Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Pipe Dreams

So, nobody was able to guess what the object was in the last post!  I kinda figured that might stump ya'll.  Many, many years ago (another lifetime almost) I used to work on pipe organs and the object is one of the larger wooden pipes from one of the organs we took care of.  (If you enlarge the photo in my last post you can see the stopper in the top and the mouth of the pipe down near the plants) You can see smaller versions in the photo above.  For each key on the keyboard there is a corresponding pipe and they descend in size according to the note.  Each set of pipes is called a "rank" and they each are tuned and voiced to a certain sound, such as the 8' trumpet, viola, etc.  And, the largest pipe of, say, the 8' trumpet, really is 8' tall.  Now, some ranks go all the way up to 32' but those pipes are normally not really 32'.  They will use electronics or other techniques to get that sound out of a smaller pipe.  As I said though, the pipe in my house is about 10' long, which was actually one of the smaller pipes in that rank we took out.  If I remember correctly the largest pipe in that rank was about 18'.  The pipes go from this size all the way down to teeny, weeny ranks where the pipes are about the size of a pencil.  Most of the pipes are lead or zinc or a combination of the two but about 1/3 of an organ will be wood pipes.  You occasionally see copper pipes but not often.

The pipe came out of this very church in Birmingham, although the pipes you see there are part of a new organ that was installed last year.  The guy I worked for maintained this organ and we had to restore it after a large fire destroyed everything but the sanctuary.  Supposedly, the large wooden pipes had cracked after being soaked by the fire hoses and so were replaced.  Unfortunately, the rank was replaced electronically, not with real wooden pipes.  The pipes are somewhere around 75 years old and of such beautiful wood a number of us saved all we could.  I only ended up with one but I guess that's better than none.  Of course, it's a challenge to come up with room for them.  Anyway, back then the pipe organ was valued at over $1 million: I'm not sure what this new one goes for.
The job didn't pay too well but it was interesting for sure and we had a lot of fun.  The guy I worked for was a good friend, and a unique fellow to say the least.  Sadly, he passed away a number of years ago at only 49.  A bad heart and drug use will do that sometimes.  He was a good guy though and I miss Howard.  But, as I said, that was a lifetime ago.

And did you know where the old saying, "pulling out all the stops" comes from?  Well, from pipe organs of course!  Each of those white knobs you see on the sides of the keyboards controls one rank of pipes and is referred to as a "stop".  When you pull a knob out it activates power to the air and valves of that rank, allowing it to speak and the organist can thus control the sound and fullness of the music.  So, if you pull out all the stops, the whole organ is playing and that is usually an astounding sound! 

See, ya'll just learn all kinds of interesting crap on my blog.  And, as ol' Howard used to say, you know what's better than roses on your piano?..........tulips on your organ of course!

Another update:  all my bloodwork has come back at this point and of is all perfectly normal.  According to the numbers, not a damn thing wrong with me.


Fairhope Supply Co. said...

I love to listen to pipe organs and these are beautiful. What a skill to know how to work on them!

Kenneth Price said...

Thanks for the interesting organ commentary. To me, pipe organs have always been a work of art in their construction. And, of course, it takes an artist to play one well. Also loved the chicken with her head in the pipe!

Ed said...

Never would have guessed that. Perhaps if I had seen the slot that the sounds comes out of. You should really hook air up to that and give it a toot everytime someone sits on it. Of course make sure they have strong hearts first!

Rich said...

I'm with Ed, I was wondering what kind of sound you could get out of it.

I was thinking along the lines of mounting some sort of speaker inside of it (of course, I'm not entirely sure about how acoustics work).

edifice rex said...

Hey Fairhope! yes, I actually enjoy listening to the organs to, although not much German music; that's a little rough. lol!

Hey Ken! yeah, Jack thought the chicken picture was funny too. Glad you enjoyed the info.

Hey Ed! haha! yeah, I would have been real surprised if somebody had guessed that one. We have joked about putting air to it so that it could speak but the pressure required is fairly high.

Hey Rich! this one was part of the 32' bourdon, so it makes a very low, deep rumbling sound basically. If working the thing would shake my entire house! lol!

JO said...

Interesting I would never have guesses either.
But the stained glass is just beautiful.

Don't you just hate when everything reads normal but you know it shouldn't.

I just received another bill for lab work. I should own half that stinkin company by now. Luckily for the first time in my life I have great insurance and only pay $12. out of the $711. :O

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Learn lots of new things ever you day and a lot from fellow bloggers. Thanks for all the info, Annie.

Aunty Belle said...

oh!! Luved this lesson on Pipe ORgans--amazin'. Lucky you, too. The Pull Out All the Stops info wuz a good chuckle--never knowed that.

I need to read back'ards to see what all ya been up to Annie. But, stopped by to let ya know I'se been talkin' about ya on the BACK PORCH

Cheers, sweet lady.

edifice rex said...

Hey Jo! yeah, the stained glass in that church is truly gorgeous.
Yes, the lab work is very frustrating but I'm glad I have good insurance too! worth it when you really need it.

Hey Bea! yes, there is so much to learn from one another!

Hey Aunty! why, thank you so much for the plug again! Love to hear people enjoying my creations!