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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

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 ...