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timothyguntrip

Paper Organ Pipes

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'Organ Building for Amateurs' by Mark Wicks is now available to read online at www.openlibrary.org - in which he describes in detail his method of making organ pipes from paper. Have these ever actually been used in practice? I've come across paper dummies before, but not a speaking rank of such pipes.

 

Just a thought!

 

VA

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'Organ Building for Amateurs' by Mark Wicks is now available to read online at www.openlibrary.org - in which he describes in detail his method of making organ pipes from paper. Have these ever actually been used in practice? I've come across paper dummies before, but not a speaking rank of such pipes.

 

Just a thought!

 

VA

 

 

====================

 

I seem to recall from somewhere or other, that paper pipes were used in the Renaissance, but I have no idea where that information came from or the source.

 

However, let's look at this logically for a moment.

 

Paper is made from wood-pulp and cloth-rags in varying proportions dependent upon quality, and as such, it is a fibrous material in exactly the same way as wood. Whereas wood fibres tend to be straight and grained in pine, spruce (etc), they are obviously smaller and more random in paper materials. However, things like cardboard are quite rough and structurally patchy unless it is high quality card. Paper and card is also porous unless it is varnished, and papier mache (for instance) needs to be laquered to prevent it degenerating. However, I recall seeing two exquisite vases from the 18th century, which were as good as the day they were crafted and completely water-proof, thanks to the quality of laquer applied to them. (Japanning)

 

MDF is another material which is closely related to wood, with close knit fibres poured into the mix, then dried, heated and compressed into a very stable material.

 

So I would anticipate that paper/MDF are good materials for organ-pipes. In the case of paper, it would have to made rigid with resin, or made into papier-mache and made damp proof and airtight.

 

I'm sure I recall mentioning it previously, but carbon-fibre tube would probably be excellent, and there must be lots of old fishing-rods which could be sawn up into smaller pipes.

 

Of course, plastic PVC piping has been used for organ-pipes, with metal mouths glued into place. Glass has also been used.I understand.

 

The trouble is, I can't get the image of an old peggy-tub, buckets of water, bottles of elephant-glue, and a long wooden masher, rolling-pin, wooden frames and stone table-tops out of my mind.

 

I expect the Chinese could probably show us how to make an organ using nothing but origami!

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Wet-folding_bull.jpg

 

 

MM

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Oulton Parish Church, Norfolk (NPOR N06564) has a small two manual organ built by an amateur called Archie Chaffey in 1940 in which nearly all the pipes are made of cardboard or papier mache. I believe it's still going.....

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Some years ago, I made a single pipe out of a cardboard tube (about a foot long with, incidentally, a tuning slide) to demonstrate the principle of operation to my school children. It is not varnished or sealed in any way, yet plays reliably. It sounds pleasantly flutey.

 

One day, I might make the rest of the organ!

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Oulton Parish Church, Norfolk (NPOR N06564) has a small two manual organ built by an amateur called Archie Chaffey in 1940 in which nearly all the pipes are made of cardboard or papier mache. I believe it's still going.....

 

NPOR had a note to say it was in very poor condition and being replaced by a toaster, though on the Web I found two photos of the church interior, one taken from each end, and neither seems to show any musical instruments.

 

Maybe toasters don't count as musical instruments though...

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Hello,

... organ pipes from paper. Have these ever actually been used in practice? I've come across paper dummies before, but not a speaking rank of such pipes.

the following picture shows a portative organ with paper pipes made by a German amateur in 2010.

 

papierpfeifen.jpg

 

Cheers

tiratutti

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Hello,

 

the following picture shows a portative organ with paper pipes made by a German amateur in 2010.

 

papierpfeifen.jpg

 

Cheers

tiratutti

 

There's a German portative in the Victoria and Albert Museum with paper pipes. I've seen it attributed to the sixteenth century, but I'm not sure it looks quite as old as that.

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Many thanks for all your responses - I'm rather tempted to have a go at trying it out for myself...

 

One further useful reference to paper pipes is an article by Geoffery Bridges in the Journal of the Galpin Society (Vol 47, 1994, pp163-165). His design makes use of a curved flue and upper lip which seems easy to make and for which he claims are based on surviving Italian pipes. In contrast Bridges is somewhat dismissive of the Mark Wicks approach referring to them as 'imitations of metal pipes'. However, the V&A organ pipes appear to mede in a similar way to the Wicks pipes with applied upper and lower lips.

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There was an instrument in Christchurch (NZ) that had at least three ranks of paper pipes, (Principal 4', String 8' TC and Stopped Diapason 8') that in a circuitous (and damaging) route ended up in our stock. They played surprisingly well on a low pressure. The languids and ears were made of mahogany, the all other parts being made of paper. That included the slides (both open and stopped).

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There's a seller on Ebay who flogs cardboard organ kits from time to time. I have no idea if the following youtube clip is one of his kits or not, but it gives you an idea of what an organ sounds like if built entirely out of paper (even the bellows, chests and keys...)

 

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