Crafting the Sound of Hildebrandt’s Organ Pipes

A lecture by Dr Peter Peters (Maastricht University)

24May2018 15:30 - 17:00


As ‘mirrors of their time’ (Snyder, 2000), pipe organs have always reflected the artisanal knowledge and skills of their makers.

Given their complexity as technological artefacts that are endowed with artistic qualities, these musical instruments offer a valuable contribution to an epistemic history of art that focuses on the travelling of facts and insights through technologies and materials. Since the 1990s, replicating instruments from the fifteenth, sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth-century has opened new ways of studying knowledge practices that revolve around historical organs. The actual building of these replica’s not only required a close reading and interpretation of sources, both archival and material, but also a relearning of historical organ building skills. In my presentation, I will present ethnographic fieldwork on the design and building of a new baroque organ at the Orgelpark, a concert venue in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. This recently inaugurated instrument takes the sound of historical Hildebrandt organs as a reference, and provides access to this baroque sound material through both a mechanical action and a digital console. Drawing on the work of the anthropologist Tim Ingold, I focus on the way the pipes for the new organ were crafted to trace the relations between knowledge, skills and aesthetics.

Dr. Peter Peters is assistant professor at the department of Philosophy at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Maastricht University. He has published on music, time, and travel in technological cultures. His current research is concerned with (1) the production of knowledge in artistic practices, and (2) the innovation of musical cultures. In the past five years, followed the design and construction of a new baroque organ at the concert venue the Orgelpark in Amsterdam. He recently acquired a NWO Smart Culture grant to study and experiment with audience participation in symphonic music concerts, in collaboration with Zuyd University (Maastricht Conservatory and research centre Art, Autonomy and the Public Sphere) and the South Netherlands Philharmonic.

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Published by  Faculty of Humanities