European project INNOPIPEORG

Innovative Design Method for Matching the Pipe Organ to the Acoustics of the Room

The manufacturing of pipe organs is a traditional European industrial sector. The main factor influencing the competitiveness of the organ builder SMEs (Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises) is the quality of their pipe organs. Perhaps the most important quality aspect is the matching of the pipe organ to the acoustic properties of the church or concert hall. The quality of the instrument cannot be judged independently from the room. The sound perceived by the listener is a common product of the pipe organ and the room acoustics. The sound quality is an essential factor because it is the signature of the organ builder and makes his reputation. Organ building is a traditional craftsmanship, which is part of the European cultural heritage and it should be preserved. Nevertheless, innovative design methods and technologies could be applied in the daily practice, without endangering the valuable traditions. This project supports this societal and policy objective of the European Commission.

The state-of-art methods of room acoustics are not used by organ builder SMEs. One reason is the completely different way of thinking and terminology of acousticians and organ builders. Therefore, the organ builder cannot formulate his requirements for the acoustic properties of the room in a way, which is understandable for the acoustician. On the other hand, the results of a room acoustical investigation cannot be directly used by the organ builder for designing the scaling of his pipes. One aim of the project is to establish a comprehension between room acoustics and organ building.

Besides the above mentioned, more or less subjective problems of mutual understanding there are objective difficulties, too, by the application of room acoustical methods for the design of pipe organs. These problems can be divided in three groups:

  • Inadequacy of the standard methods of room acoustics for the pipe organ.
  • Missing information about the emitted sound power of organ pipes.
  • Specific requirements of organ builders concerning the acoustics of the room.

The research project was carried out by trying to find solutions to the above three points. The research established a scientific foundation of the design and matching of pipe organs to the acoustic properties of the church or concert hall for the first time in the long history of organ building. For this purpose the knowledge of room acoustics, the acoustics of organ pipes and the tradition of organ building were combined to a new, innovative design method.

Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum supported the project consortium in submitting the proposal and was responsible for the project management.

Portrait Jonathan Loeffler
Dr. rer. nat. Jonathan Loeffler
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