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For some time I have been trying to dig up information regarding a proposal made by Jean Guillou for a modular pipe organ called L'Orgue a Structure Variable. Which if I'm correct had originated from a book he had written back in the 70's called L'Orgue, souvenir et avenir (The Organ, Remembrance and Future). Bellow I've included a video of an interview with Jean Guillou where he mentions this proposal and the reasons for this organ.

Their isn't a great deal of information available regarding the design of this proposal such as the specification. But from what I know the organ would be made up of fifteen units electronically connected to a console with four manuals and pedals. Each unit would contain one or three ranks of pipes, an independent wind supply and keyboard.

Their uses to be website dedicated to this project long gone but I have managed to successfully gain access to the site through an internet archive called the Way Back Machine which I have included a link to bellow. although their still isn't a great deal of information regarding the design of the organ.

https://web.archive.org/web/20121115093815/http://osvguillou.pagesperso-orange.fr/index.htm

As to where this project stands in development I think it is safe to say that it is pretty much at a stand still but I can't say for sure if it has been completely abandoned. But regardless of whether this organ will become a reality their has however been some development with organs like this. For example the organist Paolo Oreni has his own mobile pipe organ called Organo Wanderer, and Jean Baptiste Monnot for years has been working on a small but versatile organ called L'Orgue du Voyage.

 

 

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This is probably not important but I just thought it would be worth mentioning that the organist Jean Baptiste Monnot had recently set up and performed on his portable organ at the Louvre. There's a few pictures of the event on his Facebook and Instagram page but not much in the way of videos and recordings (or at least at the time I am posting this comment).

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How, I wonder, does a modular organ differ from the idea of a unit extension organ?

Crawl around any purpose-built Compton organ (not the Muggle variety, where old organs have been re-built) and you would find separate pipe units of almost identical construction, placed in neat rows, side by side. It doesn't take much imagination to see how such separate units could be placed on wheels, and rolled around to create almost anything you want.  I think I would call such an instrument "L'Orgue de Lego".  Let's see if I can find a photograph.......

Each of the units has its own wind-supply or one shared with  another unit. Often, the only difference between one unit and the next, is restricted to the top-boards, which are drilled to accept particular types of pipes.

The same idea doesn't need to be restricted to extension organs. It could be used in perfectly straight situations.

 

WINDCHESTS IDENTICAL.jpg

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Yes I see what in that the idea of a modular design could work. I think it could also certainly help in reducing the set up as pipe organs are kind of like 3D jigsaw puzzles that can take weeks or months to set up.

I hope more information about the Organ of Variable Structure (particularly a specification) surfaces one day as I would love to dive into the nuts and bolts of this proposal. I have thought about getting a copy of Jean Guillou's book L'Orgue, Souvenir et Avenir but I don't want to go to the trouble of buying a book that is not in English and may not have any further information on this organ.

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8 hours ago, Niccolo Morandi said:

 I think it could also certainly help in reducing the set up as pipe organs are kind of like 3D jigsaw puzzles that can take weeks or months to set up.

 

Compton's were so organised, they could install a 10 ranks cinema organ in just two weeks!
Standardised "modules" were at the heart of their success, and made organ-building a VERY profitable undertaking.

Unless the aim is to build a neo-classical, bespoke tracker-action instrument, there's much to be learned from "modular" methods of manufacture and construction.

MM

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I just remembered some videos I stumbled across years ago of a positive organ that was built by the organist Giorgio Questa.

Personally I think the instrument has quite a nice sound but I'm not a fan of how it is designed to be transported as I would design the organ to break apart into several pieces rather than have something reminiscent of a jigsaw puzzle. Another thing I'm not sure about with this organ is the spacing of the pipes on the wind chest as I think it look a little tight.  

 

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Recently I've come up with the idea to put together a list documenting various touring or portable pipe organs. Besides Reginald Foort's touring organ it's difficult to find information on any other portable pipes organs, as many of the organs I'm aware of I have discovered purely by accident.

So anyway here is a list I've put together documenting both pipe and electronic portable organs, along with the names of the artist or builders.

Pipe Organs

 

  • Orchestrion – Georg Joseph Vogler 1746 – 1814

  • Portable Pipe Organ – W. W. Kimball Organ Company

  • Link Unit Organ – Charles Sharpe Minor 1885 – 1957

  • Touring Organ by Harrison & Harrison – George Thomas Pattman 1875 – 1961

  • Moller Opus 6690 – Reginald Foort 1893 – 1980

  • Organo Portativo – Giorgio Questa 1929 – 2010

  • Portable Organ – Pierre Cochereau 1924 – 1984

  • Open air konzert Orgel – Hoffmann & Schindler Organ Builders

  • Mobile Orgue – Plaisance du Gers Organ Builders

  • Anywhere Organ – Mathew Borgatti

  • The Flavour Conductor – Mander Organ Builders

  • Orgue du Voyage – Jean Baptiste Monnot 1984 –

  • Organo Wanderer – Paolo Oreni 1979 –

 

Electronic Organs

 

  • Black Beauty – Virgil Fox 1912 – 1980

  • Allen Touring Organ – Carlo Curley 1952 – 2012

  • Allen Touring Organ – Virgil Fox 1912 – 1980

  • Rogers Touring Organ – Felix Hell 1985 –

  • Touring Organ – Raul Prieto Ramirez

  • International Touring Organ – Cameron Carpenter 1981 –

 

There is probably still other organs out there but I'm impressed with what I have done so far considering this kind of feels like trying to document steam powered airplanes or 21st century steam locomotives.

 

 

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Hi

I can add one more - a small (2 rank IIRC) 2 manual organ built by our hosts here for Rick Wakeman.  I understand that he still has the instrument but that it's currently out of use.

I'd be interested in links to the info on the various instruments you list, Niccolo. Compact at church - 2mp, and Viscount also sell a 2m with optional stand & pedals in their Cantorum range (not to mention the single manual keyboard style organs by Viscount & others)

In the realm of electronic "organs" a couple of firms are building portable versions of some of their small organs.  I have a Content 224

Every Blessing

Tony

1002781482_WakemanPortable2lo.jpg.b59287df0d343090e51d7812018f18ab.jpg

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On 23/06/2020 at 18:31, Tony Newnham said:

Hi

I can add one more - a small (2 rank IIRC) 2 manual organ built by our hosts here for Rick Wakeman.  I understand that he still has the instrument but that it's currently out of use.

I'd be interested in links to the info on the various instruments you list, Niccolo. Compact at church - 2mp, and Viscount also sell a 2m with optional stand & pedals in their Cantorum range (not to mention the single manual keyboard style organs by Viscount & others)

In the realm of electronic "organs" a couple of firms are building portable versions of some of their small organs.  I have a Content 224

Every Blessing

Tony

Sorry for the late reply, but anyway yes I see what you mean about adding links. My original intention was to just list both the name of the instrument and the artist or builder as I felt like that would be enough for anyone to track down the instruments, but thinking about it now it probably would help to include a link to a page or article.

I've also decided to included a section for pipe organs that are not designed to be moved to different venues but are designed to be moved around within the space they are installed in. 

Pipe Organs

Electronic Organs

Semi Portable Pipe Organs

Portable Pipe Organs that Remain on Paper

  • Orgue à Structure Variable – Jean Guillou 1930 – 2019

            https://web.archive.org/web/20121115093815/http://osvguillou.pagesperso-orange.fr/index.htm

  • The Grand Positive – Niccolo Morandi

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UN_rAx8lWxY

A couple of the organs I have removed as I found little to no information on. One was a portable organ built by the Kimball organ company and the other was a touring organ used by the organist Pierre Cochereau. The portable organ built by kimball I had only heard about from another forum and the touring organ of Pierre Cochereau I have seen photographs online. Looking back I feel like I probably should have left some of the instruments off the list until I had some information to back them up.

I had also heard that Edward George Power Biggs also had a small touring organ but I never include it on the list as I couldn't find a single mention of this organ anywhere.

Edit

I've decided to also include a section for organs that remained on paper such as Jean Guillou's Organ of Variable Structure. But the main reason why I've done this is because I wanted to include my own proposal for a portable organ. I am passionate about designing a portable pipe organ but much like my dream house organ I don't have much to show you. Although I have still included a link for it which I can assure you that it's not some sort of joke involving a Rick Astley music video. 

 

 

 

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