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Tuning and timbre slots in organ flue pipes: A shift in sound aesthetics. With special focus on
 Aristide Cavaillé­-Coll and Eberhard Friedrich Walcker

Kapitel i bok
Författare Paul Peeters
Publicerad i The Organ Yearbook, vol. 46 (2017)
Sidor 115-172
ISBN 978-3–89007–925–7
Förlag Laaber
Förlagsort Laaber, Tyskland
Publiceringsår 2018
Publicerad vid Högskolan för scen och musik
Sidor 115-172
Språk en
Ämnesord organ, organ building, 19th century, France, Germany
Ämneskategorier Teknikhistoria, Musikvetenskap, Musik


The tuning and timbre slot seems to be one of those devices that have been ‘invented’ more than once. The oldest known examples are from Jordi Bosch (1765, 1778). Thereafter, nothing is known until Andreas Reuter claimed the invention, used by him for the first time in 1833. These two inventions seem to be isolated events. The early 1850s show the device used by Walcker, Witte, Merklin, and Maarschalkerweerd. Of these builders, Walcker stated as late as 1857 that he was the inventor of the device, notwithstanding the description and sketch of the tuning and timbre slot by Reuter, published in Töpfer’s 1855 treatise. It is the author’s hypothesis that it was Joseph Merklin who introduced the device in France, and that Cavaillé­-Coll learned about it from Merklin’s organ at the Paris world exhibition in 1855. Even though there is considerable documentation of the application of the device up to the 1850s, gaps in the (reception) history of the tuning and timbre slot still remain. The 2nd section of the article lists some technical descriptions transmitted by various organ builders and theorists. Among the reasons for using the tuning and timbre slot in the early 1850s, we find that the device provided a simple solution for raising the pitch of existing pipes that were to be reused when organs were rebuilt. Soon, the possibility of voicing pipes louder without making them overblow or sound harsh became the main reason for their use. Authors also mention important effects such as increased homogeneity of sound, a higher intensity and energy of the sound, a more precise control of the tuning, a better tuning stability, and a more stable and easier voicing. When dealing with 19th-­century organs, the tuning and timbre slot must be recognized as a tonal element of central importance. It is similarly important for the reconstruction of 19th-­century pipes or the construction of new pipes in the 19th­-century style.

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