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date: 13 November 2019

Wyvern organlocked

  • Hugh Davies


Electronic organ, several models of which were manufactured from 1966 by Wyvern Church Organs in Bideford, Devon, continuing as Wyvern Organ Builders Ltd in Fernhurst, near Haslemere. Preceding models from the 1950s were designed by Kenneth Burge (who had been involved in two companies manufacturing electronic organs that bore his name) and some later ones by Tony Koriander. Burge founded the Wyvern firm in 1966 and in 1968 was joined by Arthur Lord, former general manager of the John Compton Organ Co., who served Wyvern as artistic advisor. In 1977 the National Research and Development Corp. (latterly the British Technology Group) invited Wyvern to engineer a digital tone-generation system; in 1978 they produced the prototype of the fully computerized Bradford Computing Organ, designed by Peter Comerford of the University of Bradford.

Since then, the sounds in the Wyvern organs have been generated digitally. A minimum of five very-high-frequency oscillators (one for each of two possible specifications—‘English’ and a neo-Baroque ‘Classical’—on each of two manuals, and one for the pedals) use two stages of frequency division to produce successively the 12 semitones of the highest octave and all the lower octaves. The length of time that different organ pipes take to speak was reproduced by computer-designed graduated frequency attack, and the ‘chiff’ attack found in some flute stops on pipe organs could be included as an optional feature. A harpsichord unit was also available. More recently, Wyvern adopted a new tone-generator system based on sound-sampling technology; a version allowing note-by-note voicing, adjustment of apparent location of sound sources, and emulation of unsteady wind was adapted for custom-built Wyvern organs, some with four manuals. Some installations combine electronic and pipe components....

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