It’s been a while since we’ve done a blog on interesting organ facts, so we thought we’d revisit the topic with a brand new set of fun facts! The pipe organ has been an object of fascination for hundreds, nearly thousands of years. In that time, the instrument has changed shape, purpose, and preferences. So without further ado, Viscount Organs presents more interesting facts about the organ!

It’s About Looks And Sound

If you’ve ever been to a large concert hall, or particularly impressive church or cathedral, you’ve likely seen a massive, towering pipe organ, with pipes that stretch to the ceiling and are ornately plated in silver or gold. At the first keystroke, these pipes let loose an impressive range of sounds, but those pipes aren’t actually doing anything. In some cases, the visible pipes in a church or performance hall are actually fake. The real pipes are actually nestled behind them in the walls and ceilings of the space. The easiest way to spot these phony pipes is to look at their length. If all of the pipes are the same length, or a series of pipes that are next to each other appear to be the same diameter, they are likely there only for aesthetics.

The Pipe Organ Was Banned In The Soviet Union

In 1917, Bolshevik revolutionaries overthrew the Russian monarchy and eventually established the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The Soviet Union was a communist country and eschewed all symbols and forms of religion. The pipe organ, and its iconic connection to the church, became a target of persecution for the Soviets. The organ, they felt, was a symbol of organized religion, and therefore, the monarchy. However, since the collapse of the USSR in 1991, the pipe organ has made a gradual return to Russian concert halls and churches.

Pipe Organs Are More Complex Than Many Realize

Just looking at the face of a pipe organ, many people know that there’s a lot going on behind its coverings. So much, in fact, that for centuries, the pipe organ was one of the most complex devices ever made. It wasn’t until the industrial revolution in the late 18th Century that other, more complex machines began taking shape. One individual pipe organ is made up of hundreds of pipes, thousands of mechanisms, and intricate systems that move air into the pipes. Even by today’s standards, pipe organs are marvels of engineering.

Each Pipe Organ Is Handcrafted For Its Home

Unlike smaller instruments, like pianos, guitars, or trumpets, the pipe organ has to be designed by hand for the specific place it will reside. Other instruments can be made the same way for any space because they can be individually tuned by the performer. Pipe organs, however, require a site inspection before construction even begins. The inspector takes notes about the temperature and humidity of the space, the acoustics, as well as the dimensions of the room. Beyond just the function of the instrument, there is also the aesthetic consideration, and sometimes dummy pipes are added to improve the appearance of the organ, even if they produce no noise. When a customer is looking for a new organ to be built, it’s not uncommon for several organ manufacturers to reach out and offer designs.

The pipe organ is undoubtedly a fascinating instrument. It fills whatever space it’s in with incredible sounds and provides a visual impact that is unmatched by other features. If you’re looking to bring the unique sights and sounds of an organ into your performing space, find a Viscount Organs dealer near you. Together with our specialists, we can find the perfect organ for your needs, be that one of our classic Unico organs, or our cutting-edge Legend series.