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The craftsman
Vol. VII, No. 5 (February 1905)

Geare, Randolph, I.
The evolution of the organ,   pp. 548-562 PDF (4.2 MB)


Page 548


THE EVOLUTION OF THE 'ORGAN. BY RAN-
DOLPH I. GEARE
HERE is no branch of human industry in the develop-
ment of which man has displayed more versatility of
talent, subtlety of intellect or depth of spirituality
than in the organ construction. In its ruder forms it
served the purpose of merely supporting the voice, but
            in the iRstrument as we ot to-clay Know it, its numerous
possibilities of harmonious combination and varying degrees of tone
can be so arranged by a skilful player as readily to move the soul to
joy, adoration or tears. It is the king of instruments-an orchestra
in itself. How unlike in both construction and effect to the kind re-
ferred to in the Old Testament, in which Jubal is described as "the
father of all such as handle the harp and organ"! Nay, there was a
time when all musical instruments were called "organs," a fact
men-
tioned by St. Augustine in his "Comments of the Fifty-sixth Psalm,"
wherein he wrote: "Organa dicuntur omnia instrumenta musico-
rum": although even in quite early days the word was also applied to
a special form of wind instrument. No doubt the first idea of a
wind instrument was suggested by the breeze-the first organist-as
it played upon the open ends of broken reeds. And the discovery
would naturally follow, that reeds of different lengths uttered sounds
of varying pitch; which in turn would suggest the plan of so arrang-
ing them as to produce a musical succession of sounds.
   From this point, it is easy to picture the binding of reeds of differ-
ent diameters and graduated lengths in a row, with their open tops
forming a horizontal line. Upon such an instrument simple melo-
dies were readily produced, and of this fashion probably was Jubal's
organ (the Ugab). Such, too, were the Pandean pipes-the Syrinx
of the ancient Greeks-an instrument also known to the Indians of
South America, long before the "discovery" of the Western hemi-
sphere, and in common use in the Malay Peninsula, Japan, China,
Italy, France, Germany, South America and certain parts of Africa.
(See page 553.)
   The earliest form of pipe organ was known as "hydraulic," and
its invention is ascribed to Ctesibius, an Egyptian, who lived in the
second or third century before Christ. The word "hydraulic" was
548


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