|Pipe Organ - Photo by quinet|
A pipe organ produces sound by driving pressurized air through pipes that they player of the instrument selects via the keyboard of which there are sometimes one or two. Referencing back to the sets of pipes on the organ which are in sets called racks, each pipe produces a certain pitch. The groups or racks as they are known all offer a different sound in terms of how loud, the pitch and the timbre. The racks are operated via the stops which are the controls of the organ and you can opt to play the pipes singly or as part of a combination. As I said before a pipe organ has either one or two keyboards which are obviously played by the hands and there is a pedal board which is operated by the player's feet.
One main difference or advantage to a pipe organ is that the pipes can sustain a note for as long as the player has the corresponding key pressed, unlike the piano where the sound dissipates off. The other well-known type of organ is the electric organ which you may have heard of before, especially the Hammond organ which was used prolifically by many bands in the sixties.
Church organs were first recorded as early as the 7th century and Pope Vitalian has been recorded as the one who introduced the organ to religious services. It has also been recorded that even earlier or in some other religious sects that organs or indeed musical instruments did not exist in churches as they were viewed to be secular (which means with no religious or spiritual basis). Pipe organs are not only found in Christian churches but also in Jewish Synagogues and all throughout Europe, America and Australasia.
Throughout the United Kingdom in many churches, the organ one of the main focusses in the building. The organ traditionally is incorporated in many different types of services throughout the church including Christenings and weddings.