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Pipe Organs vs. Electronic Organs: 3 of 4

We have learned that electronic organs transmit sound through loudspeakers. Electronic organ sound is inferior because it is forced through speaker cabinets causing a direct, harsh, and piercing quality of sound. Pipe organs require spacious room for thousands of pipes, from the size of a pencil to pipes more than 32’ tall in which a mid-size person can stand. Pipes speak naturally by means of wind. Therefore, the sound is natural. The difference in sound is night and day.

Here’s the story promised last week… The organist of Holy Name Cathedral in Raleigh shared how for almost two years while a new pipe organ was being constructed for the new cathedral, a large electronic organ was used. Because the electronic organ had been used from the moment the parish took possession of the new cathedral while awaiting the pipe organ to be built almost two years later, everyone had grown accustomed to the sounds of the inferior electronic organ – it became the norm. Then came the organ’s first time to be used in Holy Mass, unannounced. The organist related that with the opening notes of the processional hymn, one thousand souls turned and looked up into the west gallery in amazement. The difference in electronic and pipe organ sound proved to be stunning even to 1,000 untrained ears. Pray for God’s favor and blessing at St. Joseph.

Brad Cunningham, organist


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