Wild Air

Archive for the ‘Organ Design and Technical Stuff’ category

Voicing a pipe organ is the process by which each pipe is taught to sing together as a stop, each stop is taught to sing together as a division, and each division taught to sing as an organ. The Rube-Goldberg mechanics of an organ are interesting and impressive, but the “black magic” happens in the […]

We have just posted a new YouTube video that shows the rebuilding process for a standard M.P. Moller pitman windchest.   Many people have no idea what is involved in building or renovating a pipe organ, and this video is intended to help.   Plus, the soundtrack is Les Torreadors from Carmen, as played by […]

On Adaptive Reuse

May 6th, 2012

In the world of architectural preservation, they call it “adaptive reuse.”   Simply stated, the concept is that of preserving and restoring a built structure, but adapting it to a modern purpose.   For example, an old power station in London was structurally restored and converted into the Tate Gallery.   In the organ world, […]

About Keyboards

April 23rd, 2012

WARNING: TECHNICAL STUFF!   (If you aren’t interested in technical stuff, skip this one!) Geometry: There are two types of manual keyboards commonly found in organs, based on the position of the fulcrum point on which the keys pivot.   The best keyboards have long keys (usually 16″ or more), with the pivot point at […]

I Want a Principal Within

April 9th, 2012

I once was talking with an organbuilder about an instrument I had recently played that had been built by a the ___ Organ Company.   As I recall, I said something to the effect that I really liked the flutes and strings on this organ, but wasn’t wild about the principals.   His reply to […]

Most electronic organs sound like the taste of yesterday’s bath water. While you’re wrapping your mind around this incongruous observation, I will plunge ahead. Electronic  voice generation (let’s call it EVG, to save me some extra typing), whether for individual deep pedal notes, or for entire stops, or for entire organs, is here to stay. […]

IMOH, the great problem with some small organs is, not surprisingly, lack of variety.   These are some of the deficiencies I often find: One  16′ pedal stop – usually a garden variety Bourdon.   It’s not big enough for full organ, too big for quiet combinations, and usually has very little in its timbre […]

Stepford Organs

March 23rd, 2011

I recently received a compliment (at least I HOPE it was a compliment) from a fine organist who was visiting some of our instruments. His last comment to me was, “I may not be able to define exactly what a Reynolds organ sounds like, but I know it is always a quality sound.” All too […]

It's the REAL Thing

April 1st, 2010

Our culture has done much to blur the distinction between the authentic article and the clever fake.   By many, it is considered a high compliment to say that something is “realistic.”   In fact, the suffix on the word “real” completely reverses its meaning.   Something that is “realistic” is something that is ultimately […]

A Tale of Two Holtkamps

March 22nd, 2010

Long experience has shown me that the pipe organ is not just one instrument – it is a richly varied group of instruments.   We have renovated and serviced organs by a whole gamut of builders from Aeolian-Skinner to Zimmer.   Some, like the Estey  I cut my teeth on, are nothing but tone color: […]

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