Research Organ - Place of Ideas 2012

Place of Ideas 2012

© Fraunhofer IBP
© Fraunhofer IBP

Throughout the world, musical instruments are deeply rooted in cultural traditions. They are part of our cultural heritage, and their preservation and further development deserves our utmost attention. For many years, the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics IBP has been engaged in the research of European musical instruments, the organ in particular. Figure 1 shows the research organ of the Fraunhofer IBP. To preserve its sound, to give support in building instruments as well as to contribute to the further development by integrating modern technologies are the focus of the joint research with other research institutions and a multitude of European organ building enterprises. To deepen and disseminate the knowledge on sound, which was gained, as well as to combine tradition and innovation, it was possible to develop comprehensive tools.

For the first time ever, a musical research instrument is available for the researchers of the Fraunhofer IBP, the new research organ. Its transparent and unique scope of design allows the demonstration of research results, the investigation of technical and sound problems in organ building as well as the audible testing of sound ideas. Therefore, the wind chest of a division can be exchanged to allow the testing of valves and pipe layouts.

Figure 2 shows the keyboard, which is prepared for mounting contacts for new electrical valves. The toe boards are also modified and allow the exchange and investigation of new pipe forms, as can be seen in Figure 3. The adaptive wind system entails a special variability, since it can be switched from traditional to innovative design without bellows. The dynamics of the research organ is audible by means of the newly developed swell organ with symmetrical swell shutters.

As Figure 4 shows, direct in-situ measurements are possible at the research organ. The Figure shows the measurement of the velocity of the reed of a reed pipe by means of a laser vibrometer.

These major and minor details are the results of many projects of the organ researchers at the Fraunhofer IBP in the last few years. The research organ represents the current highlight of 20 years of tradition, which convinced the jurors of the joint initiative of the economy and the Federal Government "Deutschland - Land der Ideen" (Germany – Country of Ideas). They chose this unique instrument as "Ort der Ideen 2012" (Place of Ideas 2012). The success story, however, will be continued. This research organ will contribute to further develop the knowledge on sound, and it is open for new connections of art and science, of music and physics.


  • Werkstätte für Orgelbau Mühleisen GmbH, Leonberg, Deutschland

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