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Re: [Phys-L] Saving Money on Tuning a Pipe Organ

Interesting! I attended the summer AAPT meeting in Sacramento in 2004.
Workshop W11 (July 31) was Demonstrations in Musical Acoustics by Donald
Hall. Anyone attend? Over 40 demos and handouts. Outstanding! In the
afternoon we all walked to St. John's Lutheran Church (17th and L streets,
near the state Capitol) for Donald to explain and perform the church organ.
Wow! Four keyboards with nearly 4000 pipes ranging from 1 inch to 8 feet in
length. It was an unforgettable experience. He also gave a detailed 7-page
handout about this organ, which he uses in his Musical Acoustics class at
the local university. Can scan/send if anyone is interested.

On Thu, Dec 10, 2020 at 9:22 PM Bill Norwood via Phys-l <> wrote:

Hi Phys-L,

A local church was recently celebrating having just gotten their pipe
organ tuned. I responded by declaring that they could save money if
considering the following:

1. Temperature: Presumably the organ pipes are kept within a 40-degree
temperature range throughout the year, in which case there would be no
significant change in any pipe dimension, so, temperature variability would
not be an incentive for “tuning.”

2. Humidity: If humidity cannot be kept constant (within 1 or 2 %) then
the organ will never be in tune, because the humidity normally changes at
least daily irrespective of time of year. However, the average humidity is
lower in winter, but we cannot predict how cold a winter is coming.
Therefore I claim that humidity cannot be a reason for organ “tuning.”

3. Vibration: The more the organ is played the more the pipes assembly
will be vibrated, and the more the pipe sleeves will drift downward.
Therefore, after a newly-installed organ has been played for a year, and
the pipes and their mountings have gravitationally settled, then the
sleeves could be stabilized so they can no longer move.

4. No further tunings should be necessary, barring an earthquake or nearby
excavation, or other incident such as a prank, a stolen pipe, or a rat
dragging foreign matter into a pipe, or a local soprano out of control.

5. The congregation should not have been told that the organ had been
tuned, rather they should have been asked to report any changes in organ
sound as the months went by. That would have enabled objectivity. A log of
these reports would sometimes enable correlating organ sound changes with
common organ sound-affecting incidents.



Bill Norwood
U of MD at College Park
Since 1966

I have no experience tuning organs - just guitars.

Sent from my iPhone
Forum for Physics Educators



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