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Celebrating the pipe organ, the King of Instruments

Mailbag: “Oh that Sound!”

November 17, 2009

Dear Michael,

Michael, I really love the theatre organ presentations. I can recognize the theatre organ sound immediately...but I don't know why. What is it about a theatre organ that gives it this earthy, growly, sprightly sound.




Though in some ways the components of a theater organ are not much different than a church or 'classical' organ (and I could play back-to-back recordings of jazz played on the Wurlitzer at the Brooklyn Paramount and the Fisk at Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas that would prove my point), what you likely hear is the focus on 'foundational' tone...underscored by the particularly broad voice of the Tibia (a huge flute), and given additional personality by the (usually) throbbing tremulants.
The classical organ may have as much fundamental, but builds its ensemble on a collection of higher-pitched ranks of pipes, directed at creating a more brilliant tone. Also, tremulants on classical organs are not as pervasive, nor as often used.
Anyone reading this post should feel free to add a comment.




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