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British firm based in Surbiton, Surrey, founded in 1995 by Martin Phelps and Alan Kempster to introduce ‘electronic hymnals’ to the UK market. The firm distributes British-made portable devices that can store and play back 3000 or more hymn accompaniments and simultaneously display hymn verses on large screens. The electronic hymnal, known as ‘Hymnal Plus’, has a broader repertory than most organists and can supplement or replace the use of an organ, especially in the increasing number of churches that lack an organist. It is also useful for worship services in schools, retirement homes, prisons, hospitals, ships, and outdoor venues where no organ is available. Additional music can be imported from iPods, MP3 players, and the like. The MIDI-equipped HT-300 model, introduced in 2005, can be pre-programmed for each service and is controlled by the worship leader from a wireless, LCD touch-screen handset. Tempo, pitch, loudness, musical style, choice of verses, and other features are variable; preset musical styles range from traditional, digitally sampled pipe organ accompaniment to ‘happy clappy’ instrumentals. An interactive psalm accompaniment feature is available for Anglican chant. Loudspeakers are built into the unit, which can also be connected to an external sound system. Devices have been sold in Africa, America (with revised repertory list), and Australia, as well as throughout the UK....

Article

James W. McKinnon

(from Heb. garaph: ‘to scoop’ or ‘shovel’)

A shovel employed in the Temple of Jerusalem and possibly a kind of ritual pipe organ. The magrepha is first mentioned in the Mishnaic tractate Tamid, a work written soon after the destruction of the Herodian Temple by the Romans in 70 ce that describes the Temple and its daily sacrifice. It is depicted as a bronze shovel used by a priest to clear away the accumulation of ashes from the continually burning sacrificial fire. At one point in the service it is cast down upon the pavement near the altar with a great clatter (presumably as a threatening cultic symbol): ‘No one in Jerusalem’, the Tamid reports, ‘could hear his neighbour’s voice because of the sound of the shovel’.

A number of somewhat later rabbinic sources speak of the Temple’s magrepha as a kind of pipe organ. Yasser has reconstructed the instrument on the basis of these sources, concluding that it consisted of a cube-shaped chamber housing the bellows from which projected a long shovel-like handle. The handle serves a number of purposes: its stem is hollow and contains a wind-pipe leading from the bellows; its spade-like ending functions as a wind-chest, from each side of which protrude five clusters of ten small pipes; and the entire handle is worked back and forth to inflate the bellows. Such an organ would have all 100 pipes playing simultaneously to produce a shrill and menacing sound, one fulfilling with greater efficiency the purpose of casting down the original shovel. If Yasser’s reconstruction seems strange, it corresponds nonetheless with the later sources and has a certain historical plausibility in view of the fact that instrument repair experts from Alexandria (the home of mechanical signalling devices) are known to have visited the late Temple. The possibility cannot be ruled out, however, that the ...

Article

Hugh Davies

Electronic organ manufactured originally in Rochdale, Lancashire, by Compton-Makin, which became J.&J. Makin Organs Ltd in 1973. In 1970 John Makin Pilling (d 1996), an amateur organist and paper manufacturing executive, acquired assets of the failing Compton Organs Ltd, pipe organ builders, and pioneers in electronic reproduction of organ tones in the 1920s. The acquisition included the electrostatic tone-wheel system of sound generation (one wheel per note) of the Compton Electrone, which remained in use in combination with microprocessor technology. Additional electronic circuitry provided a more realistic pipe organ sound quality, such as attack and decay characteristics (including the ‘chiff’ attack found in some flute stops), and soft beats for certain stops produced by a ‘chorus generator’ that adds slightly out-of-tune frequencies. In the 1980s, Makin integrated the ‘Bradford System’ of digital synthesis and in the 1990s began using digital sampling.

In 1998 Makin was purchased by the Dutch electronics manufacturer Johannus; subsequently manufacturing and development moved to the Netherlands, which prompted some Makin employees to break off and found a competing entity, Phoenix. Nowadays, Makin’s custom-built organs, which aim to replicate specifically English Romantic sounds and ‘tracker touch’, are all versions of a basic ‘Westmorland’ model, and mostly have two or three manuals and pedals. They are designed for churches, and one, a four-manual instrument, is in Ripon Cathedral. Makin also produces three standard, off-the-shelf models offering a choice of English, French, or German Baroque sounds, at lower prices than the bespoke instruments. In addition, Makin offers the Johannus and (since ...