on earth did someone start putting organ pipes horizontally instead
of the tried and true upright position? Aethestics?
Or perhaps there is a more mundane reason . . .
Bridgeman-Sutton dusts off the possible answers
to the website of the Rieger
in the Christchurch Town Hall,
Musings & Amusings
(Updated March 2010)
On a summer
afternoon 55 years ago, an elderly Spanish organ-builder finished
removing the obstruction that had put a small pipe off speech. This
turned out to be a fly, long dead, though probably still mourned
by all who knew it.
Picture 1 shows the case of one of the organs of this cathedral:
Careful examination shows that there are numerous ranks of smaller
horizontal pipes beneath those which overshadow them.
[Click image to see larger version]
and air-born sand and dust were a problem to organ builders in many
parts of Spain, he said. In his eyes, the great advantage of the
horizontal trumpets I had been admiring was that they were far less
susceptible than vertical pipes to these nuisances. Many old examples
of horizontal reeds were found in areas where the dust and dirt
problems were particularly acute. This led him to believe that practical,
rather than tonal, considerations, had first caused the use of horizontal
cases are impressive, usually being both well designed and beautifully
made. Decoration is elaborate, sometimes florid. The most distinctive
features, though, are the horizontal reeds. These can sprout from
at several levels, from sides and back as well as from the front
and include most of the reeds within the instrument. The specification
of the Emperor organ in Toledo cathedral lists no fewer than sixteen
stops as "en chamade".
Even large instruments often have only one manual. The division of stops into treble and bass, makes possible the playing of both solo and accompaniment on this. Considerable variations in compass between instruments and the limited pedal claviers - often with one octave of idiosyncratic keys - put most of the mainstream organ works outside their repertoire. Instruments of North European specification - with full complements of Spanish trumpets - are found in increasing number beside the older ones that they by no means replace.
2 is of the university chapel of Coimbra in Portugal - a
country that observes similar traditions. Indeed, for over 700 years,
from early in the eighth century, much of the Iberian peninsula
was united under Moorish rule.
One of the legacies of this is the wide use of richly coloured wall
tiles, as may be seen here.
to see larger version]
of Alicante, who is skilled both as a worker in stone and as an
organ builder has constructed the world's only (so far!) stone organ
which was demonstrated for the first time at Spain's national museum
in 2001. (Picture 3).
Sr Larrea is
now working on a "fountain organ" of stone and has other
projects in view, including the construction of a two manual and
pedal instrument. He has also made a clock of which both the case
and the wheels are of stone.
to see larger version]
1. - The Cedric William Laycock archive:
Smits - Eindhoven, Holland:
3. - Ivan Larrea,
Salinas E-2 Novelda 03660, Alicante.
to Musings and Amusings index
David Bridgeman-Sutton, 2004
free to email with questions