that an harmonium is not worth when there is no expression. You can of course have the expression and genouillères through normal swell-pedals (and why not real genouillères), this would be anyway better than no expr. Please dont forget that the harmonium is also an improvisation instrument. Then man in the recordings in the links improvises almost ever with expr.

For a french 4 1/2, I would be surely one of your followers!

Francois

CatOrg
Posts: 35
Joined: Thu Jul 21, 2011 1:45 pm

Re: French harmonium

Postby CatOrg » Sun Nov 27, 2011 3:19 pm

Dear Lars,

After a night thinking of it.... Some thoughts about expression

1 I admit that expression needs some practice. This feature is mostly ignored by hobby harmonium-players, because this is highly responsive and let hear all what you do with your feet.

2 Why two pedals for expression and not one swell-pedal? Because every dynamic is immediately at hand (at feet), all the time, with 2 pedals (press both feet Ped hard and you get immediately an fff just after a ppp). With a swell-pedal you need all the way between ppp and fff. Even if the effect would be limitated (the fff-sound of a french harmonium is far more metallic than the average sound of a free reed; and the volume range in midi has only 127 values) in a first virtual harmonium, this would be a very interesting feature.

3 I do suppose this is quite easy to do with two swell pedals connected to a micro-controller that analyzes the movements of the pedals

This would make this feature independant from the soundfont and also usable for a VPO and even a Harpsichord :oops: for experiments. Unforunately, I have almost no idea of pic-programming....

L.Palo
Posts: 57
Joined: Sun Feb 22, 2009 7:30 pm
Location: Sweden
Contact:

Re: French harmonium

Postby L.Palo » Sun Nov 27, 2011 9:15 pm

Well, my first thought was most of getting the sound experience (even if admittedly not the exact playing experience) of how the music written for such instruments might sound. This is important to understand how to translate the pieces to another instrument like for instance the organ. (The division of the stops, their numbering vs. actual name and foot pitch etc)

But on the other hand, it should be possible to make the expression effect purely in software from the input of two midi controllers that's continually read... The speed of change translates to actual nuance. But this is possibly something that doesn't really need to be the first things to sort out.

I'd guess that for sampling it's best to disable expression to get a more even tone (that's easier to loop also...) and have it as strong as possible during recording.

For me, implementing the mechanical noise and action of the foot pedals/feeders would be of later consideration as it's quite unique.

Kind regards

Lars P


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