I made a mobile pipe organ out of a recycled church organ and laser cut plywood. Check it out at Figment this weekend!This weekend begins the next phase in a sculpture I’ve been working on for over a year. It’s called the Anywhere Organ, and it rocks. Early in 2010, I ran into a friend from high school who grew up to become a world renowned organ player. He clued me in on the growing trend of churches discarding their organs in favor of digital sound systems.
It seems that with the tuning, maintenance, and cleaning of a full size church organ (sometimes containing over 1000 pipes) the bills can get a little steep. Compound that on the sad fact that pipe organ experts are in short supply and it seems that pipe organs are quickly going the way of the sackbut, the autoharp, and the lute.
So, to improve upon this sad state of affairs, I decided to create the Anywhere Organ. The idea is to create a flexible, mobile system of pipes that can go practically anywhere and capture some of the major benefits of an actual pipe organ. You see, the fabulous thing about pipe organs is that they’re integrated into their respective buildings in such a way that the sound they produce takes on this magical and otherworldly character. I’m hoping to create something that can capture that effect.
What’s been fantastic about the whole project is that I’ve found a group of people who save derelict pipe organs from the dumpster, and try to find new and interesting uses for them, installing them in homes, piecing them up to repair historical organs, and generally spreading positive organ magic wherever they go.
In addition, the whole system’s MIDI powered, meaning I can interface with it through anything from a cell phone to an Arduino-based kazoo. The current version at Figment gets its music from a laptop feeding in classical MIDI tracks, with a few nerdy favorites thrown in.
As the project progresses I intend to open the source on the entire thing, uploading CAD files, sketches, programming, and technical data for all to see and tinker with. My hope is that it’ll inspire folks to revive a derelict instrument of their own.
Photos by the intensely talented Tony Lanza.