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Article

Durward R. Center

revised by Arthur W.J.G. Ord-Hume

A mechanical organ (known as “fairground organ” in Europe) used to provide music for merry-go-rounds and in amusement parks, circuses, and skating rinks in Europe and the United States. The instrument originated in Europe as an outdoor version of the Orchestrion, voiced to sound above the hurly-burly of the fairground. Initially it was put near the entrance in order to attract attention. It was usually built in an elaborately carved and colorfully painted case which sometimes incorporated moving figures in its façade. All but the very largest instruments were designed to be portable, robust enough to travel around the country on rough roads. With the coming of bioscope (moving picture) theatres, the organ sometimes became the front of the show-tent, its façade incorporating entry and exit doors.

The earliest band organs, developed during the 18th century, were essentially barrel organs: they had a wooden cylinder or barrel covered with metal pins that formed a musical program. By about ...

Article

David H. Fox

A type of pipe organ built between 1911 and 1940 specifically for the accompaniment of silent films and the performance of popular music. In the USA the term ‘theater organ’ is preferred (for earlier types of organ used in theatres, see Theatre organ). Many characteristics of the cinema organ can be traced to church organs built between 1895 and 1910 in the UK and USA by Robert Hope-Jones (1859–1914), a pioneer of the use of electricity in organs. These included the use of rapid electropneumatic action, remote consoles, numerous couplers and accessories and, in particular, unification. With this economical system, the effect of a 61-pipe rank of another octave was obtained by the addition of 12 pipes to a stop and appropriate electrical connections (see Extension organ and Organ, §VI, 4). ‘Double touch’ enabled the organist to play with a different stop arrangement when applying additional pressure to the keys. This permitted the playing of solo and accompaniment on the same manual, and other effects....

Article

James H. Cook

An organ installed in a public performance hall. Owing to their intended use, concert organs stand apart from church organs on one hand and residence organs on the other. Such organs were common in the 1920s and 1930s, less so in the years following World War II. A late-twentieth-century resurgence of interest has produced some outstanding examples, including those in the Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas (Fisk ...

Article

David H. Fox

revised by David L. Junchen

[cinema organ]

A type of pipe organ built between 1911 and 1940 specifically for the accompaniment of silent films and the performance of popular music in the magnificent movie palaces that arose during the first four decades of the 20th century. Used at first to substitute for the house orchestra during breaks, the theater organ eventually superseded the orchestra, for a single organist could improvise a more flexible accompaniment to the action on the screen. In the United States the term “theater organ” is preferred; in the UK “cinema organ” is used. Many characteristics of the theater organ can be traced to innovations in organs built between 1895 and 1910 in the UK and United States by Robert Hope-Jones (1859–1914), an early pioneer of the use of electricity in organs. Hope-Jones developed many of his innovative ideas in his native England, but not until he immigrated to America and later worked with the Rudolph Wurlitzer Company of North Tonawanda, New York, was his concept of the “Unit Orchestra” fully realized. This included the use of rapid electropneumatic action, remote consoles, numerous couplers and accessories, and, in particular, unification. With this economical system, the effect of a larger organ was obtained by the expansion of the number of pipes in each individual rank, and electrically “borrowing” additional stops from each rank at different pitches and on different manuals. “Double touch” enabled the organist to play a solo with a different stop arrangement from its accompaniment on a single manual, by applying additional pressure to the keys....

Article

Barbara Owen

Article

Douglas Leedy

revised by Charles Corey

Systems of organization of the pitch scale. Such systems are either “just” or “tempered.” Just systems consist entirely of pure intervals, and though literal transposition of patterns or scales may be very limited, other musically useful symmetries are available. Tempered systems are those in which the purity of some or all intervals is deliberately compromised in order to render other intervals less impure, and thus increase the number of musically serviceable intervals. Over the course of centuries countless tunings and temperaments have been proposed, but few have been of practical importance; of these, 12-tone equal temperament has become the standard in Western music since the 19th century.

Until about 1850 many organs in New England were tuned to some practical variant of meantone temperament, while in areas of German influence (such as the Moravian communities) equal temperament prevailed. The universal acceptance of 12-tone equal temperament as standard from the mid-19th century nearly silenced discussion of alternative systems; only a few isolated composers and theorists advocated or experimented with non-standard tuning systems before about ...

Article

J. Richard Haefer

Five-stringed small guitar of Mexico. Commonly known as the vihuela, it is played in the mariachi ensemble as a harmony and rhythm instrument, and should not be confused with the Spanish vihuela de mano. It has a loud, crisp, rapid-decay sound. The soundbox is typically 39 cm long with a 29 cm maximum width, a 28 cm neck with four to six movable nylon frets, and 50 cm string length. The maximum depth of the sides is 10.5 cm plus an additional 6 cm depth to the apex of the vaulted, angled back. Wooden pegs inserted from the rear of the pegboard are traditional but nowadays most vihuelas have mechanical tuners. The tuning is a-d′-g′-b-e′ but sometimes the lowest three strings are tuned an octave higher. The soundhole (boca) is surrounded by nácar (mother of pearl) and wood inlay in a starburst pattern, and the purfling has intricate ...