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First build - experimental drone organ

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  • First build - experimental drone organ

    Hi all

    I'm working on a protoype of a very small organ with only 5 (for now) wooden pipes (cluster) and no keyboard. It will be used in music where timbre, microtonatlity, noise (air flow, mechanical noise, ...) is primary to melody, rhythm and chords. Related to the music of Eliane Radigue, Phill Niblock, Jürg Frey, Wandelweiser composers, ...).

    Click image for larger version

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    The playing will be done by modifying air flow, adding notes, (partly) covering the pipes, ... in combination with the most simple electronic sounds (modified sine waves, FM synthesis).

    I had to encounter many challenges, but the pipes do sound as I want, I had the fan (air suplly) to blow properly, ... I'm not a educated craftsman ... :-)

    I had everything connected, but found out that when I connected one pipe, it sounded very good. But as I connected more pipes, it sounded very soft to no sound.

    What could be the problem? Probably the air pressure? Should add a bellow (even though, the small imperfections in tone are very welcome)? or the diameter of the used hoses? or the compartment where all pipes are attached to?

    (I know, this is a very very basic organ. But if it works, it would fit my needs).

    Thank you for your help!
    Attached Files

  • #2
    I'm sure others will also chime in, but at first glance, your blower motor probably isn't powerful enough, and yes, you would benefit from having a wind reservoir and/or bellows unit. The reservoir will help make sure you don't run out of wind, and the bellows will keep the pressure constant, so that if the pipe sounds, it will sound predictably. Your wind way is also definitely not big enough, which will tax the blower motor, and decrease the rate of wind entering the wind chest by a lot. If it needs to be a flexible tube, then I would recommend a much wider gauge tube with non compressible sides like that used for vacuum tubing. Pipe organ builders usually use wooden wind ways that are at least 10 cm wide for optimal results. The size of the sound board shouldn't matter for such a small design. Traditional Spanish organs use a very small volume sound board, which contributes to their characteristic sound.

    Current: Allen 225 RTC, W. Bell reed organ, Lowrey TGS, Singer upright grand
    Former: Yamaha E3R


    • #3

      Welcome to the Forum! When I saw the title of your thread, I was thinking of a remote-controlled, flying organ (drone)!😊 Oops.

      A reservoir with bellows and better blower would help. Also, the tube between the reservoir and the pipe chest is about sufficient for one pipe. It definitely needs to be larger.

      Hope this helps.

      Way too many organs to list, but I do have 5 Allens:
      • MOS-2 Model 505-B / ADC-4300-DK / ADC-5400 / ADC-6000 (Symphony) / ADC-8000DKC
      • Lowrey Heritage (DSO-1)
      • 11 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 7 Pianos


      • #4
        Hi all,
        thank you for your help! Much appreciated.
        I'll try to change the tube first into a bigger tube.
        And maybe I should change the entering air supply in the reservoir to the bottom, and not from the side, so the air is more equally divided?
        Thanks again,


        • Larason2
          Larason2 commented
          Editing a comment
          Changing where the wind way connects to the sound board shouldn't have a huge impact. It's true on many older organs, the pipes away from the inlet were winded less than those close to the inlet, but I don't think in your case it's the most important cause of your problems.

      • #5
        Hi all,

        I had some few time to experiment with the suggestions you did. I changed the hose from the blower to the reservoir, and put it on the bottom.
        And see the result:

        I know, this looks very basic to you, but I'm really happy it worked out this way.

        Next step will be adding solenoids to controll them by midi (via Arduino via MAX MSP or Pure Data or Ableton).
        And if that works out, I'll rebuild it in a beautifull small organ (the looks now are very basic).
        I'll keep you posted with new videos here.

        Thanks again for your quick replies. I really appreciate this!