The fascinating combination of sound, architecture and technology defi nes the organ with all of its facets. Traditional craftsmanship meets science with the organ as one of the most versatile musical instruments worldwide. The organ research faces the challenge to bring this craftsmanship in the high-price segment together with cutting edge science and new technologies. In eight European research projects, coordinated by the Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum (SEZ), Werkstatte fur Orgelbau Muhleisen GmbH, Steinbeis Transfer Center Applied Acoustics, Fraunhofer-Institut fur Bauphysik (IBP) and SEZ collaborated successfully. It was intended to improve planning and dimensioning the traditional wind system, the part of the organ which crucially affects its sound.
An organ is not a mass product but a unique instrument with a unique sound and should be specially optimized for its later location. Scientific methods help the acoustic research to build the organ in a way that its sound is optimally tuned to the particular room acoustics thus showing its fullest advantage.
Besides optimizing the existing wind system, the project partners aimed to create new wind systems either by improving the mechanical control mechanism or by developing an electronic control system in order to ensure failure-free operation. Together with the Steinbeis Transfer Center Applied Acoustics, Fraunhofer IBP examined the mechanical and acoustic characteristics of the most important elements of the wind system in their laboratory. With the construction of mechanical and electronically controlled outlet valves, organ builders now are able to control the behavior of the wind pressure more precisely. Newly developed software makes it possible to design and optimize traditional as well as new wind systems. Moreover, it helps to improve the sound quality and reduces the production costs by 15 to 20 %. A physical model forms the heart of the software by describing the fluid mechanical processes in the wind system and the interaction of the individual components. Organ-building companies have already applied the newly developed system successfully. The combined results of all research projects have had remarkable infl uence on the research organ at Fraunhofer IBP. Orgelbau Muhleisen, Fraunhofer and Steinbeis have created a glass instrument serving scientifi c research – globally unique. For this longterm development cooperation they are awarded the Steinbeis Foundation´s Transfer Award – Lohn Award.