A fascinating feat of engineering with a rich history!

A Dollop of History

This is a pipe organ.

Usnaconsole2 Organ console at the United States Naval Academy chapel

Without it we would not have this:

Or this:

Or this:

An entire era of films would have been almost unwatchable without organ music.

Centuries of music have been influenced by the distinct sound of organ pipes. But where did the idea come from and why? Who invented it? The organ and its descendants have been around for so long it’s almost difficult to imagine anyone actually inventing one.

Surprisingly (or not?), the story of the pipe organ begins way back the 3rd century BC with the invention of the hydraulis.

In order for a set of pipes to be considered an “organ” it must have four elements:

1. Pipes, of course
2. A chamber that stores wind
3. Mechanically-generated pressure that sends the wind through the pipes
4. Sound/pitch/tones (what have you) must be controlled by some type of keyboard


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