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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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