©Lin Yangchen & Jerry Ng




Jerry Ng's design for his 笛 (Bamboo Flute) stop was originally intended to emulate those of the Bamboo Organ of Las Piñas in the Philippines, but the method of construction proved too hit-and-miss. Ng adopted a new design based on the pipes of the Tokyo practice organ by Diego Cera Organbuilders, but with a glued-on foot that does not require precise matching of the foot inner diameter and languid insert. In 2021 Ng made a pair of high-pitched experimental pipes (microscopy | sound recording | acoustical analysis) for the Auferstehungsorgel.

 
Organ pipe-making tools: round file for mouth edges, hobby knife, chisel (left); carving out the mouth (right). The tedious bamboo selection process involves considerations of wall thickness and moisture content among many others. The culms probably of Phyllostachys sp. or Bambusa sp. were sourced pre-cured from suppliers in Singapore. Photos: Jerry Ng

 
The windway cap (left) is thought to be of meranti, a towering Shorea dipterocarp that grows in the tropical rainforests of Southeast Asia. The languid block (right), about to be cut with a band saw borrowed from a very supportive friend, is a piece of chengal (Neobalanocarpus heimii, Dipterocarpaceae) from a lorry used by local transportation firm Kim Soon Lee. Chengal is endemic to the Malay peninsula. The dense wood was difficult to work as it quickly dulled the cutting tools and kept leaching stain that had been applied during its tenure on the lorry. It also had to be sanded down to remove the dirt and air pollutants that had accumulated over the years. Photos: Jerry Ng

 
Raw windway caps and languid blocks (left); rounding the toe with an orbital sander (right). Photos: Jerry Ng

 
Drying the Gorilla polyvinyl acetate wood glue in the tropical sun (right). The pinhole in the chengal block was once home to an Ambrosia beetle. A distinctive feature is the enormous “beard” or windway cap. The plank from which it was cut was fatter than what Ng had hoped for, but the benefit was a deeper windway that would force more air through the narrow flue. Photos: Jerry Ng

The pipes were difficult to make owing to their small size and great fragility. The tiny upper lip had to be shaped with a wood burner as a chisel did not give sufficient precision. Ng adjusted the delicate connection between the resonator and flue while it was wet with glue and while blowing through the toe with his mouth and listening for the optimal tone. The placement of the cap was also important as it controlled the deflection of air; too high or low would generate excessive noise from unstable air.

Finally the time came to stand the pipes on the windchest of the Auferstehungsorgel and press the keys.

Silence.

Ng asked for scissors, scalpel, sandpaper and saw. He tried everything—poking the windway, sawing off the top of the pipe, adding an aluminium chimney, cutting the upper lip higher, sanding down the toe—but nothing worked.



Then Ng had an impulse. He tried mating the B resonator to the headless C foot. He stuck the foot in the toeboard, smeared some glue on the bottom of the resonator, pushed it down onto the top of the flue and slid it around while holding down the key.

Suddenly, just as mysteriously as it had refused to speak for the past three hours, it spoke clear and sweet. We raised our arms in exaltation, thanked Apollo the god of music for the miracle and left the pipe in the organ for the glue to set overnight.

One advantage of Ng's two-piece pipe over other builders' bamboo pipe designs had become apparent: it was possible, and easy, to adjust the three-dimensional position of the upper lip with respect to the flue while the pipe was sounding on the windchest. This is especially helpful for small pipes. For morphometric data see the Auferstehungsorgel pipe database.









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