Last updated: 28 September 2020. Click About This Website for update list.
For over 20 years the most stable and extensive resource on the internet for pipe and electronic organs
The hub of this site is the Complete Articles page which gives you instant access to many detailed articles dealing with numerous technical aspects of both pipe and electronic organs. Use the Google search box below to quickly identify areas of interest. While browsing, why not also listen to over 4 Ĺ hours of music played on the three manual organ below and the Prog Organ virtual pipe organ here?
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!! NEW !! - The physics of organ blowing
Raising the wind in pipe organs by human muscle power was universal until the industrial revolution got underway, though the subject has not been extensively studied. Yet by the mid-nineteenth century, at least two millennia of development had resulted in highly evolved bellows systems which were capable of providing stable and copious wind to the largest instruments such as Schulze's monumental organ at Doncaster. However there remains a problem today in that the physics of organ blowing is not apparently tackled anywhere in the public domain literature. Consequently one struggles to find answers to quite basic questions such as the wind pressures and volumetric air flow rates which human blowers could achieve, and the time for which they could maintain the effort. The upshot is that it is easy to overlook useful information which some of the most apparently bizarre and fanciful images of organ blowers at work can reveal until we have looked at the physics of the humble bellows. Similarly, the physics can enable some of the ancient texts relating to organs to be interpreted more intelligently. Another example relates to claims that some instruments built in the nineteenth century used wind pressures exceeding 20 inches (508 mm) of water raised by manpower alone, which might seem extraordinary given that most church organs made do with about 3 inches. Yet without understanding the physics of bellows it is impossible to verify such assertions. These and similar uncertainties obviously assume importance in the context of organ historiography, which looks at codified history to judge whether it is sensible, but resolving them is not an entirely trivial undertaking. Therefore this article attempts to augment the story of organ blowing by outlining the physics which governs how bellows and their blowers were perforce constrained to operate in times past.
The picture above is of a test rig used for experiments on pipe organ valves, such as those described in the articles entitled Calculating Pallet Size, Touch Relief in Mechanical Actions and Response Speed of Electric Actions. These can also be accessed from the Complete Articles page where summaries are also available.
This electronic organ is a dual purpose instrument containing both "straight" and "theatre" voices, designed and made by the author. It is tuned to the author's Dorset Temperament with the addition of some impure octaves as described in Keyboard Temperaments with Impure Octaves. A full specification is available for download here (PDF file, 117 kB).
The things they say:
These recordings span some years and they were made in various rooms and auditoria. The older tracks were made using analogue equipment and some were recorded acoustically using microphones, hence the occasional noises due to piston thuds and page turns, etc. Other tracks were captured electrically. All are of real players performing in real time - no synthetic MIDI 'performances' here. I have not got round yet to normalising the volume settings of all the tracks so they are compatible with each other, therefore you might wish to adjust the volume between tracks depending on which ones you select. Do not be alarmed if some tracks appear to start with an excessive noise level - this simply means they were recorded at a higher level than others. Just turn the volume down to suit. In any case, it is a wise precaution to always begin playing each track at a low level to protect your audio equipment and your ears from unexpectedly high signal levels when the music begins. Although the instrument has 13 ranks of theatre organ voices in addition to its 'straight' sounds (see specification), copyright considerations preclude the inclusion of much theatre-style music here. Playing time 1 hour 35 mins approx.
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