Development of an Innovative Organ Pipe Design Method

© Fraunhofer IBP

The manufacturing of pipe organs is a traditional European industrial sector. The main factor influencing the competitiveness of the organ builder SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) is the quality of their pipe organs. Two quality aspects can be distinguished; the technical quality which is the quality of the organ as a technical product and the aesthetical quality which is mainly the sound quality. The sound quality is an essential factor because it is the signature of the organ builder and makes his reputation. The sound quality of the pipe ranks depends on the dimensioning (scaling) of the pipes and on the voicing adjustment. The aim of scaling and voicing is to ensure the required quality of the perceived sound by selecting and adjusting geometrical parameters of the pipe.

Until now the dimensioning of organ pipes is still carried out according to the scaling rules established in the last century. The pipe ranks dimensioned according to these rules usually cannot achieve the required sound quality in certain pitch domains, as by voicing of the individual stops regularly a region of pipes (an octave or even larger) occurs, in which the wanted sound character of the pipes cannot be realized. In this case the SME has to invest much work with trying to achieve the aimed sounding, which at the end will be clear is physically not possible because the dimensioning of the pipes is not adequate.
Organ building is a traditional craftsmanship, which should be preserved. Nevertheless, innovative design methods and technologies could be applied in the daily practice, without endangering the valuable traditions.

The participating SME-s are convinced that new, more reliable scaling and voicing methods are needed in organ building in order to ensure high quality sound and to reduce the costs of pipe organs.

The objectives of the research project are as follows:

Application of the latest results of subjective acoustics and the results of the research on organ pipe acoustics for determining the interdependence of sound quality and the geometrical dimensions and shape of labial organ pipes. This knowledge will be used for the development of a scientific scaling method.

  • A scaling method based on subjective and objective acoustic laws for dimensioning labial organ pipes.
  • A software for designing organ pipe dimensions of the most important ranks.
  • An instrument for measuring and displaying the attack of the pipe sound. This instrument can also be used for the training of young voicers.