On the "Art of Organ Building"

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Pipe organs that is.

This profusely illustrated two volume Dover reprint of The Art of Organ Building by George Ashdown Audsley was originally published in 1905.

What I find most fascinating about this book is the intricacy of the mechanisms that connect the beautiful ivory and ebony keyboards to the hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of pipes in a big pipe organ. I'm sure we've all seen the famous scene of Captain Nemo playing his pipe organ in the saloon of the Nautilus while the storm rages on the surface above or, more recently, Captain Davey Jones playing his on the Flying Dutchman in Pirates II. These instruments, whether small chamber versions like those on the Nautilus or in many an evil genius' lair, or the massive organs in cathedrals and concert halls, are truly the "King of Instruments".

In their 19th c forms they were magnificent examples of wooden engineering, made of natural materials for the most part. Elegant machines of finely balanced levers, rollers, fine wires and leather clad close grained wood. Thousands of moving parts all aligned and adjusted to transmit the finest touch of the organist to the valve opening air to the base of a pipe that might be as small as a match stick or as big around as an ale barrel and over a hundred feet long!

The 400 illustrations included in this 1300 page masterwork, cover the whole range of mechanisms from the earliest Roman and Mediaeval instruments, played by slamming the keys with closed fists, to early 20th c pneumatic and electro-pneumatic systems.

A fantastic source of ideas on linking one motion to another in elegant and efficient ways.

The Art of Organ-Building
A Comprehensive Historical, Theoretical, and Practical Treatise
on the
Tonal Appointment and Mechanical Construction
of Concert-Room, Church and Chamber Organs

George Ashdown Audsley, LL.D.

Dodd, Mead, and Company
New York

Dover Re-print 1965

ISBN: 0-486-21314-5

Keep your sight glass full and your firebox trimmed.


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