Sunday, October 04, 2009
Have a seat at the console
. . . of the largest pipe organ in the world. Thanks to the magic of computer technology, you can click the picture above and get a personal view of what it looks like to sit at the console of the municipal organ of the Atlantic City Convention Hall.
The organ's console is the biggest in the world. It has 1,235 stop tabs controlling 587 flue stops, 265 reed stops, 35 melodic percussions, 46 non-melodic percussions, 164 couplers, 18 tremolos, and 120 swell pedal selectors for the 7 swell pedals controlling 15 swell boxes. Officially, that comes to 33,114 pipes. The console is also the only one in the world with 7 manuals, of which the lower ones have been extended to 6 and even 7 octaves, opposed to the normal 5.
The Main Auditorium is a truly vast space (488 feet long, 288 feet wide, and 137 feet high, which comes to over 15 million cubic feet of space). To fill the place with sound, Emerson Richards designed an organ with some mind-boggling and previously unheard of specifications. These include ten 32-foot stops, a 64-foot stop (one of only two in the world), 10 stops on 50-inch wind pressure (most organ pipes are about 10-inch wind pressure) and four on 100 inches (a pressure not employed in any other organ).
The 100-inch stops are: Grand Ophicleide 16-8; Tuba Imperial 8, Tuba Maxima 8-4; Trumpet Mirabilis 16-8-4. They had to be specially designed so as to not turn into projectiles when played. The loudest of these, the Ophicleide produces 130 dB at 1 metre distance. Needless to say, it is recognized by Guiness as the loudest organ stop in the world.
An experiment was carried out in the 1950s when most of the organ was working. Everything was coupled to the Great, and when played, the ice cracked in the hockey floor of the hall and the organ could be heard (and felt) outside along the boardwalk nearly 1000 feet away from the organ console.
Unfortunately, the organ has fallen into a state of disrepair over recent decades, leaving it only partially playable. The Atlantic City Convention Hall Organ Society is working hard to preserve and restore this historic instrument. Have a look at their video below.