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Odd Organ + choir question... (Not recording related.)
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Bibster
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#1
7th February 2013
Old 7th February 2013
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Odd Organ + choir question... (Not recording related.)

Hi gang,

Dunno if I should ask here, but I don't know the other obscure corners of GS. I spend my time here only.

Got a question from my daughter, who helped the organ player with the registration during last weeks performance.
The choir was on the floor in the church, under the organ (Well, a bit more forward of course).
Easily 10 to 15 meters from the heart of the choir to the organ's console.

Now, she asked my why they heard the choir:
1) 1/2 to 3/4 of a second later (I can explain a bit... but half a second is 150m, not 15...)
2) About half a semitone lower (!!)

Any thoughts about how this could happen (If it really happened) ?

Paul
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7th February 2013
Old 7th February 2013
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polytope is offline
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bibster View Post
Hi gang,

Dunno if I should ask here, but I don't know the other obscure corners of GS. I spend my time here only.

Got a question from my daughter, who helped the organ player with the registration during last weeks performance.
The choir was on the floor in the church, under the organ (Well, a bit more forward of course).
Easily 10 to 15 meters from the heart of the choir to the organ's console.

Now, she asked my why they heard the choir:
1) 1/2 to 3/4 of a second later (I can explain a bit... but half a second is 150m, not 15...)
2) About half a semitone lower (!!)

Any thoughts about how this could happen (If it really happened) ?

Paul
Where was your daughter relative to the choir and organ?

As for 2), the choir was just out of tune.

Seriously, I hear this all the time coming from amateur choirs. 1/4 to 1/2 tone off is not unusual.
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7th February 2013
Old 7th February 2013
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Isn't it doppler effect, causing reverb sound (moving away) to sound lower?
Bibster
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7th February 2013
Old 7th February 2013
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@Polytope:
She was with the organ player, up the baclcony, at the organ's console (18th or so century organ).
They did sing out of tune, every now & then, but that was not the cause. Miléna knows her perfect pitch...

@Heva:
That was what she initially asked me, something along the lines of 'it isn't doppler effect, but...'

thanks.
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7th February 2013
Old 7th February 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bibster View Post
@Polytope:
She was with the organ player, up the baclcony, at the organ's console (18th or so century organ).
They did sing out of tune, every now & then, but that was not the cause. Miléna knows her perfect pitch...

@Heva:
That was what she initially asked me, something along the lines of 'it isn't doppler effect, but...'

thanks.
It could just be a psychoacoustic phenomenon though I doubt it would give the perception of a semitone difference.

Presumably, the organ (from Miléna's perspective) would be much louder than the choir. Assuming that we might hear reverbed (is there such a word?) pitch to be a tad lower, then this could be compounded by the fact that the organ is much louder since I seem to recall having read that pitches go sharp to our ears when they are loud.

So you have loud direct organ vs soft distant choir. That might make her feel the choir is severely under pitch.

BTW, I also have perfect pitch and there are times when it's not very reliable.
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7th February 2013
Old 7th February 2013
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Indeed nothing to do with doppler.
The choir nor the organ are moving.

In the reverb you lose a part of your overtones which could (depending on the church) sound like the choir is a semitone or less out of tune.

In addition: I sing on regular base in boys choirs. So we are used to big spaces. We ALWAYS use an intercom (ASL Intercom) between choir and organ so the organist 'sits' in the choir. Also we plant a camera right in front of the conductor with a monitor on the musicstand of the instrument.

BRH
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8th February 2013
Old 8th February 2013
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Well, I think those organist know if they play on time it'll sound late, so they may tend to play like it's a midi keyboard and play ahead slightly.. and might be too far ahead, as in rushing a bit, and choir trying to follow conductor holding them back, possibly causing a perceived intonation problem.

Hey, that sounded good, didn't it!

Check Organ with a tuner. One I did was 445 A
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8th February 2013
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As an organist I have a bit of experience with this-- and can say that when a choir sounds flat it's because it IS flat. Sometimes it is because of the conductor not staying on their case to sing at pitch, and sometimes its simply singers who cannot hear pitch really well and become lackadaisical.

As for not being together-- the organist will usually be a hair ahead by instinct of leading-- and if the choir is smart they (and the conductor) will go with what they hear. It is a similar dilemma with the rear of the orchestra always being a hair on the late side. Smart conductors will tell the rear of the orchestra to play with what they see, and the front of the orchestra to play with what they hear. Levy used to do this with the Atlanta Sym, and they were renowned for their precision.

A few years ago our choir were deputizing at Lichfield Cathedral in England-- and the organ there is at 445Hz!! The choir NEVER really got the pitch in their head. So I had to ignore the fact that I was hearing them late (since the console is 35 feet above the choir) and also trying to not let the flat singing drive me nuts.

In Germany in the 17c organs in the north were usually 1/2-step higher than those in the south. I haven't any idea why-- just as I am sure there was no "border" where one side was one pitch and the other side different.

Which brings me to a favorite topic-- "perfect pitch." The idea that someone is born with it is preposterous. But the idea that someone is born with incredible pitch memory is quite different. This is not the same as being very sensitive to pitch-- I must use that ability all the time as a producer.

Since pitch has generally risen over the years -- baroque pitch is usually A=415Hz-- such a notion as "perfect" pitch simply won't fly. Today many orchestras tune to A=442-- it makes for a more brilliant sound-- at least as long as the chops are fresh.

Rich
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8th February 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sonare View Post

Which brings me to a favorite topic-- "perfect pitch." The idea that someone is born with it is preposterous. But the idea that someone is born with incredible pitch memory is quite different. This is not the same as being very sensitive to pitch-- I must use that ability all the time as a producer.

Since pitch has generally risen over the years -- baroque pitch is usually A=415Hz-- such a notion as "perfect" pitch simply won't fly. Today many orchestras tune to A=442-- it makes for a more brilliant sound-- at least as long as the chops are fresh.

Rich
The ability to tell a note relative to A tuned to 440Hz immediately (whatever name you give to this ability) can be acquired though you almost always have to start young. I don't remember which book I read on this but this was at least the case for me. I didn't have it until I was 10. A at 442Hz doesn't affect my ability to play relative to it. But 445 Hz does. And so does 415.
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