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MMD > Archives > July 1997 > 1997.07.10 > 06Prev  Next

Modern Band Organ Design
By Bill Finch

To me, the thing about Band Organs (Fairground Organs) is the music.
I have a Wurlitzer 145B and have owned Bruder, Gavioli and several others
in the past.  As always, they require constant attention, being the
mechanical marvels that they are.  The music/sound is great and worth
the effort.

In spite of past good experience with these real antique mechanical
instruments, I am very tempted to embark on the design and construction
of a modern instrument with modern design features whilst maintaining
the antique sound.  Design specs would include the following:

Pipe Specs: The selection of ranks and pipe design and wind pressure
would be consistent with (copies of) the antique organ being imitated.
We really are after an organ that sounds like a Wurlitzer or Bruder, or
whatever we're imitating.

Action:  Direct electric action (as pioneered by Wicks) would be employed
for all wind switching.  Electric wind valves never (well, hardly ever)
wear out.  They can be driven by TTL (or whatever) protocol.

Wind Source: A modern organ blower coupled to a traditional wind chest.

Music Source: The organ would be entirely driven by MIDI to TTL
translation.  The music would be scanned from original rolls or books,
or written or transcribed using Cakewalk or equivalent.

Case Design: The case design will be suitable for exhibition and

Other Considerations: Chromatic ranks and rank switching are options.
Imitating a Wurlitzer 146 with it's missing notes is still possible
by just leaving the notes out of the transcription.  Chromatic design,
however opens up the possibility of playing orchestral works as well as
the usual marches and fox-trots.

With these thoughts I have two questions:

1.  Has anyone already built an organ with these design features?

2.  Who knows of a good source for modern organ hardware?

This is such an obvious idea that I am surely not the first to think of
it.  Please share your thoughts on this subject.

Bill Finch

 [ What is direct electric action?  Why is it desirable?  Isn't it
 [ slower than direct mechanical ('tracker') action?  Slow valves are
 [ okay for a Wurlitzer theater organ, but for the fast repetition
 [ needed for French organ music I don't know of anything faster than
 [ a pinned barrel !   -- Robbie

(Message sent Thu 10 Jul 1997, 04:05:49 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  Band, Design, Modern, Organ

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