The newest trend in music today is one of the oldest trends. I refer to the lowly reed organ. Some folks call them pump organs or Granny organs, preacher organs, melodeons, or harmoniums. Today there are more and more people using these instruments in rock bands in their homes, churches, and solo artist videos and CD’s . Just check out youtube and search reed organ and those other names above and you will come up with over 12,000 videos containing these instruments.
You may be able to pick one up for the cost of moving if you are lucky…or find them in antique shops, second hand stores, thrift shops. They cost from $50 or less up to thousands. Most reed organs operate on suction generated by the foot pedals and have one keyboard. A few of the larger ones may have two or three keyboards and a full pedal keyboard and they may have a lever or crank for a second person to furnish the wind or suction to the instrument while the organist plays.
There are several kinds of reed organ. The tiny melodeon is usually a single rank of reeds and some have legs that fold up for easy trasnport. They are short and unfortunately many of them have been gutted out to make a uselessly tiny writing desk. That was something that Better Homes and Gardens magazine suggested in the fifties and many people decided to gut their Grandma’s melodeon. Their kids are really disappointed in them today. The later version folded up into a suitcase called a preacher organ for military chaplains and evangelists to carry with them and those were built into the 1950’s or 60’s. Most of the others ceased production in the twenties or thirties some earlier than that as the popularity and quality went up in the American piano industry.
A step up from the Melodeon, there is also the larger version or the full sized reed organ with 2 or more sets of reeds playable with drawknobs similar to a pipe organ console. This is the most common. They often have very opulent cases with fine woodwork, often a decorative top with mirrors, gingerbread, latticework, and sometimes music and book storage cabinets. If the back wall of the organ has plain dyed or black back boards, it was built as a parlor organ. If it has a back that is fine finished wood , it will likely also be short enough for the organist to see over and possibly direct a choir over it while facing the choristers. This would be called a chapel model. This will often have a decorative grill in the back board so that sound can be heard to the back of the organ directed at the choir or the full church.
Posted on 09/11/2016 at 07:04 PM