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Too Much of the Organ Inclosed in the Swell-Box.

The late Hilborne L. Roosevelt, who was unquestionably progressive, originated the pernicious custom of inclosing all the great organ except the Diapasons, to the utter destruction of the true character of that manual. He rightly felt the need of greater crescendo effect, but he went the wrong way to get it. This quickly extended to the entire organ. The infection spread to England, and we are inundated by lengthy letters on the absurd proposition of pedal basses in swell-boxes. We are still suffering from this plague here, for every player wants his choir organ inclosed, oftentimes involving destruction of good effect in the whole organ by crowding and bad placing, to make room for this stupid excrescence, the choir swell-box.

Frequently a portion of the great organ is made to share the box with the choir organ, so that if, as often happens in modern organ-music, the great organ and choir are being played together in independent use, the player cannot strengthen one part without its affecting the other part also,—of course, entirely inartistic in design as well as in service. Again I say, if these details are studied out, to know what they involve, they would never be advocated.

Here is also another consideration. Many of the small scaled stops are robbed of their beauty by inclosing them in a swell-box, doubly robbing them in this way. If they are permitted to speak naturally, as they should do, they become uselessly soft, and if they are forced, as they must be, they lose the bloom of their natural coloring. By all means cover your Bassoons, Clarinets, and Oboes, and some strings if you like, but this bottling up of the entire organ is meaningless, and worse than a bad chamber.—Carlton C. Michell, in the Organist and Choirmaster.

 

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