Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Great Stalacpipe Organ

The Great Stalacpipe Organ is an electrically actuated lithophone located in Luray Caverns, Virginia, USA. It is operated by a custom console that produces the tapping of ancient stalactites of varying sizes with solenoid-actuated rubber mallets in order to produce tones. The instrument's name was derived from the resemblance of the selected thirty-seven naturally formed stalactites to the pipework of a traditional pipe organ along with its custom organ-style keyboard console. It was designed and implemented in 1956 over three years by Leland W. Sprinkle inside the Luray Caverns near Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, USA.

Sprinkle created the Great Stalacpipe Organ over three years by finding and shaving appropriate stalactites to produce specific notes. He then wired a mallet for each stalacite that is activated by pressing the correct key on the instrument's keyboard. The stalactites are distributed through approximately 3.5 acres of the caverns but can be heard anywhere within its 64-acre confines.

During its first three decades, vinyl records (both 7-inch 331⁄3 rpm and 45 RPM) of the Great Stalacpipe Organ were sold in the Luray Caverns gift shop. These early recordings featured Sprinkle at the organ manual. Later recordings of Sprinkle's performances were sold on cassette tape before organist Monte Maxwell created his own arrangements and recordings of the organ which are currently sold on CD at Luray Caverns.

From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Stalacpipe_Organ