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Taylor & Boody Organbuilders, Staunton, Virginia

Goshen College, Goshen, Indiana

About the organ.

Designing an organ for Rieth Hall at Goshen College was a
pleasure. The opportunity to place the organ in the traditional location, high
in the rear gallery, was ideal both visually and aurally. The form and
proportions of the hall, with its austere yet warm and inviting interior,
called the organbuilder to respond with similar clarity and restraint. The
ample height of the room suggested a plain, vertical configuration of the
instrument, on which natural light from the clerestory windows would fall
gently. Everything about the hall spoke of its solid construction and honesty
of materials, qualities that we strive to reflect in our organs. Likewise the
acoustical properties of the hall, so warm and reverberant and at the same time
intimate and clear, allowed the organ’s tone to develop freely without
being forced. The result is an endearing musical instrument that is
aesthetically inseparable from the space in which it stands.

Initial inspiration for the Goshen case came from the organ
built by David Tannenberg in 1774 for Trinity Lutheran Church in Lancaster,
Pennsylvania. While only the case and façade pipes of that lovely
instrument have survived, they constitute the finest example we have in our
country of south German case architecture from the 18th century.
Tannenberg’s use of the double impost, with its Oberwerk division
gracefully placed as a reflection of the Hauptwerk below, was typical of organs
in his native Saxony and Thuringia. Other exterior influences from that time
and place include the two swags that bracket the center tower, and the broad
lower case that supports the full width of the impost and omits the spandrels
common to earlier styles. Apart from its simple springboard moldings, the
Goshen case is relatively flat and plain by comparison with its historical
counterparts. Its only bold three-dimensional element is the polygonal center
tower. The small pointed towers in Tannenberg’s design are here merely
implied by the V-shaped arrangement of foot lengths in the tenor fields. The
use of six auxiliary panels to raise the smaller pipe feet above the impost
moldings adds interest to the design. The considerable height of the lower case
was determined by the need for a passageway over the 2-foot concrete riser
behind the organ. This height gave space between the console and impost for the
eventual inclusion of a small Brustwerk with several stops for continuo
accompaniment. Cabinets for music storage are built into the back on both sides
of the lower case.

Another aspect of the design reminiscent of 18th-century
south German traditions is the position of the windchests in relation to the
action. The two windchests of the Hauptwerk are spaced apart from the center of
the case by the width of the keyboards. This leaves room for trackers of the
Oberwerk to reach their rollerboard without blocking access to the Hauptwerk
action and its pallets. It also provides optimum space for 8’ bass pipes
at the sides and leaves room for tuning the tenor pipes of the Hauptwerk with
only minimal obstruction by the Oberwerk rollerboard. The windchests for the
Pedal are located behind the case at the level of the impost, a placement that
Tannenberg could also have used.

Both the playing action and stop action are mechanical. The
manual keys are hinged at the tail and suspended from their trackers. There are
no thumper rails to hold the keys down, so they are free to overshoot slightly
when released, as is the case in traditional suspended actions. Trackers,
squares and rollers are all made of wood. There is no felt in the action. Keys
are guided by pins at the sides. Together these details combine to give a
feeling of buoyancy and liveliness reminiscent of antique instruments. The aim
is not so much to provide a light action as to arrive at one having the mass
and friction appropriate to the size and character of the organ. Such an action
may need occasional minor adjustment of key levels with changes in humidity,
but this is a small price to pay for the advantages gained over more sterile
modern alternatives. 

Wind is supplied by two single-fold wedge bellows (3’ x
6’) fed by a blower located in a small room below the organ. Natural
fluctuations of the wind pressure in response to the playing contribute to the
lively, singing quality of the organ’s sound. A wind stabilizer can be
engaged when unusually heavy demands on the wind system call for damping of
these fluctuations. The organ’s single tremulant is made in the old-fashioned
beater form. On seeing a tremulant puffing away in one of our organs, a
Japanese friend remarked that the organ was laughing! It is useful to think of
an organ’s wind as its breath and the bellows as lungs, for the
instrument’s appeal is closely tied to our perception of its lifelike

The tonal character of an organ is rarely revealed by its
stoplist. This is particularly true in an instrument of only twenty-four stops.
Once the builder accepts the constraints of a given style and the essential
registers have been chosen, there is usually little room or money left to
include stops that would make a modest design appear unique on paper.
Fortunately for the art, the musicality of the organ is not bound by its
stoplist; rather, it is determined by a host of other complex factors. These
can be partially defined in the technical data of pipe scaling and
construction, general design parameters, materials and the like, but in reality
much more rests on the elusive criteria of experience, skill and taste of the
builder. Taken together this means that each new organ, albeit small, presents
fresh opportunities for artistic expression. It is important that all the pipes
speak promptly, be they reeds or flues, except in the case of strings, which
gain charm from their halting speech. It is less important that the pipes
produce precisely the same vowel sounds from note to note, for here variety
adds refreshing character and interest to the organ.

At Goshen we chose to voice the 8’ Principal to be
somewhat brighter and richer in overtones than has been our wont. This was
achieved by giving the pipes lower cutups than was customary in German and
Dutch organs of the 17th century and before. The five distinctly different
8’ flue stops on the manuals deserve special mention. Although all
followed scaling patterns we have used frequently in the past, when voiced they
proved to be unusually satisfying, particularly in combination with each other.
Whenever the 16’ Bordun is used with them a magical new dimension is added
to the sound. If, for example, one draws the Bordun with the Viol da Gamba, the
effect is that of a quiet 16’ Principal. Used with the Spillpfeife the
Bordun reverts to its role as a flute. In an organ of this size it is crucial
that every stop work as well as possible with every other. Following south
German practice, both 8’ and 4’ flutes on the Hauptwerk are made in
the same form. This duplication of flutes within the same family was not the
custom in the north, where lower pitched flutes were usually stopped and those
above them progressively more open. The Oberwerk configuration at Goshen with
its two stopped 8’ registers and partially open 4’ Rohrflöte is
typical of the northern tradition. We look forward to the day that the 16’
Violonbass with its cello-like speech can be added to the Pedal. style="mso-spacerun: yes"> 

The distinctive musical effect of the Goshen organ is
strongly colored by the use of the recently released Bach-Lehman temperament
described in the accompanying article. Because the completion of the organ in
February coincided with the publication in Early Music of Bradley
Lehman’s treatise on J. S. Bach’s temperament, we chose to tune the
organ according to his plan. Here was the ideal opportunity to try the
temperament on an organ built in Germanic style and at the same time to honor
Dr. Lehman as a distinguished Goshen alumnus for his work in this field. The
experiment has been a fascinating one. It has provided a place to hear
Bach’s organ music as we have not heard it before. We are honored to have
played a part in translating the dry mathematical numbers of this temperament
into the vibrant sound of the organ. 

With few exceptions the many parts of the organ were
constructed from raw materials in our Virginia workshop. Through the skills of
each craftsman the design moved from an idea to paper and then through raw wood
and metal into a large and impressive object. Note by note the tonal picture
has been filled in by voicing and tuning until in the end we experience a new
instrument with an identity all its own. We hope that it will give pleasure to
those who play and hear it far into the future.

--George Taylor

The organ project at Goshen College

“Dienlich, Ordentlich, Schicklich, Dauerlich”

In 1999 we were asked by the organ consultant for Goshen
College, Roseann Penner Kaufman, to make a proposal for the new Goshen College
Music Center. As with any new project, I went to Goshen full of excitement at
the promise of participating in what was to be a spectacular project. My
enthusiasm was short-lived when I saw the design for the recital hall. It was a
standard fan-shaped, sloped-floor, small college recital hall, with theatre
seats and carpet in the aisles. The space for the organ was planned in a niche
at the back of the stage. The design would have been fine for small chamber
recitals, but it was not a proper home for an organ. The prospects for the
organ looked bleak. We would not have felt productive or inspired. We always
say that the room is more than half the organ. I took a deep breath and told
the Goshen committee what I thought of the plan. The committee listened and
asked us to offer suggestions on how the recital hall might be designed to work
best with the musical programs envisioned for this space.

I returned to Staunton eager to develop a plan. One of the
first things I did was to research the Mennonite Quarterly Review for articles
describing historical Anabaptist worship spaces. I hoped that the essence of
these rooms would lead me to an aesthetic that would tie the new hall to the
old tradition, which would, in turn, also be good for music, especially the
organ. My research acquainted me with four German words used to express the
qualities of the historical spaces: dienlich, ordentlich, schicklich and
dauerlich--serviceable, orderly, fitting and lasting. I also found prints
of the interiors of some of these churches. Rectangular in shape with open
truss timber roof framing, clear glass windows, galleries on several sides,
rough stone floors, moveable chairs, unadorned, honest and powerful, these
spaces had all the qualities that I was looking for. They also had enduring
musical-acoustical qualities and so many are used today for concerts.

The simple sketch that I made went first to the Goshen organ
committee who, led by Doyle Preheim and Chris Thogersen, embraced the plan.
Then the concept went to Rick Talaske and his team of acousticians. They
transformed the plan into practical geometry and surface treatments to make the
space an acoustical success. Mathes Brierre Architects took the acoustical plan
and translated it into a visual design that evokes the warehouse or
brewery-turned-church concept of the early Dutch Mennonite spaces. Schmidt
Associates worked through the technical details with Casteel Construction to
conceive the simple pre-cast concrete panels and graceful curved steel arches
that make the hall appealing in its architecture, superior in acoustical
performance and straightforward and durable in construction. There was creative
and sensitive work done by a Goshen group concerned with decor and furnishings.
The result is successful beyond our expectations. The collaboration of all the
partners made the project exceed the ability of any one of us.

Once the hall was underway, we scheduled a meeting at St.
Thomas Fifth Avenue in New York with a group from Goshen and Calvin and Janet
High from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. We had a great day in New York showing
everyone our organ in the gallery of St. Thomas. The Highs’ enthusiasm
for the St. Thomas organ and the Goshen Music Center paved the way for their
generous gift that underwrote the cost of the organ.

We realized that the floor area of Rieth Hall was small in
relation to the height. We saw that if there could be the addition of one more
bay to the length there would be significant improvement in the proportions of
the space and at least 50 more seats could be added. Again, the Goshen design
group supported our suggestion. At a time in the project when the building
committee was attempting to control costs and squeeze performance out of every
dime, they found the funds for this most important late addition. style="mso-spacerun: yes"> 

I predicted at the time we were creating the designs for
Rieth Hall, that the unique qualities of this space would have something to say
to the Goshen students about music and worship. This prediction has been
realized. First, there is genuine enthusiasm for a cappella singing in Rieth
Hall, encouraging this wonderful Mennonite tradition. Second, there has been a
spontaneous seizing of the space by the students for their own student-directed
Sunday worship. In this age of searching for the right path in worship and
liturgy, of debating the influence and appropriateness of mass media and
popular music for worship, we have built something at Goshen College that
reaches across the span of time to those Mennonite roots. Led by the seemingly
old-fashioned qualities of dienlich, ordentlich, schicklich and dauerlich, we
have made a  music space and organ
that inspire and excite us to make music and to celebrate and serve our God and

Wood and the Goshen organ

The traditional pipe organ is a wooden machine. Early on in
our careers as organ builders we realized that getting control over our
materials in both an aesthetic and technical sense was essential to our success
as organ makers. Our first path was to make friends with our neighborhood
sawmillers. One of these was an octogenarian whose experience reached back to
horse logging and steam power. He taught us the value of long, slow, air-drying
of lumber. He also knew the old traditions of sawing, how to take the tension
out of a log, how to saw through the middle of the log and keep the boards in
order so that the cabinetmaker could match the grain. He remembered the methods
of quarter sawing that impart the most dimensional stability to the boards and
in oak bring out the beautiful fleck of the medullary rays. We have built our
own sawmill based on a portable band saw. For quarter sawing, we have built a
double-ended chain saw that can split logs up to 60 inches in diameter. The
half logs (or quarters in extremely large timber) are then aligned on our band
saw and sawn in a radial fashion into boards. This lumber is then air-dried for
a number of years. At the end, we put the wood in our dry kiln and gently warm
it up to stabilize the moisture content at 8% to 10%.

Oak is the traditional wood of Northern European organ
building so it was natural for us to choose white oak for the Goshen organ. We
have long admired the Dutch and German organs dating back to the 16th century.
The earliest organs show only the natural patina of age and no finish; the
concept of finishing wood as in varnishing or oiling came well into the 18th
century. We followed this earlier practice for the Goshen organ. The oak has
been hand-planed to a smooth polish, much smoother than can ordinarily be
produced with sanding. The hand-planed wood will resist dirt. We feel there are
also musical benefits from using wood in its natural state. The case and
carvings together with all the interior parts transmit sound energy and reflect
and focus the sound of the pipes. Also, the open pores and surface
imperfections of the natural wood have an effect on the sound reflection.

Another aspect of wood use in historic organs is how
efficiently the old builders utilized their wood. Before the age of machinery,
cutting, transporting and converting timber to sawn, dried lumber ready for use
was costly. The best wood was always used for the keyboards, playing action,
wind chests and pipes. The next selection went to the most visible parts of the
case, especially the front of the organ. The rest was used for carvings, heavy
structural members, walkways, bellows framework and back panels. Some of this
wood shows knots, cracks and other defects that might offend our modern sense
of perfection. However, in addition to demonstrating good wood utilization, the
varying density and differences in surface texture of these so-called defects
may indeed benefit the music. How we perceive the sound of an organ is a very
complex and subtle equation. This is one of the wonderful aspects of the real
pipe organ that differentiates it from the sterile sound of the electronic
substitute. We feel it is good stewardship to apply the hierarchy of selection
as practiced by the old masters. We try to use all the wood, through careful
selection, with thoughtful conservation of a vanishing resource.

--John Boody

Acoustic design of Rieth Recital Hall at Goshen College

In 1998, the design team of design architect Mathes Group
(now Mathes Brierre Architects), architect of record Schmidt Associates and
acoustician The Talaske Group (now Talaske) began preliminary work on a new
music education and performance building for Goshen College’s campus.
This project was the College’s greatest building investment to date and
they were determined to do things right . . . with a very modest budget. The
Recital Hall (now Rieth Recital Hall) was slated to house a new tracker organ
of exceptional quality. As acousticians, we offered some general planning
recommendations--not the least of which was a 50-foot ceiling
height--and recommended that the organ builder be hired as soon as

Enter John Boody of Taylor & Boody, organ builders from
Virginia. John energized the subsequent meetings with some profound advice that
proved to set the final direction for the space. He moved our thinking from a
“fixed” seating configuration to a flexible arrangement based on a
flat floor where seats can face either end of the room. This unique concept
facilitated the accommodation of a conventional “recital hall” or
assembly arrangement with musicians or presenters on a small stage. The cleverness
of the concept is the seats can be turned to face the opposite direction in the
room, offering a classic organ recital arrangement. Furthermore, John
recommended that the proportions of the room would be better served if
lengthened by adding another bay of structure. These fundamental planning ideas
changed the direction of the design in perpetuity.

We embraced these new directions yes">  and identified the many other room acoustics design features
that would support the client’s needs. The 50-foot ceiling height remained,
and we worked with the architects and construction manager to render the room
as a sound-reflective concrete enclosure, embellished with wood. The goal was
to maintain the warmth of sound created by the organ. Within the “theatre
planning” process, we guided and exploited naturally occurring
opportunities for introducing sound diffusing shaping to reflect low- and
mid-pitched sound in all directions--by introducing one side balcony and a
rear balcony, recesses from circulation paths and recesses created by
deeply-set windows. We recommended deliberate articulation of the walls to
diffuse mid- and high-pitched sound. Wood surfaces were detailed to minimize
absorption of low-pitched sound. Retractable velour curtains and banners were
recommended in abundance and specified by Bob Davis, theatre consultant.
Architecturally, curtain and banner pockets were created so the sound-absorbing
materials could be retracted completely on demand. These features make possible
a broad “swing” of the sound of the room from very reverberant for
choral and organ performance to articulate for assembly events or amplified
music performance. Fundamental to the acoustic design was the need for silence.
This was accomplished by structural discontinuities in the building (acoustic
isolation joints) and the proper placement and design of heating and air
conditioning systems.

Within their mission statement, Goshen College states:
“Musical expression is a human manifestation of the divine impulse and,
as such, serves as a window into the individual soul, a bridge between human
beings and a means of corporate religious experience.” In light of the
students adopting the Rieth Recital Hall for their weekly convocations and the
many other uses, we are pleased to say the happy story continues!

--Rick Talaske

Bach temperament

This organ is the first since the 18th century to use Johann
Sebastian Bach’s tuning, as notated by him in 1722 on the title page of
the Well-Tempered Clavier. This tuning method is a 2004 discovery by Bradley
Lehman. The article about this discovery is published in the February and May
2005 issues of Early Music (Oxford University Press), and further details are
at <>.

The layout, dividing the Pythagorean comma, is:

F-C-G-D-A-E = 1/6 comma narrow 5ths;

E-B-F#-C# = pure 5ths;

C#-G#-D#-A# = 1/12 comma narrow 5ths;

A#-F = a residual wide 1/12 comma 5th.

In this tuning, every major scale and minor scale sounds
different from every other, due to the subtle differences of size among the
tones and semitones. This allows music to project a different mood or character
in each melodic and harmonic context, with a pleasing range of expressive
variety as it goes along. It builds drama into musical modulations. style="mso-spacerun: yes"> 

The result sounds almost like equal temperament, and it similarly
allows all keys to be used without problem, but it has much more personality
and color. In scales and triads it sounds plain and gentle around C major (most
like regular 1/6 comma temperament), mellower and warmer in the flat keys such
as A-flat major (most like equal temperament), and especially bright and
exciting in the sharp keys around E major (like Pythagorean tuning, with pure
fifths). Everything is smoothly blended from these three competing systems,
emerging with an emphasis on melodic suavity.

The following chart shows the relative size of each major
third, resulting from each series of the intervening four fifths. This system
of analysis is from the 1770s, published in the theoretical work of G. A. Sorge
who was a former colleague of Bach’s. The intervals having higher numbers
sound spicier, more restless. In this measurement, a value of 11 would indicate
a major third that is one syntonic comma too sharp (a “Pythagorean major
third,” having been generated by four pure fifths). style="mso-spacerun: yes">  A pure major third would be represented
here as 0.

Bb-D    6 style='mso-tab-count:1'>             D-F#
    7 style='mso-tab-count:1'>             F#-A#

Eb-G    7 style='mso-tab-count:1'>             G-B
      5 style='mso-tab-count:1'>             B-D#

Ab-C    8 style='mso-tab-count:1'>             C-E
       3 style='mso-tab-count:1'>             E-G#

Db-F     9
       3 style='mso-tab-count:1'>             A-C#

Equal temperament, as opposed to the variety shown here, has
a constant size of 7 in all twelve of the major thirds.

In functional harmony, the Bach tuning sets up especially
interesting contrasts within minor-key music. The key of A minor has the
plainest tonic juxtaposed with the most restless dominant. F minor, a major
third away, has the opposite relationship: troubled tonic, calm dominant. And
C# minor has the average character between these behaviors, where the tonic and
dominant are both moderately energetic. 

In major-key music, the tonics and dominants have characters
similar to one another. The sizes of major thirds change by only 1, 2, or 3
units from each key to its neighbors, moving by the circle of fifths (through
typical subdominant/tonic/dominant progressions). Any change of Affekt is
therefore gradual and subtle, as if we never really leave the home key
altogether but it feels a little more or less tense as we go along.

In any music that modulates more quickly by bypassing such a
normal circle-of-fifths cycle, the contrasts are momentarily startling. That
is, the music’s dramatic harmonic gestures become immediately noticeable,
where the major thirds have changed size suddenly from one harmony to the next.
This comes up for example in the Fantasia in G Minor (BWV 542), Gelobet seist
du, Jesu Christ (BWV 722), and the fourth Duetto (BWV 805), and especially in
music by the Bach sons.

This system turns out to be an excellent tuning solution to
play all music, both before and after Bach’s. It is moderate enough for
complete enharmonic freedom, but also unequal enough to sound directional and
exciting in the tensions and resolutions of tonal music.

A recording will be ready for release this summer, including
music by Bach, Fischer, Brahms, et al.

--Bradley Lehman

A brief history of the organ in the Mennonite Church

Some people might find it unusual to find such a remarkable
organ in a Mennonite college. Aren’t the Mennonites those folks with the
buggies and suspenders? It is true that some Mennonite congregations still take
literally founder Menno Simons’ caution against the organ as a
“worldly” invention, but most, especially in the last fifty years,
have embraced it as a vital contributor to the musical and worship life of the

The Mennonite Church has its beginnings in the 16th-century
Protestant Reformation. Because of persecution, most of the early worship
services were held secretly, in homes or out-of-the-way places. Mennonites also
believed that the true church existed in small, simple gatherings; therefore,
it was uncommon for early Mennonites to even set aside a separate building for

Two hundred years after the beginning of the movement,
churches in Germany and the Netherlands had grown to the point of meeting in
dedicated buildings, and by the 1760s several in urban areas had installed pipe
organs. It was another two hundred years, however, before organs became common
in the Mennonite conference that supported Goshen College. Even now, the organ
is not necessarily assumed to support congregational singing, but contributes
other service music. Organ study is now offered at all of the Mennonite Church
USA-affiliated colleges, and the new Taylor & Boody organ at Goshen will
certainly have a profound impact on the future of worship and organ study
throughout the denomination.

--Roseann Penner Kaufman

Roseann Penner Kaufman, DMA, is adjunct instructor in organ
at Bethel College, N. Newton, Kansas, a four-year liberal arts college
affiliated with the Mennonite Church USA. She also serves as director of music
for Rainbow Mennonite Church in Kansas City, Kansas. Dr. Kaufman served as the
consultant to Goshen College for their organ project.

Specifications for Opus 41


16' Bordun (C-D# wood, rest metal*)

8' Principal (77% tin)

8' Spillpfeife

8' Viol da Gamba (77% tin)

4' Octave

4' Spitzflöte

3' Quinte

3' Nasat

2' Superoctave

IV-V Mixtur

8' Trompet


8' Gedackt (99% lead)

8' Quintadena

4' Principal (77% tin)

4' Rohrflöte

2' Waldflöte

II Sesquialtera

IV Scharff

8' Dulcian


16' Subbass (wood)

(16' Violonbass) space prepared

8' Octave

4' Octave

16' Posaune (C-B wood, rest 99% lead)

8' Trompet (99% lead)


Oberwerk / Hauptwerk

Hauptwerk / Pedal

Oberwerk / Pedal

Tremulant to entire organ

Mechanical key and stop action

Compass: manual 56 notes C-g''', pedal 30 notes C-f'

Lehman-Bach temperament

Interior metal pipes of hammered alloys

*All unmarked metal alloys of 28% tin, 72% lead

Case of solid white oak

Windchests of solid oak, pine & poplar

Number of pipes: 1604

Wind pressure: 75mm

Wind stabilizer

The builders

George K. Taylor

John H. Boody

Bruce Shull

Emerson Willard

Christopher A. Bono

Kelley Blanton

Chris A. Peterson

Sarah Grove-Humphries

Robbie Lawson

Jeffrey M. Peterson

Larry J. Damico

Holly Regi

Thomas M. Karaffa

Bob Harris

Katie Masincup

Ryan M. Albashian

Kristin E. Boo

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