Pipe Organ

Commonly associated with churches, the pipe organ is a well-known invention that dates back to the 3rd century BC. It was originally invented by the Greek Ctesibus, who called his invention the hydraulis. Since then, the pipe organ has evolved greatly, and become widespread around the world.

281 Questions

Who invented the pipe organ?

Unknown. The organ developed well before 300 BCE. The Greek engineer and inventor Ctesibius of Alexandria developed a hydraulic wind stabilization device around 265 BCE.

Where is the world's largest pipe organ located?

The largest organ in the world, based on number of pipes, is located in Boardwalk Hall (formerly known as the Atlantic City Convention Hall) in Atlantic City, New Jersey. It was built from 1929 till 1932. It cost approximately $500,000 and was built at the height of the Great Depression. The effort nearly bankrupted the Midmer-Losh organ firm, which led to decades of debate as to whether it was actually completed. Recent evidence suggests it was.

It has over 33,000 pipes and over 1000 stops. The average church organ has around 1,000 pipes and 10- 30 stops. It is also the Largest and loudest musical instrument constructed. It is the only organ in the world to have pipes on 100" wind pressure. Most organs use 3" - 8" wind pressure. It is also has the worlds largest organ pipe, the 64ft Diaphone.

The organ's website is

The Convention Hall organ in Atlantic City is not only the largest pipe organ, but also the largest musical instrument ever constructed. Unfortunately, it is no longer operational.

The largest operational pipe organ (28,522 pipes) is the Wanamaker Organ in the Macy's Center City Department Store in Philadelphia, PA. This organ has the most number of ranks or sets of pipes in the world.

How do you play loud and soft on the pipe organ?

There are two methods; The first is the use of "terrace dynamics." This is accomplished by adding and subtracting stops incrementally. The second is the use of a "swell pedal" which opens and closes large shades - much like Venetian blinds - in the opening of the organ case or chamber. Swell pedals are not to be confused with the crescendo pedal or "register crescendo" which brings stops on and off via the pedal. Using this to register is incorrect and a sure giveaway of an incompetent organist. It is just there for special effects and is overused IMHO. The combination action (or "pre-sets") can be a great aid to dynamic control. Generally combinations are set up in increments of soft to loud with the low numbered pistons being the softest. Registering and controlling the dynamics of an organ is as much of a skill and art as playing the keys. It's not as simple as "pumping the pedals" as one would with a Hammond B-3.

Where in Oklahoma is the largest pipe organ located?

The largest is in Tulsa in Christ's Chapel on the campus of Oral Roberts University.

This IV/104 (4 manual/104 ranks) was built/installed in 1978 by Phelps Organ Company.

The second largest is in Norman at McFarlin Memorial United Methodist Church.

This III/68 organ was built/installed in 1988 by the Noack Organ Company.

Where can you find pipe organ sheet music?

There are a lot of places that pipe organ sheet music can be found. All you have to do is Google it. Type in "pipe organ sheet music" and watch the sites appear!

What is the name of the pipe organ music in Minecraft?

The name of the pipe organ music in Minecraft is Notre Dame.

What is the largest pipe called in a pipe organ?

It depends on the organ. Each one is different. The largest are more than 64' long, but there are only two organs in existence with pipes that large. Each set of pipes, or ranks, has a theoretical number assigned to it to indicate the length of the lowest pipe of that rank. These numbers correspond only to the length of open pipes. Stopped pipes (closed at the top) sound approximately one octave lower than open pipes of the same length. Generally, the longest pipe in the average church organ is low C of the 16' Bourdon - which actually measures slightly more than 8'. Larger organs will sometimes have open ranks of that pitch, the lowest measuring around 17' to 18' - the extra foot or two being taken up by the lower portion - the "foot" and / or "false length" at the top on pipes that are "slot tuned" or facade pipes that need extra length for aesthetic purposes.

How did the pipe organ get its name?

Until the mid to late 19th century the pipe organ was the only musical instrument to bear the name "organ." At this time the reed organ or harmonium was developed and quickly became very popular. Thus a term was needed to differentiate between the two.

From the pipes.

How does the swell pedal work on a Pipe Organ?

Good question. In technical terms it is called an "expression pedal" as in strictest terms the swell pedal controls only the swell division. The same principal applies to all divisions under expression.

Simply put, depressing the expression pedal forward increases the volume. This is called opening the expression pedal. The opposite decreases the volume.

This is accomplished by enclosing the pipes in the division in question in some sort of enclosure and fitting an opening with a set of shades or "shutters." The shades take the form of large Venetian blinds. they are usually made of wood but some builders have used metal and other materials have been used, such as glass on rare occasions.

The enclosure may take the form of a wooden box or a separate room, called an "organ chamber."

The shades may be connected to the shades by direct mechanical linkage or electrically with a motor being used to move the shades.

On a pipe organ the use of the shades is quite different than an electric or electronic organ, such as a Hammond. The expression pedals should not be "pumped" for not only will they will not be able to respond adequately but it will put undue stress and wear on the mechanisms.

Another type of expression pedal also exists. It appears identical to swell type pedals but does not function in the same manner. This is the Crescendo, or Register Crescendo. It works by bringing stops on and off progressively. It is for special effects and should not be used as a means of registration.

How many keys does a pipe organ have?

The standard organ manual keyboard has 61 keys and the pedal keyboard has 32 keys. Most pipe organs have at least two manual keyboards and large organs have four or more. The number of keys has grown over time. The organ of Bach's time had 49 keys or less. Some of the lower octaves were "short." The pedal keyboard had 25 keys. Over time the compass grew with the standard growing to 56 manual keys and 27 to 30 pedal keys. The American Guild of Organists set the standard to the 61 - 32 compass in the early twentieth century.

What is the longest base pipe in a pipe organ?

It depends on the organ. Some of the longest in the world are more than 64' long, but generally it is not much longer than 16'.

Does the pipe organ play only with hands?

Not only you can play with your hands, you can play it with your feet as well.

When was the pipe organ invented?

Certainly sometime prior to 300 BCE. It is possible that primitive organs were constructed in Egypt or Mesopotamia well before this period and the development of the Hydraulus.

Is the pipe organ bigger then the harmonium?

In general yes. There some very small portative pipe organs that might be smaller than a large harmonium but in general pipe organs are larger than harmoniums.

When pipe organ most popular?

In modern times, at least from a sales standpoint, it was during the silent film era when theater organs were being built to accompany films in larger and more prosperous theaters - roughly from 1912 to 1929.

What do you call a person who plays the pipe organ?

An organist. Same title applies to those who play digitals, too.

Where is the largest pipe organ in KY?

In Louisville ... Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Alumni Chapel has a 4 manual Aeolian-Skinner pipe organ with 6,562 pipes. Originally built in 1948 and modified in 1963.

Pipe organ owned by the Mormons?

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (commonly called "Mormons") owns many pipe organs. They can be found in meetinghouses and temples around the world. The most famous pipe organs owned by the Church are found on Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah - most notably the Tabernacle Organ and the Conference Center Organ. These organs are played daily in free recitals that are open to the public.

The Tabernacle Organ was originally built in 1867 and contains 11,623 pipes. It is one of the largest pipe organs in the world.

The Conference Center Organ was built in 2003 and contains 7,767 pipes.

See the "Related Links" below for more information about these organs and other organs on Temple Square.

How big is the worlds largest pipe organ?

There are two in this category: One is 100 playable and the other is in restoration process:

  1. John Wanamaker Organ - Philadelphia, PA 100% operational and used daily.
  2. The Boardwalk Organ - Atlanta ... currently being restored with about 20% playable.

What musical family is the pipe organ in?

Technically it is a wind instrument. The pipe organ has often been referred to as "The King of Instruments". It's in a class all by itself ... It was never intended to replace the orchestra or sound like an orchestra, although it contains orchestral like sounding voices.

Sound is produced by pressing a key which opens a valve below the pipes and lets the pressurized air travel upwards through the pipe. Once the key is released, the valve closes and the sound ceases.

Where did the pipe organ come from?

Most likely the Middle East or Mediterranean. Ctesibius of Alexandria devised a system of wind pressure regulation using water in the second century BCE but primitive forms of the organ pre-date this by at least a century.