Students build 'green' pipe organ

December 16, 2008 4:24:17 PM PST
Students at Pasadena Memorial High School have built a pipe organ entirely from recycled materials. It's a lesson in physics, but even more so, it's a lesson in ingenuity. The item created doesn't look much like a traditional pipe organ, but it does sound like one, even if it's created with bulletproof Plexiglas and powered by green solar energy.

It looks like a keyboard and a computer, but it's all by design -- and a very unusual one -- for what amounts to a digital pipe organ, student-style.

"This is the first time I've seen music and technology coming together," said Pasadena Memorial HS student Shawn Alexander. "At first, I thought, 'Wow! This is actually on to something.' Finally when we got it all together, it was one of the most amazing things I've ever seen."

Feature #1 -- it's made of recycled electronics.

Student Abbie Corrington explained, "We put together pieces of old organs and made it into a great piece."

"We want to show how we developed from just normal wires from a computer to an advanced organ," said student Helen Schosch.

The students designed the brightly colored creation to be eye candy as well. It all began with physics teacher Alexander Graham, who loves pipe organs.

"We actually wanted to build a nice, furniture-type organ, and (the students) wanted to it (their way) and we went along with it," he said.

One student says the result is a successful musical instrument that speaks for itself.

"Listen to it for yourself," he suggested. "It's got a very, very good tone."

It's not to be confused with a traditional pipe organ, but it's economical, accessible, and it introduces the organ to a new generation.

"It could pump life back into the instrument," suggested organist John Potter. "That's my goal at the very end is to try to motivate people, to say, hey, the organ is still here."

Eventually there will be pipes added along the auditorium walls. Students are considering recycled glass Coke bottles and bamboo among other possible materials.

There will be a free recital featuring the Potter and the very unique organ at Pasadena Memorial High School on Wednesday at 7pm. The public is invited.

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