Flue Pipes

RobertCharles

Vancouver, Canada

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Flue Pipes

I was let free in St.Paul’s Anglican Church one day and took a great series inside. These are the organ pipes which (if i had to guess) would stand about 15 to 20 feet high. (they almost look like fancy kayaks)

There is a labyrinth in the church that allows anyone to walk the path on the last Friday of every month to candle-light. It’s not a religious experience, people of all faiths and beliefs are invited to come here. It’s a really cool though. There is always a live musician with drums and a guitar. The labyrinth is a replica of an ancient French labyrinth that apparently has mystical powers. Whatever you believe, it’s a good way to decompress from the week and take an hour to yourself to go over things. Totally peaceful and nice, just have an open mind.


The sound of a flue pipe is produced with no moving parts, solely from the vibration of air, in the same manner as a recorder or a whistle. Wind from the “flue”, or windway is driven over an open window and against a sharp lip called a Labium. By Bernoulli’s principle this produces a lower pressure region just below the window . When the vacuum under the window is large enough, the airstream is pulled under the Labium lip. Then the process works in reverse, with a low pressure region forming over the Labium which pulls the airstream to the other side again. This ‘fluttering’ airflow creates high and low pressure waves within the pipe’s air column. A high and a low pressure wave form a single “cycle” of the pipe’s tone. The oscillating airflow produced by the Labium is called a Von Karman vortex street.

Flue pipes generally belong to one of three tonal families: flutes, diapasons (or principals), and strings. The basic “foundation” (from the French term fonds) sound of an organ is composed of varying combinations of these three tonal groups, depending upon the particular organ and the literature being played.

The different sounds of these tonal families of pipes arise from their individual construction. The tone of a flue pipe is affected by the size and shape of the pipes as well as the material out of which it is made. A pipe with a wide diameter will tend to produce a flute tone, a pipe with a medium diameter a diapason tone, and a pipe with a narrow diameter a string tone. A large diameter pipe will favor the fundamental tone and restrict high frequency harmonics, while a narrower diameter favors the high harmonics and suppresses the fundamental. The science of measuring and deciding upon pipe diameters is referred to as pipe scaling, and the resulting measurements are referred to as the scale of the pipe. Ranks of all three tonal families can be either open or stopped, although flutes are by far the most common of the three to be stopped.

Artwork Comments

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