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<<< Welcome to Angklung Web Institute (AWI)! This website is a medium of information exchange about angklung knowledge and competence, especially diatonic angklung in orchestral composition. The Father of Angklung Daeng Sutigna first created the diatonic angklung in 1938. Until now, angklung still has to face many challenges of identity to be acknowledged as one of world’s standard music instruments. One major problem is that there is no firm standard yet in constructing, tuning, forming, playing, and compositing angklung. Another problem is that until today, an angklung music community as a media of education and industrialization of the angklung music hasn’t been founded yet. Through this website we would like to ask you who have a great concern to the development of angklung to pass this piece of information to the world in order to support this developing music instrument. Through this website we would like to convey an angklung-ical activity to an angklung team or community and hopefully someday the industrialization of angklung can be realized. Last, it is our duty to raise our angklung to be appreciated just like the other world’s standard music instruments. Thank you.          <<< Welcome to Angklung Web Institute (AWI)! This website is a medium of information exchange about angklung knowledge and competence, especially diatonic angklung in orchestral composition. The Father of Angklung Daeng Sutigna first created the diatonic angklung in 1938. Until now, angklung still has to face many challenges of identity to be acknowledged as one of world’s standard music instruments. One major problem is that there is no firm standard yet in constructing, tuning, forming, playing, and compositing angklung. Another problem is that until today, an angklung music community as a media of education and industrialization of the angklung music hasn’t been founded yet. Through this website we would like to ask you who have a great concern to the development of angklung to pass this piece of information to the world in order to support this developing music instrument. Through this website we would like to convey an angklung-ical activity to an angklung team or community and hopefully someday the industrialization of angklung can be realized. Last, it is our duty to raise our angklung to be appreciated just like the other world’s standard music instruments. Thank you.          <<< Welcome to Angklung Web Institute (AWI)! This website is a medium of information exchange about angklung knowledge and competence, especially diatonic angklung in orchestral composition. The Father of Angklung Daeng Sutigna first created the diatonic angklung in 1938. Until now, angklung still has to face many challenges of identity to be acknowledged as one of world’s standard music instruments. One major problem is that there is no firm standard yet in constructing, tuning, forming, playing, and compositing angklung. Another problem is that until today, an angklung music community as a media of education and industrialization of the angklung music hasn’t been founded yet. Through this website we would like to ask you who have a great concern to the development of angklung to pass this piece of information to the world in order to support this developing music instrument. Through this website we would like to convey an angklung-ical activity to an angklung team or community and hopefully someday the industrialization of angklung can be realized. Last, it is our duty to raise our angklung to be appreciated just like the other world’s standard music instruments. Thank you.          <<< Welcome to Angklung Web Institute (AWI)! This website is a medium of information exchange about angklung knowledge and competence, especially diatonic angklung in orchestral composition. The Father of Angklung Daeng Sutigna first created the diatonic angklung in 1938. Until now, angklung still has to face many challenges of identity to be acknowledged as one of world’s standard music instruments. One major problem is that there is no firm standard yet in constructing, tuning, forming, playing, and compositing angklung. Another problem is that until today, an angklung music community as a media of education and industrialization of the angklung music hasn’t been founded yet. Through this website we would like to ask you who have a great concern to the development of angklung to pass this piece of information to the world in order to support this developing music instrument. Through this website we would like to convey an angklung-ical activity to an angklung team or community and hopefully someday the industrialization of angklung can be realized. Last, it is our duty to raise our angklung to be appreciated just like the other world’s standard music instruments. Thank you.          <<< Welcome to Angklung Web Institute (AWI)! This website is a medium of information exchange about angklung knowledge and competence, especially diatonic angklung in orchestral composition. The Father of Angklung Daeng Sutigna first created the diatonic angklung in 1938. Until now, angklung still has to face many challenges of identity to be acknowledged as one of world’s standard music instruments. One major problem is that there is no firm standard yet in constructing, tuning, forming, playing, and compositing angklung. Another problem is that until today, an angklung music community as a media of education and industrialization of the angklung music hasn’t been founded yet. Through this website we would like to ask you who have a great concern to the development of angklung to pass this piece of information to the world in order to support this developing music instrument. Through this website we would like to convey an angklung-ical activity to an angklung team or community and hopefully someday the industrialization of angklung can be realized. Last, it is our duty to raise our angklung to be appreciated just like the other world’s standard music instruments. Thank you.          <<< Welcome to Angklung Web Institute (AWI)! This website is a medium of information exchange about angklung knowledge and competence, especially diatonic angklung in orchestral composition. The Father of Angklung Daeng Sutigna first created the diatonic angklung in 1938. Until now, angklung still has to face many challenges of identity to be acknowledged as one of world’s standard music instruments. One major problem is that there is no firm standard yet in constructing, tuning, forming, playing, and compositing angklung. Another problem is that until today, an angklung music community as a media of education and industrialization of the angklung music hasn’t been founded yet. Through this website we would like to ask you who have a great concern to the development of angklung to pass this piece of information to the world in order to support this developing music instrument. Through this website we would like to convey an angklung-ical activity to an angklung team or community and hopefully someday the industrialization of angklung can be realized. Last, it is our duty to raise our angklung to be appreciated just like the other world’s standard music instruments. Thank you.          
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AWI Home arrow AWI Articles arrow Angklung Padaeng - Characteristics arrow DEAGAN ORGAN CHIMES By Bart Hopkin

DEAGAN ORGAN CHIMES By Bart Hopkin Print E-mail
Written by Ifah Hanifah AWI   
Monday, 26 June 2006
J.C. Deagan and Company is known as a manufacturer of marimbas and xylophones. In fact, it was the company's founder, J.C. Deagan, who probably did the most to popularize these instruments in the United States and Europe, and to standardize their form for use in popular, orchestral and chamber music. What is less well known is that the Deagan Company in its early days didn't stop with marimbas, but actually introduced an extensive line of new and unusual instrument types. Most of them are now pretty well forgotten, yet a few specimens are still around today. This article describes one of them: the Deagan Organ Chimes - one of the most interesting and sophisticated instruments from the early Deagan line.

FIGURE 1: Deagan Organ Chimes, from the Arne B. Larson Collection at The Shrine to Music Museum, University of South Dakota at Vermillion.

A few months ago I got a letter from Art Sanders, owner of the Musical Museum, home of an excellent collection of mechanical instruments located in Deansboro, New York.

The museum had been keeping a very rare, large set of Deagan Organ Chimes (sometimes also called shaker chimes) on loan from the instrument's owners in Connecticut.

But the museum was unable to display the chime set properly. Figuring correctly that this was something right up EMI's alley, Art Sanders contacted me to ask if, with the owners' approval, EMI would be interested in keeping the set, making them accessible to people interested in seeing or studying them, and documenting them more fully.

I said "Yes!", and soon I was in touch with Mrs. Floris Dinda and Mrs. Geraldine Kelly, daughters of Frank Tinker who had originally acquired the instrument almost 80 years ago.

We agreed to a loan arrangement; the daughters Tinker generously provided a great deal of background information, and the Tinker Family Organ Chimes arrived at EMI's humble headquarters in the fall of 1992.


FIGURE 2: Left: The Tinker Family organ chimes. Right above: The smallest chimes of the set, shown with a one-foot ruler to provide a sense of scale. Right below: The largest chimes of the set, shown with Shane to provide a sense of scale.


PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION What, then, are Deagan Organ Chimes?

For anyone familiar with non-western instruments, the easiest answer is to say that they look very much like a set of Indonesian angklungs, but made of metal rather than bamboo.

Each individual note actually consists of four specially-shaped, tuned tube chimes of nickel- plated bell metal supported in a frame, as shown in Figure 2.

One chime is tuned to a fundamental pitch; another an octave above that, and two more another octave up.

At the bottom of each tube are two small tabs, 180 degrees apart, extending another half inch below the stopped end of the tube.

When the chime is shaken, the tabs glide back and forth in a short groove cut into the wooden bottom of the chime frame, causing the chime to sound when the tab strikes the wood at either end of the short groove.

The instrument taken as a whole is made up of a chromatically-tuned set of these frames, each providing one note in the instrument's range.

The frames are designed to be hung on a large rack standing on the floor, which arrays them in front of the player in an immense keyboard arrangement with the naturals in a lower row and sharps and flats in a row above. The whole assembly stands over seven feet high and five or more feet wide.

The player sounds the chimes by shaking the frames as they hang in the rack.

I used the word immense a moment ago.

The largest chime in the Tinker Family set is just over 3 feet long, pitched at E3 (E below middle C).

The range extends up chromatically just over three octaves to F6 for a total of 38 pipes.

The largest sets that Deagan made, according to old Deagan catalogs, contained forty-nine chime frames, for a range extending from G an octave and a half below middle C to G four octaves above that, with these largest sets requiring two floor racks. The floor racks were made with segments of rod and tubing in a utilitarian arrangement designed for lightness, portability, and ease of assembly and disassembly.

Deagan's promotional literature declared that the frames could easily be removed from the rack and packed in a trunk "in but a minute's time" (a slight exaggeration, I suspect).

Deagan also made a less elaborate version of the instrument, called Aluminum Chimes.

These had three tube chimes in each frame rather than four, and the available range was slightly less.

I have said that the chimes were tuned chromatically, which is to say, they were tuned to twelve-tone equal temperament.

The Tinker Family set, now 80 years old or more, is badly corroded in places, but the relative tuning seems to have held reasonably well for most, though not all of the chimes.

A footnote in one of the promotional pieces for the instrument (this one from a Wurlitzer catalog ca. 1913) reads "All Deagan Instruments [are] tuned to International low pitch A-440 unless otherwise specified." Whatever the original tuning, the Tinker Family set is a bit below A-440, and I have heard that another surviving set is slightly sharp. These tuning questions lead to one of the most important features of the organ chimes - a feature which Deagan's promotional literature, perhaps in the interests of trade secrecy, never mentions.

The promotions speak of the rich, full tone of the chimes, but they don't say what makes the tone so rich. Here's the secret: each tube chime is air-resonance tuned.

The resonant frequency of the air enclosed within the hollow tube matches the fundamental pitch of the ringing metal itself.

The two reinforce one another, just as with a marimba bar and its resonator tube hanging below (something J.C. Deagan knew a bit about).

The resulting tone is much fuller, louder, rounder, and less clangy than the metal tone alone.

And while the air resonance frequency coincides with the fundamental in the metal tone, it does not match the metal's inharmonic partials.

Thus, it enhances the fundamental and discriminates against the inharmonic partials - an effect that contributes to the clarity of pitch and the reduction in clanginess.

It is by means of the special cutaway shape of the organ chime tubes that the agreement is achieved between the metal chime tone and the air resonance.

By removing more or less metal in the right places, an experienced chime tuner would have been able to adjust the air tone and the metal tone independently, with the goal of making the desired coupling between them at the desired pitch.

Deagan describes the process in the patent he took out to cover the organ chimes (U.S. Patent #644,817; see Figure 3).

The organ chime tube, unlike simpler tube chimes, is closed at the lower end.

This lowers the air-resonance frequency by about an octave below what it would be if both ends were open, and makes the resonance a bit stronger and more focused.

See the appendix at the end of this article for more on the air resonance tuning.


Figure 3: Drawings from one of the organ chimes patents, dated 1900.

Many small variations and discrepancies exist among surviving sets of organ chimes, and they often don't display some of the features described in Deagan's original organ chimes patent.

For instance, in the patent Deagan carefully describes special features for reinforcing the tabs at the base of each tube and transmitting the percussive impulse, yet the surviving Tinker set lacks these features.

The patent also speaks of slideable end stoppers for tuning the air resonance, as well as dual resonance chambers (divided by the stopper set in the middle), both of which appear to be absent in most of the surviving instruments.

So what does a well-tuned set of organ chimes sound like?

To get a mental sound-image, recall that, with the multiple-octave chimes within each frame, each note is doubled at the octave and again at the second octave.

Remember too that the sound is produced by shaking - thus, the tone typically is not a single peal, but an ongoing series of rapid chimings at the sounding pitch.

They run together in a continuous sound lasting for as long as the player continues to shake the frame, for a chiming tone which at the same time has the sustained quality of a wind or bowed string instrument. With its great clarity of pitch and the fullness of the air-resonated tone, the instrument rings out with good volume and carrying power, and a certain bigness of tone.

It is tempting to draw comparisons to Indonesian instruments, both because of the organ chimes' physical resemblance to angklung, and the association of metal percussion with gamelan.

Despite the organ chimes' western tuning, there is a quality to the sounding effect that does share something, subjectively speaking, with some Indonesian music.

But the music that organ chimes have most often been used for, in keeping with the times and places they've been used, have been Christian hymns, Christmas carols, old-fashioned British and American popular songs, patriotic songs, and the like - all of which can be rendered charmingly on the chimes in one, two, even three or four parts.


ORIGIN AND HISTORY OF THE ORGAN CHIMES

John Calhoun Deagan, the original force behind J.C. Deagan Company, began making xylophones the latter years of the 19th century, completing his first "orchestral quality" xylophone in 1888.

From that time until 1910, he made xylophones on order to the buyer's specifications.

After 1910, standardized models with model numbers were introduced. In those early days Deagan also specialized in producing a wide range of hand bell sets.

At the same time, he seems to have experimented with a variety of other innovative instrument types. The organ chimes were among the earliest of these, bearing U.S. patent dates of 1900 and 1901.

The name organ chimes seems to have been created in part in reference to the sustaining quality of the tone when the chimes are continuously shaken, and in part to the octave duplication within each organ chime tone, by analogy to the composite nature of organ registrations.

How Deagan developed the organ chime design is anyone's guess, but the similarity in shape and overall conception to the Indonesian angklung is too strong to ignore.

The bamboo angklung shape is virtually identical, as is the arrangement of multiple sounding elements within a framework, and the technique of playing by shaking.

While angklungs in Indonesia are most often hand-held, they are sometimes rack mounted as well. The air-resonance tuning likewise can be found in well-made angklungs.

Circus World Museum in Baraboo, Wisconsin, houses an excellent collection of early handbills, postcards, newspaper advertisements and the like pertaining to circuses and other early popular entertainments.

The collection is complemented by the private collection of Fred Dahlinger, Jr., director of the Robert L. Parkinson Library and Research Center (affiliated with Circus World).

Mr. Dahlinger has come up with newspaper advertisements placed in the New York Clipper in the years 1896 and 1897 by J.C. Deagan, featuring something called "Bamboo Chimes."

Here, then, is a likely candidate for the missing link.

On the other hand, Mr. Dahlinger also notes that The Circus World collection contains a Barnum and Bailey poster from 1889 showing (somewhat obscurely) something called the "East India, Melodious, Tubular, Metal Piano."

This, he speculates may have been an early set of organ chimes or similarly shaken chimes - though whether it was the work of J.C. Deagan is anyone's guess.

Meanwhile, none of the surviving Deagan literature makes reference to angklung or any other precedent.

Instead, it leaves the impression that the inventor developed the idea for the instrument entirely on his own.

Nowadays there are plenty of books, recordings, films and museum collections making knowledge of exotic instruments reasonably accessible and commonplace in the west.

A hundred years ago this was not the case.

If J.C. Deagan had some knowledge of Indonesian instruments, he could easily at that time have borrowed their forms, even patented them as his own, without acknowledgment their origins, without much concern that his sources would be recognized.


FOOTNOTE 1

WELLS BROTHERS AND SMITH They have just finnished one of there most successful seasons, artistically and financially, in their career, having played 32 weeks and toured the country from coast to coast without receiving one adverse criticism.

They are now duplicating that record in the summer parks.

The act is a high-classed one, appealing to all music lovers, and is a positive feature on any bill.


FIGURE 4: Magazine clippings from the collection of Fred Dahlinger.

Both of These appeared in Billboard, dated 1905 and 1906.

It doesn't appear that a great many sets of organ chimes were manufactured and sold.

Despite the undeniable appeal of their sound, they were a big, expensive instrument, and it likely would have been difficult to get many people to part with that much money for an exotic unknown. Where Deagan's marimbas gradually succeeded in creating a market niche for themselves, the organ chimes, along with most of the other innovative Deagan instruments, did not.

For comparison: Of Deagan's Nabimba, an exotic mirliton marimba, only about fifty were ever made.


FOOTNOTE 2

Statistics for the comparably priced organ chime have not come down to us, and so it's hard to say whether the numbers were very much larger. Yet the instrument does seem to have found a place with at least a generous handful of novelty musicians and groups, and in some circuses. The organ chimes remained available from Deagan at least until the early twenties.

Percussive Notes, the magazine of the Percussive Arts Society, recently reprinted a set of Deagan catalogs from that period.


FOOTNOTE 3

Catalog "H" from that set, titled Deagan Musical Novelties contains seven pages devoted to organ chimes and the related aluminum chimes, including pictures, descriptions and price information. (Pages from the catalog are reproduced in figure 6.)

The language, of course, is glowingly praiseful, as in "All the various musical instruments listed in this catalog were invented by J.C. Deagan, who is universally recognized as the world's greatest accoustician."

As for the organ chimes, they are "universally conceded as being the greatest novelty instrument ever invented."

The catalog gives information on twenty-eight available models of organ chimes and aluminum chimes, with Deagan model numbers between 5400 and 5530.

Prices range from $95 (in 1920s dollars) for a set of 15 aluminum chimes in the upper range, to $650 for the big 4-octave set of organ chimes on two floor racks.

I have not been able to ascertain when Deagan Company stopped making organ chimes.

The entire line of "novelty instruments", among which the organ chimes were prominent, surely had long been out of production when Deagan Company became a division of Slingerland Drum Company in 1977.

In 1986 - to bring the story up to date - the Deagan name and all that went with it was sold again, to Yamaha.

Yamaha has continued to sell some Deagan chimes and orchestral bells, but the remainder of the Deagan line has been discontinued.


Figure 6: A page from an early Deagan catalog. Below, a picture from the same catalog of another Deagan instrument used in the Tinker Orchestra, the Saucer Bells.


FOOTNOTES, ORIGIN AND HISTORY OF THE ORGAN CHIMES

Deagan did, in a sense, acknowledge some of his antecedents with his bar instruments, by calling them by names reflecting their origins (e.g., marimba and nabimba), but he doesn’t seem to have divulged their origins further. The nabimba, for instance, was a marimba-like instrument with mirliton membranes attached to the resonator tubes to increase the volume and add a distinctive tone quality.

This was an idea taken directly from both African and Guatamalan marimbas, but Deagan actually patented it for himself and presented the idea in his catalogs as a great innovation. This figure comes from Frank M. McCallum’s Book of the Marimba (Carlton Press, 1969).

Percussive Notes Research Edition, March/Sept 1986.

This is a fascinating set of documents, highly recommended – write the Percussive Arts Society for information on availability at PO Box 25, Lawton, OK 73502-0025 SURVIVING INSTRUMENTS In the process of researching this article, I have gotten word of about a dozen surviving sets of organ chimes in various locations across the U.S.

How many more there may be, I cannot say.

Here are some notes on a few of the remaining sets.

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