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Electronic organ

Electronic organ

Overview
An electronic organ is an electronic keyboard
Electronic keyboard
An electronic keyboard is an electronic or digital keyboard instrument.The major components of a typical modern electronic keyboard are:...

 instrument which was derived from the harmonium
Harmonium
A harmonium is a free-standing keyboard instrument similar to a reed organ. Sound is produced by air being blown through sets of free reeds, resulting in a sound similar to that of an accordion...

, pipe organ
Pipe organ
The pipe organ is a musical instrument that produces sound by driving pressurized air through pipes selected via a keyboard. Because each organ pipe produces a single pitch, the pipes are provided in sets called ranks, each of which has a common timbre and volume throughout the keyboard compass...

 and theatre organ
Theatre organ
A theatre organ is a pipe organ originally designed specifically for imitation of an orchestra. New designs have tended to be around some of the sounds and blends unique to the instrument itself....

. Originally, it was designed to imitate the sound of pipe organs, theatre organs, band sounds, or orchestral sounds.

Today, it has developed into three or more types of instruments;
  • the Hammond organ
    Hammond organ
    The Hammond organ is an electric organ invented by Laurens Hammond in 1934 and manufactured by the Hammond Organ Company. While the Hammond organ was originally sold to churches as a lower-cost alternative to the wind-driven pipe organ, in the 1960s and 1970s it became a standard keyboard...

    -style instruments used in popular music genres;
  • the digital church organs, which imitates a pipe organ and is used primarily in churches;
  • and various other types of organs including combo organ
    Combo organ
    A combo organ is an electronic organ of the frequency divider type, generally produced between the early 1960s and the late 1970s. The combo organ concept, at least in the context of mass-production, is thought to have been born from the accordion, probably in Italy, as the brainchild of necessity...

    s, home organs, software organs, etc.



Harmonium
The immediate predecessor of the electronic organ was the harmonium
Harmonium
A harmonium is a free-standing keyboard instrument similar to a reed organ. Sound is produced by air being blown through sets of free reeds, resulting in a sound similar to that of an accordion...

, or reed organ
Reed organ
A reed organ, also called a parlor organ, pump organ, cabinet organ, cottage organ, is an organ that generates its sounds using free metal reeds...

, an instrument that was very popular in homes and small churches in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
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Encyclopedia
An electronic organ is an electronic keyboard
Electronic keyboard
An electronic keyboard is an electronic or digital keyboard instrument.The major components of a typical modern electronic keyboard are:...

 instrument which was derived from the harmonium
Harmonium
A harmonium is a free-standing keyboard instrument similar to a reed organ. Sound is produced by air being blown through sets of free reeds, resulting in a sound similar to that of an accordion...

, pipe organ
Pipe organ
The pipe organ is a musical instrument that produces sound by driving pressurized air through pipes selected via a keyboard. Because each organ pipe produces a single pitch, the pipes are provided in sets called ranks, each of which has a common timbre and volume throughout the keyboard compass...

 and theatre organ
Theatre organ
A theatre organ is a pipe organ originally designed specifically for imitation of an orchestra. New designs have tended to be around some of the sounds and blends unique to the instrument itself....

. Originally, it was designed to imitate the sound of pipe organs, theatre organs, band sounds, or orchestral sounds.

Today, it has developed into three or more types of instruments;
  • the Hammond organ
    Hammond organ
    The Hammond organ is an electric organ invented by Laurens Hammond in 1934 and manufactured by the Hammond Organ Company. While the Hammond organ was originally sold to churches as a lower-cost alternative to the wind-driven pipe organ, in the 1960s and 1970s it became a standard keyboard...

    -style instruments used in popular music genres;
  • the digital church organs, which imitates a pipe organ and is used primarily in churches;
  • and various other types of organs including combo organ
    Combo organ
    A combo organ is an electronic organ of the frequency divider type, generally produced between the early 1960s and the late 1970s. The combo organ concept, at least in the context of mass-production, is thought to have been born from the accordion, probably in Italy, as the brainchild of necessity...

    s, home organs, software organs, etc.


Predecessors


Harmonium
The immediate predecessor of the electronic organ was the harmonium
Harmonium
A harmonium is a free-standing keyboard instrument similar to a reed organ. Sound is produced by air being blown through sets of free reeds, resulting in a sound similar to that of an accordion...

, or reed organ
Reed organ
A reed organ, also called a parlor organ, pump organ, cabinet organ, cottage organ, is an organ that generates its sounds using free metal reeds...

, an instrument that was very popular in homes and small churches in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In a fashion not totally unlike that of pipe organs, reed organs generated sound by forcing air over a set of reeds by means of a bellows, usually operated by constantly pumping a set of pedals. While reed organs had limited tonal quality, they were small, inexpensive, self-powered, and self-contained. The reed organ was thus able to bring an organlike sound to venues that were incapable of housing or affording pipe organs. This concept was to play an important role in the development of the electric organ.

Pipe organ
In 1930s, several manufacturers developed their electronic organ based on functionality or quality of pipe organs. From then, some manufacturers think that emulation of pipe organ is only and most valuable aim of electronic organs.

However, even at the time, it was not the only aim of all manufacturers. Various type of electronic organs have been released on market, and some of these have established reputations and its own unique market.



Early electric organs (1897-1930s)


Electricity arrived on the organ scene in the first decades of the 1900s, but it was slow to have a major impact. Thaddeus Cahill
Thaddeus Cahill
Thaddeus Cahill was a prominent inventor of the early 20th century. He is widely credited with the invention of the first electromechanical musical instrument, which he dubbed the telharmonium....

's gargantuan and controversial instrument, the Telharmonium
Telharmonium
The Telharmonium was an early electronic musical instrument, developed by Thaddeus Cahill in 1897. The electrical signal from the Telharmonium was transmitted over wires; it was heard on the receiving end by means of 'horn' speakers.Like the later Hammond organ, the Telharmonium used tonewheels to...

, which began piping music to New York City establishments over the telephone system in 1897, predated the advent of electronics
Electronics
Electronics is the branch of science, engineering and technology that deals with electrical circuits involving active electrical components such as vacuum tubes, transistors, diodes and integrated circuits, and associated passive interconnection technologies...

, yet was the first instrument to demonstrate the use of the combination of many different pure electrical waveforms to synthesize real-world instrument sounds. Cahill's techniques were later used by Laurens Hammond
Laurens Hammond
Laurens Hammond , was an American engineer and inventor. His inventions include, most famously, the Hammond organ, the Hammond Clock, and the world's first polyphonic musical synthesizer, the Novachord.- Youth :...

 in his organ design, and the 200-ton instrument served as the world's first demonstration of electrically-produced music on a grand scale. Electrically powered reed organs appeared during the first decades of electricity, but their tonal qualities remained much the same as the older, foot-pumped models. Meanwhile, some further experimentation with producing sound by electric impulses was taking place, especially in France.



Tonewheel organs (1930s-)


The first widespread success in this field, however, was a product of the Hammond
Hammond organ
The Hammond organ is an electric organ invented by Laurens Hammond in 1934 and manufactured by the Hammond Organ Company. While the Hammond organ was originally sold to churches as a lower-cost alternative to the wind-driven pipe organ, in the 1960s and 1970s it became a standard keyboard...

 Corporation in the mid-1930s. The Hammond Organ
Hammond organ
The Hammond organ is an electric organ invented by Laurens Hammond in 1934 and manufactured by the Hammond Organ Company. While the Hammond organ was originally sold to churches as a lower-cost alternative to the wind-driven pipe organ, in the 1960s and 1970s it became a standard keyboard...

 quickly became the successor of the reed organ, displacing it completely.

From the start, electronic organs operated on a radically different principle from all previous organs. In the place of reeds and pipes, Hammond introduced a set of rapidly spinning magnetic wheels, called tonewheel
Tonewheel
A tonewheel is a simple electromechanical apparatus for generating electronic musical notes. The tonewheel assembly consists of a synchronous AC motor and an associated gearbox that drives a series of rotating disks...

s, which excited transducer
Transducer
A transducer is a device that converts one type of energy to another. Energy types include electrical, mechanical, electromagnetic , chemical, acoustic or thermal energy. While the term transducer commonly implies the use of a sensor/detector, any device which converts energy can be considered a...

s that generated electrical signals of various frequencies that were mixed and fed through an amplifier
Amplifier
Generally, an amplifier or simply amp, is a device for increasing the power of a signal.In popular use, the term usually describes an electronic amplifier, in which the input "signal" is usually a voltage or a current. In audio applications, amplifiers drive the loudspeakers used in PA systems to...

 to a loudspeaker
Loudspeaker
A loudspeaker is an electroacoustic transducer that produces sound in response to an electrical audio signal input. Non-electrical loudspeakers were developed as accessories to telephone systems, but electronic amplification by vacuum tube made loudspeakers more generally useful...

. The organ was electrically powered, replacing the reed organ's twin bellows pedals with a single swell (or "expression") pedal more like that of a pipe organ. Instead of having to pump at a constant rate, as had been the case with the reed organ, the organist simply varied pressure on this pedal at will to change the volume as desired. Unlike reed organs, this gave great control over the music's dynamic range, while at the same time freeing one or both of the player's feet to play on a pedalboard, which, unlike nearly all reed organs, electronic organs incorporated. From the beginning, the electronic organ also had a second manual
Manual (music)
A manual is a keyboard designed to be played with the hands on a pipe organ, harpsichord, clavichord, electronic organ, or synthesizer. The term "manual" is used with regard to any hand keyboard on these instruments to distinguish it from the pedalboard, which is a keyboard that the organist plays...

, also very rare among reed organs. While this meant that the electronic organ required greater musical skills of the organist than the reed organ had, the second manual and the pedalboard along with the expression pedal greatly enhanced playing, far surpassing the reed organ's limited capabilities.

The most revolutionary difference in the Hammond, however, was its huge number of tonewheel settings, achieved by manipulating a system of drawbars located near the manuals. By using the drawbars, the organist could combine a variety of electrical tones and harmonics in varying proportions, thus giving the Hammond vast "registration." In all, the Hammond was capable of producing more than 250 million tones. This feature, combined with the three-keyboard layout (i.e., manuals and pedalboard), the freedom of electrical power, and a wide, easily controllable range of volume made the first electronic organs far more flexible than any reed organ, or indeed any other musical instrument in history except, perhaps, for the pipe organ itself.




Electronic organs (1930s-)


In the wake of the Hammond's invention of Tonewheel Organ (1934), other models — including Hammond Novachord
Novachord
The Novachord is often considered to be the world's first commercial polyphonic synthesizer. All-electronic, incorporating many circuit and control elements found in modern synths, and using subtractive synthesis to generate tones, it was designed by John M. Hanert, Laurens Hammond and C. N....

 (1939) and other competitors — used various combinations of oscillators and filters
Audio filter
An audio filter is a frequency dependent amplifier circuit, working in the audio frequency range, 0 Hz to beyond 20 kHz. Many types of filters exist for applications including graphic equalizers, synthesizers, sound effects, CD players and virtual reality systems.Being a frequency dependent...

 to produce electric tones.Today's modern electronic organs use high-quality digital
Digital
A digital system is a data technology that uses discrete values. By contrast, non-digital systems use a continuous range of values to represent information...

 samples
Sampling (music)
In music, sampling is the act of taking a portion, or sample, of one sound recording and reusing it as an instrument or a different sound recording of a song or piece. Sampling was originally developed by experimental musicians working with musique concrète and electroacoustic music, who physically...

 to produce as accurate a sound as possible.
The heat generated by early models with vacuum tube
Vacuum tube
In electronics, a vacuum tube, electron tube , or thermionic valve , reduced to simply "tube" or "valve" in everyday parlance, is a device that relies on the flow of electric current through a vacuum...

 tone generators and/or amplifiers led to the somewhat derogatory nickname "toaster".Today's solid-state instruments do not suffer from this problem nor do they require the several minutes the vacuum tube organs needed to bring the filament heaters up to temperature.

Electronic organs were once popular home instruments, comparable in price to pianos and frequently sold in department stores. After their début in the 1930s, they captured the public imagination, largely through the film performances of Hammond organist Ethel Smith
Ethel Smith (organist)
Ethel Smith was an organist who played primarily in a pop style on the Hammond organ.Her recording of Tico Tico was her best-known hit. It reached No. 14 on the U.S. pop charts in November 1944 and sold over one million copies worldwide. She also recorded it for the 1944 film, Bathing Beauty...

. Nevertheless, they initially suffered in sales during the Great Depression and World War II. After the war they became more widespread; for example, the Baldwin Piano Company
Baldwin Piano Company
The Baldwin Piano Company was the largest US-based manufacturer of keyboard instruments, most notably pianos. It remains a subsidiary of the Gibson Guitar Corporation, although it ceased domestic production of pianos in December 2008.-History:...

 introduced its first (with 37 vacuum tubes!) in 1946. They peaked in popularity in the mid 1970s, by which time sales began being undercut by the rapid growth of television and high fidelity
High fidelity
High fidelity—or hi-fi—reproduction is a term used by home stereo listeners and home audio enthusiasts to refer to high-quality reproduction of sound or images, to distinguish it from the poorer quality sound produced by inexpensive audio equipment...

 audio systems as home entertainment alternatives. Home electronic organ models usually attempted to imitate the sounds of theatre organ
Theatre organ
A theatre organ is a pipe organ originally designed specifically for imitation of an orchestra. New designs have tended to be around some of the sounds and blends unique to the instrument itself....

s and/or Hammonds
Hammond organ
The Hammond organ is an electric organ invented by Laurens Hammond in 1934 and manufactured by the Hammond Organ Company. While the Hammond organ was originally sold to churches as a lower-cost alternative to the wind-driven pipe organ, in the 1960s and 1970s it became a standard keyboard...

, rather than classical organs.



Frequency divider organs (1930s,1958-)


Early electric organ products released in 1930s/1940s were already implemented on frequency divider technology with vacuum tubes.

With the development of the transistor
Transistor
A transistor is a semiconductor device used to amplify and switch electronic signals and power. It is composed of a semiconductor material with at least three terminals for connection to an external circuit. A voltage or current applied to one pair of the transistor's terminals changes the current...

, electronic organs that used no mechanical parts to generate the waveforms became practical. The first of these was the frequency divider organ, the first of which used twelve oscillators to produce one octave of chromatic scale, and frequency dividers to produce other notes. These were even cheaper and more portable than the Hammond. Later developments made it possible to run an organ from a single radio frequency
Radio frequency
Radio frequency is a rate of oscillation in the range of about 3 kHz to 300 GHz, which corresponds to the frequency of radio waves, and the alternating currents which carry radio signals...

 oscillator. Frequency divider organs were built by many companies, and were offered in kit form to be built by hobbyists. A few of these have seen notable use, such as the Lowrey
Lowrey organ
The Lowrey organ is an electronic organ named after Chicago industrialist Frederick Lowrey.During the 1960s and 1970s, Lowrey was the largest manufacturer of electronic organs in the world. In 1989, the Lowrey Organ Company produced its 1,000,000th organ....

 played by Garth Hudson
Garth Hudson
Eric Garth Hudson is a Canadian multi-instrumentalist. As the organist, keyboardist and saxophonist for Canadian-American rock group The Band, he was a principal architect of the group's unique sound...

. Its electronic design made the Lowrey easily equipped with a pitch bend feature that is unavailable for the Hammond, and Hudson built a style around its use.


Console organs (1930s-,1950s-)


Console organs, large and expensive electronic organ model, resembled pipe organ console. These instruments had a more traditional configuration, including full-range manuals, a wider variety of stops, and a two-octave (or occasionally even a full thirty-two note) pedalboard easily playable by both feet in standard toe-and-heel fashion. (Console organs having thirty-two note boards were sometimes known as "concert organs.") Console models, like spinet and chord organs, had their speakers mounted above the pedals, though the classic Hammond design of the 1930s and 1940s made use of free-standing loudspeakers called "tone cabinets" and sometimes enhanced by rotating speaker units, usually manufactured by Leslie
Leslie speaker
The Leslie speaker is a specially constructed amplifier/loudspeaker used to create special audio effects using the Doppler effect. Named after its inventor, Donald Leslie, it is particularly associated with the Hammond organ but is used with a variety of instruments as well as vocals. The...

, that produced a higher-quality sound than a spinet organ's small built-in speakers. With their more traditional configuration, greater capabilities, and better performance compared to spinets, console organs were especially suitable for use in small churches, public performance, and even organ instruction. The home musician or young student who first learned to play on a console model often found that [s]he could later make the transition to a pipe organ in a church setting with relative ease. College music departments made such available as practice instruments for students, and church musicians would not uncommonly have them at home.



Home organs (1940s,1950s-)


During the period from the 1940s through approximately the 1970s, a variety of more modest self-contained electronic home organs from a variety of manufacturers were popular forms of home entertainment. These instruments were much influenced from the theatre organ
Theatre organ
A theatre organ is a pipe organ originally designed specifically for imitation of an orchestra. New designs have tended to be around some of the sounds and blends unique to the instrument itself....

 in its style, and often these stops contains imitative voicings such as "trumpet" and "marimba". In the 1950s-70s, as technology progressed, they increasingly included automated features such as one-touch chords
Chord organ
The chord organ is a kind of home organ with a keyboard and a set of chord buttons, enabling the musician to play a melody or lead with one hand and accompanying chords with the other, like the accordion....

 (Hammond S-6 Chord Organ (1950)), electronic rhythm
Drum machine
A drum machine is an electronic musical instrument designed to imitate the sound of drums or other percussion instruments. They are used in a variety of musical genres, not just purely electronic music...

 (Wurlitzer Sideman (1959)) and accompaniment devices (Hammond Piper Autochord (1970)), and even built-in tape players
Cassette deck
A cassette deck is a type of tape recorder for playing or recording audio compact cassettes. A deck was formerly distinguished from a recorder as being part of a stereo component system, while a recorder had a self-contained power amplifier...

. These were intended to make playing complete, layered "one-man band" arrangements easy, especially for people who had not trained as organists. While a few such instruments are still sold today, their popularity has waned greatly, and many of their functions have been incorporated into more modern and inexpensive portable keyboards
Electronic keyboard
An electronic keyboard is an electronic or digital keyboard instrument.The major components of a typical modern electronic keyboard are:...

. The Lowrey
Lowrey organ
The Lowrey organ is an electronic organ named after Chicago industrialist Frederick Lowrey.During the 1960s and 1970s, Lowrey was the largest manufacturer of electronic organs in the world. In 1989, the Lowrey Organ Company produced its 1,000,000th organ....

 line of home organs is the epitome of this type of instrument.

Spinet organs (1949-)


Following World War II, most electronic home organs were built in a configuration usually called a spinet organ, which first appeared in 1949. These compact and relatively inexpensive instruments became the natural successors to the reed organ
Reed organ
A reed organ, also called a parlor organ, pump organ, cabinet organ, cottage organ, is an organ that generates its sounds using free metal reeds...

s. They were marketed as competitors of home piano
Piano
The piano is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard. It is one of the most popular instruments in the world. Widely used in classical and jazz music for solo performances, ensemble use, chamber music and accompaniment, the piano is also very popular as an aid to composing and rehearsal...

s and often aimed at would-be home organists who were already pianists (hence the name "spinet
Spinet
A spinet is a smaller type of harpsichord or other keyboard instrument, such as a piano or organ.-Spinets as harpsichords:While the term spinet is used to designate a harpsichord, typically what is meant is the bentside spinet, described in this section...

", in the sense of a small upright piano). The instrument's design reflected this concept: the spinet organ physically resembled a piano, and it presented simplified controls and functions that were both less expensive to produce and less intimidating to learn. One feature of the spinet was automatic chord generation; with many models, the organist could produce an entire chord to accompany the melody merely by playing the tonic note, i.e., a single key, on a special section of the manual.

On spinet organs the keyboards were typically at least an octave shorter than is normal for organs, with the upper manual missing the bass (typically 44 notes, from F3-C7 in Scientific Pitch Notation
Scientific pitch notation
Scientific pitch notation is one of several methods that name the notes of the standard Western chromatic scale by combining a letter-name, accidentals, and a number identifying the pitch's octave...

), and the lower manual missing the treble (typically F2-C6). The manuals were usually offset, inviting (although not requiring) the new organist to dedicate the right hand to the upper manual and the left to the lower, rather than using both hands on a single manual. This seemed designed in part to encourage the pianist, who was accustomed to a single keyboard, to make use of both manuals. Stops on such instruments, relatively limited in number, were frequently named after orchestral instruments that they could, at best, only roughly approximate, and were often brightly colored (even more so than those of theatre organ
Theatre organ
A theatre organ is a pipe organ originally designed specifically for imitation of an orchestra. New designs have tended to be around some of the sounds and blends unique to the instrument itself....

s). The spinet organ's loudspeaker, unlike the original Hammond models of the 1930s and 1940s, was housed within the main instrument (behind the kickboard), which saved even more space, although it produced a sound inferior to that of free-standing speakers.

The spinet organ's pedalboard normally spanned only a single octave, was often incapable of playing more than one note at a time, and was effectively playable only with the left foot (and on some models only with the left toes). This limitation, combined with the shortened manuals, made the spinet organ all but useless for performing or practicing classical organ music, but at the same time it allowed the novice home organist to explore the challenge and flexibility of simultaneously playing three keyboards (two hands and one foot). The expression pedal was located to the right and either partly or fully recessed within the kickboard, thus conveniently reachable only with the right foot. This arrangement spawned a style of casual organist who would naturally rest the right foot on the expression pedal the entire time, unlike classically-trained organists or performers on the earlier Hammonds. This position, in turn, instinctively encouraged pumping of the pedal while playing, especially if already accustomed to using a piano's sustain pedal
Sustain pedal
A sustain pedal or sustaining pedal is the most commonly used pedal in a modern piano. It is typically the rightmost of two or three pedals. When pressed, the sustain pedal "sustains" all the damped strings on the piano by moving all the dampers away from the strings and allowing them to vibrate...

 to shape the music. Expressive pumping added a strong dynamic element to home organ music that much classical literature and hymnody lacked, and would help influence a new generation of popular keyboard artists.


Chord organs (1950-)


Shortly after the debut of the spinet, the "chord organ
Chord organ
The chord organ is a kind of home organ with a keyboard and a set of chord buttons, enabling the musician to play a melody or lead with one hand and accompanying chords with the other, like the accordion....

" appeared. This was an even simpler instrument designed for those who wanted to produce an organlike sound in the home without having to learn much organ (or even piano) playing technique. The chord organ had only a single manual that was usually an octave shorter than its already-abbreviated spinet counterpart. it also possessed scaled-down registration and no pedalboard or expression pedal (volume being determined by a knob near the manual instead, an inefficient arrangement that effectively eliminated the dynamic playing that an expression pedal allowed). The left hand operated not a keyboard but an array of chord buttons As was the case with the spinet, the loudspeaker was housed within the kickboard.


Transistor organs (1957-)


Electronic organs before mid 1950s had used many vacuum tube
Vacuum tube
In electronics, a vacuum tube, electron tube , or thermionic valve , reduced to simply "tube" or "valve" in everyday parlance, is a device that relies on the flow of electric current through a vacuum...

s which are bulky and unstable, and its natures often had restricted on extending the features and spreading into homes. Meanwhile, transistor
Transistor
A transistor is a semiconductor device used to amplify and switch electronic signals and power. It is composed of a semiconductor material with at least three terminals for connection to an external circuit. A voltage or current applied to one pair of the transistor's terminals changes the current...

s invented at Bell Labs
Bell Labs
Bell Laboratories is the research and development subsidiary of the French-owned Alcatel-Lucent and previously of the American Telephone & Telegraph Company , half-owned through its Western Electric manufacturing subsidiary.Bell Laboratories operates its...

 in 1947 went into practical phase in 1950s, and its smallness and stabilities caused major changes on electronics equipments, as "transistor revolution".

In 1957, a home organ manufacture Gulbransen
Gulbransen
Gulbransen Company was a home organ manufacturer that began operation in 1904, and had pioneered several innovations on home electronic organ that became industry standards, as following:* transistor organ* built-in Leslie speaker system...

 introduced world first transistor organ, Model B (Model 1100), although its transistorization were limited to tone generators, and yet vacuum tubes were used on amplifiers. And in 1958, Rodgers
Rodgers Instruments
Rodgers Instruments Corporation is an American manufacturer of classical and church organs. Rodgers was founded in 1958 by Rodgers W. Jenkins and Fred Tinker, employees of Tektronix, Inc., of Portland, Oregon, and members of a Tektronix team developing transistor-based oscillator circuits...

 built a first fully solid-state transistorized organ for church, called Opus 1 (Model 38). After then, also other manufacturers/builders followed these.



Combo organs (1960s-)


In the '60s and '70s, a type of simple, portable electronic organ called the combo organ
Combo organ
A combo organ is an electronic organ of the frequency divider type, generally produced between the early 1960s and the late 1970s. The combo organ concept, at least in the context of mass-production, is thought to have been born from the accordion, probably in Italy, as the brainchild of necessity...

 was popular, especially with pop and rock bands, and was a signature sound in the pop music of the period (e.g. The Doors
The Doors
The Doors were an American rock band formed in 1965 in Los Angeles, California, with vocalist Jim Morrison, keyboardist Ray Manzarek, drummer John Densmore, and guitarist Robby Krieger...

, Iron Butterfly
Iron Butterfly
Iron Butterfly is a US psychedelic rock band best known for the 1968 hit "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida".Their heyday was the late 1960s, but the band has been reincarnated with various members. In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida is the 31st best-selling album in the world, selling more than 25 million copies.-History:The...

). The most popular combo organs were manufactured by Farfisa
Farfisa
Farfisa is a manufacturer of electronics based in Osimo, Italy.The Farfisa brand name is commonly associated with a series of compact electronic organs, and later, a series of multi-timbral synthesizers. At the height of its production, Farfisa operated three factories to produce instruments, in...

 and Vox
Vox (musical equipment)
Vox is a musical equipment manufacturer which is most famous for making the Vox AC30 guitar amplifier, the Vox Continental electric organ, and a series of innovative but commercially unsuccessful electric guitars and bass guitars...

.

By the 1960s, electronic organs were ubiquitous in all genres of popular music, from Lawrence Welk
Lawrence Welk
Lawrence Welk was an American musician, accordionist, bandleader, and television impresario, who hosted The Lawrence Welk Show from 1955 to 1982...

 to acid rock
Acid rock
Acid rock is a form of psychedelic rock, which is characterized with long instrumental solos, few lyrics and musical improvisation. Tom Wolfe describes the LSD-influenced music of The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Pink Floyd, The Doors, Iron Butterfly, Big Brother & The Holding Company, Cream,...

 to the Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan is an American singer-songwriter, musician, poet, film director and painter. He has been a major and profoundly influential figure in popular music and culture for five decades. Much of his most celebrated work dates from the 1960s when he was an informal chronicler and a seemingly...

 album Blonde on Blonde
Blonde on Blonde
Blonde on Blonde is American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan's seventh studio album, released in May or June 1966 on Columbia Records and produced by Bob Johnston. Recording sessions commenced in New York in October 1965, with a plethora of backing musicians, including members of Dylan's live backing...

. In some cases, Hammonds
Hammond organ
The Hammond organ is an electric organ invented by Laurens Hammond in 1934 and manufactured by the Hammond Organ Company. While the Hammond organ was originally sold to churches as a lower-cost alternative to the wind-driven pipe organ, in the 1960s and 1970s it became a standard keyboard...

 were used, while in others, very small all-electronic instruments, only slightly larger than a modern digital keyboard
Electronic keyboard
An electronic keyboard is an electronic or digital keyboard instrument.The major components of a typical modern electronic keyboard are:...

, called combo organ
Combo organ
A combo organ is an electronic organ of the frequency divider type, generally produced between the early 1960s and the late 1970s. The combo organ concept, at least in the context of mass-production, is thought to have been born from the accordion, probably in Italy, as the brainchild of necessity...

s, were used. (Various organs made by Farfisa
Farfisa
Farfisa is a manufacturer of electronics based in Osimo, Italy.The Farfisa brand name is commonly associated with a series of compact electronic organs, and later, a series of multi-timbral synthesizers. At the height of its production, Farfisa operated three factories to produce instruments, in...

 were especially popular, and remain so among retro-minded rock combos.) The 1970s 1980s and the 1990s saw increasing specialization: both the gospel
Gospel music
Gospel music is music that is written to express either personal, spiritual or a communal belief regarding Christian life, as well as to give a Christian alternative to mainstream secular music....

 and jazz
Jazz
Jazz is a musical style that originated at the beginning of the 20th century in African American communities in the Southern United States. It was born out of a mix of African and European music traditions. From its early development until the present, jazz has incorporated music from 19th and 20th...

 scene continued to make heavy use of Hammonds
Hammond organ
The Hammond organ is an electric organ invented by Laurens Hammond in 1934 and manufactured by the Hammond Organ Company. While the Hammond organ was originally sold to churches as a lower-cost alternative to the wind-driven pipe organ, in the 1960s and 1970s it became a standard keyboard...

, while various styles of rock
Rock music
Rock music is a genre of popular music that developed during and after the 1960s, particularly in the United Kingdom and the United States. It has its roots in 1940s and 1950s rock and roll, itself heavily influenced by rhythm and blues and country music...

 began to take advantage of more and more complex electronic keyboard instruments as Large-scale integration and then digital
Digital
A digital system is a data technology that uses discrete values. By contrast, non-digital systems use a continuous range of values to represent information...

 technology began to enter the mainstream. Although the original Hammond tonewheel design was phased out in the mid-1970s, it is still very much in demand by professional organists, and the industry continues to see a lively trade in refurbished instruments even as technological advance allows new organs to perform at levels unimaginable only two or three decades ago.


Pipe/electronic hybrid organs (1930s-)


The combinations of electronic tone generators and pipe organs had been developed in the 1930s.
Custom electronic organ consoles occasionally replace aging pipe consoles, thereby updating the electrical control system for the pipes as well as adding electronic voices to the organ.

For combination organs, which join pipes to electronic stops, an important issue is that pipes change pitch with environmental changes, but electronic organ do not follow by default. The frequency of sound produced by an organ pipe is determined by its geometry and by the speed of sound in the air within it. The speed of sound changes with the temperature and humidity of the air; therefore the pitch of a pipe organ will change as the environmental changes, so the pitch of the electronic side in a hybrid instrument must be re-tuned as needed. The simplest way this can be done is with a manual control that the organist can adjust, but some recent digital models can make such adjustments automatically.


Electronic church organs (1939-)


The first full electronic church organ was built in 1939 by Jerome Markowitz, founder of the Allen Organ Company, who had worked for years to perfect the replication of pipe organ sound through the use of radio tube based oscillator circuitry. In 1958, Rodgers Organ Company built the first solid-state (transistor
Transistor
A transistor is a semiconductor device used to amplify and switch electronic signals and power. It is composed of a semiconductor material with at least three terminals for connection to an external circuit. A voltage or current applied to one pair of the transistor's terminals changes the current...

) organ.


Separate oscillators
In contrast to the frequency divider circuitry with only a few independent pitch sources, quality church organs have always have had at least one oscillator per note and often additional sets to creature superior ensemble effect. For instance, Rodgers Opus 1, a three manual Model 38 the world's first solid-state, transistorized church organ in 1958, featured eight sets of transistorized pitch generators. Even today, digital organs use software-based digital oscillators to create large numbers of independent pitch and tone sources to better produce the effect of a large pipe organ
Pipe organ
The pipe organ is a musical instrument that produces sound by driving pressurized air through pipes selected via a keyboard. Because each organ pipe produces a single pitch, the pipes are provided in sets called ranks, each of which has a common timbre and volume throughout the keyboard compass...

.


Digital church organs (1971-)


Allen introduced the world's first digital organs (and first digital musical instrument
Musical instrument
A musical instrument is a device created or adapted for the purpose of making musical sounds. In principle, any object that produces sound can serve as a musical instrument—it is through purpose that the object becomes a musical instrument. The history of musical instruments dates back to the...

 product) in 1971 – the Allen Digital Computer Organ.The first software digital instrument, MUSIC
MUSIC-N
MUSIC-N refers to a family of computer music programs and programming languages descended from or influenced by MUSIC, a program written by Max Mathews in 1957 at Bell Labs. MUSIC was the first computer program for generating digital audio waveforms through direct synthesis...

was developed by Max Mathews
Max Mathews
Max Vernon Mathews was a pioneer in the world of computer music.-Biography:...

 in 1957 at Bell Labs
Bell Labs
Bell Laboratories is the research and development subsidiary of the French-owned Alcatel-Lucent and previously of the American Telephone & Telegraph Company , half-owned through its Western Electric manufacturing subsidiary.Bell Laboratories operates its...

, although it was non-realtime system.The first digital sampler instrument may be implemented on EMS Musys (programming language) ca. 1969, or EMS DOB (Digital Oscillator Bank) ca. 1972. This new technology was developed for use in home organs by North American Rockwell (project leader Ralph Deutsch) and licensed to Allen, who ended up putting it in their church organs. Allen later sued Rockwell and Deutsch, and gained sole rights to the digital computer organ technology.


Microprocessor (1980s-) and DSP (1990s) in church organs
In 1980, Rodgers introduced the first church organs controlled by microprocessor
Microprocessor
A microprocessor incorporates the functions of a computer's central processing unit on a single integrated circuit, or at most a few integrated circuits. It is a multipurpose, programmable device that accepts digital data as input, processes it according to instructions stored in its memory, and...

s partially based on research at the University of Bradford
University of Bradford
The University of Bradford is a British university located in the city of Bradford, West Yorkshire, England. The University received its Royal Charter in 1966, making it the 40th University to be created in Britain, but its origins date back to the early 1800s...

. The university's "Bradford Computing Organ" has technological descendants in some European digital organs using synthesis technology today.

In 1990, Rodgers introduced the first software-based digital church organs with its patented Parallel Digital Imaging© technology which paralleled many Digital Signal Processor
Digital signal processor
A digital signal processor is a specialized microprocessor with an architecture optimized for the fast operational needs of digital signal processing.-Typical characteristics:...

 (DSP) to generate stereo
STEREO
STEREO is a solar observation mission. Two nearly identical spacecraft were launched into orbits that cause them to respectively pull farther ahead of and fall gradually behind the Earth...

 imaged pipe organ sound.


Modern digital organ technologies (1980s-)



Electronic organs are still made for the home market, but they have been largely replaced by the digital keyboard or synthesizer
Synthesizer
A synthesizer is an electronic instrument capable of producing sounds by generating electrical signals of different frequencies. These electrical signals are played through a loudspeaker or set of headphones...

, which is not only smaller and cheaper than typical electronic organs or traditional pianos, but also far more capable than the most advanced electronic organs of earlier years. Modern digital organs, by the same token, are far more advanced in design and capabilities than their ancestors.

Today's instruments incorporate real time tone generation based on sampling
Sampling (music)
In music, sampling is the act of taking a portion, or sample, of one sound recording and reusing it as an instrument or a different sound recording of a song or piece. Sampling was originally developed by experimental musicians working with musique concrète and electroacoustic music, who physically...

 or synthesis technologies, MIDI, and Internet
Internet
The Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks that use the standard Internet protocol suite to serve billions of users worldwide...

 connectivity for downloading of music data and instructional materials, as well as making use of USB flash drive
USB flash drive
A flash drive is a data storage device that consists of flash memory with an integrated Universal Serial Bus interface. flash drives are typically removable and rewritable, and physically much smaller than a floppy disk. Most weigh less than 30 g...

 or media card storage. While electronically they are radically different from their predecessors, their basic appearance makes them instantly identifiable as the latest generation in a long line of electronic organs that now reaches back more than seventy years.

DSP


The best digital organs of the 2000s have a number of features which distinguish their sound from earlier, simpler instruments. Digital organs may use multiple Digital signal processor
Digital signal processor
A digital signal processor is a specialized microprocessor with an architecture optimized for the fast operational needs of digital signal processing.-Typical characteristics:...

 (DSP) chips paralleled for extremely fast processing and generation of the organ sound. Organ sound in most current digital organs is derived from digital signal processors in either a sampled or synthesis type generation system. Sampled
Sampler (musical instrument)
A sampler is an electronic musical instrument similar in some respects to a synthesizer but, instead of generating sounds, it uses recordings of sounds that are loaded or recorded into it by the user and then played back by means of a keyboard, sequencer or other triggering device to perform or...

 technologies use sound files recorded from various ranks of organ and then processed to be the root basis for generation of the organ sound. In synthesis systems, the wave shape is created without using an actual sample as a guide. Both systems actually generate organ tone, sometimes in stereo in better systems, rather than simply playing back recordings as a simple digital keyboard sampler might do. It has been claimed by its manufacturers that an organ voices might have slightly more control in some synthesis systems. Marketed as a "Real Time System" by Eminent and also sold by Wyvern, Copeman Hart, Cantor, and Van der Pole in Europe, synthesis organs may use circuitry purchased from Musicom, an English supply company. On the digital pipe organ category, synthesis-based systems are rarely seen outside of Europe.

Sampling


Sampled systems may have individual samples of actual organ pipes for each note, or may use only one or a few samples which are then frequency shifted to generate the equivalent of a 61 note pipe rank. Some digital organs like Walker Technical and the extremely costly Marshall & Ogletree organs claim to use longer samples for additional realism, rather than having to repeat shorter samples in their generation of sound. Most sampling systems are typically done with 24-bit or 32-bit resolution instead of CD-quality 16-bit resolution. Sampling in 2000s-era organs is done at a higher frequency than the 44,100 samples per second of CD-quality audio.

Pipe organ simulations


Modern digital church organs have reached a degree of sophistication, complexity, and expense surpassed only by the pipe organ itself. The consoles of some of these instruments, at first glance, may be almost indistinguishable from those of large pipe organs.
Drop of windchest pressure
To better imitate pipe organs, some digital organs simulate changes of windchest pressure (in a pipe organ, the air pressure may drop slightly when many notes are sounding at once, which changes the sound of all the pipes).

Swell box effect
Digital organs may also have simulated models of Swell boxes which mimic the environmental effects on pipes, pipe chest valve release and other pipe organ characteristics. These effects are often added to the computer sound generation in modern electronic organs to create more realistic pipe organ tone.

Room acoustic
Pipe sound can be generated to include sampled or modeled room acoustic. Rodgers patented "RSS" technology which uses biaural and transaural processing to create real time acoustic models and Allen's "Acoustic Portrait", purchased from Lake Industries in 2004, are examples of better quality acoustic systems where room acoustic is part of the pipe sound generation.

Surround sound
On most typical organs, several audio channels are used to create a more spacious sound. Higher quality custom digital organ builders use custom audio and speaker systems and may provide from 8 to 32 or more independent channels of audio, depending on the size of the organ and the overall budget for the instrument. With dedicated high power subwoofer
Subwoofer
A subwoofer is a woofer, or a complete loudspeaker, which is dedicated to the reproduction of low-pitched audio frequencies known as the "bass". The typical frequency range for a subwoofer is about 20–200 Hz for consumer products, below 100 Hz for professional live sound, and below...

s for the low frequencies of the sound, the best digital organs can thus approach the physical feeling of a pipe organ if a sufficient number of subwoofers and sufficiently powerful amplifiers are used.



 A software pipe organ system

Software pipe organs


The processing power of today's personal computers have brought the world of organs closer than ever before. Software applications are available that store digital pipe samples and sum them in real time in response to input from one or more MIDI sources. Some of these are Hauptwerk
Hauptwerk
Hauptwerk is a computer program, available from Milan Digital Audio, designed to allow the playback or live performance of pipe organ music using MIDI and recorded sound samples...

, MyOrgan, GrandOrgue, jOrgan, Aeolus, SCPOP, and Miditzer which emulates theatre organ
Theatre organ
A theatre organ is a pipe organ originally designed specifically for imitation of an orchestra. New designs have tended to be around some of the sounds and blends unique to the instrument itself....

 of Wurlitzer
Wurlitzer
The Rudolph Wurlitzer Company, usually referred to simply as Wurlitzer, was an American company that produced stringed instruments, woodwinds, brass instruments, theatre organs, band organs, orchestrions, electronic organs, electric pianos and jukeboxes....

. Many hobbyists have used these tools to assemble home-built organs that can rival the sound quality of commercially built digital organs at a relatively lower cost.

Digital organs in church



These are instruments designed as pipe organ replacements or as digital consoles
Organ console
thumb|right|250px|The console of the [[Wanamaker Organ]] in the Macy's department store in [[Philadelphia]], featuring six manuals and colour-coded stop tabs....

 to play existing pipes. They have developed greatly over the last two decades, and are now a common alternative to the pipe organ
Pipe organ
The pipe organ is a musical instrument that produces sound by driving pressurized air through pipes selected via a keyboard. Because each organ pipe produces a single pitch, the pipes are provided in sets called ranks, each of which has a common timbre and volume throughout the keyboard compass...

, particularly in churches. These are often referred to as digital organs. The technology has advanced to such a level that there is very little difference in sound timbre between piped and pipeless instruments, although this is still debated by some organists, who may argue that there is no substitute for a real pipe organ. However, many churches that are unable to afford costly pipe organs have turned to less-expensive electronic organs as a viable alternative; even a congregation that could afford a modest pipe organ may instead opt for a digital organ that simulates a pipe organ that would be larger than they could afford.

Digital organs by custom builders have also become a viable alternative for churches who may have had a pipe organ and can no longer afford to maintain it, or for those situations where a pipe organ is not financially possible. Some proponents of pipe organs claim that digital organs should be regarded as no more than multi-note hi-fi systems of durability no more than standard electronic equipment, in contrast to pipe organs that might still be playing without major rebuilding for many years. However, the high initial cost of pipe organs has limited their production, and all-digital and pipe/digital combination organs now significantly outsell pipe organs.

Most of the current digital church organs produce sounds based on recorded pipe samples, while others may model the pipe sound by digital synthesis. Custom digital organs can require large and expensive computer systems and an organ "voicer" may finish the organ, much like the process of regulating and voicing a pipe organ. These organs typically use very high quality custom-designed audio systems. The builders of both custom and factory organs include the firms of Allen, Ahlborn-Galanti, Johannus
Johannus Orgelbouw
Johannus Orgelbouw b.v. is a company that was founded in 1972 by Hans Versteegt and his wife Rineke. In the 1980s the company was sold. Johannus is currently located in Ede, Netherlands. Their specialty is in classical home and church organs. The Johannus organs are being exported to over 80...

, Viscount
Viscount (musical instrument manufacturer)
Viscount International SpA is a musical instrument manufacturer based in Mondaino, Italy. The brand Viscount was registered in 1969 by Marcello Galanti, but the company was established in the late 19th century by his forefather Antonio Galanti. After 1969 Viscount’s primary focus has been on...

, Makin, Rodgers
Rodgers Instruments
Rodgers Instruments Corporation is an American manufacturer of classical and church organs. Rodgers was founded in 1958 by Rodgers W. Jenkins and Fred Tinker, employees of Tektronix, Inc., of Portland, Oregon, and members of a Tektronix team developing transistor-based oscillator circuits...

 and Wyvern
Wyvern
A wyvern or wivern is a legendary winged reptilian creature with a dragon's head, two legs , and a barbed tail. The wyvern is found in heraldry. There exists a purely sea-dwelling variant, termed the Sea-Wyvern which has a fish tail in place of a barbed dragon's tail...

.

This style of instrument is also popular with popular concert organists, such as Carlo Curley
Carlo Curley
Carlo Curley is a flamboyant and popular classical concert organist. Self-dubbed "the Pavarotti of the Organ", he is one of only a few concert organists worldwide who support themselves exclusively by giving recitals, concerts and master classes, without any supplement from teaching or church...

, who tours with a substantial Allen Organ in the USA and with an Allen in the UK, which means he does not need to spend time getting used to a new pipe organ for every concert he performs. These instruments will often contain effects that are not seen on pipe organs, and there may be additional features, such as orchestral and percussion sounds, and console aids. The most advanced digital organs also offer some capabilities and features not found in pipe
organs, such as changing historical pitch standards and temperament
Musical temperament
In musical tuning, a temperament is a system of tuning which slightly compromises the pure intervals of just intonation in order to meet other requirements of the system. Most instruments in modern Western music are tuned in the equal temperament system...

s.

In popular music


The Hammond
Hammond organ
The Hammond organ is an electric organ invented by Laurens Hammond in 1934 and manufactured by the Hammond Organ Company. While the Hammond organ was originally sold to churches as a lower-cost alternative to the wind-driven pipe organ, in the 1960s and 1970s it became a standard keyboard...

-style organs used in more popular genres such as Jazz
Jazz
Jazz is a musical style that originated at the beginning of the 20th century in African American communities in the Southern United States. It was born out of a mix of African and European music traditions. From its early development until the present, jazz has incorporated music from 19th and 20th...

, Gospel
Gospel music
Gospel music is music that is written to express either personal, spiritual or a communal belief regarding Christian life, as well as to give a Christian alternative to mainstream secular music....

 and Pop music
Pop music
Pop music is usually understood to be commercially recorded music, often oriented toward a youth market, usually consisting of relatively short, simple songs utilizing technological innovations to produce new variations on existing themes.- Definitions :David Hatch and Stephen Millward define pop...

.
In 2006, Yamaha launched its latest model of Electone, the Stagea.

See also

  • Organ
    Organ (music)
    The organ , is a keyboard instrument of one or more divisions, each played with its own keyboard operated either with the hands or with the feet. The organ is a relatively old musical instrument in the Western musical tradition, dating from the time of Ctesibius of Alexandria who is credited with...

  • List of electronic organ makers

  • Content Organs
  • Farfisa
    Farfisa
    Farfisa is a manufacturer of electronics based in Osimo, Italy.The Farfisa brand name is commonly associated with a series of compact electronic organs, and later, a series of multi-timbral synthesizers. At the height of its production, Farfisa operated three factories to produce instruments, in...

  • Hammond organ
    Hammond organ
    The Hammond organ is an electric organ invented by Laurens Hammond in 1934 and manufactured by the Hammond Organ Company. While the Hammond organ was originally sold to churches as a lower-cost alternative to the wind-driven pipe organ, in the 1960s and 1970s it became a standard keyboard...

  • Johannus Orgelbouw
    Johannus Orgelbouw
    Johannus Orgelbouw b.v. is a company that was founded in 1972 by Hans Versteegt and his wife Rineke. In the 1980s the company was sold. Johannus is currently located in Ede, Netherlands. Their specialty is in classical home and church organs. The Johannus organs are being exported to over 80...

  • Kawai
    Kawai
    The of Japan is best known for its grand and upright pianos, electronic keyboards and electronic synthesizers. The company was established in August 1927, and has its headquarters in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka.-Pianos:...

  • Maestrovox
    Maestrovox
    Maestrovox was a British company best known for its line of electron valve based electronic organs. They were designed and built by Victor Harold Ward. The first design model went on sale on May 5, 1952 at the British Industries Fair at Olympia, London, where it was hailed as the "Success of the...

  • Rodgers Instruments
    Rodgers Instruments
    Rodgers Instruments Corporation is an American manufacturer of classical and church organs. Rodgers was founded in 1958 by Rodgers W. Jenkins and Fred Tinker, employees of Tektronix, Inc., of Portland, Oregon, and members of a Tektronix team developing transistor-based oscillator circuits...

  • Roland Corporation
    Roland Corporation
    is a Japanese manufacturer of electronic musical instruments, electronic equipment and software. It was founded by Ikutaro Kakehashi in Osaka on April 18, 1972, with ¥33 million in capital. In 2005 Roland's headquarters relocated to Hamamatsu in Shizuoka Prefecture. Today it has factories in Japan,...

  • Wersi
    Wersi
    Wersi is a German manufacturer of electronic organs, keyboards and pianos. They were used by organists such as Franz Lambert and the late Klaus Wunderlich....

  • Yamaha Corporation

External links



  • TheaterOrgans.com FAQ
  • Schober From the 50s to the 70s, Schober produced a popular line of build-your-own organ kits. Models ranged from spinets up through AGO consoles.
  • Aeolus: A synthesised (i.e. not sampled) pipe organ emulator.
  • Download MP3 files of a Makin digital organ at Hammerwood Park
    Hammerwood Park
    Hammerwood Park is a grade I listed country house near East Grinstead, Sussex, England at and Grade 1 listed of historical interest.- History :It was the first work of the architect Benjamin Latrobe...

     in Sussex after serving a dozen years at Londonderry Cathedral, where visitors had said it was "remarkably effective". This has now been enlarged to 5 manuals using further electronic organ units known as "expanders", often used to enhance pipe organs, made by Content in Holland and Ahlborn in Italy.