The Reed Organ

Reed Organ

Reed Organ is a keyboard instrument sounded by the vibration of metal reeds under wind pressure. It differs from the less portable pipe organs in the way the sound is produced.  They are commonly referring to as instruments having free reeds (vibrating through a slot with close tolerance) and no pipes. The piece of thin metal in a frame that air flows past to generate a sound in the instrument is called a reed and this gives the instrument its name “REED ORGAN”.

Blower-supplied “constant volume of air” in pipe organs, thus pipe organs require the use of swell shutters to control the volume.  Reed organs don’t have that limitation.

Reed organs have been around for a long time and were the most popular instrument of its day. They are also referred to as parlour organs, cottage organs, pump organs, concert organs, and practice organs [for future pipe organists]. These names are from the way they were used because of the instruments gracing chapels, churches, schools, and fashionable parlour at homes.

There are two principles of how the air brings the reeds into vibration. The European system, mainly in France uses pressure air bellows, whereas the American system chooses the opposite way with suction air [vacuum]. The suction instruments were mainly produced in the US, and in Europe in Germany. The American construction is easier to make and produce, and the reed organs have a softer sound compared to the European harmoniums.  To make sound, reed organ players must continuously pump the foot pedals. Instead of pumping in rhythm with the music, experts change the speed to affect the volume of the music. The pressure reed organs have a stronger sound than the so-called suction reed organs, with its softer and weaker sound. For this reason, the suction instruments were mainly used in family homes.


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