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MMD > Archives > August 2007 > 2007.08.06 > 02Prev  Next

Welte Philharmonic Organ
By D. L. Bullock

There is no larger or smaller Welte Philharmonic organ.  Let me
explain.  An organ consists of contacts, relays, and ranks of pipes
playing from those contacts.  By contacts I mean either a key on the
console or a pouch or pneumatically operated contact similar to what is
under the key pressed by your finger on the console.  I don't know any
pipe organ roll players that actually push the keys.  Welte Philhar-
monic organs are really two organs in one, the console contacts and the
player contacts.  The Kimball Welte organ I restored in 1985 was
actually three.

There is first the organ that you see on the console with all the stops
before you.  Welte organs usually have two, or in the case of my
Kimball Welte three, manuals and pedals with a full complement of stops
that you can pull on by hand.  This organ, now in Wichita Falls, Tex.,
has fifty-two ranks or over 3000 pipes.  Many of the ranks have
seventy-three notes and a few have more than that.  The relay system
has three manuals of relays and a pedal division that is controlled by
the console.  There is a gang switch that breaks all contacts to the
console and another that turns on the player system, which is divided
into two separate sections.

For the player, the relay system has three divisions -- two manual and
one pedal -- that the Welte Philharmonic roll operates.  These three
divisions have their own set of gang switches that operate parts of the
ranks of the actual organ.  There is another system of two manuals and
gang switches that play from a Kimball Standard Philharmonic roll,
which has several preset pistons in the player system rather than stop
holes.  There are no Kimball Standard Philharmonic rolls that I have
ever found and none came with the organ.

I find some gang switches that go to certain ranks that only play from
one or the other of the rolls, while most gangs only play from the
console.  The player system has a set number of maximum stops that can
be played by the Welte, with a hole in the roll for each stop.  There
is a "tutti" (sforzando or full organ) hole that can be preset to play
stops that are not played on the roll normally.  The recording organ
that the Welte rolls were made upon contained all those stops that have
dedicated holes.  Once you add more stops to the organ that are not
playable from the roll, you exceed the limits of the Welte Philharmonic

You could theoretically have 400 ranks in an organ, but when you add a
Welte Philharmonic player system to it, you are only able to use about
twenty to twenty-five of those ranks, unless you wire in more than one
rank to a stop hole in the roll, as is with the "tutti" hole.  If you
add wiring to bypass the console cut-out, you may turn on additional
ranks by hand as the roll plays.

I would say that any Welte Philharmonic organ of about twenty-five
ranks (I don't remember exactly the number) is the largest that the
roll can play.  Philharmonic rolls also play chimes and a 61-note harp
from the roll.

D.L. Bullock,
Alton, IL

(Message sent Mon 6 Aug 2007, 00:26:50 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  Organ, Philharmonic, Welte

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