Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 2.djvu/592

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boxes a separate valve seems to have been placed against the hole leading up to every pipe of each note, where it was held in position by an elastic appliance of the nature just named. The valves were brought under outward control by strings or cords, which passed through the bottom of the spring-box, and were attached to the key lying in a direct line beneath. As the keys must have been hung at their inner end, and have had their greatest fall in front, the smallest pipes of a note were no doubt from the first placed quite inside, and the largest in front, with those of graduating scale occupying an intermediate position in proportion to their size; and thus the small valves, opening a lesser distance, were strung where the key had the least fall, and the larger pallets where they had the greatest motion.

The late Herr Edmund Schulze, of Paulinzelle, about twenty years ago made for the present writer a rough sketch of the spring-box of an organ about 400 years old which he assisted in taking to pieces when he was quite a youth; from which sketch the drawing for the following illustration was prepared.

Fig. 9.

Page 592 (A Dictionary of Music and Musicians-Volume 2).jpg

The early keys are described as being from three to five inches wide, or even more; an inch and a half thick; from a foot and a half to a yard or more in length, with a fall sometimes of as much as a foot in depth. They must at times therefore have been as large as the treadle of a knife-grinder's machine. Their size and amount of resistance would on first thought appear to have been most unnecessarily great and clumsy; but this is soon accounted for. We have seen that the gauge of the keys was influenced by the size of pipe necessary for the lowest note. Their width would be increased when the compass was extended downwards with larger pipes; and their length would be increased with the number of valves that had to be strung to them; while the combined resistance of the many strong springs of the larger specimens would render the touch insensible to anything short of a thump.

It was in the Cathedral at Magdeburg, towards the end of the century of which we have been speaking (the 11th), that the earliest organ with a keyboard of which we have any authentic record, was erected. It is said to have had a compass of sixteen notes,—the same range as that of our assumed 'chief alphabet' of the Winchester organ,—but no mention is made as to what the notes were.

In the 12th century the number of keys was sometimes increased; and every key further received the addition of two or three pipes, sounding the fifth and octave to the unison. According to Seidel[1] (p. 8) a third and tenth were added. Provided a rank of pipes sounding the sub-octave were present, the fifth, octave, and tenth would sound at the distance of a twelfth, fifteenth, and seventeenth thereto, which would be in acoustic proportion; but a rank producing a major third above the unison as an accompaniment to a plain-chant conveying the impression of a minor key, must have sounded so atrocious, that it would probably be introduced only to be removed on the earliest opportunity, unless a rank of pipes sounding the second octave below the unison (afterwards the 32-feet stop), were also present. Although the number of pipes to each key thus continued to be added to, no means was devised for silencing or selecting any of the several ranks or tiers. All sounded together, and there was no escaping from the strong incessant 'Full Organ' efiect.

There is a curious account written by Lootens[2]—an author but little known—of a Dutch organ said to have been erected in the church of St. Nicholas at Utrecht in the year 1120. The organ had two manuals and pedals.

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The compass of the former was from the low F of the bass voice, which would be represented by a pipe of 6 feet standard length, up to the B♭ of the soprano, namely, two octaves and a half. The chief manual had twelve pipes to each key, including one set of which the largest pipe would be 12 feet in length, [3]and which therefore was identical with the Double Open Diapason of subsequent times. The soundboard was without grooves or drawstops, consequently there were probably nearly as many springs for the organ-beater to overcome as there were pipes to sound. The second manual was described as havirig a few movable drawstops; and the pedals one independent stop,—oddly enough a Trumpet,—details and peculiarities which strongly point to the last two departments having been additions made at a much later period; for a ' double organ ' is not known to have existed for two centuries after the date at which this one is said to have been completed; still less a triple one.

In the 13th century the use of the organ in divine service was, according to Seidel, pp. 80–9, deemed profane and scandalous by the Greek and Latin clergy, just as in the 17th century the instrument was called a 'squeaking abomination' by the English Puritans. The Greek

  1. Johann Julius Seidel, 'Die Orgel und ihr Bau' (Breslau 1842).
  2. 'Nouveau manuel complet de l'Organiste' (Paris).
  3. No record is known to exist as to the pitch to which the very early organs were tuned, or whether they were tuned to any uniform pitch whatever, which is extremely doubtful. In referring to the lowest pipe as being 12 feet in speaking length, a system of pipe measurement is made use of which is not known to have been adopted until centuries after the date at which this organ is stated to have been made.