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  • Organ-piano combo?

    Is there such a thing as a pipe organ console with a built-in piano manual? It's occurred to me how neat that would be to play and I'm curious to see if it exists somewhere.

  • #2
    Many companies built the combo for the early theaters in the 1920s. Wurli. Seeburg and Coinola are just a few. Google these and you will be amazed what was available 90 years ago. I have a Reproduco by the Chicago company Operators Piano Co. that plays two ranks of pipes and a large scale piano. The stop tabs would let you play piano, organ or both. Really neat.

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    • #3
      Don't forget product by the American Photoplayer Co. They made some pretty ambitious combinations playable from a piano console. I had the chance to fiddle around with one at an MBSI meeting some years ago. It was really fun to play.

      DMV

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      • #4
        Hi,
        There is the Claviorgano, recently built by Claudio Brizi; IMO it is a serious instrument, capable of the best effects.
        http://youtu.be/dUVJ6EsbZVI
        Liszt had two combo instruments built, one was a piano with a one manual harmonium; the other was a piano and a two manual and pedal harmonium. They survive I believe, and one of them will be restored. The larger one may have also had a celesta built in, but I'm not sure. Just think of what the greatest improvisateur could have brought forth from an instrument like that.

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        • #5
          I can't help thinking of the famous Boardwalk Auditorium organ up in Atlanta. The bottom manual of that massive console looks like it's almost as large as a piano keyboard. Obviously, there is no piano as part of the instrument, and would unlikely be heard if there was. Although in my experience, organ and piano is a very poor combination, even in the Concerto Gregoriano by Pietro Yon (I prefer it done in a two-organ version).

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          • #6
            Did you mean Atlantic City?

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            • #7
              Yeah, that's what I meant.

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              • #8
                Thank you all! That's really fascinating to hear.

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                • #9
                  Actually, the Boardwalk Hall ML organ does indeed have a stop that controls a grand piano in the left centre chamber. Playable from the pedal, or on a floating manual. I think it unfortunately joins the many ranks of unplayable stops at the moment

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                  • #10
                    Actually, the Boardwalk Hall ML organ does indeed have a stop that controls a grand piano in the left centre chamber. Playable from the pedal, or on a floating manual. I think it unfortunately joins the many ranks of unplayable stops at the moment

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                    • #11
                      And, speaking of the Atlantic City Aud. organ: I hope you all saw the episode of Ultimate Restorations now running on PBS. What a spectacular instrument and what a monumental restoration projection!

                      I found the time frame of its original construction interesting as well: 1929! The Senator must have had some extremely deep pockets.

                      . . . Jan

                      - - - Updated - - -

                      And, speaking of the Atlantic City Aud. organ: I hope you all saw the episode of Ultimate Restorations now running on PBS. What a spectacular instrument and what a monumental restoration projection!

                      I found the time frame of its original construction interesting as well: 1929! The Senator must have had some extremely deep pockets.

                      . . . Jan

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                      • #12
                        Another instrument, introduced in 1905, was both a piano and a tone generator and was called the Choralcelo (note the spelling - it is not "cello" and is pronounced "sell-o" not "chello"). It had a keyboard that could strike the piano strings in the normal fashion but also a keyboard that controlled a massive electro-mechanical pulse generator system. Individual pulse trains were generated for each note in the chromatic scale. Appropriate frequency pulses were fed to electro-magnets that caused the piano strings to vibrate at their resonant frequency, allowing them to sing without being struck.

                        The pulses were also fed to electromagnets located near ferrous disks attached to non-ferrous bars with resonating columns above or below the bars to produce a rather ethereal sound. The bars could be made of aluminum, glass, wood, etc. A bass unit resembling a scaled set of carriage springs created the low frequencies for the pedal. These "auxiliary" units were located in chambers much like a pipe organ and the resonators looked like those made for organ pipes.

                        Supporting equipment included a motor-generator that generated 30-Volts DC, the pulse generator assembly and a large switching system controlled by the console keys and stop tabs. It took up as much space as a residence pipe organ. A later refinement of the instrument allowed it to create upper partials at lower volume levels to add to the complexity of the timber of the stops, much like a Hammond organ.

                        I actually have spent time inspecting the only remaining Choralcelo still in its original home. Unfortunately it does not work but is fascinating to see. The Choralcelo cost a fortune to develop and was not terribly successful.

                        There is a lot of misinformation on the Internet about the Choralcelo, including a mansion in Elkhart, Indiana claiming to have one. They actually have a Choralcelo console that controls a residence pipe organ that was installed after the Choralcelo mechanisms stopped working.

                        Google the name to learn more and see photos. The attached photos are from the Internet and show the Choralcelo on display at the National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion. Wade Jenkins collected this equipment over many years and donated it to the Museum. In the second photo you can see the huge pulse generator assembly on the floor and some of the auxiliary tone generating units.
                        Attached Files
                        Larry is my name; Allen is an organ brand. Allen RMWTHEA.3 with RMI Electra-Piano; Allen 423-C+Gyro; Britson Opus OEM38; Steinway AR Duo-Art 7' grand piano, Mills Violano Virtuoso with MIDI; Hammond 9812H with roll player; Roland E-200; Mason&Hamlin AR Ampico grand piano, Allen ADC-5300-D with MIDI, Allen MADC-2110.

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                        • #13
                          So theoretically you could produce a typical piano sound that does not decay but could be held indefinitely like on the organ then?

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                          • #14
                            Yes. The piano keyboard has 88 notes it but also controlled the electric portions of the instrument so you could get the percussive attack of the hammer hitting the strings and then as long as you held the key the pulsed electromagnet would keep the strings resonating as long as you held down the key.

                            Interestingly, on the instrument I saw there are 64 notes on the electric action only (upper) keyboard, not 61. The extra three keys are at the bass end of the keyboard. You can see the piano through the hole in the woodwork above the stop tabs. Originally there was a player mechanism in that opening but it had been removed a long time ago.

                            Click image for larger version

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                            Larry is my name; Allen is an organ brand. Allen RMWTHEA.3 with RMI Electra-Piano; Allen 423-C+Gyro; Britson Opus OEM38; Steinway AR Duo-Art 7' grand piano, Mills Violano Virtuoso with MIDI; Hammond 9812H with roll player; Roland E-200; Mason&Hamlin AR Ampico grand piano, Allen ADC-5300-D with MIDI, Allen MADC-2110.

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                            • #15
                              I read everything I could find online about the Choralcelo last winter. Hopefully one gets restored and recorded and maybe sampled. This could have been what Tesla would have built. So much magnetic energy in that thing.
                              There was, I found, a huge installation in use until the early 70's in the Mohonk Mountain House resort which was only 20 miles from where I grew up! I'm old enough to have heard it played by the original performer, who played there from the 30's or 40's until retiring around 1970. My sister actually worked in the dining room there, but I believe a bit too late to have heard it. To clarify, I never did hear it, but could have had serendipity asserted itself. These larger installations had numerous remote chambers that could be toggled on/off depending on where the management wanted music to be heard. Thousands of miles of wiring in that one.
                              I once had a gadget called an E-bow for my electric guitar. It had a magnetic field that would set the string vibrating. It was hand-held and sounded just one string at a time; must be a very similar theory behind both.
                              Casey

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