C-200 Classical instruments

Pipe organs

Pipe organ
Example of a pipe organ:
Rodgers Organ,
Bel Air Presbyterian Church,
Los Angeles (suburb), California, USA

Pipe organs, often referred to as the "king of instruments," produces its distinct sound by pumping air through a multitude of pipes. Its origins are ancient and can be traced back, according to some accounts, to pan pipes, an instrument that appears in Greek mythology. Pan pipes were made by tying reeds together. By the 3rd century B.C., the "hydraulus" — from which the pipe organ originated — was invented. These instruments were installed in Roman amphitheaters to add excitement to competitions. Pipe organs eventually became popular as an instrument for churches. They were also used to provide music for balls hosted by aristocrats, which spread throughout Europe during the renaissance period. The use of pipe organs peaked during the 17th and 18th centuries. Their styles varied depending on period and region. Representative types of organs include the "Baroque organ," a type of organ that was used during the peak period and on which Bach composed many masterpieces, and "romantic organs" and "symphonic organs, both of which were designed in the 19th century to perform concerts. They captivated audiences with majestic sounds that rivaled orchestras.

Pipe organs — more than meets the eye. A large number of pipes, large and small, are arrayed behind its facade. Some organs have more than 30,000 pipes. A single pipe can only produce a single tone. The pipes that the organist chooses to play are selected by a stop, and are played as a combination. While there are countless types of pipe-organ tones, they can be largely categorized as below:

• Principal tones: These tones, which resonate very well, represent the standard "pipe organ" tones.
• Flute tones: These are soft and warm tones, and are produced on thicker pipes.
• String tones: These are tones that resemble string instruments, such as violins and cello, and are produced on thinner pipes.
• Reed tones: These are loud and assertive tones, and resemble trumpets and oboes.