Chamber Organ and Enharmonic Organ
The organ has the oldest roots of all the keyboard instruments, being related to an instrument used by the ancient Romans and Greeks called the hydraulis. Organs come in many different sizes, but they all make sound using air under pressure. Some organ pipes work in the same way as a recorder, and are called flue pipes; while others have a reed or shallot that makes sound in the same way as a clarinet or saxophone. Like the different sets of strings in harpsichords, it was quite common for organs to have several sets or ranks of pipes that could be combined using hand stops. Before the nineteenth century, all organs had to be powered by manpower, and usually had hand or foot pumps to power the bellows.
A chamber organ is the kind of instrument one would find in a house or small church. It has several sets or ranks of pipes, which can be selected and combined to produce different timbres or types of sound. English chamber organs often had only flue pipes. To save space in the organ cases, and keep the proportion of the case, the bass pipes were sometimes mitred or bent into odd shapes so the case wouldn’t have to be made taller. The English chamber organ in the collection has a pedal that can still be used to supply the instrument with air.
Audio: Chamber organ, 4327
The enharmonic chamber organ is an instrument that provides not only handstops to change the sound colour, but also to provide alternative or enharmonic notes for almost all of the accidental notes (apart from F-sharp whose alternative, G-Flat, is hardly ever needed). In the old tuning system called mean-tone, a system that remained popular for vocal music into the eighteenth century when this instrument was built, these enharmonic alternative notes are very different, and using the correct one makes music sound distinctively bright (or distinctly sour depending on the effect you wished to create). Unlike instruments with split keys, using these handstops can be quite awkward, and often requires the performer to ask their page turner to assist.
Audio: Enharmonic organ 4343