The Appeal of the Pipe Organ
Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre Organ: The Three Tuning Methods
Organs have a long history and differ according to the period and location of their origin. The organ at Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre was inspired by the idea to combine together organs from different periods with different styles into one instrument.
Let’s take a look at the console. To either side of the keyboards are stop knobs for changing the tone, coupler knobs for linking the keyboards together, and knobs for operation of other supplementary devices. There are around 150 knobs in total. In addition, another characteristic of this organ is, that it has two outer facades and can express three different types of music. That is why, this organ is convenient to operate, but the musician needs to pay careful attention while playing it.
This concert hall has a modern appearance. Therefore, a traditional organ similar to those found in European churches would not fit in very well. On one hand, we prefer a specifically matching external style of an organ when listening to music from the 17th and 18th centuries. In order to solve this dilemma, we have devised a rotating organ. The double organ case was designed back-to-back with one side bearing the classical style as one might put it, and the other, the modern style. The classical side follows the traditional European format while we took a more liberal approach with the modern side, balancing its features with the concert hall. The result of this is an instrument, which maximizes the best of both worlds, considering the aesthetic aspect of the hall itself as well as the tradition of the organ.
We placed the largest pipes, that include three rows measuring 32 feet, close to the wall at the back of the balcony for better spacing and acoustic effects.
There are around 9,000 pipes controlled by a total of 126 stops divided into 14 sound groups—for example, HOOFDWERK and BORSTWERK and similar from the stop list—and are linked with eight keyboards and two pedal keyboards. The classically designed side incorporates two organs—a Renaissance and a Baroque-styled one, which can be played at the same time with a console that consists of a three-level keyboard. The modern side consists of an organ from when the era changed from classical French to romanticism, which is played with a console that consists of a five-level keyboard. In order to send air through all pipes, five fans and 48 bellows were required. The rotating platform has three motors that move with different speeds and are controlled by a computer. The total weigh of the instrument is 70 tons. In consideration of musicians’ convenience, three computers have been placed for memorization of the register (combination of stops). Both the keys and the stops are controlled mechanically. The older-styled instrument consists of hammered lead pipes. The voicing was arranged in a way to fit the acoustic conditions of this amazing hall.
The first organ is tuned into a meantone temperament, which includes intonation in the ratio of 5/4 inspired by the Dutch Renaissance spirit. The pitch is 467 Hz. Making this organ perfect for Samuel Scheidt’s, Sweelinck’s, and Scheideman’s pieces.
The second organ has an 18th-century German feel, it was tuned with the Baroque method and is set to a 415 Hz pitch. Making it perfect for J.S. Bach’s pieces and the pieces of other composers of his era.
The organ case of the modern part is based on the classic French era and is partially comprised of elements from the mid-19th century French romanticism. The tuning is done in equal temperament and is set to a 442 Hz pitch. It is perfect for symphonic as well as classic French organ pieces.
In this way, organists have the possibility to select the organ depending on the piece, and that allows them to provide the most authentic performance from the viewpoint of musicology.
February 25, 2011 (Fri), aired 8:00 PM - 8:45 PM, Tokyo MX