Choice of Real Pipe Organ Accompaniments

Replacement of Electronic Pipe Organ Accompaniments

Some of the original hymn accompaniments recorded in Phase I at Bias Recording Studio were electronic keyboard simulations of pipe organs. That was because at that time the only practical thing that could be easily brought into the studio was electronic keyboards. (That is changing with the advent of computer software based on sampled real pipe organs, and the growing number of great samples from different pipe organs around the world.)

In consultations with Ms. Gerber-Salins between Phase I and II planning how to improve the Phase I recorded materials of "Hymns and Songs of My Mother", we agreed the simulated pipe organ accompaniments were a considerable weaknesses in the sound quality of the recording.

In phase II, in coordination with Mr. Bill McElroy who became the Phase II Associate Producer, he identified it was reasonably practical to make an on-site recording of a local pipe organ in Ashland to replace those known weak simulated pipe organ accompaniments.

There are at least two candidate pipe organs in Ashland churches. The final choice was to record the Schribner-Keeble Memorial pipe organ at Duncan Memorial United Methodist Church, on the campus of Randolph-Macon College, Ashland, Virginia.

Many thanks are extended to the Duncan Memorial United Methodist Church for working out arrangements with Mr. McElroy that allowed us to make the on-site recording of their pipe organ as the accompanying pipe organ instrument on this album. The Scribner-Keeble Memorial Pipe Organ has 35 ranks and 2,086 pipes. It was installed by the Schantz Pipe Organ company of Orrville, Ohio.

FYI - It was as part of arranging for those recordings with the minister that we saw the church's set of handbells temporarily in the minister's office and were reminded how distinctively appealing those sounds could be. That led to adding handbells to 2 of the hymns. See How Did Handbells Get Included.

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Technical Details for Recording the Schribner-Keeble Memorial Pipe Organ

The design of the Duncan Memorial United Methodist Church is a rather standard large, high ceiling rectangle. At the front of the worship area of the church, perhaps losely considered the altar or chancel section of the church, there are two large enclosured areas on each side, creating a narrowed altar/chancel area in the center. Those two enclosed areas adjacent to the altar/chancel area at the front of the church contain two levels of rooms. Both first level enclosed areas provide rooms for use by the alter/chancel area. The two levels above those rooms contain pipes for the pipe organ.

The live recording was made using two different microphone placement concepts within the church.

First. The pipe organ chambers in Duncan Memorial United Methodist church are located in three (3) areas high above the alter/chancel area:

In order to capture the dominant tracks as relatively "dry" (meaning with little room echo), four microphones on separate recording tracks were placed high in the alter/chancel close to each set of pipes. Two were placed on each side of the chancel, high and close to the pipe chambers. That also meant two of the microphones were close to the exposed pipes on the wall of the chancel facing the congregation.

Second. To capture room ambience, two microphones were placed midway in the sanctuary (the main body/the nave of the church) to record a stereo sound of the organ with room reverberations. All tracks were mixed to create the final warm sound representing this very fine pipe organ.


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