Inventor’s Day

This #NationalInventorsDay we take a look at some beautiful inventions as they humbly grace the halls of the Green Music Center. What completes these inventions? The experiences they allow the audience to engage in.

Brombaugh Opus 9 Tracker Organ

The first is Schroeder Hall’s Brombaugh Opus 9 tracker organ. Built in 1972 by prominent American organ builder John Brombaugh, the Opus 9 is just one within an impressive series of 66. The word ‘tracker’ in its name refers to the organ’s mechanical nature. The tracker is the rod which connects a pedal on the organ to a valve on a single pipe, allowing air to flow through when pressed and produce sound. This solid red oak organ has 1,248 hammered lead pipes, ranging from the size of a pencil to 16 feet in length.

The earliest ancestor of the pipe organ showed up in 246 BCE, called the hydraulis. Credited as its creator is Ctesibius of Alexandria, this early organ utilized water in a reservoir, creating air pressure through the instrument’s panpipes, thus resulting in sound.

During the time they were created, organs were used for lively events, such as athletic games, circuses, and parties. Fast forward to 900 CE, organs eventually made their way into churches, where we typically see them in the present day.

Organs are as unique as those who craft them; meaning, they are often made with certain specifications, based on the halls or churches they are intended for. Organ craftsmen customize the number and material of the pipes, the size, and shape of the instrument, and even the most ornate details. A quick internet search of various organ types will show the diversity of shape, size, and sound this instrument is capable of.

The term ‘pulling out all the stops’ comes from organ terminology! It refers to the mechanism to manage the air flow through a set of pipes. On the Brombaugh Opus 9, the stops are knobs. Pulling out all the stops means that all the instrument’s pipes are open and air can flow through them freely. With all the stops pulled out, an organ player can use the instrument at its maximum performance ability.


Breguet Tourbillon Clock

Look up as you enter Weill Hall’s Evert Person Lobby, and you will see this beautiful Breguet tourbillon clock made exclusively for the Green Music Center. This beautiful, functional, and elegant clock was unveiled in 2016, and is the Green Music Center’s first exclusive timepiece thanks to a group of generous donors.

Patented in 1801 by horologist Abraham-Louis Breguet, the clock’s tourbillon name refers to the unique mechanism intended to offset the effects of gravity and keeps the timepiece functioning despite potential positional changes. Breguet is famous for creating carriage clocks, made for travelers to keep track of time while on their journeys. His first completed tourbillon travel clock was made for the infamous Napoleon Bonaparte. While meant for travel, these clocks could weigh up to 200 pounds.

Both these inventions set an impressive precedent for the future of organs and clocks alike. While they are pieces of history refined, they are the most beautiful when interacting with people. The congruence of music and time is described succinctly in the words of Thomas Fuller, “music is nothing else but wild sounds civilized into time and tune.”