Beer Bottle Organ
Take One Down
and pass it around, but here are Seventy-Four Bottles of Beer
that Peterson won't let go Flat!
The organ as shown is self contained with brass fittings, lighting
and is housed in a walnut enclosure on casters. It includes an
air pump controller and self playing device which allows the organ
to also play tunes unaided, it is also possible to make it coin-operated.
The story stretches
back to 1798, on the island of Helgoland (formerly Danish territory,
now German) whose church congregation were tired
of paying for an organ tuner to sail out every month to tune the
church organ. The pastor, who was tired of hearing the complaints,
subsequently commissioned an ex-mercenary soldier/organ builder
from Eisleben, (later East Germany) called Johann Samuel Kühlewein,
to build an organ which would not go out of tune due to changes
in temperature or weather conditions. Kühlewein thought about
it for a while and decided to build an organ using bottles instead
of standard organ pipes and using sealing wax to fine tune the
bottles. This organ spent a long life on the island until it became
depopulated in the late 1800s and the organ fell into disrepair.
Exactly 200 years and
4500 miles later in 1998, we at Peterson were preparing for our
50th anniversary celebrations when one of
our organ designers, Gary Rickert, had a novel idea, to build an
organ that played bottles. Just like Johann Samuel Kühlewein
before him (at that stage we had no idea that there had already
been an attempt) he set about working on weekends and late into
the night, experimenting with different bottle sizes and shapes.
Together with woodshop supervisor Joe Farmer & cabinet maker
Bill Bernahl they tried several different kinds of designs until
they finally found the answer…