The language of pipe organs

2012-07-07T00:00:00Z 2012-07-09T16:25:07Z The language of pipe organs The Billings Gazette
July 07, 2012 12:00 am

In his “Pipe Organ Primer,” Steve Aadland notes that pipe terminology is replete with names from the human body. “When pipes make a sound, it is said that they ‘speak,’” he wrote. “The sound comes from the ‘mouth,’ between upper and lower ‘lips’ and between the ‘ears’.” All of the aforementioned parts are found on the lower end of each pipe.

The primer also explains the pipe organ’s components. The console is where the organ is played with a keyboard. The music is powered by moving air, created by an electric blower. A bellows regulates the air pressure to assure the pipes are played with consistency and “speak” with their intended “voice.” At the heart of the pipe organ is the windchest, a rectangular wooden box or boxes on which the pipes stand. When a key is depressed on the keyboard, a valve in the windchest opens, allowing air to enter a pipe or group of pipes corresponding to the desired note. In addition to the original windchest made by the Rev. A.O. Aadland, Immanuel Lutheran Church’s new pipe organ has 13 additional new windchests built by Art Aadland.

The volume of the pipe organ is adjusted by opening or closing swell shutters, which resemble vertical blinds, placed in front of the pipes.

When complete, the organ’s façade in Immanuel Lutheran depicts the symbols of a simple cross cradled in a Bible.

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