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Sound Design of Reed Organ Pipes with Innovative Tools

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A better way to make reed organs

New software to help design reed pipes for reed organs promises to make the production of this complex musical instrument easier, supporting small businesses in the field.

Industrial Technologies

Reed organs, which first appeared in France in 1840, represent an important part of Europe's musical heritage. However, designing reed pipes for such organs is a key challenge to producing them, as it involves balancing the interaction of intricate parts such as reed or tongue, shallot and resonator. The EU-funded project 'Sound design of reed organ pipes with innovative tools' (REEDDESIGN) worked to improve the design of reed organ pipes through experiments, new tools and innovative software. Bringing eight small and medium-sized enterprises from seven countries to achieve its aims, the project built a device to measure and test reed vibration and sound propagation in reed pipes. It then constructed another device to test tongues made from different materials. In addition to physical experiments, researchers developed a computer model to simulate the reed–shallot–resonator system. This enabled them to experiment with various configurations before starting manufacture of the demonstrator. More specifically, the project team outlined new dimensioning methods based on the latest knowledge on designing reed pipes. It designed software for dimensioning reed pipes to yield better sound as well as rapid and more reliable design of reed pipes. The team also developed demonstrators for quality control of the elasticity and hardness of reed materials, as well as to control tongue curvature, which determines sound quality. Work also focused on validating the devices and software in an industrial setting. Overall, the project led to much better understanding of all parts involved, giving ways to innovative tools that support the design, dimensioning and voicing of the pipes. The new tools will lead to a 15 % cost reduction in manufacturing these organs and improved sound quality, helping produce more beautiful music and raising Europe's competitiveness in the sector.


Reed organs, reed pipes, reed organ pipes, reed vibration, sound propagation

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