1931 Pipeless Organ - Sleepers aWakeman.

Music news now, from our office in 1931. An organ without pipes? Readers of Popular Science Monthly (named back when people had no idea when to expect magazines to come out) ran this full page article explaining how such wizardry worked. I think this is different from the standard valve-based electric organs that became the standard in The Thirties. The organ in this article, built by Captain Richard H. Ranger (can there be a cooler name?) creates tones using the electrical hum of motors - twelve, in all.

Enough speakers to rattle the trunk lid of any church.

FaceTube was not forthcoming with likely samples of how this thing sounded. All the 1931-ish organs I found seemed to be of the vacuum-tube valve type of thing. Ah well.

But look what the P.A.G. Research and Googling team DID find! An eleven-year-old girl playing Rush's YYZ at her keyboard recital! She's Asian, of course, because all children with superpowers are Asian. This fulfills your daily requirement of vitamin cool.

Bonus points to anybody who got the references in the title of today's post. For those who didn't, here's two things:

A) Sleepers Awake, a pretty popular organ piece by Bach. For those who think that pipe organs are all obnoxious honking and squeaking, please enjoy Sleepers Awake.

B) Rick Wakeman, keyboardist for Yes, playing Journey to the Center of the Earth, some kind of weird side project of his. Any time you saw him, he was likely as not to be wearing a sparkly sequin cape. It was more of a Merlin thing than a Liberace thing.

Link to the Wakeman video. Sorry, but if I embedded it, you'd have to watch it from the start (Do not do that.). As a link, I can make it start at the right place.

And just to be completely "meta", here is Wakeman in 1977, in the studio sessions for the album Going for the One, recording some overdubs for the last couple of minutes Awaken, which is a ten-minute-plus-long guilty pleasure of mine filled with impenetrable lyrics and space cathedral imagery. So, there's your "Awakeman", from the title of today's post. How's THAT for bringing it all home?

AAaaannnd, here's what the whole song sounds like. Live in 2013. Note that guitarist Steve Howe has turned into the Crypt Keeper in the last few decades. Good shot of Tony/Crypt Keeper at 2:30.


MrsBug said...

I've always enjoyed his Toccata and Fugue in D Minor (http://youtu.be/ho9rZjlsyYY), the ol' classic Phantom of the Opera piece. The technical skill needed for this piece blows me away.

Jim D. said...

Pipeless organ? http://sadtrombone.com/?play=true

Joe Max said...

I have a friend who's father died and I was asked by his daughter to look at some electronic musical equipment he left behind to see if it was salable. Turned out it was a home organ similar to the one described in the article that the father had built himself of years, in the early 1950s. Speakers and tube amps mounted in the walls, and even a large plate reverb device he built himself. Sadly, none of it could be removed and still be in any salable condition. (The plate reverb might have been worth salvaging, but it was anchored to a concrete floor and weighed hundreds of pounds.)

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