Musical acoustics

Examination of organ pipes in the laboratory
© Fraunhofer IBP
Examination of organ pipes in the laboratory.

Preserving and improving musical instruments as cultural assets

For many years, our experts in the field of musical acoustics have been dedicated to conducting research on European musical instruments, and in particular the organ. They work on research projects supported by the EU for the benefit of small and medium-sized organ building companies.

Innovative construction methods for organ pipes

The sound quality of the organ pipes produced is the signature of an organ builder. As the pipe scaling rules laid down in the last century are not sufficient for certain pitches, new reliable pipe scaling and voicing methods are called for. Based on the interaction of subjective and objective acoustic laws, we have developed a method for lip organ pipes that is supported by a design software for dimensioning the main flue pipe stops. In addition, a special measuring device helps to measure and record the transient attack of the pipe sound, which is particularly crucial to sound quality.

Our aim is to develop high quality, reliable planning and construction methods for wind systems for pipe organs. We implement modern control engineering techniques to solve acoustic, hygrothermal and design aspects.

Optimization of musical instruments

In the context of optimizing musical instruments, our scientists are investigating, for example, how the bars of a newly-developed manual carillon can be improved.  A perfected musical instrument is distinguished by the fact that not the timbre of each tone changes, but only the pitch. As a result, the uniform overall sound generated is perceived by the listener as melodious.

As a research and development partner, we offer advice and support to instrument makers, providing our expertise and placing our acoustics laboratories and metrological equipment at their disposal. Especially for organ builders and restorers, we use special acoustic analysis methods and software applications for interpretation and intonation.