Pipe Organ

After the Edwardian Ball I carried my Invisible Clipboard through a series of doors that were not technically marked Employees Only and got a close-up view of The Regency's amazing pipe organ, above the Masonic Lodge. It looks surprisingly delicate: the aluminum tubes are paper thin. Everything about it looks so hand made. It dates to 1909, apparently.

Those Masons knew how to party, is what I'm saying.

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13 Responses:

  1. emeb says:

    You're right - everything is handmade. Even the tin/lead alloy used in the metal pipes was probably cast by hand. My father had a business building pipe organs like this and I grew up underfoot in his shop. It's a fascinating business but having seen it from the inside out I went into engineering.

  2. jrrs says:

    Much of this organ installed in 2002 in Edmonton, Canada was "hand made" based on a book of instructions published in 1776.

  3. MattyJ says:

    Have you seen someone that knows what they're doing play one of these things? It's mesmerizing, especially if you have a view of their feet.

    I've occasionally seen/heard the organ at the Castro. The Silent Film Festival usually has a few events that are organ-based, too. It's worth a visit.

    • Bill Paul says:

      A few years ago I got to hear the Indiana Jones theme played on the organ at the Castro Theater. It was glorious.

    • thielges says:

      While visiting The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in LA an organist was playing some soft ethereal noodling. That was pleasant and after 15 minutes or so the sound swelled into an awesome crescendo of sound that totally filled the whole nave, then suddenly stopped. It was an organist’s version of a mic drop. Really nice to have a chance to hear what it sounds when turned up to eleven. The best organs are matched to the interior space.

  4. tfb says:

    I don't know about the US, but in the UK you can get hold of quite substantial pipe organs for the cost of moving them. The problem is the 'quite substantial' thing: organs that will fit in houses are usually not free.

  5. The pattern on the tubes is very interesting! I wonder if it was like that from the start, maybe from the tin coating, or developed over the years, maybe from sonic resonance.

    • Thomas Lord says:

      Doubt it. Hammering to make the metal pliable to form a true enough cylinder? Marks aren't banded a la projections of standing waves. See:


    • tfb says:

      Metal organ pipes are traditionally hammered to improve the tone: ths is the marks left by that. I am not sure if people know how hammering them improves the tone, and cynically I wonder if it really does, but it is a thing people do.

  6. Martin says:

    I used to help run an arts venue in a former church, complete with its pipe organ, a Gray and Davison from about 1900. It hadn't been used in years but we managed to get it running again.

    Problem was, it was hideously out of tune. Every single one of those hand-made pipes needs to be trimmed by hand to the correct pitch. It would have cost a fortune to get someone competent to do the job.

    We did roboticise it and make it play Van Halen though.

  7. Christoph says:


    Now that the organs on this side of the world are officially a "cultural heritage", I expect some exhibitions and more organs works to be forthcoming. Looking forward to that.

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