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Organ of Variable Structure

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  • Organ of Variable Structure

    The Orgue á Structure Variable is a proposal made by the French organist Jean Guillou for a modular pipe organ that would be the equivalent to a cathedral organ. The idea of this organ I believe originated from a book written by Jean Guillou called L’Orgue, souvenir et avenir which I think was first published in 1978. The book was basically a general history on development of the organ but it also included chapters where Guillou put forward his own ideas for a modern organ.
    I have wanted to write about this proposed organ for a long time but I had been a bit reluctant as there is not a lot of information regarding the design of this organ. And I also have some questions regarding how the instrument will be transported and maintained.

    Below are several paragraphs I have taken from the Orgue et
    France
    website as well as PDF leaflet which covers the objectives as well as a general description of the design. And I should also point out that the text has also been put through a translator so the grammar isn’t perfect but it should still be easy to follow.
    ...
    “The project and ambition of Jean Guillou have been known for many years: to design, build and operate a large transportable organ, of variable modular structure, that would allow to hear and see a pipe organ in various performance spaces., whatever their nature.
    Unlike the transportable organs of Pierre Cochereau and Philippe Lefebvre, this is a large organ of contemporary design for a large room, or even for the outside, intended to circulate across Europe in places iconic as well as unexpected and original.”

    “A large organ adjustable and adaptable to all registers”
    “It will consist of 15 buffets with 1 to 3 games each arranged in autonomous modules and a console with 4 keyboards and a pedal board transportable in 2 containers
    No acoustic devices are used in this project. The sound source comes from the only pipes. Each buffet is arranged on a mobile and lifting platform.
    The modular organization allows the organ to be adapted to any type of space, indoor or outdoor, and any musical register. He can freely settle in the middle of the public.
    The sound volume of the Variable Structure Organ is designed so that it can perfectly balance with a large symphony orchestra.”

    “From Johann Sebastian Bach to contemporary music”
    “The Variable Structure Organ is a response to the demands of today's musical life, which wants to have, outside traditional habitats, a large mobile organ, using no acoustic artifice, comparable, by the richness and variety of its timbres and its intensity, to the best cathedral instruments, accessible to all audiences, and allowing to interpret all the repertoire, from Johann Sebastian Bach to contemporary music, in all places of production artistic, including outdoors."

    https://www.orgue-en-france.org/proj...-jean-guillou/



  • #2
    Thanks for sharing this, F Kalbrenner. I went to the site, but I did not see a specification for it. One of the documents made some general comments about the tonal resources, but it did not provide a stop list. Do you know if one exists?
    Bill

    My home organ: Content M5800

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    • #3
      Quite an interesting concept! I love the description about the buffets and the games! (I assume we'd say "chests" and "ranks")

      Performers such as the legendary Virgil Fox and our contemporary Cameron Carpenter have owned "traveling" organs, but digital of course, rather than real. Obviously there could be some unique charm brought to a performance venue by a real windblown organ.

      I do have to wonder how practical this can be, given the great peril to the more fragile pipes involved in moving, and the need to thoroughly tune the organ each time it is set up. And the work involved in keeping a complex mechanism in good repair when it's being hauled around all over Europe.

      But who knows, it just might fly!
      John
      ----------
      Church: Allen MDS-45 with Allen MIDI-DIVISION-II expander
      Home: Allen Renaissance R-230 with expanded four-channel audio and MIDI-DIVISION-II
      Shop: Bunch of organs in varying conditions, some good, some not...
      Half of an incredible two-man organ service team -- servicing all the major digitals in Arkansas churches
      https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

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      • #4
        E. Power Biggs actually had a small pipe organ that he transported around in a trailer. It had to be small, because he was pulling the trailer with a Studebaker sedan!
        Mike

        My home organ is a circa 1990 Galanti Praeludium III, with Wicks/Viscount CM-100 module supplying extra voices. I also have an Allen MDS Theatre II (princess pedalboard!) with an MDS II MIDI Expander.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by voet View Post
          Thanks for sharing this, F Kalbrenner. I went to the site, but I did not see a specification for it. One of the documents made some general comments about the tonal resources, but it did not provide a stop list. Do you know if one exists?
          The specification is one of the things that I have been wanting to find out about this organ. I have found a specification for this organ by accident listed on an old obscure website called Julian Rhodes’ Dream Organs. The only problem is that I think the specification listed on the site might be of an older concept for this organ, as the instrument on the Organ of France website is described as having 15 boxes while the Julian Rhodes site describes the organ as only having 9 boxes.

          http://cdmnet.org/Julian/schemes/ideal/variab.htm
          Last edited by F Kalbrenner; 01-10-2019, 05:29 PM.

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          • #6
            Don't know if you've come across the Reginald Foort organ, which was an interesting concept, built by Moller Organ Co. in the late 1930s. It was a theatre organ, with an enormous 5 manual console, and 29 ranks of pipework. It took several organ technicians to move it from venue to venue on four or five specially designed trucks. While you are researching a "dream" organ, you might enjoy reading about one that actually happened. The Reginald Foort Traveling Organ should come up on an internet search. Incidentally, this organ has finally come to a permanent home in Pasadena, in their civic center, after a long life with the BBC and a few
            years on the European radio scene, as well as a short stint in an American Pizza parlor.

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            • #7
              Yes the touring of Reginald Foort was quite ambitious.




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              • #8
                There is no specification yet because they are gathering funds (there is a leaflet how to donate on the site). They only need 2 million euros.

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                • #9
                  I understand that the design of this organ wouldn’t be completely fleshed out as I have noticed in the concept art that the array of pipes all look the same, but even then you would think that they would have some sort of blue print.

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                  • #10
                    I should have mentioned this earlier but there is a website for infographic maker called Vincent Duranton that has done a 3D model of this organ that is quite different to the one on the Orgue et France site.

                    http://www.vincentduranton.com/Vince...industrie.html

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