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Antiphonal organ  

Laurence Libin

Division of an organ, whose chest and pipes are spatially separated from the main pipework so as to create an antiphonal effect when this division is played in alternation with others. Further, this division can be coupled to others for simultaneous playing that surrounds listeners with sound emanating from different locations. Antiphonal ranks need not have a dedicated manual but, in modern organs, often ‘float’ among several manuals by means of console controls. Development of the Antiphonal division was facilitated beginning in the late 19th century by electric and electropneumatic actions that simplify spatial separation of an organ’s components. However, it remained uncommon and nowadays normally appears only in large instruments. The term is also applied to a separate, independent, sometimes moveable organ, subsidiary to the main one in a building and played from its own console....


Cinema organ  

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....


Fairground organ  

Durward R. Center

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

[fair organ, showground organ, band organ; Dut. draaiorgel; Ger. Kermisorgel]

A mechanical organ used to provide music for merry-go-rounds and in amusement parks, circuses and skating rinks in Europe and the USA. 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 colourfully painted case which sometimes incorporated moving figures in its façade. All but the very largest instruments were designed to be portable. 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 fairground organs, those of the late 1870s, were of the Barrel organ type. By about 1880 such instruments were being produced in sizes containing several hundred pipes and a variety of percussion effects; these large models were powered by steam or water engines and later by electric motors. Major builders of barrel-operated organs included Gavioli of Paris, Wilhelm Bruder of Waldkirch, Limonaire of Paris, and Eugene DeKleist of North Tonawanda, New York. In ...



Barbara Owen

A name given to certain 16th- and 17th-century tower organs of central Germany and Austria. At first such outdoor organs could play only a few chords, and were used for signalling in the same manner as bells. Later they were enlarged and fitted with self-playing mechanisms of the pinned barrel type, enabling them to play melodies in the manner of a carillon. Two operable examples exist in Austria. One, dating from 1502, known as the ‘Salzburger Stier’, is in the tower of the bishop’s castle in Salzburg. Originally its 138 pipes played only a single loud chord, accounting for the name Stier (Ger.: ‘bull’). About 1640 a separate 25-note barrel organ was added, which played an unidentified hymn tune. In 1753 Johann Rochus Egedacher provided barrels with a different piece for each month, five composed by Johann Ernst Eberlin and six by Leopold Mozart; the old hymn tune was played during the twelfth month.Für den zwölften Monat sollte wieder der »Alte Choral« verwendet werden. During World War II the music was reprogrammed by the Nazis but in ...


Pulsator organorum  

James W. McKinnon

(Lat.: ‘a beater of organs’)

The term appears in a number of medieval texts, where it means simply a ‘player of the organ’. Some 20th-century writers on the organ, however, have explained the word ‘pulsator’ by claiming that the cumbersome keys of the medieval organ could be depressed only by a blow of the fist.

The Latin verb pulsare (which means to beat not only in the sense of to strike but also to palpitate) has been associated since classical times with the playing of musical instruments. For example pulsare lyram (‘to play the lyre’) was in common Roman usage with no connotation of heavy beating. The application of such a connotation to medieval organ playing can be traced to 19th-century Germany, where the similarity of pulsator organorum to Orgelschläger was observed. The German phrase did indeed mean a beater of organs (it occurs in Johann Seidel’s influential Die Orgel und ihr Bau, Breslau, 1843...



Peter Williams, Nicholas Thistlethwaite, Edwin M. Ripin, and John Koster

A device for the gradation of volume in keyboard instruments.

Peter Williams, revised by Nicholas Thistlethwaite

The Swell organ is that manual department of an organ whose chest and/or pipes are enclosed on all sides by a box, one side of which incorporates a device (lid, flap, shutters, sashed panel, etc.) that can be opened and closed by connection with a foot-lever or pedal. A stop or half-stop may be thus enclosed, or several departments (Choir organ, Solo organ) or even the whole organ (Samuel Green, St George's Chapel, Windsor, 1790). The connection from foot-lever to swelling device can be mechanical, pneumatic, electrical, etc. and may be so made that fine gradations in the degree of closure are possible.

Some examples of the small Brustwerk of the 16th century may have had doors that could be opened; most authenticated examples before about 1700, however, have semi-fixed fretwork doors. The idea of foot-operated movable doors or, in chamber organs, flaps, occurred occasionally to builders (T. Mace, ...


Theater organ  

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....


Theatre organ (ii)  

Barbara Owen




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