Tonal Philosophy

Goulding & Wood instruments are characterized by balance and sophistication in the tonal design and voicing. We strive to cultivate a maximum amount of color and variety while maintaining a tight, cohesive ensemble. Believing that congregational singing is the foundational concern of the organ, we build instruments with generous fundamental development to clearly delineate pitch. Multiple stops at 8’ pitch, broad scaling and clean, incisive voicing combine to serve as a strong base of the organ’s sound. Judicious use of upperwork completes the chorus, adding to the coloristic possibilities, while the power of the sound is always driven at the 16’ and 8’ range. Mixtures supply brilliance without ever becoming overstated or overpowering. In all, the objective is a gentle, pleasing sound that envelops the audience or congregation.

The premise for realizing this goal begins in a studious observation of the room acoustics. Far too frequently, assessments of an acoustical environment are reduced to “live” or “dry,” yet the picture contains many more elements. The interplay between low, mid-range and high frequencies, both in sustained pitch and in decay, shape a listener’s impression greatly. All these considerations serve as an important backdrop in the evolution of the stop list.

Prior to beginning the voicing of any instrument, our tonal staff visits the job site and studies the acoustic of the room. By first-hand observation of the room’s properties, our voicer is able to conform the pipework to the acoustical needs of the room. Construction parameters, such as scale, mouth width and languid depth, as well as voicing procedures are modified to correspond to the needs of the situation. Rooms with modest or poor acoustic yet with reasonably good mid-range development will require a sparkle from mixtures and upperwork that would be out of place in a room rich in acoustic which emphasizes high-end frequencies. By designing and voicing each instrument individually, we can ensure that the finished product will work within its unique situation.

Recognizing the importance of pipe construction in the voicing process, Goulding & Wood pays special attention to the quality of pipes for our instruments. Principal and flute ranks from 4’ C and above are made to our detailed specifications by Jacques Stinkens Orgelpijpenmakers B. V. of Zeist, the Netherlands. Strings, reeds, display pipes and zinc basses are built by A. R. Schopp’s Sons, Inc. of Alliance, Ohio. Our long standing relationship with both houses affords us great latitude in designing pipe constructions to match precisely each unique job. We do not build metal pipework since we are primarily a cabinetry shop, and we feel that the quality of work of both houses exceeds any other pipe builders. Further, all pipework arrives at our shop completely unvoiced. We are therefore not constricted in tailoring the musical character of the instrument to our own vision of the project. Because we are a wood-working shop, we build all of our wood pipework, including large Subbass pipes and our full-length 32’ wooden resonator pedal reeds. Our pipe builders take great care in producing pipes that are not only tonally pleasing but also attractive to the eye. They also work in very close dialogue with our voicer, making small adjustments in scale, block construction and tuning lengths to his specifications.

The musical personality of the congregation then dictates how the design is built. A delicate balance is struck between the immediate needs of the musicians present, incorporating their vision for the ongoing development of the music program, and overarching needs of the congregation in a larger context. A comprehensive design must be larger than any one person, thus we listen carefully to the desires of the present musicians while bringing these ideas into parity with broader design principles.

The sound of a Goulding & Wood organ is in many ways the signature element. A lively, spontaneous sound that nonetheless includes a rich gravity of tone fills the room with a vibrant, singing sound. Instrument dispositions begin with a skeletal core of balanced principal choruses in each division. We believe strongly that each division requires a unique, independent plenum that participates in cohesive overall scheme. The diapason choruses throughout the organ thus relate to each other without ever duplicating or becoming obtrusive to the complete ensemble. Flute stops through the organ provide a great variety of colors, from blending stops to articulate solo voices. All flutes produce pitch with clarity, avoiding any haziness in tuning. Strings are broad and rich, especially suitable for accompanying voices. Reeds range from blending plenum chorus stops to fiery 16’ 8’ and 4’ French battery reeds to elegant solo stops. Just as no two principal choruses or 8’ flutes mimic one another within a given organ, reed stops, and especially the trumpet family, display individuality based on the relationship they serve to the division that contains them. In assembling this collection of voices, the goal is maximum diversity to enable the organ to enliven hymns and choral accompaniments and authentically fulfill the needs of a broad spectrum of solo literature.