The 3 horsepower trubine provides the "wind" to over 1,000 pipes in the organ.
The Skinner organ has "all the bells and whistles" including cymbals and drums, chimes, a xylophone, and a harp.
The bass drum.
Amory Atkins packs the organ pipes for shipment to New England where they will be cleaned and repaired. Dean Conry is visible in the background.
A portion of the Skinner console. The white stop knobs on the right allow the organist to control the 'colour' of th sound by selecting different sets of pipes.
The organ can be played either by a live organist, or from paper rolls. Similar to player piano rolls, these paper rolls recreate performances on the organ with all the notes, stops, and expression of a live performance.The music was intended to create the effect of a small symphony orchestra, with a repertoire that includes Bach, Wagner, Mozart, Puccini, Stravinski, and even popular tunes of the early 20th century.
The view from the organ bench down into the front hall.
Sean O'Donnell examines some pipes. The instrument is in remarkably fine condition, and remains an exquisite example of the work of America's finest pipe organ builder.
The bass drum. The large hammer in the center is for individual strikes, the two hammers on either side create a tympani roll effect.
The heart of the Skinner player mechanism. Controlling 1,000 pipes, harps, xylophones, drums and cymbals requires a lot of information -- more than would fit on even a very large player piano roll. To make it all fit, Ernest Skinner invented a form of digital multiplexing. Shown here is part of the de-multiplexer machine, that turns the coded informationon the paper roll back into music.
Over 600 wires connect the console to the organ, through the player machine. Fortunately, they are all labeled.
More of the player machine
A pipe's-eye view from the organ chamber through the grillwork and down into the front hall.
Looking through the chrome tubes of the chimes at the harp. This harp has metal bars, like a glockenspiel, but is struck with very soft hammers to create a gentle harp-like sound.
Bill Czelusniak dis-assembling one of the chests. The pies sit n the chests, within which is the mechanism that controls the air-flow to each pipe.
The pipes are designed to mimic the voices of orchestral instruments. In the foreground we see the English Horn. Behind that stands the dark grey Clarinet pipes. In the back are the lighter grey Vox Humana pipes, designed to evoke a humming chorus of human voices.
The English Horn up close. Each pipe only plays one note, so there needs to be one pipe for each note on the keyboard (61). A set of 61 notes of the same 'instrument' is called a rank of pipes.
Delicate, fragile, and exquisitely made, the haunting sound of the English Horn pipes helped proppel the Skinner Organ Company to the top of their industry. The wood pipes in the background give a smooth, flute-like toe, but much deeper. The longer the pipe, the deeper the note it plays.
More of the player machine
"Swell to Pedal 8" allows the organist to play a key on the pedal board but produce the sounds assigned to the swell keyboard. 8' refers to "unison pitch." That is, the key you play is the note you hear. At 4' pitch the note would be one octave higher than the key played, at 16' pitch the note would be one octave lower than the key played.
Access to the organ chamber is tight, so the larger pipes were handed down one by one and packed on te ground floor. Sean and Bill are at the top of the line.
Rich Frary (not shown)Chris Harrington and Dean Conry worked the middle of the pipe brigade.
The English Horn sitting on the ground floor, waiting to be wrapped and packed.
The pipes are packed into wood trays, and sit here waiting for their trip to the spa.
Amory Atkins and Rich Frary wrestle a reservoir down the main stairs. These reservoirs regulate the air pressure going to the pipes.
The nearly empty pipe chamber.
Dean, Bill and Sean lower a chest through the trap door from the third floor to the second floor
Wood bass pipes. The pitch of a pipe is determined by its length. The 'colour' of the sound depends on the material, the shape of the pipe, and the shape of the 'mouth.'
The xylophone. It works by using the same air pressure that plays the pipes to move a hammer and strike the bars. The harp, drums, cymbals, and chimes work the same way.
The Skinner organ uses a combination of electricity and air pressure to move 'information' around the organ. The electricity travels in wires, of course. The air pressure travels in these lead tubes.
The main chest of the organ begins its journey to New England for restoration. In the back are Dean and Richard, Sean on the right, Chris and Amory have their backs to the camera.