October 1, 2019

Organs First

Tomoko’s first keyboard instrument was the organ. Likewise, the organ predated the invention of the piano.

Organs date back to Biblical times. The precursor of the organ, the hydraulis, was invented two centuries before Chris in Greece. The power source pushing the air in this paper organ was water: either by a natural source such as a waterfall or ban a manual pump. Four centuries later the Roman empire celebrations include organs. Unlike today’s organs, those early organs could be played not only with hands and feet but also wrists, fists and knees.

By the 7th century, bellows supplanted water as a way to push in the air. Early organs with leaden pipes were created by the Byzantines. Constantine V gave one such organ to the Franken kind Pepin the Short, and his son Charlemagne established the use of organs in Western churches. The 10th century Winchester Cathedral had 400 pipes, which had to be played by two men and blown by 70 men. Until the 13th century, an organ’s scales were diatonic (GABCDEF) instead of chromatic.

By the 14th century pipe organs had gained their present form in general.  They ranged in size from portable size to ones with three manuals, a pedalboard, and twenty bellows operated by ten men. By the mid 15th century, top controls were added to control ranks at different pitches.  

Until the telephone exchange in the 19th century, the pipe organ was considered the most complex device made by humans.  Tomoko’s talent reflects her ability to play this complex and huge keyboard instrument, and add the nuances only available on the piano. And her students, community and musical world are richer for that change of keyboard.