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  • Tuning Keyboards



    Last night I decided that it had been too long since the last time I watched the classic film "The Ghost & Mr. Chicken," so I pulled it out, dusted off the cobwebs, and stuck it in the VCR.



    Towards the end of the film, one of the characters explains how he made the house seem haunted, and how he made the organ seem to play by itself. "There's a tuning keyboard under the pipes," he said.



    I've never heard of such a thing. It seems that on a small organ it would be impractical because it's small enough where you can either do it yourself or have even an unmusical person sit there at the console for the 45 minutes. But on a large organ it seems impractical because you have divisions all over the place.



    Has anyone ever heard of having a tuning keyboard?



    and,



    How hard would it be to have a wireless device that you could play any note on an electric action instrument? Something like a remote control, almost? Something that would allow you to select the rank and pipe and it would play so you could tune it...


  • #2
    Re: Tuning Keyboards

    I have heard of this. A small remote keyboard that could be carried among the ranks when tuning rather than having a helper at the console.

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    • #3
      Re: Tuning Keyboards

      Not only have I heard of this, I have seen such keyboards (though, not in person). Schantz used to have pics of the chambers of Skinner op. 816 (aka Norton Memorial Organ or Severance Hall Skinner), and at least one picture showed such a keyboard. SBD, you are right about this being impractical (please use impractical, not unpractical) on smaller instruments, as for some large installations with divisions everywhere, you're right, it may be impractical, but for something like Woolsey Hall or possibly Wanamaker, I imagine there are such keyboards are present in the chambers.

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      • #4
        Re: Tuning Keyboards



        Austin766, my bad. Spell check is a wonderful thing, when it's used!



        About the Skinner that you mentioned - do you know if it was just for one division, or if there was a keyboard for each division?

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        • #5
          Re: Tuning Keyboards

          Let me contact Schantz about that, I, personally, do not know, but I'm sure Scahntz will, or could point me to someone who would.

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          • #6
            Re: Tuning Keyboards



            Netflix, here I come!



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            • #7
              Re: Tuning Keyboards

              Atlantic City has tuning keyboards.  So does that Austin on ebay.  You can see it in one of the pics

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              • #8
                Re: Tuning Keyboards

                Greetings,

                Just to clear things up, Woolsey does not have tuning keyboards.   However, Atlantic City, Wanamaker, and the Philadelphia Convention Hall Moller (now in Iowa) have them.

                     Best,

                             Nathan

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                • #9
                  Re: Tuning Keyboards

                  any particular reason Woolsey doesn't?

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                  • #10
                    Re: Tuning Keyboards

                    I'm not really sure why.  Most of the mechanism is Steere, and it was of course enlarged by Skinner with some Skinner chestwork added - I guess tuning keyboards weren't something that these builders did.  The organ is actually pretty straightforward to tune, it's just really big!  (C:  Fortunately it only needs occasional tickling of various flutes and reeds as the music and weather require.  Even Girard College is tuned the same way, albeit with walkie-talkies when communication is required!  (C:

                    Something like Atlantic City on the other hand, with a massive (really massive) extremely reverberant space with vast distances between chamber and console (unlike Woolsey which is front and center), which probably has some sort of stuff going on in it all the time (setting up and tearing down events), I can see why the tuning keyboards are a miracle to keep things fast and easy, and to facilitate communication.  I suppose it remains to be seen how the weather will affect the tuning stability of the instrument - I'd love to do some tuning there, it sounds like fun!

                         - Nate

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