Additional Math Pages & Resources

Friday, January 21, 2011

How do you measure size? Pipe Organs

I decided to talk about pipe organs today. This is the last of my small series of postings on how to measure and compare size. I don't play any instruments, but I like to listen to (feel) organ music. When sounds are emanating from 32-foot pipes, they shake the building and the body. I guess I have a thing about any kind of loud sound-generating things, like bells and fog horns and sirens!

Size refers to how big something is - by length, width, height, diameter, perimeter, volume, area, or any number of other criteria.

When it comes to measuring pipe organs, there are three main factors  that enthusiasts compare - the number of manuals (keyboards), the number of ranks (sets of pipes) and the number of organ pipes themselves.
There are other factors for comparing, such as the range of pipe size from large to small, the length of the longest pipe, speed or pressure of the wind blowing through the pipes, etc. Then there are the categories of organ, such as Church Organ, Theatre Organ, Fairground Organ, etc.
I found a page of specifications that show the largest Organs in the world.

After some research, I created a picture of the largest organ (by number of pipes). Well, it looks like organ pipes but it's really a table showing the number of pipes within each group or voice on the Atlantic City Convention Hall organ. [Click on the picture for a larger version]


Here's the console from which the Atlantic City organ is played.


If you would like to hear my favorite organist, Jan Feher, playing the First Presbyterian Church of San Diego's Casavant Frères with 5100 pipes, click here. She's doing a full concert on January 30th if you want to stop by and hear the organ in person. The name of this piece is Basse et Dessus de Trompette by Louis-Nicolas Clerambault.

This is the Liverpool Episcopal Cathedral organ. Click on the image to see it in a much larger size!