Grinnell College Musical Instrument Collection


76 items

continuo organ

This continuo organ is a keyboard-operated edge aerophone consisting of many vertically-mounted end-blown duct flutes the blowing ends of which are situated inside a wind chest that is fed by a motorized pump. Made in 2001 by the American firm of Bennett-Giuttari (Rehoboth, MA), the organ pictured and described here is based on instruments made by the 17th century German organ builder Nikolaus Manderscheidt. While there is solo literature appropriate for this sort of organ, its primary use is as an accompanying instrument for both vocal and instrumental soloists and ensembles (see Baroque Trio Sonata). Such continuo organs are being made today to provide professional and student early music ensembles with an instrument appropriate for period performance of Baroque music. Choral societies and churches also purchase such instruments as a less costly alternative to a full sized pipe organ. While large pipe organs are found in cathedrals and churches, and in some concert halls, throughout the world, the global distribution of smaller and more specialized continuo organs such as this one is less clear; in all likelihood, continuo organs are more likely to be encountered today in Europe and the Americas than elsewhere in the world. Description This small organ has a single keyboard manual with fifty-one keys covering, chromatically, a range of four octaves and a whole step. Inside the box case of the instrument (which functions as a resonating chamber) are located one-hundred-fifty-three single-pitch cylindrical bore pipes of the duct flute type, all of them quadrangular wood pipes of varying lengths and designs, grouped into three sets, called ranks, each with 51-pipes of similar design (see the detail photo for a view of the interior of the sound chest). On the right side is located the Gedeckt rank, which is a type of stopped pipe. To its left is a second rank, this one consisting of half-stopped pipes (a metal tube penetrates through the plug that stops the pipe) called Rhorflöte. The final Holtzprincipal rank is only partially visible at the left side of the photo. Its lower-pitched pipes are fully stopped while the rest are half-stopped. A stopped pipe produces a pitch an octave lower than an open pipe of comparable length. The foot of each pipe fits into a hole on the top of a large rectangular slider chest, which controls which ranks of pipes are available to be sounded. The slider chest rests on top of an equally large, two-layer pallet box. The bottom layer of the pallet box is a large reservoir filled with pressurized air delivered from the pump. The upper layer of the pallet box consists of 53 long and narrow chambers called grooves. Above each groove is located the foot end of the pipe in each rank that is operated by a single key on the keyboard. To get pressurized air from the general reservoir into a specific groove, a spring-loaded pallet valve located between the reservoir and the groove must be opened. This is accomplished by depressing the desired keyboard key, which through a number of mechanical linkages opens the pallet valve for a particular groove. Player - Instrument Interface and Sound Production The performer stands or sits on a high stool facing the keyboard (the performer’s back would be to the camera in the photo on this page). Because the air pressure necessary to sound the pipes is produced by an electric-powered pump, the organ must be plugged into an electrical outlet and the performer must press a button to start the pump. Three sliding metal stop bars are located to the right of the keyboard with which the performer selects the individual rank or combination or ranks to be sounded. These stop bars are mechanically linked to sliders in the slider box. This organ's ranks are labeled: 8-foot Gedeckt (because these are stopped pipes, the eight-foot pipe producing C2 is actually 4 feet in length) with a range from C2 - D6; 4-foot Rhorflote (2-foot stopped pipe producing C3) with a range from C3 - D7; and 2-foot Holtzprincipal with a range from C4 - D8. Using all the fingers and thumbs of both hands to press selected keys, the performer can produce monophonic melodies, polyphonic melodies, block or arpeggiated chords, or harmonized melodies. A selected note sounds only as long as its key is depressed, and its intensity is constant throughout its sounding. The volume of sound produced by this instrument is determined 1) by the number of ranks in operation (the more, the louder) and 2) by the position of the sliding doors on the side panels of the sound chest (the more open they are, the louder the volume). Origins/History/Evolution Small, single manual organs without pedals such as the continuo organ discussed here were in vogue during the 17th century in Europe where they could be used for the accompaniment of entertainments such as chamber operas and chamber music in aristocratic households. Much of the consulted literature on the organ focused on large instruments built into cathedrals for liturgical use, providing less information about the development of smaller, moveable organs. The Baroque era continuo or positive organ on which the instrument pictured here is based was already the product of hundreds of years of development, but the details of this history are overshadowed by the attention paid to the evolution of the much more impressive organs built in cathedrals.

soprano saxophone

The soprano saxophone is an end-blown single-reed aerophone invented in Belgium around 1840 that is now distributed throughout the world wherever Western cosmopolitanism has taken root. It is heard today primarily in the following contexts: military/marching/concert bands (rarely today, more frequently in the past), as a solo instrument in recital settings or with a concert band, in mixed saxophone ensembles (see Saxophone Ensembles), and as an auxiliary solo instrument in jazz combos and jazz big bands. The soprano saxophone is performed both by amateurs and professionals, males and females. School-age children can learn the tenor saxophone as part of school music programs and choose to continue their study in the university setting with lessons and/or ensemble participation, or even earn degrees in saxophone performance at the undergraduate or graduate levels. Amateurs can also find musical outlets in community concert and jazz bands. Professionals operate in one or both of two general spheres: the classical/educational domain, centered in academic institutions where performers teach, present formal recitals, solo with school ensembles, and direct student ensembles; and the jazz/commercial domain, where they perform at concert and club venues as members of established bands/combos or as back-up musicians for other performers, produce commercial recordings, do studio session work (recordings for movies, television, and commercials), and free-lance as teachers and clinicians. A substantial body of solo literature that is performed primarily in the classical sphere for soloist competitions and student and faculty recitals has accrued since the latter half of the 19th century. This repertoire grew exponentially in the course of the 20th century. Today, at least in the United States, the soprano saxophone is most strongly associated with jazz idioms. Description The soprano saxophone is basically a conical tube that is constructed in two sections, the neck and the body, with a single-reed mouthpiece attached to its narrow end. Made from drawn brass, the tube is straight with a slightly flaring bell. Twenty of its twenty-one tone holes are located along the length of the body, the twenty-first on the neck. These holes vary greatly in their size, but in general start out wider at the bell end and become narrower near the mouthpiece end. All have raised rims (called collars) and are covered and uncovered with leather- or felt-padded keys controlled with a complex system of buttons, rod-axels, and springs. The single beating-reed (of cane) that is used to generate sound on this instrument is affixed over a flat rectangular opening (called the table) on a plastic mouthpiece (can also be made from wood or metal) with the aid of a screw-tightened metal ligature. The base of the mouthpiece is slid over the end of the neck, which is lapped with a thin layer of cork to make the joint airtight and to allow for the fine-tuning of the instrument. Player - Instrument Interface and Sound Production The player, either standing or seated, holds the instrument vertically in front of him- or herself. A neck strap attached to the back of the instrument supports most of the instrument’s weight, assisted by a thumb rest for the right hand thumb. The thumb and all the fingers of the left hand and all the fingers of the right hand are used to operate the keywork. The tip of the mouthpiece is inserted into the player’s mouth and pressed upon from the top with the upper teeth and from beneath (the reed side) with the lower lip; a tight seal around the mouthpiece is produced with the player’s lips using the embouchure muscles. The instrument functions acoustically as an open conical tube, meaning that it overblows at every harmonic partial (starting at the octave above the fundamental). With all the finger holes covered the lowest sounding pitch on the soprano saxophone in B-flat is A-flat3; the upper limit of its range depends on the performer, but E-flat6 is usually given as its nominal highest note. Its compass is therefore about two-and-one-half octaves, and over this range it is fully chromatic. It has a rich, full tone over much of its compass, and a wide dynamic range. Jazz saxophonists and avant-garde musicians in particular often challenge the conventional limits of sound production: by extending the instrument's upper register; through the bending of pitches; and by producing expressive timbral effects achieved through overblowing, multiphonics and other forms of intentional distortion. As with all B-flat and E-flat saxophones, notation for the soprano saxophone is written in the treble clef between B-flat3 and F6; it sounds a major second lower than notated. Origins/History/Evolution The soprano saxophone is a member of a family of like instruments invented around 1840 by the Belgium instrument maker Adolphe Sax. A patent for the saxophone family was awarded to Sax by the French government on 22 June 1846, but the actual invention of the instrument may have been as early as 1838. He designed two lines of saxophones each in seven registers, one set for orchestral use (all but one model in this line are now obsolete) and the other for military band use (of which four registers, including the soprano saxophone in B-flat, remain in common use today). Sax’s original concept and design of the soprano saxophone has held up fairly well over time, although numerous changes to his key-work system and the addition of more tone holes have been made by subsequent makers over the years, some of which have been retained, others not.