The Old Organ Sound

I previously wrote about theatre organs (also known as the Unit Orchestra); I love these instruments, and nowadays modern electronics have been pretty much able to replicate the sound (if not the charisma) of a massive wind-driven instrument.

In the early days of electronic organs, however, Hammond’s drawbar and tone-wheel instruments were king, much as Wang’s word processor, before the advent of Word Perfect, was the system to have in your office. Those days are a relic of the past, but if you’re an oldster and ever went out to the ball game, you’re sure to have heard the dulcet tones of a Hammond playing “Charge!”

In homage of these famous instruments, here’s a beautiful 1950’s Hammond B3 being played at American Music World in Chicago.

As a Dreingabe[1], here is Bernd Wurzenrainer playing the Ady Zehnpfennig version of “Apache” on a 1976 Böhm organ. Dr. Böhm’s organs differed from Hammond in that his tone generators employed subtractive synthesis (like Moog) rather than additive; the sound is crisper than the Hammond, but still has that rich, fluty tone that had appeal in those early days.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

[1] German for ‘freebie’.

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