photograph of the 32-foot pipes of the Royal Albert Hall
Organ featured on the cover of our August 2002 Journal
reminded me of the massive 32-foot bottom C pipe of the Brisbane
City Hall organ. It is a full length pipe and to install
it the builders, Hill Norman and Beard, placed the
foot of it in a storeroom underneath the main organ
chamber. I suspect from the absence of any similarlength
pipes that it is a Diaphone probably covering the
lower half of the bottom octave.
R. Boughem OBE, the City Organist, allowed me the
privilege of amusing myself with it for an hour or two
much to the delight of some Japanese tourists. I think
from my days at Rye that there must be more photographs
of the back of my head in Japan than anywhere else in the
far as I could ascertain the organ was built around the
beginning of the last century as a 4-manual instrument.
It was shipped out to Australia but never installed until
the early 1930s when the City Hall was built. Previously
there was not a hall large enough for it. Its fifth
manual was added when it was installed. The manual layout
follows theatre organ practice with an orchestral organ
on the fourth manual and the two solo organs, one
enclosed and one not, on the fifth manual. The unenclosed
organ had 8ft and 4ft Tubas and the two together had you
ducking for cover at the console.
I found it a comfortable organ to play with plenty of
playing aids. For instance the general crescendo pedal
could be switched out of action and had a light to show
when it was active. In addition there were 4 swell pedals
and 4 switches which enabled you to couple any swell
pedal to any box. What I did find daunting however was
the row of thirty-two coupler tablets running from one
side of the console to the other.
My favourite piece of console equipment was the music
desk, which could be adjusted by a wooden lattice
arrangement for both distance and height. My neck muscles
were very grateful.
Camber, East Sussex
Editor: - The bottom C of a 32ft Open Diapason is
truly enormous, but each semitone rise in pitch reduces
size surprisingly quickly allowing the remainder of the
bottom octave to be housed within the organ case. A
Diaphone, however, is a stop closely related
to, and is part of, the reed family. They
have thick brass reeds, which have leather faced valves
securely attached to the vibrating end and, when they
vibrate, they open and close an aperture in a wooden
shallot producing its note. This is amplified by a
tapered wooden resonator resembling a Trombone pipe.
Producing prodigious power, they were much loved by
cinema organ builders.
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