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Pipe Organs vs. Electronic Organs: 2 of 4

Previously it was pointed out that the St. Joseph Church architecture, building materials, windows, chapels, and adornments, cry out for the gold standard, a noteworthy pipe organ. Electronic organs have come a long way since the late 1930s when they were introduced, and since the introduction of the world’s first digital computer organ in 1970, the refinement of digital samples of real sets of pipes from real pipe organs, has been remarkable. However, the fact remains that it is the electronic organ which seeks to imitate the pipe organ, not the other way around.

Electronic organs can never match the sound created by a top-tier pipe organ. Here’s why… take our current electronic organ with 27 stops. If it were a pipe organ, there would be 1,416 pipes ranging in size from 16’ tall to the size of a first-grader’s pencil. Those pipes would be laid out in 35 rows 9-10’ long in both pipe chambers (one on the left and one on the right) creating natural surround-sound. This is because organ pipes use air to make the pipes come alive. Our electronic organ uses an amplifier to force sound through rectangle speaker cabinets, each 17” wide, 33” high, and 19” deep. The sound is forced and direct rather than free, natural, surround-sound. Stay tuned for a story next week!


Brad Cunningham, organist

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