Recording Studio: One of the most popular summer pastimes is attending a baseball game. Maybe you can hear it now-the crack of the bat, the keyboard fanfare for a base hit – the recording studio background music for the summer.
What many fans may not realize, however, is that they are hearing the echo of a recording studio sound that originated more than 2,000 years ago. The pipe organ was already centuries old, for instance, when it provided music for the stadia of imperial Rome, where gladiators chased more than baseballs.
Recording Studio: Early Pipe Organs
The earliest versions of the instrument contained a number of sophisticated pneumatic devices, including pressure regulators, check valves, and piston pumps. Much of the organ has appeared fundamentally unchanged throughout history and is still with us in such different places as churches and baseball diamonds. A present-day designer could come up with pretty much the same thing, but it is remarkable, at least to this present-day engineer, that this piece of plumbing was created two millennia ago.
We know quite a lot about the early days of the pipe organ because it was recognized in ancient times as being a watershed invention. Even the name of its creator, Ctesibius, has come down to the present day. In Alexandria, Egypt, 246 years before the Christian era, he brought together the arts of metalworking and precision fabrication along with a pragmatic knowledge of fluid dynamics.
The organ was mentioned by such classical Roman authors as Cicero, Lucretius, and Petronius, and was well documented by technologists of the time. A publication, De Architectura, written around the time of Christ by a Roman, Vitruvius. included a discussion of the organ. Among the things Vitruvius described are the lathe-turned bronze cylinders and the leather and wood packing of the pistons. Hero of Alexandria also detailed the instrument, around the third century A.D., in a lengthy document called Pneumatica.