Organ diagnostic chart

We had our organ tuned earlier this week, preparing for Lent. Hooray! I have all the notes back on the Tromba stop! I can use the Great Stopped Diapason when playing in flat keys! I approve of this. Some problems are going to wait until there’s time for a longer visit, and then there are the bellows which need repairs — a huge and expensive job which we don’t yet have sufficient funding to undertake.

Most organs I’ve visited seem to have a sort of organ log book where the organist can write down faults and the tuner can write little notes of the temperature and humidity (which always seem to me to be chiding somehow, though I’m sure they aren’t meant to sound that way). Invariably there will be scribbles along the lines of “F# below middle C not right” or similar, or as in my case the organist will try and remember to make a note of problems but then completely forget to write them down in the little book!

During the summer I couldn’t find the book at all so I made this chart. It’s a very simple affair: date, place and manual, then a table with a column for each key (up to 61) and a row for each stop (up to 11). I’ve shaded the black notes so it’s a bit easier to keep your place when filling it in, and left plenty of space underneath the chart for writing down further observations. I found myself using different symbols for different problems and extrapolating below the chart.

This was just a quick sort-the-easy-stuff tuning, and so I didn’t actually fill out these sheets, but for the Really Big Tuning that happens each summer they’re really valuable. It does take a while to sit down and play every note of every stop but it’s well worth it in terms of letting the organ tuner know exactly which notes are problematic.

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