History of Church Organs
True pipe organs are becoming increasingly rare, largely due to the massive expense associated with their construction, as well as the ease-of-use, repair, and longevity associated with digital church organs in the modern era. Yet, these classical church organs are, without a doubt, an irrefutably large part of what has influenced today’s church culture and customs in the Western world. Here is a brief history of these fabled machines and how they match up with today’s electric organs and hybrid pipe and digital church organs.
Almost ancient technology
The first pipe organ was credited to Ctesbius of Alexandria in the 3rd century BC, making the pipe organ an over-2-millennia-old instrument. Although initially created by the Greeks and pioneered by the Byzantine Empire, it wasn’t until around the request of Charlemagne that organs were incorporated into churches. It also is worth noting that permanent, large-scale architectural organ installations didn’t begin until around the 14th century in Western Europe, with the prior versions being smaller and more portable. From then on, the organ was considered “the king of all instruments,” and quickly became a status symbol for churches across Europe.
Organs through the ages
Today, pipe organs are still characterized by their architectural heritage, similar to churches as a whole. Each period of thought, art, and architecture seem to have their own iteration on the classic instrument. The first major stylistic changes are noted in the Renaissance and Baroque periods, and it is around this time that varying nations began to make their own unique designs as well. Throughout the Baroque, Renaissance, Romantic, and even Modern periods, organs have taken many unique shapes and sizes, all of which create a telling narrative of the beliefs and values of the time place from which they hail. Interestingly, many organs built in these time periods are still on display in churches around the world today.
Digital church organs
Making the jump to the electronic organ in the 20th century was met with resistance by many regions but ultimately has allowed for high-quality organ music to enter churches of any size. At first, the digital elements of church organs were limited to only mechanical areas, with pipes still supplying the reverberating sound. Now, organs have come full circle, with pipes and permanence being an optional feature for the church organ; electronic organs can now be made to create nearly identical sound quality in a far smaller and less expensive package.
Viscount International is proud to make digital and hybrid organs for churches around the world from our home in Mondaino, Italy. Thanks to our patented Physis® physical modeling technology, we are proud to lead the way into the next generation of organ-making innovation. Our well-crafted organs represent the pinnacle of current styles and technologies, allowing users a wide range of applications, all with beautiful and clear sound quality.
Learn more about what makes our organs so special today!
The Unico series is a line of classic organs developed with Physis® physical modeling technology, entirely designed and patented by Viscount’s Italian research facilities. With this new approach, based on physical modeling of the pipe organ, you will enjoy the most faithful and malleable sound on the market today.
Thanks to accurate audio reproduction and powerful reverberation effects, Viscount has transferred the magnificence of a large pipe organ into the convenience of a compact instrument.
The Unico series has a rich library of customizable settings and parameters which allows you to select, assign and store hundreds of additional registers. Features are easy to access through a discrete backlit main control display.
The SONUS series is a line of classical organs developed with exclusive Physis® technology - designed and patented by Viscount’s laboratories. Based on modeling the physical phenomena involved in pipe organ sound generation, the sound generated is incredibly authentic.
On top of Physis® sound generation technology, we have designed a revolutionary new audio system called RAR (Real Audio Rendering). Thanks to RAR technology, you can totally manage the impression of three-dimensional space in which the instrument is placed – from the smallest room, all the way up to a large cathedral setting. The new Viscount RAR (Real Audio Rendering) technology represents a significant step forward in terms of definition, spatiality and body of the sound, which is the most authentic way yet to create that magical effect of the most important organ stop – ‘the ambience’. Sitting at the console of the new Viscount Sonus, you will experience the most realistic impression of the instrument and its setting available from any digital organ you may care to play.
The OUVERTURE is an organ with 3 keyboards, complete pedalboard and 55 registers - each of which can select hundreds of organ and orchestra voices. There is also an orchestra register for every section of the organ which can be selected from the numerous options available.
The organ comes with 8 organ styles (4 fixed and 4 programmable) that allow the organist to create and store an infinite number of combinations, either in the 128 internal memory locations or externally via USB memory. The parameter settings are easily accessible through the graphic display on the front panel. The “Tracker Action” style keyboard accurately detects touch by obtaining the speed of actuation of the keys, making it possible to feel a "Tracker Touch" effect, i.e .the correlation between the "touch" of the organist and the transient attack of each virtual pipe.
Developed with the award-winning and patented Physis® physical modeling technology, which reproduces the physical phenomena involved in the sound generation of the pipe organ, the Ouverture is capable of generating the highest-fidelity, most authentic church organ sound.
Chorum instruments faithfully reproduce the sounds of a pipe organ with proprietary ARTEM technology (Advanced Real TEchnology Music) designed by Viscount's Research and Development labs in Italy.
The richness and beauty of stops are enhanced by an accurate reverberation system, able to recreate a great variety of acoustic environments, from a small chapel to the largest cathedral.
Chorum organs are highly functional, yet simple to use; you can store a large selection of memories and recall your stop combinations.