• donr
    Posts: 940
    So our little community is finally going to get a new church rather than a little red brick building. The Bishop just gave approval. So now the work continues. I have an uphill battle with trying to make sure that the new structure includes space for an organ.
    The church will be Gothic style so their will be a choir loft in the back of the church.
    In order to assist in the project I volunteered for the building committee.

    The sound engineer for the project has been trying to convince us that we need carpeting, padded pews and sound deadening boards on the walls and ceiling.

    I think an active room is better (although it presents challenges). He has also stated that you don't want an active room because the trend in Catholic Churches is more contemporary music with guitars, smaller choirs and a digital organ maybe but no pipe organ.

    He also stated that the reality is that there simply are not enough organists left any more to play the things anyway.

    This is not word for word but you get the idea.

    I disagree. I have no problem with the arguments but I would like to know what organs should I be looking at. Allen for sure, but whom else.
    My guess is that we will need to start out with a digital (Roland C330 maybe) so we can get started but I want to start working immediately on the real mcCoy.

    any help so I can start making contacts, referrals, and visits are much appreciated.
    I especially want to make sure the space is designed appropriately.

    thank you,
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,582
    I'll message you privately off of the board due to the nature of this.

    But I would gladly publicly thank you for being on your building committee. We need more people who support sacred music to be on such committees.
  • Ben YankeBen Yanke
    Posts: 3,114
    Yes, we need to be involved. Music is an integral part of the liturgy, it's only natural that at least one musical mind be involved in building a church.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,853
    What that sound engineer wants to build for you is a recording studio, not a church. He also doesn't know s#*t about church music.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,100
    I am going to be "Frank". The "Sound Engineer" has no place on your building committee. It is atrocities like this that steer the church away from her patrimony. We don't need the ignorant, uninformed and uneducated to dictate one of the most important aspects of church architecture who have no idea how the proper architecture supports and promotes authentic sacred music.

    Have your pastor call me if you want. I will politely explain the ins and outs to him in a professional manner.

    Keep up the good work.
  • donr
    Posts: 940
    The pastor is on my side and has asked me to be firm in my conviction. So that is a plus.
    The sound engineer is not on our committee but is the hired sound engineer by the engineering consultant who is designing our church. I may have the Building Committee Chair person call you. He is a pretty descent guy who will listen to good arguments.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,100
    donr

    At your service. I have acted as a consultant for various rebuilds and installations over the years.
  • donr
    Posts: 940
    Who should I consult with for an instrument in Phoenix. Right now I just need to make sure the engineer is establishing enough space and structural support (I have no idea how much they weigh, where things are placed, etc). I will not rely on the engineer. I want to make sure its correct.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,853
    Talk with the Allen dealer, if that is the brand you want. They should be able to help you. If you prefer another brand, talk to that dealer. If you have friends in AGO, look there for information.
    Thanked by 1donr
  • henry
    Posts: 206
    Check with the Organ Clearing House. They rescue unwanted pipe organs and may have one just right for your new church building.
  • Ben YankeBen Yanke
    Posts: 3,114
    Don't let the sound engineer push you around.
  • The sound engineer for the project has been trying to convince us that we need carpeting, padded pews and sound deadening boards on the walls and ceiling.

    ...He has also stated that you don't want an active room because the trend in Catholic Churches is more contemporary music with guitars, smaller choirs and a digital organ maybe but no pipe organ.


    I had a visceral reaction to this similar to the one Adam had when I posted about how someone told me children shouldn't be singing in foreign languages. UGH.

    I am SO pleased to hear of a new church built in a Gothic style. I was afraid we were doomed to octagons and Pringles for the rest of eternity.

    Don't believe me about the Pringles? Google Image St. Athanasius in Reading MA.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen donr
  • Reading about such experts as your sound engineer (whose advice is atrociously unsound) fills one with nothing but sadness for those who might be taken in, and utter contempt for such a person's profound lack of knowledge in the matters about which he/she speaks.

    I have this very year had the opportunity to sub at several large, new parishes of, obviously, considerable means. Each was in the faddish arena style, but in one the floors of both the arena and the sanctuary were paved with polished marble, and those of the other with brick. Neither had either sound-deadening devices or padded pews or a shred of carpeting. One had an organ, the other had an organ simulacrum which, solely because of the good acoustics, sounded like the finest CD on the finest equipment.

    You are very, very fortunate that your pastor is on your side! The two of you should be of one mind and unwavering in your convictions. I urge you to consult with those above who offered their services, and not to budge on your very correct instincts. Further, if a sound engineer is required, the one you have should be replaced speedily with one who knows something about real music making and sound environments which encourage people to sing. An organbuilder could make a fitting recommendation.

    And, I hope and will pray that your dream of an organ is fulfilled! Perhaps you should arrange for one or more organ representatives to address your committe so that they are not limited in their information to the spiels of synthesiser salesmen and women. Since your dream is to have an organ, you need the advice of organbuilders for providing proper space and structural support, not to mention acoustics. (In an ideal situation, you would have your organbuilder chosen and working in tandem with your architect from the 'ground up'.)
    Thanked by 1donr
  • jpal
    Posts: 365
    My parish is now paying for the decision (made in the 90's) to build a dead church -- lots of carpet, padded everything, way too many microphones needed. A choir simply cannot function as a choir in such a space; it is a collection of soloists. Intelligent microphone placement helps (crossing the "fields of fire," if you will), but we have experimented every which way and it just can't sound good. Actually, it can, but only when there are 10 or fewer people in the congregation.

    The bigger issue is that everything in our church building was built either without foresight or in an obviously temporary fashion, and now it's all falling apart at once. Carpet gets dirty, it wears and tears, and when your parochial vicar spills lit coals on it, it's doomed. Pew pads have 2+ decades worth of various bodily fluids soaked into them. The parking lot was paved before the ground settled; now it has sunk severely and needs to be completely repaved. The pipes throughout the building were built with cheap materials and needed to be replaced because they starting bursting. The sound system, supposedly "state-of-the-art" in the early 90's, had been obsolete and breaking FCC codes for several years until we recently replaced it. The main church lights were built in an extremely impractical fashion and created hotspots to the point that they became unusable; a new lighting system was recently put in (but it is too expensive right now to remove the huge old fixtures). The roof (no different than the shingle roof on my townhouse) is currently being completely replaced.

    We are now raising money for several more renovations to the inside, including hardening up the floor, adding marble (or something similarly worthy) to the sanctuary, and getting a new organ. A lot of money and headache could have been saved simply by patiently building a worthy building the first time.
    Thanked by 1donr
  • A worthy way to do the floors in a gothic church is to have marble/stone for the sanctuary, tiled aisles and timber floors (in a zig-zag pattern) for where the pews are.

    Oh, and ignore the sound engineer's advice. You want a live acoustic so that you don't have to amplify everything. I am certain that most sound engineers love carpet et al so that they can sell amplifiers and microphones that would otherwise be unneeded.
  • ghmus7
    Posts: 1,041
    A small pipe organ is not very much more expensive than a digital, much more worthy in the long run.
    Check out APOBA to find a genuine pipe organ builder in your area. A real builder, not someone who sells digital sounds.
    Thanked by 1donr
  • Kathy
    Posts: 4,995
    Definitely stand up to the sound engineer. Happy to hear that the pastor is with you on this.

    I do think it can be difficult to balance the needs for clarity (spoken word, readings, preaching, pancake breakfast announcements) and resonance.

    A more resonant acoustic carries forward the idea of a sung Mass.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,283
    Clearly, as everyone has pointed out, the sound engineer is an idiot.

    BUT ALSO: the firm who hired him doesn't know what they are doing, either.

    Alarm bells need to be sounded, quickly. There is money being wasted.

    ALSO:
    No one wants to listen to contemporary music played in an acoustically dead space, either. The sound engineer isn't thinking about churches or even concert venues but recording studios and movie theaters.
  • donr
    Posts: 940
    Question: How deep are your choir lofts?
    One organ builder has told me that for a 1000 seat church the choir loft should be 30' deep.
  • TCJ
    Posts: 615
    The guy mentioned a digital organ doesn't need an active room? When I talked to the guy at the nearest Allen location, he mentioned things like needing to get rid of carpeting! Also, I was in a church with a very large Allen and the organist there mentioned that the church would be getting rid of the sound-deadening boards (acoustic tiles as he said) because they were detracting from the organ.
    Thanked by 1donr
  • Ben YankeBen Yanke
    Posts: 3,114
    I would be liberal in your loft spacing, if possible. It's always possible to let space sit empty, but you may want that extra space it in the future if you ever have a brass quartet, timpani, and full choir, or something like that.
    Thanked by 2donr R J Stove
  • donr
    Posts: 940
    Thanks Ben, but 30' deep x 60' wide seems like a lot of space. We are initially going to build 500 seat church. The architect is designing the building to be able to increase the space to 1000 seats in the future. I want to make sure the loft is large enough but we have to consider costs as well.
    Thanked by 1Ben Yanke
  • ryandryand
    Posts: 1,545
    Don, am I correct that you're in Phoenix? Which parish is this?
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,100
    Build for the right size pipe organ NOW. Even if you initially purchase a TEMPORARY digital organ, or simulacrum as MJO puts it. This means the proper steel beams to hold up the organ that will eventually be installed. An organ builder can give you some basic info that should be shared with the architect. In fact, the organ builder can TELL the architect exactly what will be required in terms of how many tons the choir loft will need to support. Don't let this get away from you. THIS HAS TO BE PLANNED FROM THE VERY BEGINNING!
  • If you would contact me directly, I may have some solutions for you. OrganCNY@aol.com
  • donr
    Posts: 940
    I will do that, thanks
  • donr
    Posts: 940
    Here is my new choir loft going in. Still no instrument for this space though.
    960 x 720 - 89K
    Thanked by 1ryand
  • donr
    Posts: 940
    its a nice space.
    960 x 720 - 82K
    Thanked by 1canadash
  • ryandryand
    Posts: 1,545
    Wow. I am excited for you and your parish.

    THE REVOLUTION IN THE DESERT CONTINUES
  • And, I hope and will pray that your dream of an organ is fulfilled! Perhaps you should arrange for one or more organ representatives to address your committe so that they are not limited in their information to the spiels of synthesiser salesmen and women.


    Very good advice, but only if you also invite one or more organ representatives of pipe organ builders so that you they are not limited in their information to the spiels of pipe organ salesmen and women.

    It is essential to understand one thing. All that matters is what you hear. There are miserable pipe organs that were very expensive, there are digital organs that were very affordable and lovely to listen to.

    Better yet, invite only people who represent a company that has built successful installations of pure pipe organs and also digital organs. For they have, as I once heard it explained, have no axe to grind.

    Whenever anyone tells you not to buy an organ built by xxxxxxxx, immediately seek out xxxxxxx and ask to hear their organs. When people really, really dislike an organ that means something, for people to feel so strongly. Experience it yourself that you may grow in knowledge or see through the person who advised you.

    There are a myriad of pipe organ and fewer digital organ builders. Some are lesser than others. Some will bow to an architect's whims, a sound engineer's deadening of the room, an organist's foolish requests for a 32' pipe rank on a 10 stop pipe organ...others will walk away.

    Grab the ones that walk away. They have integrity. Ignore the others.

    The question to ask? "Have you ever refused to build an organ?" And then listen to the explanation. Question them in detail. This may be a keeper.
  • lmassery
    Posts: 249
    I am so beyond annoyed at sound techs who know nothing about church/choir acoustics
    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn
  • donr
    Posts: 940
    Here are some new pics of the choir loft.
    960 x 720 - 91K
    960 x 720 - 77K
    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn
  • How really nice! I hope that you will show us pictures of the completed church. I especially like the hammerbeam ceiling-roof. I was baptised under one: that of Christ Church in Springfield, Missouri. Godspeed!

    About the floors - Hartley mentioned marble and stone. Good advice. Also consider slate, which has a rather 'authentic' Gothic-ness about it. Our floors at Walsingham are paved with slate throughout the nave and narthex, the priests' and acolytes' sacristies, and marble in the chancel and sanctuary.
    Thanked by 1canadash