15 October 2012

The organ in the Oude Kerk (old church)

This past weekend, I had the privilege of actually playing the organ in the Oude Kerk (Old Church). Well, playing might be exaggerating, even if I did manage to touch almost every single note on the organ. And my hitting all those keys didn't actually sound all that great, so what exactly was I doing?!?

I was helping tune the organ. While the professional organ tuner is working, somebody has to hit the keys on the organ so he can adjust the pipes to tune it. I was given a sheet with notes that reflected the order of the pipes. To give you some idea of the order, you start in the bass line at g and descend down to d# to b to a and then ascend to c# (an octave below middle c) to f to a; in the treble line you begin with a high a (almost two octaves above middle c) and descend to f to c# to a to f to c# (on middle c) and so on.

I would hold each note until I was told to go the next one. The pipes for the lowest row on the organ are actually behind the organ bench, so I got to see the tuning there while it was happening. These pipes have a small metal pipe/stick at the top, which can be adjusted higher or lower thus changing the sound. So as I would play the note, the person tuning the organ would tap or pull on the metal piece and the sound of the note would change. It was fascinating to watch and be a part of.

Helping tune a pipe organ is just another one of those random experiences of life here in Amsterdam that I don't think I could ever have imagined doing. These last few years of living here have brought lots of fascinating experiences into my life, though, so I guess I shouldn't be all that surprised, eh?

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