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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000318.txt from 1999/04

From: "Mark Lynch" <>
Subj: Re: [kl] Materials when decoupled from the performer
Date: Mon, 5 Apr 1999 21:50:34 -0400

The reason certain organ pipes are made of wood or metal has to do with the
shape of the pipe (and the sound characteristics desired by that shape) and
the most effective way to fabricate the shape. For example it is easier to
use sheet materials to make a cylindrical rank of pipes like a diapason stop
than boring a cylinder out of wood. Particularly in the larger pipes.
Also, if you spent a lot of time near wind chests like I have, you'll also
notice that the very highest pitches of pipes are always metal and look
remarkably the same no matter what rank of pipes they belong to. That's
because when you get up in dog whistle range it really doesn't make much
difference what the pipe looks like or what it is made of (although I've
never seen any plastic pipes ;<). Its also true to a certain extent at the
other range of pitch. In this case wood is used because a column of metal
sheet metal over about 18 feet tall or so has certain physics problems
associated with it, namely column buckling. Don't get me wrong there are
large (32') stops that are all metal but they are either capped stops (i.e.
16' tube with a cap on it), are extraordinarily heavy or, as in the case of
some large reed stops, doubled back on themselves (kind of like a
contrabassoon looks). But in many modern installations they are probably
wooden (or horrors electronic), after about 32 cycles per second and below,
material doesn't matter much when only mating whales can fully appreciate
the sound.

>On Sun, 4 Apr 1999, Bill Hausmann wrote:
>> And, oddly enough, the ranks of pipes that are made of wood on the
>> lower notes switch to metal on the higher notes.
>Not on every organ. My wife is an organist, and I have become her
>emergency tuner. I would say that in most of the organs I have seen there
>are ranks in which all the pipes are wood.
>Ed Lacy
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