Last updated: 26 August 2015. Click About This Website for update list.
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For over fifteen 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 ½ hours of music played on the three manual organ below and the Prog Organ virtual pipe organ here?
Pièce Héroïque (César Franck) - 8.20 MB/8m 58s
Toccata from Symphony no. 5 (Widor) - 5.42 MB/5m 55s
Played on a simulated Cavaillé-Coll organ (more about the simulation >>)
!! NEW !! - A Compendium of Analogue Electronic Organ Technology (PDF download 1.5 MB approx)
Perhaps surprisingly, there still seems to be quite a lot of interest in the analogue technology used in old electronic organs and synthesisers, judging by the number of requests I receive for information. Articles already on this site include the following:
Tone Filters for Electronic Organs (a 450 kB PDF download describing how to design the filter networks for instruments using subtractive synthesis. First published in Wireless World in 1980)
How Synthesisers Work (outlines both analogue and digital synth technology at an introductory level)
Winston Kock and the Baldwin Organ (an outline of the work of Dr Winston E Kock who designed the world's first commercially successful subtractive synthesis organ)
Choosing an Electronic Organ (an article first published in Musical Times in the 1980s)
This new post is not so much an article as a book, being a substantial 150-page compendium providing enough information to enable a high quality subtractive synthesis instrument to be constructed, as well as surveying best practice in the wider analogue scene as it was in its heyday. Both frequency divider and free phase oscillator systems are considered and described in detail. While most of the low-end commercial products of that era were undeniably awful, a few firms such as Allen, Rodgers and Copeman Hart produced custom instruments which were well regarded at the time, and some of the principles and techniques described are similar to those which they used. It was distributed originally as a spiral-bound hard copy book for the Electronic Organ Constructors' Society in the UK in 2001, and it is now made freely available here in PDF form in view of the evident continuing interest in the subject. Clicking on the link above will initiate the download (approx 1.5 MB).
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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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