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Celebrating the pipe organ, the King of Instruments

Mailbag: “In Layman‘s Terms”

September 24, 2007

Dear Michael,

In a link from your website to that of Severance Hall regarding their 1931 Skinner organ the following explanation is made:

“Skinner created unique voices that blend with and enhance the sound of an orchestra. In addition, he contoured instruments for concert halls around unison pitch rather than the vertical tonal design of the classic organ.”

Can you explain exactly what follows “he contoured instruments” means in non-technical language (if possible).


George Morrison


I’m a bit at a loss as to quite what the author of that description had in mind. I think it simply means that Skinner organs were less inclined to develop upper harmonic partials as in the numerous higher-pitched stops, particular ‘mixtures’, found on classic and neo-classic organs. Though Skinner instruments did not totally avoid such pitches, they were less concerned with creating a ‘brilliant’ sound than an ‘oppulent’ one.

If anyone else wants to chime in, the door is open.


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